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Hey Shifters. I know it’s been a while since my last article. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve participated in anything remotely productive. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and I think I might have been a victim of what many creators call the blank page syndrome. Bear in mind that I’ve never, not even once in my entire career, encountered such an issue. Okay, that’s a lie.

I should start from the beginning. Before I continue, you should know that this will be my most personal article yet. I usually try to separate my career from my personal life but I figured that someone out there might benefit from me opening up about a few things. Even if it’s only one person. Second of all, this isn’t a cry for help. If you knew my friends, you’d know that I’ll be getting all the help I need (you guys are awesome).

Just like every one out of every five Canadians, I’ve been struggling with depression for years. And just like many Canadians, I’ve found my own ways to cope with it, or should I say, to distract myself from it. If you know anything about me, it won’t come to you as a surprise that cinema is my go-to escape. Movies have always captivated my mind and are a huge part of my life. Only through cinema have I ever been able to experience what it was like to escape reality and discover new realms of possibility. Corny, I know, but it’s true.

Also, as a creative person, it has become rather easy for me to submerge myself in my work. I can’t deny that I truly enjoy it. Whether it’s show notes, articles, scripts, personal projects or media related stuff, there’s always something out there that captures my attention. I sincerely love what I do as it sometimes provides the means through which I escape reality. Unfortunately, you can’t escape forever because depression is a sneaky bitch.

Depression isn’t talked about enough but the conversation is growing, especially in hip-hop. It’s well-documented that rappers like Kid Cudi, Joe Budden and Kanye West have suffered with mental illness and I’m sure there are many more. And a lot of these rappers cope with the lean and xans they write about in their music.

Rappers with mental illness
Rappers who have suffered from mental illness (credit: Peter Pham, rodrigoferrari by Creative Commons)

No matter what you accomplish or how successful you get, when you’re suffering with depression your mind won’t stop whispering things that aren’t true. Your thoughts go to dark places, even though you do all you can to stop thinking. Your smile becomes a mask you wear as an attempt to hide what’s going on inside and it’s not pretty. And so you try again and again until you feel numb. Eventually you realize that you’ve been pretending for a very long time. Out of nowhere it hits you all at once and you’re now overwhelmed. You’ve hit rock bottom. You feel dead inside.

So, what do you do? Talk to someone? Of course not dummy! You’re supposed to have it all together. People count on you to have it all together. And even though you could talk to someone, what would you even say? What if they simply told you to toughen up or to get over it? So instead you let yourself drown and tell people you’re swimming just fine. But you drown nonetheless. You finally realize that you can’t “create” your way out of this and that your creativity won’t save you. It’s just a temporary solution to a long-term problem.

Also read: Let’s Talk: Creative Minds and Mental Illness

Yeah, that took a really dark turn. Well, to be fair I did warn you. I won’t go into the details simply because the details don’t matter. I mean, they do, but they’re not relevant to what I’m trying to do here. Us creatives tend to be loners and somewhat reserved, as if no one can understand what goes through our mind. We try to avoid true vulnerability simply because that’s not how we operate. We try to hide behind a mountain of projects in hope that the darkness within will eventually go away…but it really doesn’t. Not without help.

Creativity didn’t save Robin Williams. It didn’t save Chester Bennington. It can’t save you. I couldn’t allow myself to continue to serve as a mentor to our readers and followers if I kept on pretending that this wasn’t a reality many of us face. Too many creatives try to use their art or business to escape and we need to start addressing this issue before it’s too late.

If you’re suffering, remember that there’s always someone out there who is willing to listen. No matter how big or small our problems seem to be, you matter to the world nonetheless. Again, my goal here isn’t to draw attention to myself. I already have the best support group in the world who will be ready to get me through this. All I’m hoping is that me opening up about my own demons might encourage you to do what I did- talk to someone.