By Rachel McKenzie
On October 4th, at 10:17 PM, rap artist Scott Mescudi (known by his fans as Kid Cudi) posted this to his Facebook page: “Yesterday, I checked myself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges. I am not at peace. I haven’t been since you’ve known me.” He details his ongoing struggle with depression and anxiety, and promises his manager and label will take care of upcoming releases. Most poignant are his parting words: “I’ll be back, stronger, better. Reborn. I feel like shit, I feel so ashamed. I’m sorry.”
The world of rap went quiet, fans and artists alike. Cudi’s words instilled shock and fear in those whose who loved his music, and in those who saw it as their own personal escape from the world. It was as if tragedy had struck, and people were in mourning, and perhaps that was what was so disturbing about it to me. I kept asking myself, hasn’t the real tragedy already occurred?
Kid Cudi did not spontaneously acquire depression and anxiety the way one catches a cold or the flu; it had been rooted within him and building inside him for years. Rehab isn’t a convenient solution; it’s a last resort, and it means he was suffering for a long time before deciding to square out. And when you think about it, no one with a broken leg waits for it to get worse and worse before getting a cast or crutches, and no one with a broken arm tries to throw a Frisbee or play basketball to push through the pain. So, why do we treat a broken arm any different than a broken mind, even when it comes to ourselves?
Mental disorders like anxiety and depression are not abstract. They come from chemical imbalances, and they manifest in the brain, and they yield real pain and tangible consequences. And, like any other chronic disorder, they have their warning signs. Just take a look at some of Kid Cudi’s lyrics. “Within his dreams he sees the life he made…the pain is deep.” One of his oldest and most popular songs, Soundtrack to My Life, is a cry for help made into music: “But they all didn’t see the little bit of sadness in me, Scotty…I’ve got some issues that nobody can see and all of these emotions are pouring out of me…I tried to think about myself as a sacrifice just to show the kids they ain’t the only ones who up at night.” How can anyone (myself included) be surprised at his choice?
It feels wrong that Kid Cudi had to label his issues for them to be recognized. It feels wrong that he had to say, “I am suffering”, for us to let out a breath and respond, “Okay. You’re suffering”. We need to be more socially aware of mental illness; we need to learn not to disregard warning signs and cries for help, because it’s no better than ignoring someone who has a broken arm, or a broken leg. And when we do that, perhaps the afflicted themselves will stop feeling such guilt.
Kid Cudi swears to his fans at the end of his post, “I’ll be back, stronger, better. Reborn.” Maybe he doesn’t see the stigma wrapped up in his own words, but he is already strong, and he is already good. He just needs to be healthy again.