No Barrier to the Blues

There is possibly no mental health issue as misunderstood as depression. There are those who dismiss it by suggesting ‘pull yourself together’, and others who struggle to understand just how debilitating an illness it can be.

This article looks at high profile musicians who have all been widely reported as having experience of mental health issues.

While there is evidence that depression is often triggered by a major change in circumstances, it doesn’t discriminate between the rest of us and those who appear to lead charmed lives - the person with model looks, the comedian, the all star athlete, and the extrovert. People who, on the outside, have everything going for them.

It has no barriers – it doesn’t care whether you have looks, money, talent or opportunity. Bruce Springsteen opened up in his recently published autobiography, ‘Born to Run, about battling through bouts of depression in spite of a sparkling 40 year music career.

“It sneaks up on you,” revealed Springsteen. “I got to where I didn’t want to get out of bed, and you’re not behaving well at home and you’re tough on everybody.”

Rapper Kanye West cancelled a tour late last year after being admitted to hospital with exhaustion that has been reportedly linked to mental health issues. While he has not spoken out directly, his lyrics have explored themes of chronic depression and emotional turmoil. A video posted before he was hospitalised in 2016 contains references to depression and anxiety.

Social media has been dominated by accusations of attention seeking childlike behaviour and mockery – or diehard fans who encourage his outbursts as cool.

Lady Gaga, who has herself spoken out about depression, tweeted a clear message about Kanye West’s plight to those who take a cynical view.

"While I don't agree with everything he does I hope the public shows compassion. It's not funny to joke about anyone's possible or not possible mental illness, this is a sensitive time for many. Let's be kind and loving.”

Pop star Miley Cyrus hit back at those who feel someone with money, a family, friends and a job is indulgent. “So many people look at my depression as me being ungrateful, but that’s not it – I can’t help it.”

Dr Yasir Abbasi, Consultant Psychiatrist at Mersey Care agrees mental illness permeates through society.

“Some people may have what others perceive as the perfect life, but inside they are struggling to cope. We have cared for successful people who were affected so badly they couldn't function and I think that’s what is difficult for other people to understand.”