I’m not crazy for feeling this way
From outward appearances, Darryl seemed to have everything a person could want. What the public couldn’t see about the founding member of the legendary group Run-DMC was that depression and alcohol abuse were destroying his spirit and his body.
I had everything—I was the King of Rock—we were touring, making money and everyone knew who we were. But I didn’t feel right and not a day passed that I didn’t think about suicide.
Looking back, Darryl remembers being a nerdy kid in school—a shy boy who wore glasses and loved to lose himself in comic books. As a teen he became a regular in the hip hop scene and his popularity as a young rap artist grew, but so did his anxiety and his reliance on alcohol to get out on stage to perform. By the time Darryl and his group were household names, he was downing twelve 40-ounce bottles of beer a day.
The first time I performed in front of an actual audience, I was so scared that I couldn’t face the crowd. I used alcohol to overcome that fear and eventually alcohol took over my life.
After an emergency room doctor warned that he was heading down a very dark path, Darryl immediately quit drinking and remained sober for more than a decade. However, the startling news that he was adopted sent him into a deep depression and once again, he turned to alcohol to cope. This time Darryl entered a treatment facility and began to address not only his reliance on alcohol, but also his lifelong feelings of depression and anxiety.
I finally understood that I wasn’t the only one who felt this type of despair – I wanted to shout out to everyone “Hey, I’m not crazy for feeling this way!”
Today, Darryl is back in the recording studio, has a best-selling book about his experience with mental illness, and has become a vocal mental health advocate.
By being open about my own experiences, I am opening a pathway for other people to know they aren’t alone. If you’re not feeling right—whether you are depressed, suicidal or drinking too much—there is always someone in your life who will listen and be willing to help you. Just start talking about your feelings—we all have them.