It's all too easy to pretend that club culture is a never-ending party, all too easy to imagine that a life spent at parties is a life spent away from the pain of reality, all too easy to think that DJs have an easy life. After all, they get to hang out with buds night after night, drinking free drinks, wearing free clothes, zipping from country to country, hotel to hotel. And that's all that matters, right? Getting free shit and lounging around in nice bathrobes in another hotel on the outskirts of another city.
The reality, of course, is very different. DJing is a job, and like any job, it comes with it's own trials and tribulations, its own stresses. Workplace stress has serious ramifications on every facet of the sufferer's life. It's no surprise then, that DJs are afflicted by it, too.
In the week that British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn announced the creation of a Minister for Mental Health as part of his shadow cabinet, one DJ has stepped forward and decided to talk about his own mental health issues. Dubstep pioneer Benga took to Twitter today to open up about the results of a working life spent on the road. His stream of posts detailed his battles with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
He talks of the feeling of aloneness that comes with dealing with mental health issues and their attendant stigmas, as well as mentioning how "terrified" his Magnetic Man co-producers Artwork and Skream must have been by his behavior. They key point Benga makes, though, the one we need to consider with total clarity, is this:
Sympathy, as human a response as it is to suffering, isn't always helpful. Sympathy is an avoidance tactic, a means of negating actually dealing with a situation in favor of giving it an "aww" or a "bless."
What we need to do is not slap ourselves on the back for retweeting Benga, but use his honesty as the basis for an actual conversation. Talking about mental health—really talking about it—isn't easy. Most of us shy away from it, feel embarrassed by the thought of it, preferring to live in denial and avoidance. It's an incredibly unhealthy attitude to have, and, sadly, isn't one that's easy to shake. Let's try, though. Let's attempt to deal with these things head on. Let's talk.