Kid Cudi Reminds Me Of How Ashamed I Used To Be About My Depression
In a raw, heartbreakingly honest open letter, recording artist and actor Kid Cudi revealed to his fans that he checked himself into rehab for "depression" and "suicidal urges."
Via Facebook, Cudi told fans,
The moment my eyes skimmed across that first sentence, I immediately started to cry. It was a visceral reaction. Hot tears ran down my face right there in a big company meeting with my entire office.
I pulled my hair in front of my face so it practically blinded my eyes and buttoned my peacoat as high as it could possibly go, wishing its fabric would somehow swallow me whole. I cast my eyes downward, so no one could see me cry.
Because I don't cry in meetings. I'm not that girl, babe. It's embarrassing to exhibit feelings other than cold apathy or buoyant enthusiasm in life, let alone at work.
But I couldn't stop crying because Kid Cudi's letter was too real to me. And I know it is for a lot of us — maybe even some of my fellow colleagues sitting in that same room with me. I mean, 40 million US adults suffer from anxiety and 9.9 million US adults suffer from a major depressive disorder. I'm just one of millions.
But what really struck me about that opening line was the shame Kid Cudi claims has kept him silent and stopped him from getting help. He opted to live a lie because he was ashamed to be sad.
I lived a lie and suffered in silence for most of my 20s because I was also ashamed to be sad.
I've always presented myself to the outer world as a fierce, smily girl. I was the girl with red lipstick and the pretty dress and the impressive "How the hell does she walk in those things?" mega platforms.
I smile — even when inside I feel a sadness so heavy it physically hurts to stretch my lips upward — I still smile. I always walk steady on those big platforms, even when I have this inner shakiness, this underlying anxiety that makes me feel like I've popped a handful of dirty speed.
"You laugh a lot," a date told me last October. Yeah, I've always been one of those girls who's laughed a little too easily, especially on dates.
But really, I'm one giggle away from a nervous fucking breakdown.
You have to laugh, though, because confessing to the crippling sadness is like admitting you've failed. Who wants to date someone who's failed?
Our society sees major depressive disorder as a weakness or failure, not a disease. And I don't want to be seen as weak or as a failure. I want to be seen as strong and successful. People are attracted to strong and successful.
It took me too long to realize I could be both strong and successful and depressed and anxious all at the same time. You wouldn't write off the achievements of someone with physical illness, and you wouldn't call their characters weak, right?
Yet as a culture, we so quickly deem someone with mental illness as "weak."
And if I were to admit on a date that yes, I have depression and anxiety, she would most likely see it as the ultimate red flag. She would automatically assume I was weak and needy and basically going to be one giant headache that she just didn't need in her life.
I mean, if you told your mother you were dating someone with depression, how do you think she'd react?
She would probably tell you that you didn't need that extra complication in your life right now, and that there are plenty of fish in the sea.
So I hide. I hide my depression and anxiety, and I've hidden the fact that I take medication, too.
The moment you admit to the person you're seeing that you're on medication for depression or anxiety, every single fight or off day or the first time you want to abstain from sex is circled right back to your medication.
"It's the medication you're on that's making you act crazy."
"You don't want sex because of those damn pills!"
"You're not understanding where I'm coming from because your meds are making you numb."
"I think now that you're in a happy relationship, you should go off the medication. I want to know the real, raw you."
I've heard all of this so many times from multiple partners.
It's as if me needing to take antidepressants is an attack against them, a blow to their ego. They seem to think they can either heal you with the magic of their love or that the medication is blocking the "real" you.
I'm a romantic. I believe love is the most powerful force of all, but it's not going to shield me from the symptoms of my diagnosed medical condition.
And maybe, just maybe, the chemical imbalance I have isn't the real me at all. It hinders the real me.
Maybe when I'm balanced out, I'm actually more myself. The first time I went on antidepressants, I remember saying to my brother, "Wow, this is the person I'm supposed to be, and I can't believe I let this shit stop me from being myself for so long."
In recent years, I've opened up and written about my struggles with anxiety and depression. I've written about being on antidepressants and going off antidepressants in hopes to reduce the shame and the stigma surrounding mental illness. I write from this heroic place like I'm totally recovered and everything is fine now.
But lately, I've noticed a falseness in my work and my relationships, and it's because even though I've been so open in the past, I've been hiding something lately, kittens.
I've hidden it from my readers, I've hidden it from the person I'm dating and I've hidden it from myself because the shame cuts too deep.
The crippling anxiety is back. It's been creeping up inside of me slowly for months, but I've been doing what all nice English-Jewish girls do: stuffing it down. I'm "keeping calm and carrying on," as my Brits like to say.
And that's because I've already written about how I had come such a long way and was feeling so much better. Plus, you're only really supposed to write about your darkest experiences on the internet once you've healed, right?
Active drug users rarely let us in when they're battling their addiction; they only write about it hindsight. They talk about their experience when everything is perfect and they have a white picket fence and baby and a steady job.
But after reading this letter from Kid Cudi, I thought, "Fuck it. Why can't we write about our experiences as we're working through them?"
Because Kid Cudi's letter about actively being in the thick of depression impacted me and inspired me to be more real with myself and my partner more than any other "I've already been through this, and life glitters and it gets better" article I've read in the last month.
Because it made me feel less alone. And people who are depressed need to feel less alone, because depression is the loneliest feeling in the world. It's like being homesick. But, the shame stops us from being open and connecting with others.
Even Kid Cudi ended his letter by apologizing to us for his depression.
We need to stop apologizing for our depression and stop hiding it, especially from the people we love. You wouldn't apologize to your date for getting treatment for your diabetes, and depression is no effing different, babes.
And the more we come forward and discuss what it's like to actually live with this illness — not just after our "recovery" — the more people will be inspired to get treated. It won't feel like this distanced thing.
Depression is like any disease, and you can't ignore it. The longer you leave it untreated inside of your body, the bigger it gets and the more it bleeds into your life and your relationships.
I'm grateful to Kid Cudi for putting me in check and for being so bold and strong. I'm grateful to him for speaking up publicly about his struggle because it's inspired me to do the same, especially with the people I love.
And if love is the most powerful force of all, it should require the most honesty.