Today’s #SameHere🤙Hero: Archie Green
You might recognize that bright smile from our pics when we did the event with the @cavs in Cleveland a few wks back. Archie is a local hip hop artist who has used his platform not just in his home city, but all over the world, to advocate for mental health. He fit in with our group like old friends.
His story is incredible – the effects of racism & prejudice from being one of, & then later, the only black person in his school…the effects of chasing a dream in music for which no one in his family would support, bullying, & deep depression. But – he shares what he’s learned along the way – his “5 Tools” he uses to cope & even thrive (many of which mirror TSRR practices?. We’re excited to have him & his powerful story on the Influencer Alliance:
“I grew up in a small suburb just outside of Cleveland, Ohio called Chagrin Falls. In the years I lived in Chagrin & attended school, I was one of very few other persons of color that went there. As a matter of fact, by the time I left Chagrin after 9th Grade I was the only Black person in the building!! I was an outcast, looked at as different. I experienced a lot of prejudice, & (covert & overt) racism there. That for sure had an effect on my self-esteem & how I saw myself as a kid.
I would also say being a born creative & artist, & wanting to make a living in the music business had impacts on me as well. Not because of the dreams I had, but the fact that I experienced a lot of doubts & naysayers around me. The biggest & most impactful pushback I was getting was from my parents. They just didn’t see me making it as a rapper, & believed that I needed to do something ‘more stable’ or ‘realistic.’ I went through a lot of pain trying to win their approval, before finally realizing that this is MY path & NOT THEIRS. I realized that they only wanted the best for me, & to not take offense when they didn’t agree with my life path. Now…they’re my biggest fans!!
Lastly, the traumatic event that totally changed my life & put me on my path to mental health was my DUI. After a night of heavy drinking, I attempted to drive home & subsequently was pulled over for swerving. I took & failed the breathalyzer test & was arrested for driving while drunk. As a result, my license was suspended for a year & I could only drive to work, church & home. It was the most painful but also character-building experience of my entire life. I felt alone, embarrassed, burdensome to family & friends, & questioned ‘why am I here?’ It had a lasting impact on me, but at this point in my life I’m grateful for that experience.
I was living with depression for most of my life undiagnosed. I had symptoms of isolation, feeling like a burden to others, at times incapable of getting up or doing anything. Sometimes, I would cry for no apparent reason. It was very painful. These were dark thoughts that would cloud my mind, that I felt I had no control over.
While at Chagrin, I did things that I only realized in hindsight were evident of how depressed I truly was. At home, I recently rediscovered my third grade yearbook & when I turned to my picture I was reminded of how lowly I saw myself. I recalled that I drew horns & a mustache & beard (reminiscent of the devil) over my face. I remember how I had tried to rub it off, but it was written in permanent marker. It breaks my heart that that’s how I saw myself back then. But it was based on my life experience at that time in my life.
Years later, I transferred to a school that was more diverse. For the first time I was in a school where other students & even administrators & staff members looked like me. The first year was rough. Some of the black kids I tried to hang with thought I “acted & talked too white.” I even remember after lettering in Academics, I threw that on my Letterman Jacket as a sense of pride & this one kid I really looked up to laughed at me for doing it. As a result of how I felt, I remember I wrote a song about killing myself. I recorded it, & would play it on my way to school in my headphones for like three or four days. Then I decided to delete it. Eventually, I realized that other kids opinions of me didn’t really matter. No matter what, I’m gonna do me.
I’ll never forget the moment that I knew I needed to see someone. A year after the DUI, my sister & I hosted Thanksgiving at the house we were renting from our cousin. Dinner was great, it was good to see everyone. However, after dinner I felt this need to be alone & away from everyone else. I went to my room & shut the door. How could I feel like this? I loved my family. I knew something was seriously off. So, I decided to go to see a therapist. It was then that I was clinically diagnosed with depression. That decision to go to therapy saved & changed my life forever.
I have five coping mechanisms, which are all a part of what I call my “Coping Mechanism Survival Tool Kit”:
1. Breathing Exercises – in order to help with my anxiety & depression, I maintain different breathing exercises (inhale, hold, exhale) 3-4 times depending on when needed. It helps when my anxiety & heart rate is up as well. Helps me to calm myself down & move on with my day.
2. Physical Activity – when I first started working with a trainer it was primarily to get in shape. What I realized was that working out, is a HUGE way to fight back at depression!! It gets your energy up, helps get those endorphins up, & also gives you the attitude of being powerful enough to overcome anything that comes your way.
3. Eating Healthy – A lot of times when one feels depressed or down, the last thing you want to do is eat. It’s important to continue to eat, even at times when you feel your worse. However, eating healthy foods vs junk foods is super important to your mental health as well. Foods you consume contribute to the kind of energy you have. Healthier foods give you a healthier mindset & make you feel physically healthier as well. Junk food can make you sleepy, feel sluggish, irritable…the list goes on. You really are what you eat!
4. Meditation – I started meditating in 2011 & I can’t stress how helpful it is to my overall mental health. It gives me an opportunity to be still, focus on my breath & be present. I prefer guided meditations with various affirmations, but there are also times where I just want some calming music on. I put on my headphones, close my eyes, & focus on the breath. It’s super helpful.
5. Therapy – I’ve been going to therapy since 2014 & I plan to continue to go to therapy for the rest of my life. What therapy basically does for me is it helps me to figure out how my mind works. It helps me to dictate some of the major life decisions I am making on a day-to-day basis as well. It’s also a place where I can totally be myself, be transparent & learn ways to self-improve. Wouldn’t be doing what I am doing the way that I’m doing it without my regular sessions with my therapist.
Maaaaaan, I received overwhelming support from everybody. In 2016, I started Peel Dem Layers Back, a hip-hop centric mental health workshop series where we had special guests tell their stories, & would also share information to empower others on how to live with mental illness.
My truth, my #SameHere🤙 Story, my “disability” is also my superpower!! I’ve used my story as a tool to help empower others who are going through the same thing. As a result, I’ve spoken to numerous media outlets locally, nationally & internationally. Mental Health has been something that has been overlooked across the board for far too long. Now the conversation is becoming more & more normalized & for that I’m grateful. I will continue to tell my story to anyone who will listen, because I know that lives have been saved as a result of that selfless act.”