Leon Bridges Track River Sprung Out From His Battle With Depression And Loss Of Hope

Even these days, a visit to a doctor for any kind of physical ailment is common amongst people of all ages. On the other hand, mental health is not taken nearly as seriously. But just how fatal any chronic illness can be, mental health illnesses like depression can take a toll on the daily life of an individual. About 5% of adults globally suffer from depression. Of the 30,000 reported suicides in the U.S. each year, over two-thirds of the cases were caused by depression. In this day and age, spreading awareness about mental health is as important as any other illness. 

In the light of all this, American singer-songwriter Leon Bridges has been very vocal about his struggle with depression. An artist like Bridges has a reach over a wide number of audiences around the world, and with such influence, they can advocate for mental health, the effects of which can be monumental for people seeking treatment and counseling.

Around the time that I wrote it, I was really down, really depressed because you know I was working like a whole bunch of jobs to like support my mom and myself.

Bridges was joined by the singer Brittni Jessie, whom he is friends with after she was asked to join in for a couple of songs on the record.

Concisely, Bridge’s song River evolved from his struggles against depression. The song is an outcry of the heart to surrender to God, as Bridges shares his desperation in the lines “In my darkness, I remember Momma’s words reoccur to me- surrender to the good lord and he’ll wipe your slate clean.

Leon had a lot of responsibility on his shoulder, one of them being financially stable to support his mother. Music was in his heart, and that’s how he wanted to make a living. But it didn’t look possible to him and his heart was in turmoil. Bridges took up a dishwashing job to bring in money to the family. 

Looking to get a gig or some sort of push for his music, the singer would show up at open mics in his hometown, Fort Worth, Texas. However, Leon made it big with just his 2015 debut album “Coming Home”, earning him a Grammy nomination. Things quickly picked up the pace and the artist’s career took an uphill with him still mentally trying to keep up. 

My transition was dishwasher one day and being somewhat of a star [the next]. It’s so weird that this is my life now. Sometimes it can be overwhelming.

The speed with which he was growing his musical career was inconceivable to the 2015 Grammy nominee, and as a result, it culminated in self-doubt. 

This was just an accumulation of all of these feelings – feeling like I don’t deserve to be here or I’m not handsome enough or a good enough singer. I would randomly just burst out in tears in front of my friends, and I’m grateful [they] helped me work through it.

Several artists have been a victim of depression and even lost their lives to it. In research for a book published by Sally-Anne Gross and Dr George Musgrave, it was found out that musicians are three times more likely to experience anxiety and depression than regular people. To name a few, on July 20th, 2017, Chester Bennington, the singer from Linkin Park gave up his life due to depression. Others who lost their lives were Chris Cornell as well as actors like Robin Williams, all as a result of mental illness. 

In recent years, more number young people are suffering from some sort of mental health illness according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy

This rise in the number of people suffering from depression is concerning. In times like these, when artists like Bridges speak on these matters, it makes a difference. Also, take a moment to look at rock and metal artists speaking on the subject.

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Atif Abidi
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