I recently read an article about hip-hop artist Kid Cuddi. In it, Kid Cuddi disclosed that he had been battling depression and suicidal thoughts. It also happened that this week is mental health awareness week, and this month is pastor appreciation month. What do these three things have in common? All of them have been inextricably connected by depression.
Kid Cudi, a well-known hip-hop artist released a statement saying that he was checking himself into a facility for depression and suicidal thoughts. He said that he had a lot of dark places within himself and that he wanted to deal with them. This was very empowering as many people, especially black men, have a thing against addressing mental health and going to counseling. I think that there are many artists and public figures who have gone through ups and downs like Cudi and have never sought help.
One who has spoken about it is Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC. He stated earlier this year that resisting help for depression is “a problem with men but even more for black men … In all of our cultures, there’s stupid things that us men do because we think it’s the masculine man thing to do, not realizing we are destroying our very universe." As a result, they suffer daily to keep up. Now I’ll be honest, if anyone were to look back through Kid Cudi’s music, they might be able to see that he was dealing with depression. To me, these were cries for help. Cudi mentioned that he'd often be told "You good man" from people, but never got the real support and help that he needed. Unfortunately, there are a number of people who are dealing with mental health issues and the signs aren’t always as evident.
Cudi’s actions came during a very important time. Talking about mental health during mental health awareness week, many people wouldn’t think that pastors have dealt with depression, but 1 out of 4 have dealt with some form of mental illness. The job is stressful, the hours are long, and there is a personal lack of self-care that all build up to a mental meltdown of sorts (hmmm, sounds familiar to Kid Cudi’s experience). So could it be that there is more to mental well-being than being saved and having faith? I’d say absolutely. Just like having faith that your finances will improve doesn’t really work unless you also learn and put better financial decisions into use, our faith must meet practical scientific knowledge to maintain our mental health. Faith, knowledge, and wisdom all work together to bring wholeness through the Word of God.
All of this stuff reminded me of my own issue with depression. When I was in high school, I recall experiencing things that I’d later learn were signs of depression. I even tried suicide when I was 15. Without going into a lot of detail of what lead up to this point, I will say that what stopped me was hearing my little brother Isaiah’s laughter. Once I heard him laugh in the other room, I began to cry and thought about all of the amazing things I’d be leaving behind if I had made that move. In fact, I tried to commit suicide. For a while, I never wanted to talk about it. But I realized that by me sharing my experiences, I could be saving a life. I’d rather risk embarrassment if it means that someone will decide to keep living as a result.
All of that said, I wanted to post some things that I did that helped me get through from that point on. Here’s my five points on mental health. (Remember, I am not a licensed pro or QMHP, these are just things I’ve learned from my own personal experiences):
1. Acknowledge It: No matter how much faith you have, if you don’t know where to place that faith, it’s essentially useless. It’s like going to a new mall. You find the big sign with the map that has a dot saying “You are here”. Then you find the nearest H&M, Foot Locker, or DTLR and map out your course. That’s what acknowledging anything does. It’s saying “I am at this place in life, and I want to be there. This is how I will get there.” This is what I did to start my own journey of better self-care.
2. Write Out Your Thoughts: Kind of like seeing that map, seeing your thoughts on paper can be one of the most beneficial things that you can do. Writing out your thoughts can help you to sort through them, even see if they aren’t rational, or if there is something underlying that may have gone unnoticed. It’s much like a brain dump from all of the thoughts that can often swirl around in our heads.
3. Find Someone to Confide In: One of the best things that helped me was having someone to talk to. In my case, I had God and multiple people that I would talk with about the things that would be on my mind. In fact, I still talk to most of those people today. They help keep my accountable and support me when I need it. The awesome thing is that these relationships are mutual and I do the same for them. I’ve learned that there is power in helping others when you’re tempted to get down on yourself about something.
4. Pray: Piggybacking off of those talks, praying has been instrumental in helping me to get through times where I felt my worst. But what if you don’t believe in God or a higher being? Meditation has proven to be a massive benefit to people who are dealing with depression. Quiet time to think, relax, and zone out from all of the stuff going on around us is refreshing and can help us see clearer.
5. Watch What You Hear, and Be Careful of What You Watch: I think that one of the biggest decisions I made that had a huge impact on my mind (and life in general) was changing what I listened to and watched. Honestly, how can you think positively if the only stuff you’re feeding yourself with is negative? It’s kind of like sitting in garbage and expecting not to stink when you come out (good analogy? I like it, haha). Our minds are sensitive to what we allow in, and popular culture, media, and so on have a habit of being less than positive, especially sitting on social media all. Instead, try getting outside and enjoying the fresh air or the stars. Not everyone is in a good area to those things, I know, but if you can, find a spot where you can spend at least a few minutes to yourself enjoying the right here and now.
That’s a short list of the most impactful things I’ve used in my life to deal with depression and even anxiety. "Think on these things" (Philippians 4:8) is a motto I've learned to live by. As always, if you or someone that you know is showing signs of depression (which can be found here), seek help. It’s never a sign of weakness to seek help. Think of it as you building the best team around you so that you can win. My hope is that the church will become more vocal about mental health and provide solid Biblical truths that can help. Each of my steps are Biblically founded from things I found during my own studies.
If you think this might help someone, or you just liked it in general, Like, Share, and Comment. I’d love to know your thoughts and methods of coping!
Also, my friend Trey put together a list of Scriptures that all deal with mental health. You didn’t think that Bible was only a book about some guy who died over 2000 years ago did you?! Check out his post here.