Kid Cudi, depression, and the collaborative need for change

Last week, Kid Cudi revealed he had checked into rehab for ‘depression and suicidal urges’. The post, made on his Facebook page, received huge support from his fan base and that of the music world as a whole. The comments were full of individuals talking about how his honesty with his own mental health problems was not only refreshing, but also hugely important in helping them with many of their own struggles too.

The last paragraph of the post is one of huge significance.

“Love and light to everyone who has love for me and I am sorry if I let anyone down. I really am sorry. I’ll be back, stronger, better. Reborn. I feel like shit, I feel so ashamed. I’m sorry.”

“I feel so ashamed. I’m sorry”. We live in, and have lived in for too long, a society that makes people ashamed of their own mental health. Ashamed to explain they need help. Ashamed to explain to others how they feel over the immense fear of judgement. No one should have to apologise for their depression.

And there is an irony to all of this, which for any mental health sufferer is worth sincere thought — people care, and they care deeply. The process of healing may be intimately linked with one’s self, but the process of growth comes from learning from others and understanding their mental anguish. We offer each other a different perspective when we open up and talk about the complexities of our own minds, and in the rehabilitation process for depression a simple conversation can be a vital step.

The decision to so publicly share his current mental state with his fans inevitably led to the darker realities of societal ignorance regarding mental health showing up. An article on Vulture highlighted some of the more distressing views given by social media users:

“If you’re battling ‘depression’ while having 3 meals a day, a roof over your head, and a smartphone, just kill yourself,” one tweeter cruelly snapped. “You ain’t depressed, you just need $400 extra for ya rent, relax,” another snarked.

The idea that depression is any way intrinsically related to socially constructed ideas of happiness, or contentment, is ludicrous. Equally, the view expressed latterly that somehow Kid Cudi’s post was financially motivated is just as difficult to comprehend. The suggestion that financial stability and mental stability correlate is a gross misunderstanding of the human mind. There is no denying the stigma around depression still exists.

To this day, people still believe it is something you should ‘snap out of’, as opposed to a real, diagnosable, illness. This leads to people hiding their depression, which leads to further unhappiness, and sometimes even a permanent escape from the pain they are feeling.

And for those brave enough to openly discuss their problems, like Cudi, they find a feeling of shame with their self, even feeling as though they’ve let people down. Those who continue to be dismissive may not realise the damage of their words, they may not even remotely understand depression, but this is no excuse to contribute nothing but more hatred and negativity into an already vicious cycle.

Despite this, there is still hope. Depression and indeed anxiety are both talked about more now, there is more awareness, and people are slowly becoming more educated on these issues.

Far more still needs to be done, yes, but what was clear from the reaction to Cudi’s post was that people need one another when battling these illnesses. Further isolation can lead to an exasperation of the mind, however simply hearing other people’s thoughts, even their darkest ones, can play a large role in removing the isolation that often comes with depression. No one should ever have to fight the pain it causes alone.

So rather than focussing on the small group of individuals who fail to accept other people’s depression, here’s just a few of the responses to Cudi’s Facebook post, in a hope to exemplify the power of collaborative support when it comes to mental health (as well as simply appreciating the willingness to help from those who read the post):

You haven’t let us down, and in fact I think you’ve made a lot of people feel a lot better about their own mental health issues through your music. You’ve given us a million gifts, you gotta focus on you now and that’s not selfish at all. Even by sharing this, you’re helping break the stigma for people suffering anxiety and depression everywhere. You’re a great artist and a great inspiration — I hope you feel a lot better soon!”Charles Höppner

“Depression makes you feel weak, but this here is a sign of strength.

If you are struggling, seeking help is not weakness. To stand up even for a moment shows just how strong you are. To wake up and get out of bed is a sign of your strength. If you are feeling depressed, there is help.

As someone who has fought and survived some really dark battles with depression, trust me when I say stay strong and keep going. There is hope.

Thank you for being public about this. This will empower so many others to seek help too.” — Joshua Boyd

“I’ve got some issues that nobody can see but all of these emotions are pouring out of me.”

You’re the man cudi. Never lose that will to keep going. You don’t know how many people you saved with your words.” — Kahla Keegan

“Sending lots of light your way brother” — Zayn Malik

“This was so incredibly brave to write; thank you for speaking about this.

Please don’t feel ashamed; it is not shameful to feel this way, and it is certainly not shameful to seek help. It can be incredibly hard to admit you’re experiencing this, let alone to get help; you have nothing to feel sorry for.

Take care of yourself, and let others take care of you. I hope you feel better soon.” — Kaitlin-Marks Dubbs

“While not only getting yourself through these things, you expressed it in music and helped all your fans to get through similar stuff. Respect man. Never be ashamed of who you are.” — Trevor Cee

“God bless you for opening up about and you get all the help you need and have no shame. Proudly see that therapist, take your pills, and turn off social-media whenever you have to; you don’t need to answer to anybody.” — Christopher Mekel Jacques

“Please do not focus on the shame, we are all human. Focus on today. You are moving in a positive direction and taking the hard, but necessary steps to find peace and happiness within yourself. It is a constant battle for most, if not all of us. Self-love. There is nothing like it. You are a beautiful, strong, courageous, capable being who has already shared so much good to the world. Keep on keepin’ on. You are not alone.” — Jasmine Scott