Written by Ashly Nagrant • Photography by Don Arnold, Wire Image • December 5, 2016
You probably know somebody who’s had a rough 2016. Let’s face it, this year was really difficult to get through at times. Even worse if, in the middle of everything else going on, you’re someone struggling with an illness, physically or mentally.
Sometimes the hardest thing you can do is take the time for yourself, to practice self care. But we’ve got a list of artists who have done just that, and we hope will encourage you to do the same. You deserve to be healthy, to be happy, and to have the chance to rock out.
Just a heads up: this article does deal with the topics of mental health and suicide. We encourage anyone struggling with these in their life to get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and their website has further resources and information for anyone struggling with emotional distress.
Kanye West: Kanye’s hardly been quiet about his history with treatment for mental health issues. He’s dropped the brand-name antidepressant Lexapro in two songs, most recently FML from The Life of Pablo: “You ain’t never seen nothing crazier than / this n—a when he off his Lexapro.” So we’re glad to see him taking the necessary time to take care of himself as we near the end of 2016.
Ellie Goulding: It can be too easy to hear stories about someone with an up and coming career seeming to “put things on hold.” Ellie Goulding, however, has opened up about her need to take time for herself after a string of panic attacks were putting her well-being in danger.
She’s since revealed that seeking treatment and going through therapy continues to help her as she goes forward. In her own words “I think my body has become quite good at controlling anxiety.”
Zayn: Since deciding to fly solo, Zayn has been able to be more true to himself in his music. But thankfully, that has extended beyond just the songs on his debut solo album. In a memoir released in fall 2016, Zayn spoke candidly about struggling with an eating disorder since his days in 1 Direction. He said it stemmed not from a body image concern but “I think it was about control. I didn’t feel like I had control over anything else in my life, but food was something I could control, so I did.”
Along with getting help with his E.D., Zayn also announced he would be taking some time to handle ongoing anxiety issues which had progressed to the point where he had issues with even leaving his home. His fanbase wishes him the best and looks forward to seeing a healthier and happier Zayn in the future.
Selena Gomez: Growing up in the public eye can be hard enough, but former child star Gomez has the added complication of being diagnosed with the auto-immune disease lupus. She had previously gone into treatment in 2014 for the condition, forcing her to take time off from touring.
I have a lot to be thankful for this year.. My year has been the hardest yet most rewarding one yet. I've finally fought the fight of not 'being enough'. I have only wanted to reflect the love you guys have given me for years and show how important it is to take care of YOU. By grace through faith. Kindness always wins. I love you guys. God bless
This past year, Selena again announced she was going to be limiting her time on the road, but her people specified that while the treatment was related to lupus, the goal was “to focus on her mental health.” Selena also disappeared from social media for a bit, but returned to Instagram with a message for fans stating “I've finally fought the fight of not 'being enough'.”
Kid Cudi: Kid Cudi’s Facebook post revealing his decision to seek treatment for his depression and suicidal ideation was heartbreaking and yet familiar to many who have faced the same thought patterns. But one of the most important and resonant parts from his statement was “I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me?”
This is a place it can be incredibly difficult to come to when living with mental illness. So it is powerful that Cudi shared this with his followers and fans, passing along the same question to them. “Why not me?” His openness with his audience makes strides to help end stigmas surrounding mental health and to encourage others that they deserve to be happy, smiling and peaceful as well.
Kehlani: Unfortunately, early in 2016, Kehlani was hospitalized following a suicide attempt.
Months later, following a live performance of her song 24/7, she gave an emotional speech about her history with suicide and encouraging everyone to take care of themselves and those around them, while announcing she would be working with the National Suicide Prevention Line. “And from me to you, you are worth it, you are perfect, you need to be here every single day that you are meant to be here. Get up every day and know that and tell yourself that.”
Justin Bieber: A polarizing figure to say the least. Justin Bieber’s been portrayed as both a media darling and devil since he broke out at the age of 15. But in just this past year he’s openly talked with GQ magazine about his ADHD diagnosis and issues with finding the right medication, as well as confessed to NME that he’s been dealing with depression.
But growing up in public caused its own problems: Bieber revealed his mental health has suffered from feeling constantly watched and “poked” by the media. He revealed that watching the documentary Amy, about late singer Amy Winehouse, left him with “tears in my eyes, because I could see what the media was doing to her, how they were treating her.” He’s since seemed to be doing better, even deciding to leave Instagram over the summer to get away from some of the negativity and has found solace in his relationship with his faith: “I feel like that’s why I have a relationship with Him, because I need it. I suck by myself.”
Halsey: The “New Americana” singer has always been outspoken with her advocacy for those dealing with mental health issues. A bit of an open book with her fans, she has previously spoken about being diagnosed as bipolar and expressed her disdain for people who “fetishize girls with mental illness. It's like, 'Yeah, I want a crazy girl.'”
But in an interview with Billboard, Halsey revealed that at 17 years old, after years of feeling out of place in her hometown and bullying from those around her, she attempted suicide.
After her release from the hospital, she found strength in music, and has made her goal as a performer to be the kind of role model she wishes she’d had access to as a teenager.
Charlie Puth: Fans were stunned when YouTube sensation Puth announced on Twitter he would be cancelling the rest of the shows on his Don’t Talk tour. Puth apologized, but said that he had been dealing with illness for awhile (he was hospitalized earlier on the tour with the flu, even posting an Instagram photo of himself covered in about twenty blankets) and had been “pushing” himself through the rest of the shows rather than taking the time he needed to recover.
Instead, thankfully, he decided to put off the rest of the tour and get himself healed up. And maybe also get some more blankets because are you sure you have ENOUGH there, Charlie?
Xavier Omar: This October, Indie artist Omar celebrated the release of his first album, The Everlasting Wave, by posting a photo of himself to Instagram posing with a replica WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt. The caption? “When You battled through depression and self hate to now joy & self love ya / And project bout to drop And they ask you how you feel.”
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