The first thing someone says when hearing their friend is depressed is, "Well, what's wrong?" People who are more familiar with disease understand that nothing has to necessarily go wrong for a wave of the blues to hit. Depression has the ability to take on a number of shapes and sizes. A person can be wealthy, sociable, and loved and still feel helpless in the pursuit of their own happiness.
Let's be honest. It's hard to admit that you have the nerve to be depressed, especially when life has seemingly given you everything you prayed for. But mental illness does not discriminate based on race, class, gender, or religion. In street terms: Anybody can get it. Yes, that means your man who's always been your rock, your aunt who you've never seen cry, or any one of your strong friends.
In the black community especially, when someone reveals that they've gotten professional help for a mental disorder, they are automatically stigmatized and labeled as someone who is crazy or defective, but in reality, there is no truth to that theory at all. Anxiety disorders alone affect nearly 40 million people every year and celebrities are not exempt from this number.
As of late, celebrities like Justin Bieber, Lloyd, Big Sean, and Keri Hilson have been transparent about their struggle with mental illness and how it affected their music, breaking the stereotype that therapy is only reserved for one type of person.
We all know that the first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have one, and that's exactly what these artists had to do to find true relief from their anxieties. After taking the last year away from music to focus on his mental health, for his 31st birthday, Big Sean returned to Instagram with a teaser for some brand new music and a refreshed outlook on life.
The rapper explained that around this time last year, life looked much different for him. He revealed in his three-part video post that although on the outside, everything was looking up, he was battling mental turmoil internally. Last June, Big Sean shocked fans when he announced that he would be cutting his tour short and proved that black men suffer from depression, too.
"I'm big on energy, and I wasn't feeling like myself and I couldn't figure out why. So what I did was I stepped back from everything I was doing, everything I had going on, because somewhere in the middle of it, I just felt lost and I didn't know how I got there."
When the rapper realized that his relationships were suffering, especially the one he has with his mother, he knew that enough was enough. Big Sean revealed that although he discovered the skill of meditation to help cope with his issues as a teenager, at this point, he knew it was time to seek help from a medical professional. He explained:
"I been meditating since I was 17 years old. That helps with anxiety, depression, all those things I had experienced in my life. It wasn't doing it all the way for this, so I knew this required some special attention."
When you break your leg or sprain your wrist, you go see a doctor so that you can properly heal, right? Well, when you're dealing with an ailment of your mind, why should its circumstances be any different? Just like physical wounds, emotional wounds deserve the chance to be diagnosed, nurtured, and treated by a medical professional, and that's exactly what Big Sean did.
The rapper told his fans that along with spending time alone and refining his circle of friends, having a therapist was an essential part of his healing process. Even though he was initially reluctant to tell his friends about seeking professional help, he grew to understand there is absolutely no shame in loving yourself unconditionally enough to know (and ask) when you need help.
"I started realizing that you can't give or depend on somebody for a good time if you can't give it to yourself. So, started doing things by myself, doing things I never thought I'd do, like going skydiving or whatever I thought was fun, just doing it. In the midst, I definitely rediscovered myself and found a whole new energy, and me being the source of it and not somebody else."
The Detroit native had this advice for anyone else that may be fighting their own battle with depression or anxiety:
"Put the energy back into yourself, be clear about what you want to do, who you want to do it with. Just know that it all translates to happiness."
Keri Hilson also revealed that depression was the reason for her hiatus from music last year, and has since been open about seeking counseling and attending therapy regularly. Although it took a bit of searching, Keri ultimately found a regular therapist that helped her look at her issues objectively, and she developed some tough skin in the process. Last year at the Silence The Shame conference in Atlanta the singer shared that therapy is a process that will break you down to build you up.
"It uproots for the sake of healing. So it's a process. It's not that you go and sit there one time and feel good. Many days, I wouldn't feel good going or leaving."
Now, 10 years after the studio release of her debut album, Keri recently revealed that she'll be back in the R&B game this summer with a new sound and state of mind.
"Today marks 10 years since the release of my first studio album, 'In A Perfect World'. I didn't mean to be gone so long, I only needed my real world to be perfect…it is now. Thank you for your patience. The wait is over."
Keri and Big Sean are proof that mental illness doesn't make you defective, and seeking therapy or help from a medical professional doesn't make you crazy. Depression is tricky, and it doesn't always look like spending the whole day in bed crying. Sometimes depression is losing passion for things you once loved, feeling distant in relationships you were once very close to, and lower than normal self-esteem. Regardless of gender, race, or religion, everyone deserves the opportunity to heal, but the first step in healing is admitting your brokenness.
Big ups to both of these amazing artists for sharing their struggle and joining in on the fight to destigmatize mental illness in the black community, the streets are waiting on your new music!
Featured image by Christian Vierig/Getty Images.