While still unconfirmed by police and autopsy reports, the possibility of Avicii’s death by suicide brings to light an important issue faced by musicians and creatives: mental health is important, and many are suffering more than you might think. Each troll comment or mean spirited post on an artist’s page may seem like so little to you, but to the artist, it might be all they think about that day.
Their lives seem glamorous and, sure, getting to travel all around the world seems like an amazing opportunity. But what you don’t see are the hours spent on planes and in airports alone, the empty hotel rooms, the constant jetlag, the neverending demand from fans for more music, more tours, more merch, more more more…
This morning, Kaskade posted an open letter on his blog, addressed to those who are carrying despair and sadness within their hearts, to those who are having a bad day, week, or even year.
“How many people in our lives do we look past daily or weekly or even once-in-a-lifetime who need us to look AT them,” he questions. “How many of them just need to hear that we get it, we have struggles too that don’t ever make it to our Instagram feed. What can we do better?”
The conversation is an important one, and one that needs to be had. Mental health isn’t some stigma or taboo that isn’t to be talked about. Everyone is dealing with something, even if it’s not immediately visible on the surface, so take that into account before you make a mean comment or judge someone prematurely.
You can read Kaskade’s letter below:
The week after Tim Bergling’s death, I spent a lot of time at my studio, but wasn’t really making music there. It was a week-long conversation that happened with everyone who came through. With DJ’s, producers and industry people all adding to the thread. I’ve heard many stories and had the chance to sit with my own experiences. I was told that suicide rates have been rising dramatically over the past decade and it just makes me wonder. How many people in our lives do we look past daily or weekly or even once-in-a-lifetime who need us to look AT them? How many of them just need to hear that we get it, we have struggles too that don’t ever make it to our Instagram feed. What can we do better?
My chance to have that conversation with Tim is gone. I didn’t know what he needed, and likely wouldn’t have been able to give it to him even if I did. But my opportunity to lift up friends, acquaintances and family members who are wrestling to get through every day because they are doing hand-to-hand combat with anxiety, depression, both, or some combination of problems that simply leave them feeling they are not enough is still here. And right now it feels important that we acknowledge these people and maybe go ahead and admit that we are those people. I can relate to feeling that this life is too much and that I am not enough. Can’t you?
To those who are feeling lost right now: I am so sorry for the despair you feel.
I cannot carry your despair for you and I cannot fix it. But I can let you know that the pictures of perfection we are all forced to reckon with on every online platform and every surface real life interaction are not real. They are a fraction of a picture, not even a corner piece to a puzzle.
Everyone around you has been lost, is lost or will be lost while here on our planet. While that doesn’t change your burden, it is important you understand that you are not less than. You are not defective and you are not broken. At your worst, in the darkest time friend, you are not broken. You can still put your face to the sun, you can reach up to the sky and twist your mouth into a smile. And when you do that, while you are here doing your best even if the only thing you can do is fake a smile to the universe – it is enough.
It’s time to feel passionate about kindness. It’s time to turn kindness inwards, and to stop comparing ourselves to the lies we see online and take the moments we need to give ourselves what we need. Ask for help, take that extra beat with a hug that feels restorative and let the tears go when they need release. Listen to music that makes you cry and dance and laugh. Be brave enough to share how you feel with a friend. Feel the entire spectrum that lives inside, because we are designed to feel more than perfection. We are here to struggle, persevere and live through every day that’s given to us. More importantly, we are here to grow and become better which doesn’t always translate to immediately feeling happier. It can take years. But we are built for this.
I don’t have a cure for depression, anxiety and the ills of the world. But if my thoughts of Tim over the last few days have led me anywhere, it’s to this place: fight like crazy for the things that restore balance. Help others in their fight. I salute those who have persevered in their struggle to stay in this world, I know it is exhausting. I am so extremely sad for those who have lost that fight. I won’t let this sadness go unanswered, though. I commit to keep my eyes open and to give love, kindness and compassion to those who need it, including myself.
Will you do the same?
Photo via Rukes.com