op-ed: an open letter to j. cole: your music helped me recover from my depression

June 22, 2016
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My name is Jasmin. It just so happens 2014 was one of the worst years of my life. I had already been dealing with major depressive disorder for almost several years at the time. However 2014 I had it extremely bad. Mind numbing bad. Thank God I eventually found my way out of that deep dark hole but it took me awhile. Depression is not an easy illness to deal with. I didn’t even know who I was anymore for a while. I couldn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning. Depression didn’t just take over my mind but it also took over my body. Sometimes I wondered if I would ever find my way out.

I’m now in recovery. It took a lot for me to get to that place though. It took time, seeking help for my illness, God, and music. I love music. Sometimes you listen to certain music and it just touches your soul in a way. There was a very particular album that was my soundtrack during my rough time.

That album is 2014 Forest hills drive. To me that entire album truly tells a unique story. It makes you think about things you go through in life and what’s most important (Love). A while back I wrote a letter expressing what J. Cole and his album did during my depression because it literally helped keep me afloat when I was close to drowning. The letter went something like this.

By Jasmin Pierre*, AFROPUNK contributor

Dear J COLE,

A message from a formerly depressed fan

Thank you for 2014 Forest Hills Drive. At the end of your 2014 you dropped an epic album. Platinum with no features! The end of my 2014 I almost lost my life to a major suicidal drug overdose that left me in intensive care for a week. Listening to your album got me through some rough days. When I was still battling clinical depression I would turn on that album at times and zone out (in a good way).

Nothing else mattered when I had your music in my ears. I only focused on the dope beats and the lyricism in your words. I remember when I first heard you were going on tour.

I was DETERMINED to see you live. However the tickets sold out in the same night they went on sale. I wouldn’t let that stop me. I found tickets online. They were priced way higher than the original… and I didn’t have all the money. However my brother realized how important this concert was to me and he bought the ticket for me (I still have that very same ticket in my possession to this day).

The night came and it was EPIC. One of the most memorable nights ever. March 23, 2015 I stood front row center at the house of Blues in New Orleans, La and got to witness you perform 2014 Forest hills drive from start to finish.

It was like a live form of therapy. For that night I forgot about my Illness. I didn’t think about the mental and physical pain I was in. I didn’t think about the judgment some people have about depression being a real Illness (yes it’s real). I didn’t think about how I almost lost my life from a drug overdose a few months previous to your concert.

I only focused on the lyrics and the beat of the music. I focused on your humbleness as you gave the crowd your all. Now it has been over a year since your concert. Today I’m recovered (for nearly a year now). I’ve become an advocate and a self help book author.

Actually my first book “A Fight Worth Finishing” based on my experiences with major depressive disorder and recovery became available on amazon the EXACT same day as your concert a year later (March 23 2016). That day seems to have a real significance for me. I’m finally free from an illness that held me bound seven years… I still have to keep myself healthy but I’m finally free!

The intro to your album is probably what got me so hooked from the very beginning. ” Do you wanna… do you wanna be… happy? Do you wanna…do you wanna be free?”

Your intro alone gave me hope in a very dark situation. I’m finally happy. I’m finally free.

When I turn on your album now and I listen to the music…I smile to myself sometimes. Especially when I listen to “Love Yourz”. I had to learn to love life again. I thank God that I got help and I overcame. I also thank God that in the darkness I faced I was also able to finally find some light . Some of that light was in a few different things. One of those things happened to be in your music.

Facebook: A Fight Worth Finishing
Instagram: @afightworthfinishing
Twitter: @afightworthfin

*Jasmin Pierre is a 27-year-old mental health activist and author of the new self help book “A Fight Worth Finishing”. She is from New Orleans, Louisiana. Jasmin is constantly fighting for the rights of those suffering from major depressive disorder. She inspires to become a life coach and continue writing to encourage others to never give up. You can find her on her public figure/advocate page “A Fight Worth Finishing” on Facebook.