Blackness, depression and masculinity Kid Cudi faces his demons in a brutally honest Facebook post
“I am happy, that’s just the saddest lie.”
That’s the closing lyric on the last verse of Kid Cudi’s Soundtrack 2 My Life, a not-so-deep cut on his debut studio album Man on the Moon: The End of Day, released in 2009. Coming off the fame of Day ‘n’ Nite, an introspective jam that caught fire, Soundtrack 2 My Life was a far more explicit look at the inner workings of a man whose mind has been dealing with mental health issues for most of his life.
So, when the rapper née Scott Mescudi took to Facebook to write an impassioned note to fans about his battles with depression and suicidal thoughts, which sparked the hashtag #YouGoodMan, I was not surprised. Partially because the last few weeks, he’d gone on a couple destructive rants and was seemingly losing grip. But mainly it was because of those aforementioned lyrics. I know, because they spoke to me then, and they still do.
As someone who’s battled social anxiety disorder, depression and the not infrequent suicidal tendency, the thought of shutting everything down and admitting to the world that you don’t know how to make yourself happy is an incredibly daunting task. As black boys, we are raised to believe that only our inner fortitude is what will carry us through difficult periods, just like it did our forefathers when the system was intentionally rigged to break our spirit.
When you become what the world believes of you as to be a man, your entire psychological and physical preoccupation becomes about proving your worth to your peers. In short, there’s no time to be worrying about mental health unless you legit can’t function in society anymore. The thought of sharing your feelings with someone you’re paying to listen to you becomes embarrassing and frustrating. People tell you to “get help,” and it doesn’t work because you don’t want to feel “crazy.” You ruin relationships with people based on your own ability to believe that they recognize your self-worth. You dive into your job, hoping it serves as a distraction. You lash out at people, friends and family because you’re too afraid to face your own reality.
At times, it becomes difficult to understand why it’s worth even trying anymore.
This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week in the United States, established by Congress in 1990. Cudi, by speaking out on his own life, is advancing the cause of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which pushed for recognition of the week, and according to its website is “dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.”
For Cudi, it was the death of his father. For me, I never got over my parents divorce, as a child. For the millions of other black folks walking around out there with their own issues, it could be any number of things. It’s hard to admit that you’re damaged, broken or sick.
“I am not at peace. I haven’t been since you’ve known me. If I didn’t come here, I would’ve done something to myself,” Cudi wrote. “I simply am a damaged human, swimming in a pool of emotions everyday of my life. There’s a ragin’ violent storm inside of my heart at all times. Idk what peace feels like. Idk how to relax.”
If you can’t relate to that feeling, I guarantee you know someone who does.