Noisia’s Thijs highlights mental health issues and encourages us all to help each other this Christmas

Last week Noisia’s Thijs de Vlieger took to Twitter to highlight the fact that while much of the western world seems wrapped up in the trappings of Christmas, not everyone is lucky to feel any particular festive spirit during the darkest nights of the year.

The next fortnight’s heightened social pressures and cheer-expectancy completely contrasting how those who suffer depression feel, and often amplifying bleak thoughts and feelings of isolation, Christmas is not always the most wonderful time of the year.

“Approaching the longest night in the northern hemisphere,” Thijs posted in a reply on his Instagram, continuing the conversation. “Sending love and strength to those that need it. I am with you, my depressive crew! Don’t lock yourself up. I know it’s hard to open up when it hurts, but it’s the best way out. Stay strong.”

The conversation is still going and Thijs welcomes everyone to post their own message of support to those who are suffering. He also took time to reply directly to personal messages, explaining how he “cannot begin to imagine what it’s like,” but the one thing he can and will do “is speak up on behalf of all of those that suffer from these things so hopefully it becomes a bit more accepted that these things exist, and most of all are not the sufferer’s fault! The brain is an organ like any other and it can function sub-optimally just like other people have kidney failure for no apparent reason. Society needs to understand and accept this and stop shame and taboo on mental illness and I hope to contribute a little.”

Thijs’s inspiring message comes from experience through family members and close friends who have either “battled or are battling depression. Some aware. Some unaware and some in denial.”

“I am however not free from mental problems, just like 99% of the world,” he continues. “It’s not heavy issues, but enough to take seriously to try to improve my life. My eyes were opened by my dear best friend Sofie Letitre who is also a very talented psychotherapist besides a musician. She’s helped me a lot by giving me concepts with which I learned to come closer to understand how the human brain works, and mine in particular. Out of curiosity about myself I started seeing a therapist weekly and we are really getting somewhere. Psychology as a tool to improve life should become as normal as taking your car to the garage.”

We’re quick to respond to physical ailments, but frequently ignore issues that are less visible and more internal, often dismissing them as own inabilities rather than an actual problem that can be fixed with help. Dance music and DJ culture has markedly improved in terms of its acceptance of mental health, how it’s discussed and how we look after our own mental health – especially with amazing organisations such as Help Musicians and documentaries such as Why We DJ – Slaves To The Rhythm – but the conversation needs to continue while the toxic culture of ‘manning up’ exists along with that feeling we have to deal with everything on our own. Nobody does. And until everyone who suffers depression begins to feel comfortable to discuss it, or at least know that help and understanding is there, we still have progress to make. Thijs’s messages continue the discussion and should encourage all of us; if you’re suffering, please reach out because help is there. And if you can see someone suffering, please reach out to them and be patient. It’s not easy.

Thijs himself was inspired by an even more high profile message from Rick & Morty co-creator Dan Harmon late last month. When a fan asked him for advice on dealing with depression he replied with some of the best advice anyone has ever tweeted. We’ll just leave these here…