Today is World Mental Health Day, and I want to talk about Kid Cudi.
Last Tuesday, the rapper and singer-songwriter made his struggle with depression and anxiety public. He shared a Facebook post explaining that he is checking himself into rehab to try and tame the ‘raging violent storm’ inside of his heart, because he is ‘a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions’, and he doesn’t know peace but wants to try and find some.
He painted a tragic and brutally honest picture, and all of our hearts broke a little when the news started to spread like wildfire, because oh, what a brave man. What a brave decision. And what a necessary one.
For Kid himself, because seeking treatment is a powerful first step, and for the rest of us, too -because leading by example is the most extraordinary thing anyone whose life unfolds in the public eye could do.
Don’t get me wrong, celebrities don’t owe us anything. They have every right to live a shiny, glamorous, seemingly perfect public life and just deal with their demons in public, where no one can judge or snicker or troll. They do, and there’s nothing wrong with that -in all fairness, we’re the ones who decided it’d be a good idea to idolize Hollywood to the point where we no longer consider them capable of fault, so we can’t really argue with that logic.
But to the millions of people suffering from mental health issues, to the ones who suffer in secret and have been told time and time again that their feelings are not valid, their medical problems aren’t medical, that they’re fine, that they should just go for a walk -to them, every time a resident of shiny glamorous picture perfect Hollywood reveals the tiniest of cracks in the wall, it can make a world of difference.
Every time someone with enough fame and influence to start a conversation actually starts one, the world (and the Internet) seems to breathe a sigh of relief. For once the first page has been written, we can keep writing the book -because it’s a book that needs to be written. It’s time.
Kid Cudi isn’t the first celebrity to openly talk about mental health: earlier this year, Kristen Bell penned a beautiful essay about her lifelong struggle with depression, Zach Braff has openly talked about his in the past, Demi Lovato about how she lives with bipolar disorder, and so did Carrie Fisher. The list goes on and on and on.
Fifty years ago this wouldn’t have happened. This didn’t happen.
Our anxious and depressed grandparents grew up thinking there was something inherently wrong with them because they were anxious and depressed, and their cause was one that not many fought for.
We’re the first anxious and depressed generation who could actually change things for our anxious and depressed children. It is not enough right now, but it could be.
We’re getting there, little by little, by talking about it. Every time a celebrity champions therapy and talks about how much it helps to have someone to talk to because life is hard, for everyone, I sleep a little better a night. Every time someone on my Twitter feed says they’re having a Bad Day, and friends and strangers alike send them messages of love, share their tips on how to deal with Bad Days, or simply tell them ‘I’m here for you if you need me’ instead of ignoring, belittling and laughing, I tell myself that we might not have reached the end of the road yet, but we’ve certainly come far.
When Heath Ledger’s fight with depression became public after his death, the whole world mourned and cried at how sad it was that he hadn’t gotten the help he needed. That was 2008, the same year I kept it a secret from all my friends that I was seeing a shrink every Friday at 4pm because a part of me was convinced that that made me crazy.
I wasn’t, and I know that now, and I’m here talking about my struggles because I know it could help, just like hearing about other people’s struggles helps me. Every single time.
I want to believe that things are changing. I want to believe that things will be different, and that we’ll start caring more, and that we’ll start helping. I need to.
In the meantime, thank you Kid. We love you, we need you, we’re proud of you.