The Diary of a CEO’s new podcast episode features Will.i.am’s mental health journey
The singer, rapper, and producer shares his mental health struggles on The Diary of a CEO’s podcast this week.
Will.i.am talks about the healing power of writing songs, and how he uses music to help solve his problems and change his “vibration.” When the host of the podcast, Steven Bartlett asked the singer about his struggles with mental health, he said, “Men, but particularly Black men, we don't always talk about our mental health”, promoting Will.i.am to share his experience of becoming a man 30 years ago. Will.i.am talks about his troubling experience of “coming of age” without “a man in my life to guide me through that.” He describes the experience as “distortion”, saying, “I got into a dark period when I felt something I’d never felt before” and pinpointed “weed” as the main reason for this.
When asked by Steven if distortion is different to depression, Will.i.am claims that “distortion leads to depression”, and one of the main triggers for this is when he feels shame for disappointing others, “When I let people down that I love, I distort.”
Psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member Noel Bell (MA, PG Dip Psych, UKCP) talks about the term cognitive distortion in his article, What are your cognitive distortions?
"A cognitive distortion is essentially a term that means the way you are thinking about something doesn’t match up with the reality of what is going on. Cognitive distortions are important because they can be the beginning of a vicious negative loop and can fuel your state of anxiety and compound your depression."
Going deeper into his upbringing, Will.i.am talks about the profoundly positive effect his mum had on him growing up, and what he had to believe in order to change their immediate reality of living in a housing project.
I got out of my predicament because I didn't live in my current reality. I had to live in this realm that was dreamt of and my whole premise was to manifest that dream with strategy. I had to live as if it was real. I had to live like I’d already moved my mum out of the projects.
Will.i.am claims that this manifestation was the way to take himself away from the path laid out in front of him, causing Steven to ask if that means he exists in a state of anxiety if he always “lives in the future”. The rapper declares this not to be the case, saying, “Once you’re aware of that then you know that’s what it is.”
Will.i.am was brought up by his mother and has never met his father. On the podcast, he talks about how he’s adopted many of his mother’s values and ways of going about things in life, “My mannerisms are my mom’s.” Will.i.am is proud of his femininity, seeing it as one of his biggest strengths.
I’m strong with my femininity. I think it's a superpower. But, when you know who you are, when you love who you are, how you are, how you vibe, that’s what it’s about.
He talks about the value of being emotional and empathising with others, professing to be the person in the lift that always talks to strangers. Connection, self-belief, and optimism fuel Wil.i.am’s strategy to overcome any failure. Working as an activist, creative designer, and coach on The Voice UK, he lives by hyper-creativity and purpose to be successful in life. This is a great reminder to us all why believing in yourself matters!
If you’ve been affected by the issues raised in this podcast episode, you may find one-to-one support with a professional counsellor helpful.
Will.i.am Opens Up: “I Would Have Had Children 10 Years Ago!!!” Guilt, Shame, Depression, Creativity & ADHD! can be listened to on The Diary of a CEO podcast.