Behold Music & Mental Health, a feature we hope to bring you more often than not, written by the fabulous Imade Borha. She’ll check in from time to time with her thoughts on … well … presumably, music and mental health. Duh. If you dig, you can follow her on Twitter here. Enjoy!
You’ve been talking about depression for a long time now. We did not listen to the urgency of your pleas. You talked about night terrors in “Pursuit of Happiness,” you said your “heart is an open wound that I hope heals soon” in “Soundtrack 2 My Life,” and mentioned how people call you crazy in “Man On The Moon.” What we should be ashamed of is ignoring how you feel when many of us feel the same way. There is nothing “crazy” or unimportant about a chemical imbalance that threatens your life.
It takes courage to not only check yourself into “rehab” but to announce to millions of people that you did. I am very proud that you cleared all your obligations, including the unrelenting pressure to tour and promote your work, so you can solely focus on your mental health. You are worthy of that investment, and though you may think you’re taking a step back in leaving your career, you’re actually taking a tremendous leap forward, not just for yourself, but for every person who deals with depression, including myself.
I checked into “rehab” last year. I understand why you used that word, because when someone says they checked into a mental hospital, people can immediately think you’re crazy. Just like you, I reached a breaking point where I didn’t want to be suicidal anymore. I was just so tired of not knowing if I could get out of bed each day. It is so easy to believe the lie that depression is the only life we can ever live. We do deserve peace, and to have moments where we smile more than we secretly cry.
You can’t escape depression by only giving to others. You have to give to yourself. The people who love you will not feel that you let them down. They will not let you fall into a pit of unsubstantiated guilt. Many of your loved ones may feel relief that you are finally getting the help you need. They’re scared and nervous, too. I hope you learn to accept that you cannot deal with severe depression by yourself or even with loved ones if they are not mental health professionals. You may need a therapist and a psychiatrist for the rest of your life, and that’s okay.
You also may find that mental health care sucks. As a black man, your mental illness may be confused for violence. Your intellect and ability to advocate for yourself may be dismissed. You may get misdiagnosed, and you may be given culturally irrelevant advice. When this happens, call for backup. Find a person you trust who is knowledgeable or can become knowledgeable so they can fight for your behalf. I tried fighting from the inside, and it never worked. Let someone else fight. It’s your time to rest.
I could tell that you have a lot more money than I do, since phones and computers were banned during my mental hospital stay. Take advantage of your privilege. Eat high quality food, take your meds if you want to, have a listening heart during really good therapy and support group sessions, and try to soak up as much healing as you can. You may discover that the people you’re in rehab with are talented creatives, too. Spend time with them, and keep your creative juices going. I believe that your best music is yet to come.