dear joe budden, by opening up about your mental health you broke another barrier in hip-hop

August 28, 2017
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By Jasmin Pierre*, AFROPUNK contributor

Recently the topic of Styles P’s daughter ending her life last year came up as a topic on “Everyday Struggle”. The talk led the Rapper Joe Budden to tears as he talked about his own mental health issues.

As a mental health advocate, his words and emotions moved me deeply and lead me to write this letter.

Dear Joe Budden,

How are you? I know some people ask us this question, but they do not always want to hear the raw unfiltered truth. Some people do not want to hear that we may be suffering, or that we may feel like we’re drowning in the depths of our depression and the stigma that comes with it.

With the stigma comes silence…and with the silence comes pain. I listened to your show and it touched me deeply. Your emotions showed true strength, compassion, and empathy. When you spoke that someone asking “how are you?” makes your day, it reminded me of a question that I often ask people on the mental health page I run. The simple question that I ask is “how are you feeling?”. When I ask that question so many people respond to me, but the beautiful part about it is they don’t always say “I’m okay”.

When I ask them how they’re feeling they tell me the truth good or bad. They trust that I care because I am someone who has also gone through depression and even attempted suicide. Sometimes they may be hurting, suicidal, or in pain. When I listen and don’t judge them about they tell me “thank you” because someone took time out of their day to really ask about them without judgment.

Today we live in a society where so many people really don’t care about how we feel. We live in a culture where some people think it’s okay to say “Go kill yourself” when they’re angry at you (especially in the hip hop culture). So many people lack compassion when it comes to mental illness. A simple “how are you?” Or “I care about you” and really meaning it can make so much difference in this world.

You may never see this letter, but I just want you to know I really do care about how you feel. The raw and unfiltered version. Through good, bad, happy, sad, depressed, or even suicidal, your feelings truly matter. I hope that you keep making it through your battle with mental health, and most importantly I want to see you keep living. You’re a warrior. Speaking about your battle is true strength. By opening up, you broke another barrier in the Hip Hop world when it comes to mental health. Even through the darkness your light shines bright.

Peace and love

*Jasmin Pierre is Mental Health Advocate, Motivational Speaker, and author of the self help book “A Fight Worth Finishing”. She is from New Orleans, Louisiana. Jasmin is constantly fighting for the rights of those suffering from depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.