One of the dirtiest tricks the depressed mind plays on its host is convincing them not to talk about their illness. Those with depression often convince themselves they're unworthy or past the point of help, and even when addressed, there's still a long road of recovery ahead.
For at least the past four years, Oakland-based artist Kamaiyah has publicly shared chapters in her struggle with depression on Twitter. It's part of her everyday life and certainly part of her art, and yet I can't for the life of me find an instance of an interviewer asking her about it.
That may not seem significant until you read some of the thoughts Kamaiyah has been tweeting over the past four years. These are intimate thoughts and struggles that could be taken as cries for help, and no one is addressing them.
Music journalists and bloggers are far from mental health professionals—most of us have our own demons that we battle on a daily basis. We are, however, granted access to artists with often eloquent takes on mental illness, and a voice that reaches slightly farther than the average Reddit comment, and with that comes the opportunity to legitimately help some people.
Asking an artist to bare their soul on the topic of depression is an uncomfortable task, but when someone like Kamaiyah is already doing that on Twitter, there's an opportunity to bring awareness to a legitimate epidemic that will affect 35 million Americans in their lifetime. Awareness is a particularly useful tool against an illness that tricks its victims into remaining quiet about their ailment, and there's the added potential of the artist walking away with a stronger resolve in the process. After all, talking to a peer can potentially be as beneficial as professionally-conducted therapy. I know this from personal experience.
Having dealt with depression for as long as I can remember, my beliefs on how to best combat its effects have drastically changed over the years. For far too long, I listened to my depressed mind when it told me not to talk about it, to instead dull the incessant pain through medication both self-administered and prescribed by professionals.
While I've seen medication work wonders for some of my friends, repeat negative personal experiences with antidepressants and a past pharmaceutical addiction left me with a healthy distrust of pills in general. It wasn't until I realized my depressed brain was lying to me and began discussing my illness that I started to make some real progress.
I have no idea what kind of treatment, if any, Kamaiyah has pursued—we reached out to both Kamaiyah and her manager about this story, but we didn't receive a reply as of press time—but as someone who has spent years trying to nail down the proper combination of treatments, I genuinely hope she’s getting some assistance for her depression. And while I’m not trying to position music writers as potential saviors of the world, if this very clear issue isn’t being discussed in her interviews, it means we're missing out on covering an often-overlooked topic in music journalism.
If you struggle with depression, don't listen when that voice tells you to keep quiet. And if you hear someone else vocalizing their struggle, please ask how you can help—it could make a world of difference, even if you're not a professional.