First, I want to say that I am so grateful that more and more people are becoming more open to sharing their own personal struggles with mental health. I have learned that, unfortunately, there is a negative stigma attached to talking about these issues- especially in the music industry. There is so much pressure to be constantly busy, productive, and always ‘on our game’. We are in a world where everything everyone does appears in our social media feed, and whether we are aware of it or not, we are in constant competition with not only others, but ourselves. The stress that this would cause anyone, especially someone who already struggles with anxiety, goes without saying.
I have always struggled with depression and anxiety, but like many artists, I have always used music as a way to cope with it. When I felt a certain way, I would write about it. Even after a nearly attempted suicide when I was a teen, I found that the two things that kept me going were music and Jesus. Writing songs about the struggles I have had with my mental health and performing them for others gave me a sense of purpose- it made my music feel so much bigger than myself. If someone would hear one of my songs and know that they aren’t alone, it made me feel like something beautiful could come out of such a dark period in my life. This is how I discovered who I wanted to be as an artist, and it’s something that I still hold on to today.
Fast forward a couple of years. I moved to Nashville when I was 18. Everyone was beautiful. Everyone had incredible style, looking ‘on point’ every time they left their house or posted to social media. Everyone was exceptionally knowledgeable about their role in the music industry. I was now a microscopic fish in an ocean of undiscovered talent.
When they say everyone is in the music industry in Nashville, they mean it. Everyone is involved in music in some way or another, and everyone is striving to maintain their individuality; to be different- to stand out. This seemed to be everyone’s greatest fear in this new place… fading in and getting lost in the crowd. It was as if you might disappear from existence altogether. I had never felt this kind of pressure before. Not only did I believe that I wasn’t different enough…the ideas began to plant themselves in my head that I was not knowledgeable enough. That I wasn’t “busy” enough. That I didn’t have the “look”.
For the next 3 years, I struggled with an eating disorder that slowly crept in and consumed my life. Eventually, after dipping dangerously below 100 pounds, I was hospitalized and forced to go through treatments. I fought going to treatments because I believed that they would get in the way of the time that I was supposed to be busy working on music. I was dying, and I was still trying to keep up with everyone else.
Healing was slow, but I credit 100% of the strength I had to Jesus. I truly believe that after my attempt and with my eating disorder, I would not be alive if it wasn’t for Him. I also believe that music is a big part of what kept me going. It was my passion and my calling. I will never forget the first time I got up on stage after my treatments and just spoke about everything that I had and continued to go through with my depression, anxiety, and my ED. Several people came up to me after the show and told me about their own struggles with these same things. After everything, the promise I had made to myself when I first began music was still what kept me going. I wanted to give hope to others, and music gave me the platform to do just that.
Although I still have my days where my depression or anxiety will creep in, I have found so much comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in these struggles. I have learned that when those feelings do hit me, it is OKAY to take a day to pause, breathe, and take care of myself. I also learned that I want to be an artist that encourages others. The industry has enough competition. There is so much beauty in artists and creatives coming together and supporting and inspiring each other.
I could write a book about how the industry that I love so much- as tough, stressful, messy, and crazy at it is, has shaped me into a stronger woman today, but I will close with this: Your depression or anxiety does not define you. It doesn’t define your career, your abilities, or what you have to offer in this industry, and it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. I know that when it comes to anxiety and depression, most days are harder than others to muster up the energy and will to keep going, but you have so much to offer both the music business and the world, so please don’t throw in the towel. I encourage you to share your story with others… in an industry full of so many people trying their best to be “impressive” and “busy”, knowing that someone is simply human is refreshing. <3
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