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James Blake
courtesy of Instagram/@jamesblake

James Blake has written an essay on depression and masculinity

The essay, which appears in a new book on mental health, was also published online this week

James Blake is well known, by now, for talking candidly about mental health. Last year, for example, he rejected the “sad boy” label for trivialising men’s feelings and opened up about “suicidal thoughts” on tour. Now, he’s penned an essay on similar topics, focusing on the intersection between mental health and masculinity.

In the essay, which was published last week as part of author Scarlett Curtis’s It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and Other Lies) – a collection of various essays on mental health – Blake speaks about his early experiences with awkwardness and bullying.

He also writes of the disparity between his “alias”, which grew as his music became more successful, and “the man-child who for many years was hurting” and ended up in “a black depression, experiencing daily panic attacks, hallucinations and an existential crisis.”

Importantly, he then goes on to explain how he framed his struggles in terms of social identity, writing: “I have gone into a bit of detail here not to make anyone feel sorry for me, but to show how a privileged, relatively rich-and-famous-enough-for-zero-pity white man could become depressed, against all societal expectations and allowances.”

“I started having the uncomfortable but rational thought that my struggle was actually comparatively tiny,” he relates. “And that any person of colour or member of the LGBTQ+ community could feasibly have been through exactly the same thing and then much, much more on top of that.” 

But now he’s realised that “it does not help anybody, least of all oneself, to compare pain”. He also points out that this white, male disaffectedness is what leads some people (not him, obviously) to identify with Donald Trump, suggesting the dangers of ignoring it.

Besides appearing in the book, James Blake’s essay was published online by Penguin this week. You can also read him discussing his mental health in our interview on Assume Form from earlier this year.