- 26 Sep 19
We invited a chorus of artists, writers, musicians, broadcasters, sports stars and more to contribute to Now We’re Talking, a mental health campaign, run in partnership with Lyons Tea and Pieta House.
I’m the eldest child of two very hard-working, over-achieving, immigrant parents, who did an incredible job of raising me and my three siblings.
Navigating my way through being a creative person in an academic household was tough and I can almost trace my anxiety back to that. Anxiety shows itself in many forms and, with me, it’s worry. That worry often then leads me down a path of deep, deep sadness. I haven’t been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, but I know well that’s what it is.
My closest friend and my brother both suffered with mental illness, and for a long time, it was difficult to grapple with the thought and the reality of ‘depression’ as an illness.
Being from an African background, we deal with depression differently, so it caused a lot of consternation when the reality hit us as a family. The first time we all had to acknowledge that it was, in fact, mental illness and say it out loud, none of us had a clue how to handle it. So we did what most families do – we argued!
When we got tired of fighting, we sought help from our Church and close friends, but it wasn’t until we sought professional help that we really got anywhere.
Once I saw my brother getting the help that he needed, I decided to do something about my own mental wellbeing.
This year, all the music I’ve released has been about mental health in some way. As an artist, I can only express what I am going through or have gone through.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my own experience is that it’s important to make sure you take care of your own mental health, so that you can be strong for others. Like cabin crew tell you before a flight takes off – put your own mask on first before attending to others! Look after yourself so you can truly help those around. Taking care of your mental health is definitely not a weakness – it’s one of the strongest things you can do for yourself and the people around you.
As an artist, I know many of us suffer from intrusive thoughts just based on the nature of our job. We’re constantly wearing our hearts on our sleeves and putting ourselves out there. Most of us don’t have a reliable income, and fight anxiety every day wondering, ‘What if I fail?’ – but also, ‘What if I succeed?’
I was fighting a losing battle for the two years until it came home to roost. Now, I know how to get help and I read and learn as much as I can. One particular book I’d recommend to anyone dealing with their own mental health issues, or trying to understand what someone they love is going through, is The Black Dog by Ainsley Johnstone & Matthew Johnstone. It really helped me navigate it all.
There’s no one way to tackle depression. I can only speak from personal experience, and in my family, we chose to seek professional help and work together, as a family, to help my brother through the process.
•God Knows is a musician and MC who performs as a solo artist and as one third of the Choice Music Prize-winning Rusangano Family. On Friday September 20, God Knows (feat. Outsider YP) releases Clout9, a special single for Culture Night. He is also a National Ambassador for Culture Night 2019.
Now We're Talking 2019
A partnership between Lyons Tea, Pieta House & Hot Press.
Let’s break the stigma and take the dialogue about mental health issues onto a new level
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