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James Blake on mental health

james blake
james blake Image credit: theguardian.com

James Blake has written about his personal experiences suffering from mental health.

The singer and producer contributed to a new book titled ‘It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue (And Other Lies)’ which is a collection of mental illness stories compiled by author Scarlett Curtis.

Blake’s chapter documents his battle of depression and anxiety dating back to be bullied at school when he was a teenager.

He writes: “I put girls on pedestals and worshipped them, but only ever remained their friend. I fell in love many times and it was never reciprocated. I had no automatic right to them of course, but they kept me around for years and allowed me to be bullied and humiliated by their friends, accidentally betraying me out of awkwardness.

“I resented their understandable, youthful inability to know what to do with a sensitive boy who made them laugh and feel good about themselves, but whose body they did not want.”

Blake continues: “These feelings of betrayal, persecution and rejection I kept to myself. In the crude gender stereotypes I was aware of at that age, I thought I had the sensitivity of a female but in a male’s body. I joked my way through it and made sure nobody ever saw me cry. I remained a virgin until the age of twenty-two, because I was awkward and unable to be natural around women.”

The artist’s mental health deteriorated when he became famous finding it difficult to cope with the pressure from fans who expected “a normal interaction and, even more impossible, a new album”.

As Blake’s popularity grew he started to have panic attacks and hallucinations on a daily basis.

“I became so self-obsessed and isolated that I wasn’t the success I seemed to be on paper,” he explains.

“And so the chasm grew between my alias – the guy with the ‘Pitchfork best new music 8.0+’, with the uncompromising and flourishing career, who seemed in control of everything – and the man-child who for many years was hurting, spiralling, never leaving the house, wasting away in an ego prison, refusing to collaborate, allowing himself to be bled financially and taken advantage of by his friends and their extended family, playing video games and smoking weed fourteen hours a day and not taking any care of himself what-so-ever until he was in a black depression, experiencing daily panic attacks, hallucinations and an existential crisis.

“I was asking questions like ‘What is the point of me?’ and saying I didn’t want to live. I became afraid of the growing fog of war outside my house because of what I knew people expected of me if I entered it: a normal interaction and, even more impossible, a new album.”

James goes on to credit his partner, Jameela Jamil who helped him cope with his mental health.

“My girlfriend verbally slapped some sense into me, saying it does not help anybody, least of all oneself, to compare pain. And that was good advice to hear from someone who’d been through what she has. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for this Pakistani woman to watch me – with all my advantages in life – self-sabotage and complain like I have. Fuck.”

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and other lies) is on sale now published by Penguin books.