It’s so important to take mental health seriously.
I tried writing about it when it occurred, but the way I felt about the reports of singer-songwriter Kehlani’s struggle with depression and attempted suicide back in March couldn’t be formed into words. For some reason, I’m still bothered by it and I still have a problem with talking about it, maybe because it felt so close to home.
I won’t go into the Kehlani situation and the (nice and absolutely terrible) comments that came out of it on social media, but it made me more thoughtful about the way mental health is perceived and how it affects our world, especially through music and the creatives behind it. I truly believe that music creatives are extremely in tune with their feelings and in tune with the world around them, and this includes the artists that we claim as tough. With that, I think they feel the hardest out of most people because their music is a direct reflection of their mind state. A lot of artists call out for help in their music. Most of them may have put themselves in a place of solitude within their music, especially hip-hop artists like the ones mentioned in this VICE piece. Mac Miller shared a few tweets that really brought this point home when reacting to the passing of Prince:
So, in honor of Mental Health Month and for the love of music creatives, I write this post to share some tips and resources that could help overcome or take control some of those issues, because as a fan and as a person who has dealt with stress and anxiety, I understand the need for help. Here are 3 tips you should consider when trying to manage them:
Remember to breathe.
Breathing is one of the last things we think about (because it comes so naturally), but it’s an essential part of our lives. Try to control your breathing as much as possible through some breathing exercises like these, especially when you’re feeling anxiety. Use your breath to find a calm place. If you’d like, play some calming music as you do it.
Seek help and talk about it.
Sometimes, when we feel down, we tend to want to be alone and get very internal with what we’re going through. I think that’s one of the worst things we can do to ourselves. Try not to be in solitude with your issues or keep it bottled in. Talk about it. You should consider going to a therapist, but if you decide not to, write it down, talk to a friend, or find a chat, even on social media sites like Twitter like the ones I’ve mentioned here. Also, this article from Mashable has some suggestions on ways to talk about it discreetly that you should also check out.
Try not to be so hard on yourself.
All three points are important, but I think this one is the most important. We all have a tendency to compare our successes to another person’s successes, and in your case, another creative’s successes to yours. No one lives a perfect life. The person that you may be comparing yourself to just might be doing well at covering up their pain because they’re comparing their lives and their successes to others, just like you are.
Feeling upset or overwhelmed is a human reaction, but we should try not to let it affect the way we live our lives. I try to manage those negative thoughts by addressing and checking those negative thoughts as they come to me. When those thoughts creep in, check those thoughts by accentuating the great things about you and your art. Instead of becoming upset and wallowing in what you can’t do, especially a specific skill, become a student in what you think you’re lacking. Make sure you’re patient with yourself in the process because no one gets “there” overnight.
You’re not alone in your struggle, creatives. If anyone wants to talk to me, find me on Twitter at @amirahrashidah and let’s chat there. We’re all in this together.