Mental Illness Awareness Week

You wouldn’t do that Jenna, kill yourself or anyone. You don’t even have the balls to begin with. What you need is me, someone to talk to, uh, it’s been a while since our last session. So, tell me what’s been going on…

Tyler, The Creator’s song Goblin off the album with the same name starts off with those lyrics yet I can say that I’ve had a voice tell me the same thing. I suffer from manic depression and anxiety, and as a result from that, I have been suicidal in the past and attempted suicide. Not many people know this about me but every time something like Mental Illness Awareness Week comes along, I feel more intrigued to share my story in hopes of ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Tyler is a 21 year old rapper from Ladera Heights in California. Known internationally for his solo work and being a part of Odd Future, he has a fan base that millions are a part of, myself included. I’ve had the opportunity to see Tyler in concert twice and I met him in Toronto in 2012. He was only 19 then, but he didn’t act like I imagined he would for a famous musician. He seemed anxious, like the crowd wrapping around Seneca of fans waiting to meet him and the other members of Odd Future, might be too much. Perhaps he was tired after the week long tour they were just finishing up, but it didn’t feel right. After going to the concert and hearing some of my favourite songs, on the drive back to the house I was staying at I began thinking about Tyler as a person. For someone who’s so young, the way he raps about his emotions is intense. In Goblin, he tells his therapist about how he’s been feeling lately:

They claim the shit I say is wrong
Like nobody has those really dark thoughts when alone
I’m just a teenager, who admits he’s suicide prone
My life is doing pretty good, so that date’s postponed for now

tyler the creator{myself with Tyler, The Creator}

When I heard that song for the first time, I didn’t take the lyrics seriously. I thought “this is just some rich kid who’s not grateful for what he has” but over time, I realized Tyler is another troubled young adult like myself. I began to like his music more and more after listening to it and realizing that although his choice of words may be graphic, it’s just the way he gets his feelings out. The way I try to curate my posts on here is the way he puts together verses for his new songs. Everyone has a coping mechanism and luckily, we have our creative realms to keep us grounded.

1 in 5


{image via TheCannon}

This isn’t about music though, it’s about bringing the conversation about mental illness awareness to the front lines. If someone like Tyler, who has millions of fans, can openly talk about being a depressed teenager then it opens the door for other people to say “hey, I can relate, and I’m not alone.” Mental illness affects 1 in every 5 people and those numbers are staggering. For a world that has never taken mental illness seriously, it’s about time we change that. But the only place to start is with us. Open up your ears and listen to your friends when they say they’re not okay, reach out to people if you’re worried about them, but most importantly, never let anyone you love feel alone and know that you yourself always have people who love you.

It can be difficult to come to terms with your mental illness but recovery is better than the alternative. In retrospect, I thank God that I’m still here today. If I would have left years ago, I would have missed out on all the incredible opportunities that life has presented to me and that I have worked hard for. I hope that by sharing my story, you will be able to share your own story as well.


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