Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels on removing the shame of mental illness and extolling the benefits of therapy
Rapper Darryl McDaniels, better known as his stage name “DMC,” was part of Run-DMC, one of the most influential groups in hip-hop history.
DMC has been open about his mental health and has written a memoir, Ten Ways Not to Commit Suicide, about his struggle with depression.
This spring, 18 year-old student correspondent Jacob Tacdol interviewed DMC at the SXSW EDU conference in Austin, Texas. Their conversation was featured in an episode of our teen mental health podcast, On Our Minds with Matt and Faiza. DMC shares his own story of mental illness and finding “the most powerful thing”–therapy.
“I’M DMC, BUT I’M NO DIFFERENT FROM ANYBODY ELSE”
DMC experienced depression and suicidal thoughts at the height of Run-DMC’s success in the early 1990s. He said most people couldn’t understand how he could feel this way, telling him to “suck it up, shut up–you’re DMC.” Depression can happen to anyone, DMC says, no matter your circumstances, successes or fame.
“IF YOU REMOVE THE SHAME, YOU REMOVE THE PAIN”
While DMC has written many rhymes over the past four decades, he says one of his best is “if you remove guilt and shame, you remove the pain.” DMC talks about being ashamed of feeling depressed and suicidal. Shame exists, he says, because of the stigma surrounding mental health. The way to remove the shame and break the stigma, DMC learned, is to talk about our feelings. After he connected with another person in the music industry who was also coping with depression and finding out–as adults–that they were adopted, DMC no longer felt alone. Talking and relating with someone “took a weight off,” according to DMC.
“TALKING TO SOMEBODY IS THE FIRST CATALYST TO EMPOWERMENT”
DMC recommends that young people do the same thing he did: find an adult they trust to talk to when they don’t feel OK. And to remember that there’s nothing wrong with them because of how they feel. DMC points out that people praise those who have enthusiasm for life and who say they always feel good, but that we shouldn’t praise or alienate people for how they feel. “There’s nothing wrong with someone feeling depressed or anxious, it’s just feeling.”
Listen to ‘On Our Minds’ wherever you find your podcasts, or click here.