A powerful ripple effect

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Last week, Rick Springfield received the 2018 Beatrice Stern Media Award from Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services for raising awareness about depression and mental health issues. The Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards ceremony was held April 26 at the Beverly Hills Hilton and his best buddy (and funny guy) Doug Davidson introduced him.

RS gave a very touching acceptance speech (I keep checking YouTube to see if it’s posted there yet so I can share it, but so far I’ve only seen it on the Facebook fan pages where fans were kind to share the video).

Basically he said that he wrote about his depression in his autobiography not because of any altruistic aspirations, but because it’s such a big part of who he is. He said it was news to him that it was news to people that successful people could be depressed.

He started his talk with his dark humor: “When I was 16, if I knew that I was getting an award for being depressed, it might have made me think before I tried to hang myself.”

He spoke about his struggle with depression in 1985, after achieving great success and fame, and how he realized that those couldn’t heal what was going on inside him. As his longtime fans know, he took time off from his career to go into therapy to deal with his demons, although they never went away. He mentioned his dark episode last year where he contemplated suicide and how channeling his depression into creative pursuits helped him get through it (as well as meditation and the support of his family).

He said that so many people suffer from depression and he was there to help any kids who may be struggling with it. And he concluded by saying that if his mom was still here, he’d give the award to her.

I’m guessing there were many teary eyes in the room (and watching the video on the Facebook fan page.) His honesty, humor, humbleness and compassion really shone through. It always amazes me that somebody who has experienced so much darkness in his life has brought so much light to other’s lives.

One reason his story is so inspirational is because it proves that you never know how things will turn out. Just because one chapter of your life seems hopeless doesn’t mean things won’t improve a few pages later. When you learn about all the ups and downs of RS’s life and career, there are so many different ways things might have gone. And that’s true for all of us.

One never knows the impact their life has on others. For example, what if he decided to not return to his musical career in the late 1990s? Then there would be nine less Rick Springfield albums in the world and the impact that those songs have had on people never would have existed.

By talking about his depression, he helps others who are struggling with similar challenges. This has a huge impact on their lives and the lives of the people in their lives. It’s a giant ripple effect, and we all play a part in these powerful ripples.

Here’s an interview from last week, in advance of the award presentation.

For information about suicide prevention, visit the Didi Hirsch website.

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Under a magnifying glass

There’s been a lot of Rick Springfield headlines this past week as we get closer to the Jan. 26 release date of “The Snake King.”

Unfortunately the headlines are not about how this underrated talented musician often pegged as “an ’80s icon” is releasing a new CD – his 19th studio album, with eight of them after the ’80s –  in a different style (blues) and totally rocked it. Besides those written by actual music reviewers, who all have given “The Snake King” wonderful reviews thus far, all the other articles have focused on his recent interview with SirusXM, in which he revealed that he came close to committing suicide last year. Basically many different websites published the same article over and over and over again with different headlines, but all saying the same exact thing.

That was definitely the most shocking part of the interview, especially to fans who have followed his career closely and have recently seen him in concert. It was heartbreaking to hear that his struggles with depression are not just something that he talked about in his 2010 autobiography but something that he is still dealing with today, among his touring (about 100 concerts each year), filming TV shows and interactions with adoring fans.

I think he is brave to talk about it and am impressed that he has such strength to share something so vulnerable and then that weekend was able to return to the stage to give entertaining, rockin’ performances. I hope him sharing his experience will serve as an inspiration to many people who are dealing with depression and that his performances continue to raise his own spirits.

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Celebrities are often under a magnifying glass, with the media often focusing on one specific element, which sometimes can be a good thing and other times not, depending on the situation. In this case, the good thing is that acknowledging the impact of depression on his life will increase awareness about the severity of the disease and help those who also suffer it not feel alone. Additionally, it may help others better understand the disease and how it may affect their loved ones.

These past couple of days I’ve been reading articles about Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, who RS referred to in the SirusXM interview. Both of them were such talented singer-songwriters who fought their own battles with depression, often depicted in their song lyrics. So far, we’ve heard a few of the songs of “The Snake King”: “Little Demon,” “Land of the Blind,” “Santa is an Anagram” and “Jesus is an Atheist.” One song title in particular, “Suicide Manifesto,” is what prompted the interviewer of the SiriusXM interview to express concern and led to his revelation about what he was feeling last year when he wrote it – admitting that he was in a dark place.

As I mentioned in the past post, it’s amazing how someone who feels such darkness can bring so much light into the world. Chris Cornell’s children and a variety of musicians and actors recently released a public service announcement about “The Promise” campaign. Cornell wrote and recorded “The Promise” for a film of the same name that addresses Armenian genocide. He donated all the proceeds from the song to the International Rescue Committee, a charity that responds to humanitarian crises by helping to restore health, education and economic well-being to people stricken by conflict. Sadly, he’s not here to see the good work he generated.

Bennington’s band, Linkin Park, did a lot of charity work, raising money for hurricane victims and tsunami victims, as well as for the MusiCares MAP Fund, which helps recovering addicts. Bennington committed suicide on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.  Bennington would have turned 42 this year, on March 20; his widow is planning a birthday tribute for him.

Both of these musicians turned to songwriting to get them through difficult times and those songs helped countless others get through difficult times of their own. Their music will live on.

Although I wish RS didn’t have to deal with “Mr. D” (his depression) at all, I pray that he finds the strength to get through the difficulties that comes along with it. Sure, I hope to hear new music from him and see him in concert again and maybe even have a conversation with him someday, but above all, I just want him to be OK for his own sake and for his family’s sake.

(At least we know he’s happy tonight, as he’s judging a dog show for rescue dogs so he’s getting some dog therapy. The 2018 American Rescue Dog Show will air on the Hallmark channel on Feb. 12.)

 

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A lifetime battle with depression

That was such a candid, heartbreaking interview today on SiriusXM’s Feedback show. It’s amazing that someone who feels such darkness inside brings so much light into the world.

When the interviewer, host Lori Majewski, expressed concern about the lyrics in a song, “Suicide Manifesto,” in his upcoming CD “The Snake King,” Rick Springfield revealed that he came close to committing suicide last year. As his fans know, he has been fighting a lifelong battle with depression, but it still comes as a shock to know that Mr. D (his reference to his depression in his autobiography) still holds him so tightly in his clutches on a regular basis.

The host, who disclosed that she is a longtime fan of Rick Springfield, sounded genuinely concerned by his admission, as I’m sure many of his fans are. He’s brought so much joy to our lives for decades that it’s heartbreaking to know that he suffers so much. As with many writers, writing serves as an outlet so now it’s clear why “The Snake King” has such a dark theme.

He also talked about how important it is for him to be truthful – not to just put up a facade and say he’s doing great, when that’s not the case. I admire his candidness. By being honest with his struggles, he is helping more people than he can even imagine. It’s also a reminder that you never really know what’s going on in a person’s mind.

Here is an interview he did in 2013 as part of The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s Public Information Office’s Emmy Award-winning series, “Profiles of Hope.”

In 2016, he was part of a campaign called “Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life,” which is a series of photographs and interviews with people from across the United States who have been affected by mental illness. It debuted in December 2016 at Boston’s Logan Airport.

In the exhibit, he says this:

“I talk about my depression and the experiences I have had because I don’t want anyone else to ever feel alone like I did. It is important for people to watch me on stage or on TV and know that I am just like them and that it’s important to be introspective and recognize when you need help.”

As he continues with his busy tour this weekend and prepares for the release of “The Snake King” in a couple of weeks (which has gotten incredible reviews, like this one from The Rockpit), I wish him (and his family) continued strength as he fights this battle.

Depression and songwriting

This article on the Scary Mommy blog just gave me some insight into some of RS’s lyrics. Wow.

10 Analogies That Perfectly Capture Depression

These two songs are what immediately came to mind, but I recognize these analogies in some of his other songs as well:

“One Way Street”: “But I go to sleep at night on a bed of nails wrapped up in chains and wire”
“I Hate Myself”

To be able to channel depression into great songs is an amazing gift.