There's A Little Cudi In All Of Us

DISCLAIMER: I’m OK.

In high school, I tried to kill myself, twice. The first time because I felt like everyone else was better off in the long-run without me. The second was because of unrequited love.

It wasn’t until depression and suicide were real to me that I started to understand the words of Scott Mescudi, otherwise known as Kid Cudi. My first Cudi album was Man on the Moon, Vol. II. My favorite song on the album was (and still is) These Worries, ft. Mary J. Blige. The chorus went like this:

These worries are heavy, they rest on my shoulders. My body won’t let me fall victim no more

But I didn’t hear that. I heard a hard bass line like you’d hear before an army goes to war, an eerie beat, Cudi rapping with a drill sergeant flow and Mary J. Blige singing the pain away. All of that made me forget what was going on in my life, but not because it was so uplifting – the words really aren’t. No, I forgot because I could relate. I still know every word on that album, cover-to-cover. However I didn’t realize what I was rapping until it was my life. Cudi helped me to embrace the shitty parts about growing up a scared and confused teen.

Erase Me helped me cope with girls not wanting me. Ghost! taught me the sad truth about silence. And Revofev kept me fighting for something even when I didn’t know what I was fighting for.

Kid Cudi has been helping people like me get through life’s shit forever.

That’s why when Mr. Rager checked himself into rehab for depression in October so many artists and fans took to the internet to show their solidarity with the long-time tortured artist with Kanye West and Travis Scott leading the charge. Bloggers and journalists even gave him a shout-out, saying that what he did was powerful because it opened up the dialogue about mental health in black men, something that isn’t often talked about.

But when I packed my bags to go back to Chicago for the holidays, I realized something that no one ever talks about when they talk mental illness, specifically depression and suicide. The illness may be over and life does get better, but you never forget what happened. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about one of those nights that could’ve ended my life, but I’ve learned to accept what’s happened and have done my best to move on. And I thought I had until a few days ago, on my trip to the airport.

At 5:30 a.m., I left my apartment with three bags headed to the airport and Passion, Pain & Demon Slayinon the iTunes – shuffle off, of course. By the time Swim In the Light started, I was just getting on the train that would take me to the airport. I cried for the next 30 mins. For the first time in two years, my memories got to me. The song brought back every emotion and mixed it in with the new ones I’ve felt in the past couple years. No other song, album nor artists could ever elicit something like that out of me.

I was so happy to go home, but at the same time, I remembered all of the things that happened while I was there and was filled with this cocktail of emotions that could only be explained with red eyes, tears and a lot of muffled heavy breathing.

I share that anecdote with you to precede the statement I’m about to make. What makes mental illnesses so powerful – that includes depression, suicide, anxiety and anorexia and bulimia – is silence. Silence by the victim or by those who see them each day.

Speaking from experience, it’s too easy for people to fall into the background when they feel like it’s where they should be. Dialogue and two-way communication were my biggest benefactors and I’ve done my best to give that to everyone I’ve met since. With that being said, I recognize that I may still be a little broken, or maybe just not all the way fixed. What I do know is that I’ve reached a place in my life where I’m both comfortable with and a little scared by that realization.  But I know that my family will always be there for me.  Fortunately I’ve always had a support system to fall back on, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. Too many of my friends and family members are plagued by the people who they’ve grown to love. To those people, I have this to say: You are loved.

If we can learn anything from Kid Cudi it should be to support everyone. He did it for millions of us who now have the power to pay it forward by spreading peace and love. I understand that it’s much easier said than done, but in a world filled with racism, bigotry, poverty, sickness and death, the only thing that’s going to fight it is coming together.

You don’t have to be a fan of rap to understand that.

Gregory Tremel