Kid Cudi Matters but What about Your Friends?
Popular rap artist, Kid Cudi, announced last night that he had checked himself into rehab for depression, anxiety, and suicidal urges. His Facebook post gave me chills because every word was laced with traces of his unwanted illness. He talked about how sorry he was, how ashamed he was, and how he felt he had let everyone down. He also talked about his feeling of emptiness, him living a lie, and being a raging pool of emotions. Kudos to Kid Cudi because the first stage is speaking your truth.
Outside of his fame, Kid Cudi is a regular person like you and I. Luckily, his money will allow him to check into a good rehabilitation center and work with those who will try tirelessly to "fix" him. Everyone doesn't have Kid Cudi money but a lot of people sure are depressed. What baffles me most about this situation was the amazement of the black community. I started to see so many posts from strangers and friends in shock. In shock that this could ever happen to Cudi as if he was the first (black) person diagnosed with depression. Maybe his blackness made him bulletproof to the illness that riddles your entire being with invisible bullets. Maybe his blackness exempted him.
What Kid Cudi did was brave and I can only imagine what he felt as he wrote that painfully truthful post. I struggle sometimes to let depresssion slip off my tongue because I automatically feel confined to society's idea of what this means. In the midst of Kid Cudi's bravery, I saw confessions. Confessions of black people admiting their own struggles with mental health. I saw people tell their own tale of how life has seen better days but they're still here. They talked about getting help, not getting help, wanting help but still being stuck. They wrote about feeling so alone but not wanting to let their loved ones in on their heavy secret. I also saw their friends. Friends who mean well but contribute to the already unnerving stigma of mental health in the black world. Friends told them to pray and do things that make them happy as if this was the magic answer. I cringed.
You can't support Kid Cudi going to rehab for his mental health if you don't want to acknowledge that your own friends are struggling with theirs. Mental health is weird. It's literally like the imaginary friend who accompanies you and you do your best to prove they exist. This usually ends with people writing you off and proclaiming that you'll grow out of this stage. I've dropped the ball several times in regard to my friends and myself. I've seen signs and prayed them away because I remember how defensive I was when people first acknowledged my unwavering sadness. While I appreciated prayers and happy times, I needed help.
I saw a lot of people last night carrying fake badges of honor. People talking about their mental health and how they never sought help but are fine because everyone gets "sad". Depression and sadness are two very different beast. It's also a dangerous narrative to lead people into believing that their mental health isn't nearly as important as their physical health. Would you break your leg and not go to the doctor? Not mending a broken soul can be just as detrimental if not more.
We talk about everything else in our community but act as if this isn't silently killing us. This is literally killing us. We are literally killing ourselves. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among black people from the ages of 15 to 24. The rate of sucidies for little black boys and girls even younger have rocketed over the years. You can't say #BlackLivesMatter and truly believe that mental health is something to just pray about. Being black doesn't have to be synonymous with withstanding pain. Being black should be synonymous with finding a solution to our issues. This shouldn't equate to a "no snitching" policy for our own wellbeing.
Just like we've talked about police brutality and injustices at the hands of others, we have to talk about this quiet terror. This looks like uncomfortable conversations that you may not even understand especially if you're fortunate to have pristine mental health. This looks like telling your friend that you've noticed some changes and you're always down to talk. This looks like telling your friend that you're worried about them and maybe they should seek professional healp. This is reminding your friend that they may not have millions of fans like Cudi but you have their back and support them seeking help.
Mental health can't be pushed into the corner any longer. It can't be the taboo subject at your family dinner table especially if you care about your loved ones. Sometimes it has to be that in your face, I love you but if you won't help yourself...I will. This looks like reading up on mental health and the different causes to educate yourself. This looks like asking your friends what are known triggers for them and is there anything you can do to alleviate this. This looks like taking a mental health first aid class to support a friend or stranger who may find themselves in need. If anything else at all, it doesn't look like you glazing over noticed differences in your friend and assuming they'll be okay.
I'm glad Cudi is getting the help he needs. I'm also glad that he posted his not so gentle reminder on Facebook so (black) people remember that this impacts us too.
Newsflash: Mental Health is Not a "White People Issue" . I'm not implying that you have all the answers or that you're the fix your friend so desperately needs. I'm speaking from experience that it matters when you have someone acknowledge your sickness. It matters when someone reminds you that this isn't all in your head and you don't have to go through this alone. Mental health shouldn't be and can't be another issue we overlook.