Balvin says he’s suffered from both since childhood, but he didn’t know what it was.
Reggaeton superstar J Balvin pulled back the curtain on some of the challenges he’s faced since childhood, including both anxiety and depression. And yet, while he said he’d “been shaking since I was a kid,” he had no idea what was going on.
With mental health still largely ignored or misunderstood, Balvin suffered for many years in uncertainty until his diagnosis seven years ago.
“You lose hope and you feel strange at every place you go. You feel like you are outside of your body,” he said on Amazon’s “En La Sala” podcast on Wednesday.
It didn’t help, as host Becky G pointed out, that in their shared Latin culture, “It’s so hard to ask for help,” perhaps even more than in other cultures, where mental illness is starting to be accepted and acknowledged a little more.
According to Balvin, it was one of his more serious depressive episodes that finally spurred him to seek help and finally begin to understand what he was going through. “”I was just crying for no reason,” he said. “Didn’t want to wake up, didn’t want to eat, didn’t even want to live.”
Like many who suffer from mental illness, Balvin was also worried about being seen as “crazy” or ungrateful, considering his growing success in the music industry.
“I remember that I was in bed for, like, five days and I was just waiting to die,” he said, recalling that he’d actually stepped away from music at that point in.
“My whole family was devastated because at the time I wasn’t as known as I am right now,” he explained. “At the time, I quit my career and I love music.”
Since his diagnosis, Balvin said that he began treatment for depression, which included medication. “And I don’t feel bad about it,” he emphasized.
He went on to say that he now wants to use his platform to normalize mental health and treatment, and that goes for both his music and social media, which he sees as hugely influential over his younger fans.
“What I tell kids is don’t believe everything you see on Instagram,” which he says doesn’t represent real people.
“There’s a lot of people out there suffering like I am,” he said. “When you’re going through a hard moment and have anxiety and depression, don’t check Instagram.”
“I want to tell the kids, don’t be afraid to be who they are and this comes with everything, sexual identity, beliefs, religion, who you want to be as an artist, your career, don’t compare yourself to anybody else,” he added.
And most importantly, he said, “To me, everything, for real, is to have health and mental health and peace.”
But like many, Balvin’s anxiety and depression were tested during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with the singer admitting he stepped back from taking his medication, without fist consulting his doctor. That led to serious anxiety and worry about contracting Covid, which he ultimately did.
He opened up about his most recent struggles in a Spanish-language Instagram Story earlier this month, telling his fans he’s “fragile and vulnerable” like everyone else. It’s part of his ongoing effort to be real with his fans about life, and especially on social media.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.
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