Thank You, Kid Cudi: An Open Love Letter

You saved lives beyond your own this week.

Sara Benincasa
Oct 5, 2016 · 7 min read

Dear Scott,

First off, I hope it’s okay I called you by your first name. As a fan, I obviously know you as Kid Cudi, as do millions of other fans around the globe. But when you wrote this note to us all, you signed it with your real name. That meant something to me. We’ve never met and I don’t know if we ever will, but I wanted to say something.

Thank you.

Thank you so fucking much. Sincerely.

Being depressed is like being trapped in a box made of glass. It’s got shit — actual shit — smeared all over the outside, so you can see outside a little but not clearly. And when you admit you need help, what you’re saying is, “Look, I’m locked in this box. I can’t wipe that shit off myself. I’m in here; it’s out there.” That’s an act of power, much like the note you wrote.

And then a good therapist, counselor, social worker, medical psychiatrist wipes some of the shit off. And maybe they unlock the box or you punch your way out, but you get out into the sunlight. It feels strange for awhile to be out among the rest of the humans again, but you get used to it.

Maybe you take medication in the short term or the long term. Maybe you exercise, meditate, do yoga, learn breathing exercises, go to church, go to temple, change the way you eat and move. Maybe you do all of it. You find your way. You find what my mother calls “YOUR recipe.” It won’t look like anybody else’s recipe, exactly. This isn’t precise science. It’s more like an art — the art of deciding to live and figuring out how to do that.

When you speak openly about depression — whether you’re a celebrity or a not-famous person — you implicitly give permission for other folks to do the same. I’m thinking about my teacher in high school who spoke about her depression (by the way, I read that your mom was or is a schoolteacher in Ohio. Mine is a schoolteacher in Jersey. I love that because it made me read and look at art in different ways. Okay, back to the story.) This young woman was a gym teacher and coach, actually. And when she spoke about her depression to thirty kids in a class in suburban Jersey, she affected all of us. Now, some ignored her. Some probably laughed or rolled their eyes. But most listened really respectfully. I know I did. It helped me realize even as a teenager that it was okay to speak up about some of what I was going through. And years later, at age 21, when I was suicidal myself for the first time, it’s part of what helped me to admit that something was really wrong.

It sneaks up on you, doesn’t it? You don’t just wake up one day going, “I want to fucking kill myself.” It takes time. A few months. A few years, once you look back at it and realize you were on a decline for a long time. In my case, in the final few weeks, I wasn’t showering or eating or brushing my teeth or going out of the house. I even avoided leaving my bedroom at all. Even to use the bathroom. Sometimes I urinated in bowls or whatever receptacle was nearest just so I could go back to sleep as soon as possible. I know that’s gross but I share that because when I do, sometimes people go, “Oh shit, I want to kill myself but I’m not THAT bad. That’s nasty. If you can get better, I sure as hell can.” Seriously, I’ve had so many people say that to me and then apologize and I’m like, “No, that’s why I tell that story! So you can see you’re not so far gone!” (And other people say, “Wait, you did that too?” and then we laugh because we’re in the weirdest club you can imagine.)

By the way, I’m not saying you did any of this. I don’t know your life or your story beyond your music and what you shared so honestly. This is just an example of how low one can get.

I had so many panic attacks over the years I just got worn out, I think, and wanted to escape. You wrote about not leaving the house — that was me, too. I became afraid to do so, not just because agoraphobia had taken over my mind, but because I didn’t want to face people and pretend I felt like a human being. I didn’t. I really didn’t.

And when I finally ended up getting help, because my friends called my family to tell them to come get me, I apologized a lot. Just like you did. I felt like I let people down. And I didn’t. I really didn’t. They kept saying, “Why are you sorry?” I just felt sorry about everything at that point. Maybe you do, too. But it’s not all your fault. It really isn’t.

I know hearing that teacher talk about it years before helped me believe I could get better. (And I wasn’t even good in gym class.)

Now back to you, Scott/Kid/Mr. M/sir. If you think of that teacher and her 30 students and then multiply it about a million times, that is the number of people who will probably be reached by what you had to say. Maybe they won’t know about it today or tomorrow or next week, but over the next several years folks who need to hear what you said will hear it. There are always going to be people who mock or make fun, but I swear they will be in the tiny minority. (Here’s a great point on that.)

The hardest thing for folks who can’t acknowledge their problems is being confronted with somebody who DOES. When you speak your truth, it gives permission to those who wish to do the same. And it frightens those who cannot. Sometimes they lash out the best way they know how. They’re on their own trip. I think they’re weak, but they can get stronger. One day they may ask for help themselves. And you never know when you’re going to get an apology from one of them. Or a thank you. You don’t wait around for it, but sometimes you do get it.

I know you’re a bold artist and you’ve been famous for a long time. I also know this is a different kind of thing to be known for. But I absolutely swear to you that the greatest things in life come from shining a light on your own darkness. It is the only way to shrink the monsters who live there.

So this isn’t an expression of pity. It’s not even sympathy for an illness, which is indeed what you’re going through. I feel empathy, sure, but mostly I feel admiration.

You saved more lives than your own this week, sir, and I’m so grateful to you for that.

Praise feels weird as hell when you feel like shit. It can even feel upsetting, because it’s so out of sync with what you feel inside. So I won’t go on and on about it. But when people send you love, even if you don’t feel like accepting it because you don’t think you deserve it, try just putting a pin in it for later. You don’t have to receive it just yet if you don’t want to. But you might wanna look at it later and see how it feels.

Personally, as a fan, I can’t say I don’t give a fuck if you never make music again so long as you’re happy. I DO give a fuck, selfishly (and also because as a writer myself, I know that’s an integral part of who you are so probably it’ll make you happy to make music as well in future.) But let yourself have a break for as long as you damn well please.

And if you decide you don’t want to be in public for awhile, or forever, and you don’t want to be in the industry, or make any music at all — that’s cool too. I would 100% rather have you here being the father and friend that you are, healthy and happy, than performing for my pleasure or the pleasure of other strangers.

The people who work with you will be fine. The folks who make money with you will be fine. The family that you support will be fine. This is your time to do you.

Take good care. Be well. And drink lots of water and sleep when you can, because that’s when your brain makes the chemicals that help you feel happiness and peace (Wikipedia told me I’m four years older than you. Therefore I will act like your grandma now, as that is my personality.)


Sara Benincasa

Los Angeles, CA

P.S. Also “Séance Chaos” is a sick fucking song, so thanks for that, too. And I’m always here for Beavis and Butthead.

The Stories

Real stories, well-told.

Sara Benincasa

Written by

Comedian, author, writer for screens. My latest book is Real Artists Have Day Jobs

The Stories

Real stories, well-told.

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