In it he writes, “When you become fascinated with something, another dimension opens up in your world. You enter a space where everything else becomes a secondary character in the theater of your mind. Music became my center stage. Depression was still a character in my show, but it lurked in the background, hanging out in the shadows of the periphery. I was now able to create something that didn’t exist before my conscious involvement. Day in and day out, I made beats to keep my mind sharp and my soul warm. There was finally something that made me feel present again. There was something I felt worthy of contributing.
“Another source of great joy in creative work is the ability to share it. Upon completion of the beatmaking curriculum, we had a graduation ceremony where all the students would get up on stage and play three beats out of loudspeakers that could blow your face off.
“Next thing I knew, it was my turn to go up. I recognized none of the 30 faces sitting in front of the speakers, but for some reason, I felt confident in myself. I realized at that moment that making music gave me a sense of self-worth that I was missing for so long. I didn’t know it until I was on the precipice of sharing it with an audience for the very first time. Then I pressed play.
“The intro of the first beat came in for a few seconds. I had my head down, listening as the track progressed. Then the drums kicked in. ‘Wooooo!’ Someone yelled out. ‘DAMN!’ ‘Awww yeahhhhh.’ ‘WOOOoooOOOo!’
“These are the sounds you want to hear when you’re playing beats. The ‘woo’ factor. At that sign of affirmation, I looked up… and noticed that almost every single head in the room was nodding to the beat. I was amazed at the energy in that room, and how everyone was connected through this one creation. We were all bound in the present moment through something I made during my darkest times.
“This was something that I never felt before, but immediately understood the value of. The ability to create and share is a vessel for your spirit. It is a gift that has been passed down through millennia. Use it when you need it most.
“Creativity has given us a toolkit of infinite possibility when it comes to living with depression. Make something to feel present again. Make those lamb chops everyone loves, and call your buddies over to share in your creation. Sit down at the potter’s wheel and make those beautiful ceramic plates. Wake up in the morning and start writing that short story about the mystical goblins and that batshit crazy troll. Code that new app that will help you find the best weed. Choreograph that dance. Take a beautiful picture.
“I never considered myself a writer. But now I’m writing because I just showed up today and did it. Sometimes, it really is that simple.
I know many people that don’t consider themselves creatives, but can always make me laugh. They can channel that gift into writing jokes. There are others who are fitness fanatics. They can create exercise regimens for people. There are others who give great presentations. They can create curriculums and educate folks.
“For those of us that experience depression or anxiety or a mental health challenge, we must first realize that its roots lie in an inability to be present. When I first realized that, it became apparent to me that I needed to exercise my creative abilities to bring me back to my core. Resiliency and creativity are antidepressants that are 100 percent natural, and fortunately, every one of us possesses them. For me, music and writing are my current tools of choice, and I hope to continue building out this toolkit with each passing moment.
“What are your creative superpowers? Remember, the question isn’t whether or not you have them, but what they are. When you identify them, make something with it and please share your creation with us. The whole world deserves to experience what it feels like to be in your present moment.”
Read the full essay here.