Dear Kid Cudi,
How are you? How’ve you been?
I read your post about checking into rehab because you’ve been struggling with depression and suicidal urges. I think that took a lot of courage to publicly say. Especially as a Black person.. Even more especially as a Black man who is boxed into a rigid idea of masculinity that tries to make you unsusceptible to a spectrum of human emotions.
Your music has gotten a lot of people through things–me being one of those people. Man on the Moon: End of Day is one of my favorite hip-hop albums. I use to listen to it a lot throughout high school. The spaced out instrumental of “In My Dreams” allowed me to be in another world when I didn’t feel like dealing with this one.
So when you said you were suffering from depression and suicide ideation, I have no idea why it caught me off guard for a second. I always try to remind myself that my favorite stars are in fact human. I sometimes have to remind myself that music is therapy for the artist and we–the listeners–just happen to find healing in their music as well. I found a lot of healing in your music. But now it’s time for you to find healing. It’s time for us to take a step back and allow you the space to work through your battle with depression and anxiety.
One thing I noted in your letter to your fans is that you apologized. You apologized for “feeling like shit” and in a way, it makes me think of how we as Black Americans view issues with mental health. We have been brought up to believe that with the crushing burden of systemic oppression we must be “strong” throughout it all. Black people don’t cry. We don’t have “depression.” What the hell is “anxiety?” Who has time to be “sad” when we have “bigger battles” to face? Just pray about it, close your eyes and it’ll go away right? Mental strife is for white people, right?
How can we as a people understand that we want a system not built for us to recognize our humanity but we don’t even grasp our own full range of humanity? Black Americans are humans just like everyone else. We do feel. We do shed tears. We can’t and shouldn’t have to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders in order to feign as “strong.”
Not being “strong” is okay. In fact, as I always say, there is strength in vulnerability. It is a humbling thing to step outside of your pride and admit that you have a problem and you can not handle it on your own or you can’t just push it away. You don’t have to apologize for experiencing inevitable human emotions.
Unfortunately, Black Americans have developed this detrimental habit of not being gentle with ourselves. We apologize for having to break down. We apologize for our vulnerability. We feel like admitting to our depression and other mental hurdles will only take up too much space in issues we already have or minimize the issues we face instead of seeing them as another valid issue that also needs attention for the betterment of ourselves and our community.
The amazing thing about Black Americans is that we are multi-faceted people. We are capable of having multiple interests simultaneously. We are capable of acknowledging more than one issue at once. Why do we feel that we shouldn’t take time for ourselves to get our minds back in balance because racism is suffocating us? Matter fact, racial oppression can factor as one of the many reasons we experience depression.
We think that we don’t experience internal pain but honestly, it’s reflective in our culture and music. For example, other Black rappers talk about sipping lean and partying to escape darker feelings. We’ve been self-medicating ourselves for so long whether that be through music or weed.
But anyway… *steps off soapbox*.
Cudi, I say this all to say that you’re not alone. As someone who struggles with depression, I understand how discouraging it can leave one to feel. I am a care-free Black girl who has had her ups and downs. Having depression is like drowning but you’re on land. It’s like crawling through a dark tunnel that never ends with occasional spouts of light that soon disappear.
One of the most sobering realizations I had, for myself, was that my depression would not just go away. In fact, I realized that it would flare its ugly head throughout my life. Mental strife doesn’t always have a cure. Sometimes it’s just something you learn how to work through and navigate through throughout life. Hopefully, one day I will know what it’s like to feel the maximum potential of healing but that day won’t be today and that’s okay. That doesn’t discourage me. In fact, that gives me a glimpse of hope. Although I struggle with internal issues, I’m care-free. I’m care-free in the sense of… “The sky might fall but I’m not worried at all.” Ya feel me?
I hope that going to rehab gets you closer to healing. I hope that one day, you’ll see that you don’t have to apologize for being human–that you actually inspired a great deal of young Black men to open up about their struggles with their own mental health, something they’re hesitant to do given patriarchal conditioning and such (blahblahblah *resists urge to stand back on soapbox again*).
I hope you continue your pursuit to happiness.
I’m pursuing that too.
Sending you love and light Man on the Moon.
De La Fro