It’s 2018. The conversation around mental illness within society is now present, prominent and closer to being completely accepted by all. But while the topic is one that can now be discussed openly, it is no longer portrayed in a light that I, personally, feel safe speaking in as a veteran soldier.
I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety since I was about 12 years old. My internal issues first became notable after a tragic experience from my childhood triggered very prominent symptoms and continuous distress that carried into my older youth. I can remark on having been in and out of therapists’, psychologists’, psychiatrists, cognitive behavioral specialists’ and social workers’ offices since then. I even spent time in a psychiatric hospital following one of my multiple suicide attempts.
As many who have become familiar with my journey over the last few years have witnessed, my battle with my mental health is nowhere near an end, despite there being many other social media “advocates” declaring it possible.
That’s because it does not end for those like me.
It does not simply stop by and then pass through as it overstays its welcome. It is not a trend, a phase, or a period that we overcome “once and for all.”
There is a keen difference between suffering from depression and simply going through a series of stressful down periods in one’s lifetime, and that is currently the thin, problematic line that makes it difficult to prosper in the mental health conversation. I currently am crying for help in a world that can not distinguish between the two and is over-saturating the perspective of depression and anxiety. This has truly ignited a scarring ember inside of my spirit.
Through many traumatic and triggering events accumulating over the last year alone, I have become consumed by my darkness. This pin planted on my heart is permanently nailed onto me no matter where I run, hide, or how I portray myself on social media and anywhere else publicly.
Back in the summer of 2016, I decided to embrace God’s gift and curse upon me for what I thought was the greater good of the overall mental health conversation. I wanted to share my battle while I was currently in the midst of it to bring a raw and honest sense of the pain to the table, rather than the post-war triumph. The responses have been a mix of encouragement, praise, and overwhelming support, but also shaming, victim-blaming, accusing and false-rumor-starting that have essentially ruined the previous life I worked tirelessly to build for myself. Those negatives have torn me, my career, friendships and many other aspects apart, but it is not what has broken me the most.
This is the real epiphany.
Being a mental illness scapegoat has been the most substantially hurtful burden I could have ever put upon myself. Yes. I truly wanted to help people as much as I thought I could, and still do. I wanted to create a safer environment for those who consistently hurt like me and have to mask their constant battle scars. I wanted to shed light in a realer sense. But opening up a coffin leaves room for new demons to peek in. My public journey gave plenty of opportunity for others to take advantage and destroy me from the inside out.
And they won.
This has transformed my entire view on myself, my voice, my light and anything else I thought was remarkably worthy about me.
I chose to acknowledge my issues publicly and, coinciding with that, I chose to suffer publicly. I did so in order to not just raise awareness, but to help those who feel alone in their struggles feel a little less by themselves. Ironically, in sharing my current sufferings in the moment, I am now left to feel more alone than ever. Even abandoned in a way. Of course, some have shared their previous dealings, situations and stories with me privately, and at times, I have been commended for sharing my truth, which previously kept me motivated. Often I am told “You are not alone, ” and while that is extremely truthful, there is a larger sense that leaves me in the dark being that I feel like the solely vulnerable one in public.
I feel caught in a battlefield without any army. Not many around me are open in sharing their dark periods and being vulnerable openly in the moment. But I completely understand why. In fact, I understand now more than ever why others like myself choose to be silent with their journey. While there are positive chapters scattered throughout our time on this Earth, we know there are no true happy endings to our life books. Sometimes, the encouragement to get over these depressive bridges can also be extremely discouraging if we don’t have the tools, energy or resources to do so.
My soul is aching with a lot of regret for having shared my truths, as much as I hate to say it. I feel like I sacrificed myself into the fire around some who only wanted to watch the flames grow. It’s hard to be the example. It’s even harder to still not be a success story like social media threads, op-eds, vlogs and other content try and portray will come one day for the depressed.
My battle is unfortunately eternal and the success can only come in bits and pieces, but not as a whole. That’s the fate I was gifted, but also harshly tested with.
Clinical depression does not get a fairy tale ending. Anxiety disorders do not disintegrate into the atmosphere like a super villain’s defeat. They are demons that will be at every corner and avenue ready to pounce upon my positive thoughts, experiences and energies. All I can do is prepare to fight for my spirit each and every day. And right now, I’m at a point of exhaustion, bearing no more weapons. It feels like I am fighting my demons with my bare hands and have no more lives left. The pressure to reach this “overcoming” point feels insurmountable. I may never have that positive, victorious comeback that amazing spirits have been praying for for me.
Because I will not overcome this.
I can only find new tools and techniques to cope with it and pray to the heavens that they hold up in war. That is the harsh, raw reality that many like myself have already faced or will be unfortunately slapped with soon enough.
If you are like me, please understand that you are far from alone. And not in the manner of alone for what you go through, but however you choose to go through it. If you are hoping to share your story the same way, I commend you, but plead to you to proceed with caution. Your suffering is not a “dark secret.” It is a hurtful, somewhat frightening, but beautiful truth that only you are required to face and own up to for YOUR potential betterment. Do not let any evil spirits of the world, a “brand,” a reckless coping mechanism, Social Media Supreme Court etc. pressure you into feeling or moving otherwise.
Embrace who you are to the fullest on your time and within your heart and voice’s comfortability. Don’t let anyone take your shine. Your light is sensitive enough as it is.
The battles never end, but depression has not rigged the war.
In many minority communities, depression, anxiety and mental illness are not often recognized as true struggles amongst individuals. While so much of our population around the globe faces a detrimental internal battle every single day, many minorities have had to overlook their own issues, which could be broken down to being a means of simply survival.
David Banner believes that mental illness in the black community, particularly, stems all the way back to slavery, and the community’s inability to obtain medical care throughout history because of the horrific odds against them. After multiple generations have passed down this habitual instinct to brush off their internal emotions, it has led to many of today’s generation to disregard the mental illness theory completely.
“Most young black people don’t know that they’re depressed,” David says in our recent conversation.
The award-winning music creative has openly battled with depression throughout his career, and has gotten a hold of the reigns of his mental health in recent years. Through meditation, an outstanding support system, a switching of surrounding energies, and the new path of his musical journey, Banner has been able to cope with his depression in a healthier, productive fashion.
With his new album The God Box out now on iTunes, David seeks to educate those battling with their own mental health struggles, and those who are deep in the depths of post traumatic stress.
From the making of his new album, to how trees play a crucial and heartbreaking connection to the black community, the producer sheds some incredible light on a lot of taboo subjects in this exclusive interview.
See David Banner get raw about mental health and the black community in our conversation below.
Lindsey India: You’ve said that The God Box is like an “art exhibit,“ hoping everyone gets something different out of it. As the creator of the project, what sort of things did you, personally, get out of making it?
David Banner: Wow, that’s a great question. That’s sort of a hard question because I don’t know…I don’t really look at it like that. It’s life. I had a really dope listening party last night, where we went through a couple of tracks, and I was telling the crowd [that] I am the person that you see now. Like, that’s me. It’s no façade. So I live this album. I’ll tell you something that’s crazy. I had a slight anxiety about putting it out because I had lived with this album for so long, it had become almost part of my lifestyle. I wasn’t quite sure, although the most high had given me the vision that our people were ready, it was almost like I was a single father who raised a daughter and it was time for her to go to college. And you know how they do the freshmen on campus when they first get there [laughs]. That’s sort of how I felt about my album. I wanted to make sure she had the best opportunity to get heard and to be successful in the world.
You know how they run through rap albums. It’s about the same way America runs through children. But what I did want people to get out of it was a sense of freedom. For artists to know that you can do it on your own, this is a 100% independent album. I paid for everything. Any poster you see. Any billboard. All of it. Now I understand why the record industry was scared of Master P. I understand the power of Tech N9ne now. So for me, I wanted artists to see that they can be free and that you can make money. I had the No. 1 album when this album dropped on iTunes without a radio single. 100% independent. Where does that happen in America? So for me and my small, and very bright staff, we put together a stellar marketing campaign. I created something where we literally sell God boxes with very conscious information in there like books and DVDs and flags and stickers. I can barely keep up with the demand of it. I wanted artists to know that they can do it. But for the fans, one of the things that I don’t hear much in music, and what it did for my generation, is that it took me to different worlds. They have tricked, especially young black men and women, to stay in the ghetto. Most of us rep our hoods and the situations that we in, but we don’t like them. We glorify them, but most of these rappers can’t go back and live in their own neighborhoods if they wanted to, and they don’t want to. So we convince these children to do it. Hip-hop literally went from “Up with hope, down with dope,” which was my generation, to being the dope user. I wanted to give these children and give my listeners the same feeling that A Tribe Called Quest did when they told us to go to El Segundo, or when Outkast told us to go to Stankonia, or N.W.A. taking us to Compton. They took us to different places. A young David Banner took you to Mississippi. But then I got popular instead of taking people on journeys. That’s what I wanted The God Box to do.
Lindsey India: Talk to me about the mind state you were in creating some of these powerful songs like “Magnolia.” They share some extremely prominent and stomach-turning imagery. What was your mental state like writing some of the more gut-wrenching tracks?
I’m from Mississippi, love. My great Uncle was hung. Tito Lopez, to me, is one of the most prolific artists who people don’t talk about ever, he said something that is so dope that I don’t think about. He said “Our kids have to play where they lynched us.” If you think about it, white people would have to go outside of their communities and terrorize black people. They never really had to deal with the horror that they left behind. Imagine if you’re a child and you still had to play around the same tree that your Uncle got hung on. Or still have to live in the same house that your mom got raped in. Or play in the yard where that burning cross was. As much as people would like me to give this introspective standpoint and get really deep, this is just a sad part of my history.
What I will tell you, though, is that “Magnolia” was actually a concept for a book that I’m going to write called If Trees Could Talk. When you go back and listen to the song, it’s going to freak you out now. We’re speaking from the perspective of two different trees. The way that this book is going to be written [covers] the relationship between trees and Mississippi and Africans who have come through the state. The taller the tree, the wider the perspective, but the less personal the story is going to be. The tallest tree is going to tell the story about the Moore’s who came to this continent even before the Native Americans were here. That’s history that people don’t talk about, but that’s the tallest tree. But that’s not personal. The smaller tree is going to give you the perspective of maybe one person, but tell you about that one person’s life. My verse was about the Magnolia tree and how I was sent by the Magnolia tree, and she explained the story of how she was used in the [lynching] of blacks. And she was sorry for that. So in one case, she broke her own arm, so his neck wouldn’t snap.
Cee-Lo’s verse was more of a smaller tree that has the perspective of this black man who was a cop who had certain things going on in his life, thinking that having a white wife, and having a certain job of power would actually make him an exception to the rule, but it didn’t.
Lindsey India: Let’s talk mental health. How do you balance your creative streak when dealing with times of depression?
Well, the problem is this. Most young black people don’t know that they’re depressed. So it’s sort of hard…well, one of the things that helps me with depression now is the fact that I know that I have bouts with depression. Sometimes just knowing what it is helps you to deal with it. And in a lot of cases, we mask it with drugs or hypersexual tendencies or alcohol. I found that I used to mask my depression and my fears and my anxieties with anger and being mad. The thing is that question is sort of hard for me to answer because once I found out I was depressed, I found mechanisms to help me deal with it. Like I do transcendental meditation. It was introduced to me by Bill Duke, who is a legendary writer and actor. I don’t know how, but he was able to see through my façade and could tell that I was going through things. And transcendental meditation changed his life, so he introduced me to that. I was dying at the time. My depression was that bad. I felt my soul slipping away. Then after transcendental meditation, I met my mentor in Atlanta, and he convinced me to go to therapy. I haven’t had but maybe one or two slight bouts because I work against [it], and I know my triggers now. So if I start feeling bad, I’ll go watch Step Brothers a thousand times or find something to make me laugh. I also got rid of all of my Debbie-downer friends. Everybody that’s around me is trying to do something with their lives. I guard my mind like I would a child. My mom knows not to call me and tell me about everybody in the town who got killed. People know not to gossip around me. I literally guard my mind. It hasn’t been as hard since I found out what depression was because I have people around me that supply me with the mechanisms to battle it. Before, I just didn’t know I was depressed.
Black men are always told to pull themselves up by their boot straps. We’re always taught that therapy is white folks shit. The stuff that was literally created by Africans that can help you deal or give you coping mechanisms…we’re always taught to just man up. When that has nothing to do with being a man. You’re sick, you feel me?
Lindsey India: Why do you think that mental health awareness and mental illness has been such a taboo subject in minority communities, and especially the black community?
I think it was a direct connection to slavery. We couldn’t go to doctors. Anything that black people had to deal with, we just had to wait it out. People talk about post traumatic stress disorder as it pertains to people who are in war. Most of the people who go to war go for two or three years at the most if you really think about it. You have to think about the fact that black folks were in slavery for three or four generations. People don’t really talk about the fact that, for the most part, the treatment of black people as a whole, to some degree, has gotten maybe a little better. But it never stopped. If you calculate the years that we were in slavery, black people haven’t been out of slavery longer than they were in it. We never got any physical, mental, or spiritual therapy. No one has ever dealt with that. In America, we need therapy as a whole. That’s not even talking about the pressure of cops, or the financial pressures. That’s not talking about the fact that literally slaves were told in slavery to just deal with it. There wasn’t a homestead act for us. Nothing was given to us. We literally just had to do it. So in a lot of cases, because we couldn’t afford mental health [treatment], we made something that was just negative because we couldn’t do it in the first place. It’s sort of the same way that black people have accepted the [n-word]. We didn’t have a choice but to hear the word. We couldn’t make that stop at the time when we were slaves, so we co-opted it. That’s a sickness within itself. Black people say all the time that they can flip the word and take the power out of it, but I say, in order for you to flip something, you must first accept that you are. I refuse to do that.
Lindsey India: What do you think are some solutions or coping mechanisms to mental health issues and mental illness that can be brought to those that might need help?
One thing that I’ll say, and I have to be clear about this, is that I did not do it alone. That’s one of the things that leads us into depression. We think that we’re alone or we have to do it all ourselves. I had a team of people that helped me. The thing is, that’s also not fair, the reason why I had access to these kinds of people is because I was rich. Most people don’t have the time to realize that there’s a problem. They don’t have the financial space to take a break for a second.
Lindsey India: Health care doesn’t always cover all of it, or even any of it.
Exactly, love. So that’s the biggest thing that I want to tell people. I didn’t do it alone, and it wasn’t something that I magically just discovered and picked up and started doing myself. Actually, at the time when I was depressed, I was a devout Christian. So doing meditation seemed practically almost evil to me. Religion has done so much to the minds of all Americans, to be honest with you. But because I was so depressed, I would do anything that wouldn’t compromise my manhood or my spirituality to get depression off of me. Let me tell you something. I would wish a lot of things on my enemies, but depression isn’t one of them. I would not wish that on my worst enemy. I never contemplated suicide, but I understand now. I have empathy of why a person [would think like that]. I used to think that people who committed suicide were weak people. Once I went through depression, I realized that that’s not the truth at all.
I’m not the toughest guy in the world, but I don’t take a lot of shit. So when kids see somebody of my stature and somebody who’s been able to accrue the amount of success that I have, to be able to honestly open their heart and show you all the pain that I went through, and not be embarrassed about it…I think that’s one of the biggest things that has helped my career. Not just from a financial standpoint, but I’ve had people come and tell me, “Dammit if David Banner can fight through this, then I can too.” Most of the time people feel like they’re alone and that they’re fucking crazy.
Lindsey India: Is there a particular song or studio session you can recall that might have helped your coping journey?
Yes. I don’t even remember the name of the song, but one of my therapists told me, in actuality, the old David Banner was more healthy for me. He said maybe not from a spiritual standpoint, but from a mental standpoint. He told me to think about this: if the old David Banner wanted to say “Fuck you. Kiss my ass. Die,” he would tell you that. That’s off of my mind, my heart and my soul, and I can go about my business. He said this more introspective David Banner and kinder David Banner is packing it all in, holding it on my heart, and carrying it around. Once I became more introspective, I took my diary away from myself. He told me that even though I may not want to put that music out, I don’t have to put that music out, but keep recording exactly how I feel. Get it off of your heart. Get it out of your mind and get it outside of your own head. That’s basically what therapy is anyway. My homework was to go and record this song. I recorded it and I put it on YouTube. I forgot the name of it, but I basically was talking about how I needed hydrocodone to go to sleep. I talked about all of the pain I was going through. I felt like in my old career, I let my people down and I was guiding my people to hell. Now that I’m a little bit smarter and bit more conscience, I see that that wasn’t the case. [4:20]
Lindsey India: What’s coming up for you for the rest of the year?
Let me tell you something. This has actually been the best time of my life. I want to show people happiness too. Actually, The God Box is going to be a happy album. What I realize is that I had to go back in to some dark places in order to bring people out. A lot of times when people don’t see the process they think that that’s just the way that you are. To be honest with you, unless it’s Tupac or something like that, I don’t listen to a lot of negative music. Unless it’s a video game, I don’t watch too much crime or killing or drama and gossip. I don’t watch the news. If it’s not anything about opulence or success or happy times or comedy or something to lift my spirits, I don’t do it. So in saying that, I’m just excited. When I tour this year, I don’t think I’m going to just run through cities. I think I’m going to spend three days there. Instead of doing maybe 20 cities, I think I’ll only do 10. [I’ll] spend some time, lecturing in cities. Go to the colleges. Go to the schools. Touch the kids. Go see where Nat Turner lived. I want to get an opportunity to go into the cities to live and have fun.
I’ll end it on this. I had an ex-girlfriend once that told me I looked at the ground so much, that I never saw how beautiful the sky was. Even if you’re in the worst neighborhood in the world, the sky is still beautiful. This world is so negative, that we don’t get to take in the blessings that we do have. Just being able to breathe and see. The things that are the most valuable, you can’t pay for. We have those things. Everything that God does is perfect. You are perfect just the way that you are.
It’s been awhile, but Put My Anxiety In Rice is officially back after a lengthy hiatus. After dealing with some personal matters, and feeling a bit low on the motivational side of things, a spark of passion finally came back into my system.
For episode 4, I decided to address a particular mental health topic that I felt has been an epidemic lately. While mental health has widely been discussed heavily in the past 6 months or so, which is incredible, it’s been a bit less inclusive of mental illnesses. Many have been sharing their dark times, and have seen success in their stories coming to the forefront. However, this new trend as a remedy of going viral on the Internet comes with some issues, and that’s how depression and anxiety are portrayed. While many experience depressing periods in their lives, living with mental illness is a lifelong battle of those same symptoms that don’t necessarily appear just during dark times.
Watch what I have to say about mental health becoming a “trending topic” above, and let me know your thoughts. If you are currently in a mental health crisis and need some support, be sure to call the Mental Health Crisis hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
That sounds like the most self-deprecating shit ever, doesn’t it? There’s certainly a tone of depression in that statement, but the truth is, there’s much more acceptance to it than anything.
2016 has been a whirlwind of a year for most of us, and that’s been on all fronts whether personal, within society, or just in nature itself. If you’re like myself, then it’s been excruciatingly difficult to keep a positive attitude moving into the new year as we anticipate new demons that might be awaiting their unveiling within the cracks of our lives. While there’s a sense of peace knowing that this destructive year is moving into history, there’s also a permanent anxiety tainted on my heart.
It’s always common to take some moments to reflect on the year prior as we wind down in the last few days before we hit the refresh button. Some of us look at particular events and memories, both good and bad, and others take pride in their own growth throughout the previous 12 months. For myself, I’ve found that I’ve ended up in a worse place, both physically and emotionally, than I was just 365 days ago. Last year at this time, I was fulfilling multiple career goals, meeting all kinds of new and amazing people, constantly creating and brainstorming, and in a place of high hopes. While I made some extremely significant accomplishments in 2016 that I look back on with the utmost pride, I also fell down a well of rough patches, and have been struggling to get back on my feet ever since. With each turmoil, my sense of optimism was scratched away a little more, and my pessimism went into overdrive. Negativity soon consumed me.
This year, my dreams and goals were slingshot into a concrete wall without any pieces left to pick up.
All year I have been continuously complaining about why my former ideas and goals went into a vault I forgot the password to. I constantly sought out someone or something to point the finger at as to why I was pushed back down the ladder after climbing it for 5 years. I let myself pile on the rage, frustration, and self pity all while I continued down a path that landed me in an emotional dungeon.
A couple of weeks ago, one more hardship came, which felt like the nail in the coffin. I was ready to give up. I prayed for my disappearance. Deleting all of my social media without any intention of returning, I snapped and completely went off the radar. My emotional towel was rung out and drained completely. After some extremely caring and selfless friends gathered up a search party for me, leading to missed calls, voicemails, and dozens of texts, two mental alarms suddenly went off in my head.
The first reminded me of how far I’ve come in the last 10 years, the battles I’ve already dominated, and the strength I believe I have to conquer more of them. The second alarm, however, was much more puzzling, heartbreaking, and relieving all at the same time.
My dreams disintegrated because of me. All this time, I was the one holding the slingshot.
For every finger I tried to point, the universe was actually pointing it right back at me. Every failure or surrender I made was on my own merit. Yes, there were plenty of circumstances out of my control, but my reaction and actions following are all completely within my own reach.
I look back at my 2016 goals list that I wrote up on December 31, 2015, and I see some check marks, but the ones without accomplishments to match came from my poor attitude and unwillingness to take on the challenge. Whether it was “doubling my brand,” developing better relationships, being persistent, putting on artists, or performing poetry, I held my goals from coming into fruition hostage. There is no other way to see it. While I was fighting an emotional war and busy trying to gather materials to conquer it as a one-woman army, I wrote letters home to myself of excuses, complaints, pain, and frustration. There was a way to bring my dreams to life, and I was too busy being stubborn to embrace it.
Life will always get in the way and throw shade at your success, but it will only interfere to the point of no chance of a comeback if you allow it.
For 2017, I vow to fight for what I want and what I know I’ve earned, and take care of myself in the way that I truly deserve. It’s time we all look in the mirror of fate. Don’t blame the world for holding you back. Sometimes it’s your own hands grabbing your shoulders. Lend a hand. Ask “how are you?” more. Open up your heart, and accompany it with your words. Appreciate the ugliness that blinds you. Accept that your lifelong plan is not always the right or best one for yourself. Roadblocks might be more helpful than harmful.
My life has done a complete 180 in the last 12 months, but the pilot seat is only fit for me to fill. Taking breathers is allowed, accepting a different route is permitted, but abandoning dreams shouldn’t be tolerated by any means. Get your shit together, Lindsey.
If you’re like me, make sure you stop in your tracks and come to your senses before it’s too late. Throw your tantrum, but don’t let it keep your down. People, love, and hope will lift you off the floor, but they can’t take the next step for you.
With that being said, good riddance 2016, and good riddance to my own bullshit.
It’s been awhile since I’ve pulled back out the video camera and spoke some of my inner mental health thoughts, but I’m back with another episode of Put My Anxiety In Rice.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of draining up’s and down’s in the past few weeks, and unfortunately, it’s decreased my motivation for speaking my mind.
Fortunately, my vlog series hasn’t been in too high demand for those that need it, as the headlining news of Kid Cudi seeking professional help in rehab, and Kanye West being allegedly hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation have been triggering a large conversation involving mental illness. It’s been amazing to watch the topic quickly become so mainstream, and while I fear that it may become more of a “trend” to have a history with depression and anxiety, it may be the only way that it can become a normalcy amongst society.
The public “meltdown” and hospitalization of Kanye has inspired me to speak on another aspect of mental illness. It’s one tough part to admit that we are suffering from something, but it’s even harder to believe that we should go to therapy. While I was more or less forcefully encouraged to go to therapy starting at the age of 12 years old, others will go years of battling their inner struggles without so much as talking to anyone about it. Many are fearful of the judgements that may accompany it from peers around them, or don’t want to believe that they need to depend on professional help.
If you are questioning your mental health journey, and feel hesitant to seek therapy, take a couple minutes to check out my new episode of Put My Anxiety In Rice. If you have any feedback, or some coping mechanisms of your own, feel free to leave comments or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After a few delays, I’m back with my second episode of Put My Anxiety In Rice. I’m ecstatic about all of the amazing feedback from the debut episode, and I’m grateful for all of those who are supportive of being on this mental health journey with me.
On this next episode, I wanted to tackle a topic that I find a bit more controversial, but nonetheless important for discussion. Being told to have a “tough skin” is a slippery slope for most people with anxiety or a mental illness. It’s not necessarily in our control to be able to handle certain situations, thoughts, or triggered emotions, and being in an industry or work environment where we are required to have a “tough skin” can be near impossible.
I decided to address the topic, and encourage the “emotionless” mind state of many industries to disappear from our perspectives. It can be much more harmful than helpful to those with a mental illness. Just because an individual may be more reactive on an emotional front, it does not mean they should be hindered from an industry when they have talent to offer. Success shouldn’t only be given to those who have that “tough skin.” Embrace your sensitivity.
Peep what I had to say on episode 2 of Put My Anxiety In Rice above, and let me know your comments.
If you have any suggestions for mental health topics, advice, or want to just vent, email me at email@example.com!
After confessing to some harsh truths this year, I thought it would be best to use them to help spark the mental health discussion we all need. While Hollywood and the media like to portray mental health in maybe a more dramatized or inaccurate sense, I decided to turn on my camera, sit in the safe space that is my room, and just talk about this difficult topic and conversation.
While I do cover some of my own hardships, I’m hoping that the focus will remain on those currently suffering from mental illnesses, as well as those who don’t know what it’s like to suffer.
Watch above for episode one of my new vlog series, ‘Put My Anxiety In Rice,’ and let me know your thoughts, and personal experiences.
The phrase “fake it until you make it” might be the best piece of advice a particular individual receives, but the biggest downfall another overhears.
For most of those who partake in everyday social media, it’s easy to see those who are constantly posting about their life’s highs, their outstanding accomplishments, and their consistent happiness. Everyone goes through the trenches of life at times, but seeing it plastered on a public platform hardly ever peeks it’s way through the cracks.
For myself, you won’t find much of my hardships making their way onto my social media accounts, unless I simply find a message or issue that can serve to help others within them.
Today is another one of those times.
For most who only know me or have access to me through social media, my life looked exceptionally more glamorous than average over the last few years. From a celebrity interview here, to attending a grand event there, I heard the phrase “I want your life” more than one time from others of my generation, and peers surrounding. At one point, I truly believed I was capable of obtaining all of my dreams.
Sadly, I’ve had to create a shield around my optimistic mindset with a more pessimistic one. My life has always worked where my blessings tended to come out of my darkest times, eventually leading to some even darker ones following. I’ve always felt forced to live by the negative phrase, “Nothing lasts forever.” It’s felt like the loss of complete happiness has been shoved down my throat one too many times.
This year has been probably the toughest year of my entire life. From serious issues throwing me overboard in my personal life, battling some of the most extreme up’s and down’s of my mental and physical health, and watching my dreams slip through my hands, my losses have consumed me.
My passion for writing and using my voice has significantly deteriorated, and the purpose I thought was meant for me feels like a faded fog in the distance that’s about to disintegrate into the air. A merry-go-round of unplanned circumstances has annihilated all of the steps I took towards my goals and dreams that I thought I was so close to accomplishing. Even music feels like biting into a tasteless food these days. My anxiety has pushed me into an emotional manhole that I can’t find my way out of.
There’s no other way to say it. I’ve completely lost my grasp on the amazing individual I thought I once was. I took a look in the mirror of my life, and the person I wanted to be is no longer looking back. They’ve checked out. My initial purpose has turned to sand and has fallen between the spaces in my fingers. I’ve lost control of my happiness, and I can feel negativity consuming me.
And you know what?
This should be the time where I preach about how this is a part of my journey, or how something will happen and I’ll get back on track. It’s easy to hear from others, and it’s easy to tell myself it, but being lost doesn’t necessarily mean you believe it. It’s always difficult to watch others become just as lost as you, but know exactly how to keep going, leaving you in the dust. The discouragement can be overwhelming. Not all of us are built to keep going without a real plan of action first, or have a backup handy.
Like so many others like myself at this point, we are petrified of looking ahead. The sense of losing our steering wheels means we’re currently driving a car that can go in any direction. We shouldn’t focus on the road blocks ahead and how to go around them. We shouldn’t continue to panic about losing control of the car’s direction. At the end of the day, our focus needs to remain on the speed. We are the ones in control of how slow or fast this car goes. The vehicle will pick a direction, but those that are lost will be able to choose whether they continue down the path, or slow up and wait for a new one.
Don’t ever think it isn’t okay to slow down. If you have put in the work to build the car, you should be able to sit back and relax in it when the road ahead looks murky and filled with fog.
Losing yourself will always take a huge blow on an individual’s mental health. It doesn’t have to destroy you to the point of no rebuild being possible. As cliché as it may sound, sometimes God has to take things that brought out the great in you to catapult you into something that will bring out the best in you. It’s up to you to be ready to accept it.
If you’re driving down your path of life, and things get cloudy, look for me currently on the side of the road bumping God’s Son and Kirk Franklin’s Losing My Religion until further notice. Those who lose their success to incidents beyond their control tend to be the ones who are given the chances of gaining the most control in the end.
Don’t worry, honey. If all else fails, success sometimes can be the tow truck that’s on the way.
A scared, panicked, but slightly hopeful, lost soul
I know what you’re probably thinking by the title. This is the story of another human being finding the light at the end of their depression tunnel through music, and being “brave enough” to write about it.
Well, it is, but it also isn’t. This article is going to go up unfinished, just like my story is. All I can promise is that I won’t claim to love music any more than you (You know that kind of person I’m talking about). I can explain.
My name is Lindsey, and I suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Firstly, why does that seem like the most unsettlingly fitting way to describe myself within society? Because society has categorized us this way, by our mental state, without even flinching for a second. I once heard that the best way to describe having anxiety is to tell someone to imagine that every small decision they make has life or death consequences. This could not create a better image of the clutterfuck that is my emotions on a daily basis in any aspect. On the surface, and underneath, I’ve suffered from anxiety practically my whole life, having heard “Stop worrying” every single day, but it wasn’t until just about 7 years ago that I actually took some sort of control of it.
Of course, this may seem like the ordinary story of a person coming to a self-realization with a borderline mental illness. This may be what you read every other day in most health magazines or throughout those spontaneous mental health op-eds, but my story isn’t one of just learning to overcome it or defeat it. In fact, I would say that there is no solution to my problem, but rather how I learned to stop looking at it LIKE it was a problem. It’s still here, however, and kicking my ass unapologetically. My “success” story took years of denial, self-abuse, nearly 10 misdiagnosis cases, and 40 different kinds of wrong medications, leading to three cases of actually trying to take my life. Some of that came even after I accepted what my mind’s fate was.
When people say it’s a battle, those who do not suffer anxiety disorders don’t even know the half of what comes with that. They don’t know that just waking up and opening our eyes can be terrifying. Walking out of our doors every day and seeing someone we’re not fully comfortable with can build the adrenaline of watching a horror movie. Even sending the slightest risky text message here and there can make our hearts pound just as hard as bungee jumping off of a bridge. Portraying any type of confidence can be the most unnatural and uncomfortable situation we put ourselves in.
Anxiety doesn’t become important to your life until you are forced to have that open and honest conversation with yourself. “Okay, so what the fuck are we really doing here with this mind of yours, miss?” is probably something I’ve asked myself twice a day since I was maybe a sophomore in high school. I was in my first true state of confusion in all components of my life. It’s hard to admit these issues to yourself, or anyone who may be able to help, as even the slightest disorder can be treated like a legitimate disability in the world around us. That’s what hinders so many people from accepting themselves, seeking help, and learning to cope.
For me, the solution was actually right under my nose, and had actually been helping me deal with my day-to-day before I even knew it was there to do so. Yes, hip hop saved my life, and countless times for that matter, but to me, it didn’t become my therapy or escape until I was deep in debt with my depression. As a former dancer, I had a producer’s ear, rather than an MC’s when I started listening to the greatness at around 10-11 years old, and would constantly be checking for the beats to fit my mind’s scattered choreography in the years following. Eventually, I gave up my love for dancing professionally sometime after high school, and found myself drowning in my own thoughts. The distraction was long gone by that point, and the anxiety was coming on like a tidal wave after facing many unexpected downfalls in my life.
That’s where hip hop came in to give me a fair rescue. I always felt like something in my breath deeply breathed my love and admiration for the culture and sound, but I didn’t feel that I would fit in very smoothly. Being a small town girl from Connecticut, I was used to being inside of an ignorant and naive bubble, but something never felt right about being there. It wasn’t that I could so much relate to the likes of a Nas, a Biggie, a duo like Outkast, or even an LL Cool J, as I lived a nearly opposite life growing up, but something about their hunger to escape into bigger and better things went straight into my ears, and sank deeply into my veins. It pressed a button in me that said something wasn’t right about where I was, who I was around on a daily basis in that town, and the life I would be living if I attempted to stay.
Even just particular projects single-handedly shaped me into being able to accept my anxiety and depression over the years. When I say an album like God’s Son is extremely meaningful for me, it’s hard for people to understand why, and that’s perfectly fine. I don’t expect them to comprehend why I stay stuck on one of Nas’ more lackluster projects in comparison to his best works. To me, I felt every aspect of the darkness spit on that album, and it resonated so highly with my own. Even Common’s Be helped me to feel like my emotional roller coasters, and desire to find authenticity in people, was more of a normalcy for a human being than the pretentious and judgmental tone that swept through my hometown. I came to my own zen, one way or another, thanks to one of the most criticized cultures in society.
If hip hop had never touched my ears, and brushed so hard against my soul, I probably wouldn’t be here today, let alone even writing this. While not everyone is going to be a fan of me wanting to be part of the culture, or contributing to it, going after my vision to do so has done more for my life than anything else can. I would have been nothing, and I mean seriously nothing, without it, and it’s unbelievable to me that I can even just be part of conversations about it, let alone helping to spark some. Hip hop culture truly is one of the most special aspects of society, and if you get a chance to be part of it, make sure you go ahead and let it change your life graciously.
I know, I know. I’ve been mostly rambling, but this piece will remain unfinished as most of my rants tend to, and I hope it opens some hearts up. My battle with anxiety is never over, and it’s not something that will be “defeated” at any point, but it’s one of the many intricate pieces that impacts my every move.
This is the introduction to diving into my mind. Thank you, hip hop. Genuinely.