This coming summer 2017, MOBO Award-winning artist, Triple O, is scheduled to release his sophomore album, ‘Zero Not Equal To One: Conversations with the mind’. The album is a follow-up to his debut project, ‘Flatline’, which was released back in the summer of 2011.
This new album is centred on mental health and depression, an issue very close to the heart of Triple O, as he uses this album to tell his story…
Conceptually, ‘Zero Not Equal To One’ is a mathematical statement, which acknowledges the two sides of that particular equation as being an imbalanced equation in need of a solution. This idea is expanded within the overall premise of the album, which focuses on the struggle many have with depression/mental health. The album aims to take a practical look at a very personal problem, evaluating the process of moving from a place of feeling empty and having this big hole, to actually reaching wellness and being made whole. The album comes around full circle.
Now I feel it is very important that, as Christians, we do not get scared when it comes to tackling hard issues. The God of grace we serve is the Author of all things, and is able to give us the wisdom and grace to address an issue, which should no longer be ignored. Considering all of this, one thing is very apparent: Mental Health is still a taboo topic of discussion amongst certain demographics; depression is an illness that still needs to be addressed appropriately within many communities.
This issue has recently become a major talking point amongst the Black community, with the admission of high-profile stars, such as Kid-Cudi and, more recently, Kanye West. We are now seeing an increased number of vlogs, documentaries and written posts flying around on social media; people are now more than ready to have an open discussion about this topic.
“While Black women are burdened with strength and silence, in order to shoulder the emotional needs of an entire community, men tend to inherit a sense of masculinity that teaches stoicism as a virtue. There are generations of Black boys and men walking around with turmoil swelling inside them, ready to explode at any minute.” – Mychal Denzel Smith
Speaking from personal experience, and having struggled with this issue myself, I have struggled to speak up whenever I have felt overwhelmed, down and discouraged, even though I knew that keeping quiet was solving not a thing. But looking back, I knew why I did it: it was the fear of condemnation, the fear of being rejected, the fear of being ridiculed. I trained my mind to ignore the problem and pretend to everyone around me that I was OK. I forced myself to believe the very lie I’d created. So the turmoil I was living in compelled me to live in pain; there was a hole in my chest, and I found myself living in a dark room, screaming in silence.
Stigma of mental health in the Church
‘’…When faced with shame, stigma and possible rejection by their beloved church, African-American members, preachers and teachers become expert at using everything except the appropriate treatment to hide their depression. They continue preaching, teaching and serving, despite the crushing weight of despair associated with untreated depression – all while silently praying for a fresh anointing. The African-American church must be that same hedge of protection around those living with depression and other mental illnesses. As an institution, the Church cannot effectively speak life, healing or peace to anyone, unless its preachers, teachers and members are mentally and spiritually healthy….’’ This is an excerpt taken from an open letter to the African-American church about mental illness, published by The Huffington Post.
Now, as a born-again believer in Christ, I am very much aware of God’s saving grace and His ability to save, cover and keep His sheep. It is my belief in this fundamental truth that keeps me grounded and at peace, thus shaping my worldview. But, in saying that, having previously struggled with mental health issues in the past and seeing people around me suffer quite severely, it is no secret that this is an issue, which just isn’t dealt with properly in the Church.
There is such a fine line that needs to be noted here: faith shouldn’t be disregarded in place of modern medicine but, at the same time, I do not feel Christians should be ignorant and dispute the benefits of seeking professional help.
My main issue is that we don’t want to talk about what needs to be talked about. I’m learning (though I still have a long way to go) about the importance of communication; the Church needs to create a forum comfortable enough for its members to speak about an issue that holds just as much weight as a broken leg or a blood deficiency of some sort. If the Church is a place for the sick, then why should someone in that position feel bad for not being well?
I don’t claim to have the answers on these issues; neither do I have a definitive conclusion to this piece. Instead, I put out this post simply to spark dialogue amongst the aforementioned communities and beyond my social circles. There are people suffering in silence, and this really should not be so. To both men and women reading this, asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s an act of strength. And though it may not go away overnight, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
And I aim to at least start the conversation with the album ‘Zero Not Equal To One’.
Follow Triple ‘O’ on Twitter @TripleOmusic