On Monday, hip-hop artist Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi checked himself into rehab for depression and suicidal thoughts. On Facebook, he wrote:
Its been difficult for me to find the words to what Im about to share with you because I feel ashamed. Ashamed to be a leader and hero to so many while admitting I've been living a lie. It took me a while to get to this place of commitment, but it is something I have to do for myself, my family, my best friend/daughter and all of you, my fans.
Yesterday I checked myself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges.
I am not at peace. I haven't been since you've known me. If I didn't come here, I wouldve done something to myself. I simply am a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions everyday of my life. Theres a ragin violent storm inside of my heart at all times. Idk what peace feels like. Idk how to relax. My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it. I cant make new friends because of it. I dont trust anyone because of it and Im tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me? I guess I give so much of myself to others I forgot that I need to show myself some love too. I think I never really knew how. Im scared, im sad, I feel like I let a lot of people down and again, Im sorry. Its time I fix me. Im nervous but ima get through this.
As a longtime fan of Kid Cudi, this news was heartbreaking. But, as a young black man in America, it was incredibly encouraging. Then, yesterday, it was even more encouraging to hop on Twitter and see conversations taking place around race, masculinity, and mental health using the hashtag, #YouGoodMan.
I immediately jumped in with the following tweet:
#YouGoodMan is so important. As black men, we so often avoid vulnerability in order to protect ourselves from surrounding social realities.
Waking up this morning, I found that a reporter from The Observer (The Guardian's sister paper) had replied to this tweet asking to interview me for a story she's writing about attitudes towards male depression. We spoke earlier today and our conversation really helped me see how mental health doesn't just apply to the depressed. It doesn't just apply to the oppressed. It applies to all of us. Obviously, we encounter it at different levels because of the realities that surround us; however, it's important to note that we can all participate in this conversation.
I'll be honest in saying I don't deal with high levels of depression or anxiety, but that's not to say I haven't. I remember one situation in particular where I was in college and had really strong feelings for a girl. I had gone home for the weekend to help my mom with a few things around the house. We were talking about this girl and also how my grades weren't up to par for my Honors scholarship. Attending a private university, if I didn't reach the GPA requirement and maintain this scholarship, there was a chance I wouldn't be able to stay in attendance there, which meant I'd have to move away from this girl.
I began to have a mental breakdown in my living room. For an hour or so, with my face sunk into the couch, I cried. I cried extremely hard and was overwhelmed with this strong sense of hopelessness. I look back on it now and think about how silly it was that I reacted that way over a girl I'm not even dating today, but those emotions were real. That anxiety was real. That depression was real.
I realize many of you have dealt with a lot more and you're reading this thinking, 'Is this guy serious?' But what I really want you to recognize is that we all have these real, deep emotions, and it's important that we don't internalize those.
I'm incredibly thankful for my mom who has shown me depression is a real thing and taught me it's okay to talk about it. I'm thankful for one of my best friends, JT, who has opened up to me about his struggles with mental health and provided a safe space for me to express mine.
I'm also thankful for Urban Peak Colorado Springs, the only licensed youth shelter in my community, who we'll be partnering with later this month for our Socktoberfest event. Touring their facilities today, I learned that many of their clients often flee homes where they experience mental health issues and emotional abuse. Collaborating with healthcare practitioners, Urban Peak provides both medical treatment and counseling on-site.
While #YouGoodMan has provided a safe space online for people to speak out on race, masculinity, and mental health, it's important that we also create and provide these safe spaces offline. That's why I believe Car Window Poetry is so important. We're all either going through something, going into something, or just got out of something. By giving you a platform to express yourself through poetry and share it with others, you don't only get to tell your story, but you get to share it with someone who may need those words to give life one more shot.
It's time we move away from a position of "You should" and lean more towards "Me too."
It's time we listen more than we speak, and seek to understand more than we preach.
It's time for compassion and empathy to become our weapons against hate.
It's time for you to know you are loved, you matter, and you're doing better than you think you are. People can find themselves in your story.
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Read the aforementioned Guardian article: www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/08/men-depression-opening-up-kid-cudi-springsteen-fury