James Blake opens up about mental health, “suicidal thoughts”

James Blake spoke at the Performing Arts Medicine Association’s (an organization that focuses on the improvement of health care for musicians, dancers, and actors) symposium in Orange County, California yesterday as a guest speaker. Blake opened up about his experiences with depression and anxiety during a panel called “You Got This: Managing the Suicide Crisis in the Arts Population,” Billboard reports.

Blake revealed that he experienced “suicidal thoughts” from touring. When he released the CMYK EP and James Blake. “I was taken away from normal life essentially at an age where I was half-formed,” he said, according to Billboard. He also went on to say that because of the very brief interactions that artists have with others while on tour, only the “good stuff” is talked about, “which generally doesn’t involve how anxious you feel [or] how depressed you feel.”

Blake also discussed how poor eating habits affected him. “I would say that chemical imbalance due to diet and the deterioration of my health was a huge, huge factor in my depression and eventual suicidal thoughts,” he said, according to Billboard. “I developed [dietary] intolerances that would lead to existential depression on a daily basis. I would eat a certain thing and then all day I would feel like there was just no point.”

Blake said he began using an experimental treatment called EMDR therapy and how he had started to cut ties with people who were enabling unhealthy behavior. “Honestly, a lot of catharsis just came in telling lots of people to fuck off,” he said. “And saying no. Saying no to constant touring. No [amount of] money will ever be enough.”

He said he has started to open up about his depression and anxiety because “we are the generation that’s watched several other generations of musicians turn to drugs and turn to excess and coping mechanisms that have destroyed them,” he said, according to Billboard. “And there are so many high-profile people recently who’ve taken their own lives. So we, I think, have a responsibility to talk about it and to remove the stigma.”

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