Update on the one year anniversary of Avicii’s death: To honor his memory and continue his dream of making a difference in the world, Avicii’s family has announced the creation of the Tim Bergling Foundation. It will focus on supporting people suffering from mental illness, the organizations working with them, research into treatment, and suicide prevention. Tim’s father Klas Bergling is a keynote speaker at the International Music Summit (IMS) Ibiza, which kicks off their summer season (similar to WMC leading up to Ultra Miami) and will focus on the mental health crisis in the music industry.
With the loss of Avicii and others like Bill Hamel of Fatum and Keith Flint of The Prodigy to suicide in the last year, it’s high time we realize our mental health is every bit as important as our physical health. Due to my own struggles, in every artist interview, I ask how they maintain their mental health despite grueling tour schedules and the stresses of the music industry. You can read those HERE.
Pay attention to changes in your significant other, friends, family, neighbors, co-workers. Most people smile through their depression because they don’t want to be a burden to others. You never know if simply increasing your presence, an additional hug, or a well-timed question can change someone’s life. In the words of Tony McGuinness of Above & Beyond, “Look out for each other.”
Original article below.
In the days after Avicii’s death, one of my best friends confessed that she’s drinking herself to death and can’t seem to get herself out of a black hole. And following the announcement that he’d taken his own life, another friend confessed that he was feeling so low that he’d been contemplating suicide. Having gone through a year of suicidal depression at the age of 19, I fully understand the depth of despair and darkness my friends are feeling. For those who have never experienced weeks, months and even years of prolonged depression, nor found themselves considering suicide, it’s extremely difficult to describe. But because many of us, myself included, have lost friends and family members to this disease, I believe it’s important to understand the whys of depression and suicide.
Major depressive disorder (MDD), or depression, is common, costly, chronic and has severe symptoms. It causes social impairment, increased mortality, and is inadequately treated despite being one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. There is significant evidence that MDD is a familial disorder, and the chemical imbalance theory, though widespread and still prevalent, is unsupported by research. The current viable options for treatment of depression are cognitive based therapy (CBT), medication, or a combination of both. Many who treat their depression with medication experience significant side effects such as weight gain, loss of sex drive and insomnia, which could themselves increase depression. But to say that psychotherapy has no side effects would be misleading as it can be painful to confront our past and bring up difficult emotions such as anger and sadness. However, some studies have shown that those who recover from depression using CBT are less likely to relapse as patients are taught skills that can be used outside of, and after, treatment ends. Some would say that the best treatment for depression is the one the patient prefers.
Alright, now that you’ve got some (though definitely not all) of the scientific facts on depression, I’ll relate my own experience, which I’ve heard echoed by countless others. Having grown up in a commune where I was extremely sheltered and surrounded by 50 people who loved me and were my family, I wasn’t encouraged to make outside friends, nor did I have to examine people’s intentions towards me. So when I left the commune and spent my first year in the dorms at college, I lacked the ability to meet new people. Things that most take for granted like introductions, small talk, pop culture, money, even sitting to eat at a dining table were new and foreign to me. Though I’d craved my alone time when I was constantly around people in the commune, I suddenly found myself solo and unable to make friends.
To go from one extreme to another dropped me into the longest, blackest night of my life. What many don’t understand is that the ailments of the mind rarely leave the body unaffected. My entire body ached, such that my hair hurt, my gums bled, the sun hurt my eyes, and loud sounds left my ears ringing. It was nigh impossible to do the simplest things like get out of bed, take a shower, and get dressed; these now took Herculean effort. But I managed to attend classes and maintained a 4.0 average because I had to keep up the pretense of normalcy so my mom wouldn’t worry.
My mind relentlessly tormented me with thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness and convinced me that I didn’t deserve happiness. And when countless people abused my naivete, it proved what I’d been told about “the world.” My self-doubt dragged me so far down that I felt as if I was being pulled to the crushing depths of an ocean of darkness, choking as the black flooded my mouth, filled my lungs, and forced such despair within that it teared out my eyes and oozed from my pores. Most nights I lay awake until four in the morning and when I did sleep I was haunted by dreams of flying, the only time I felt light and free. So I’d find myself on the balcony of the dorm night after night looking over the edge, remembering how amazing I felt when I was flying in my dreams. The thought of jumping made me feel as if I could recapture some semblance of joy and freedom.
Before I went through this, I thought suicide was a selfish act because of the loved ones left behind. But in truth, the person suffering often believes it a selfless act as their absence leaves the world a better place. That most think suicide the height of selfishness makes it extremely difficult for someone to come forward and expose their darkness to the light. Suicide is also a quest for freedom; freedom from darkness and sadness; freedom from a ruined life. The phrase “judge not lest ye be judged by the same measure” comes to mind, as we all have secrets; places within that we hide from those we love most.
Hey Brother has always touched me deeply and often brings me to tears because of what I’ve been through and what I know others are going through. That song was one of many inspirations that led me to work in a field where I touch the lives of teenagers suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts every day. Those children are my heroes, for as the philosopher Seneca said, “sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” And though life is rarely easy for anyone, those suffering from depression see life as futile, a Sisyphean task, much as the man in Avicii‘s Levels video pushing a boulder up a hill.
Like a shooting star, Tim Bergling’s life lit the sky and burned too fast. Through his music, he will live on in the hearts of those whose lives he touched. If you are, or know someone struggling with depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to get tips and knowledge for yourself, or how to broach this sensitive subject with someone you love. Be their brother, be their sister. Love is deeper than blood. Don’t wait. Act now. Educate yourself. Catch that falling star and help it back into its place in the night sky so we may continue to be graced by its light and beauty.
*Featured Image Via MixMag*