‘Ro’ (aka Rowan Groom) was born and bred in a post-Apartheid South Africa, Johannesburg where his love for Hip-hop and the power of words came into fruition from an early age. The genre was a clear common ground for youths of different colours and class in the city, and was always something Rowan connected with growing up.
In an exclusive article for ABLE2UK Groom tells us the inspiration behind a sensitive track off his new EP which references his personal connection with mental health.
‘A song named Pompey off my new EP ‘Where Is My Mind’ features the lyrics "Am I going to make it am I my uncle this is freighting, Moral dilemma between enjoyment and guilt I am fighting". This is an attempt to summarise the effect that is had on one when witnessing a family member slips into ill health be it physical or mental and no longer able to be themselves.
But whilst simultaneously not working towards becoming the very best version of myself on purpose through lack of self-belief, not even attempting to achieve goals and capitalise on having a youthful healthy body and mind.
There are two uncles I refer to here, one suffers from PTSD as well as Depression and Schizophrenia from years working in the police. He has always struggled to afford his meds as he lives off of a small pension after being told he was no longer able to work.
The second suffered a small stroke and continued to live a life style that was not advisable given his condition. He continued to drink, smoke, bad diet, and not take his medication or do exercise. Since then he has suffered more CVAs, lost his ability to walk, read and the majority of his speech, and is in no way recognisable to the jolly character I once knew as a boy.
The emotional and financial strain this inevitable puts on family is the most difficult part of the situation for the uncle who had the strokes, he has even attempted to take his own life when somebody left his Warfarin at arm’s reach by taking the entire bottle of pills.
As usual in life none of this could have happened to a nicer person, some things are not fair, irreversible and inconsolable and are just weights in the balance of existence.
But some things are preventable and I think that if both my uncles had more access to doctors in mental health at some stage earlier in their lives it could have made some positive difference. The Policeman in his early 20's I am sure had plenty to unpack to an educated ear who could have helped him to deal with the nature of his job, and the other help with perhaps figuring out why he chose to live a self-destructive life for most of his adulthood numbed with the deadly habits so many of us tend to prescribe ourselves.
There is unfortunately a stigma of "real men don't cry" and if someone does not allow their emotions to fully serve their purpose and instead push down and pack them away into some dark place then they will never grow the tools they require to cope in today's world. This is also reflected in the fact that men are around three times more likely to take their own lives….
The experience of having this happen to people I care about has really helped me realise just what family is, and it is not the group that supports you in your good times but also when times could not get any worse.
Music has helped me in a cathartic way and I have become a lot more grateful for what I am capable of still doing with ease in my day to day life, and my only hope is we can change the way we look at the act of asking people for help, but also the way we put pressure on our own governments into being able to provide help for those who need it most.’
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