Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels: Going To Therapy Is Hard And Powerful

By Victoria Kim 05/24/18

The iconic rapper penned a personal essay detailing his mental health struggles and how he sought help for Men's Health. 

Darryl McDaniels

Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, of the iconic hip-hop trio Run-D.M.C., struggle for a long time before he could understand what ailed him and seek help for it.

The veteran rapper and comic book artist shared his story in Men’s Health for Mental Health Awareness Month, contributing to the Healthy Mind, Healthy Body series aiming to shine a light on mental health issues that deserve attention.

“Therapy is the most gangster thing anybody can do for themselves,” said McDaniels. “Going to therapy is the most powerful move that you can make that will help you heal, solve or alleviate the stress and struggles of the battles with depression.”

He stressed the importance of acknowledging one’s pain, and not being afraid to admit it or address it with a loved one. “Admitting that you have a mental health issue is not being soft,” he said. “It’s the hardest, most powerful thing you can do for yourself.”

And, for a friend on the other side, it’s helpful to be kind and empathetic rather than dismissive, he said. McDaniels himself chose to isolate when the people around him didn’t understand the magnitude of his pain and confusion.

“Even if you have no idea what it means to be anorexic, or have anxiety, or be an alcoholic or a drug addict, or have OCD, the coolest thing you can say is, ‘If there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know,” he said. “If you remove the guilt and shame, you remove the pain. I tell everyone, ‘You never have to be ashamed of the way you feel.’”

It took a long time for McDaniels to face his inner turmoil. He said he was in denial for a long time. “It wasn’t until I went to seek help that I finally understood that I had a problem,” said McDaniels.

“For 25 or so years, everybody told me to go to rehab. But I was the functional alcoholic. I was never late. I never got in a car accident. I never threw up on people, never got into a public intoxication incident. There was never a tragedy on the outside.”

But he was hitting the bottle hard—downing a case of Olde English malt liquor daily—to cope with the pressure of stardom once Run-D.M.C. hit it big. And later, he was dealing with the tragic murder of Jam Master Jay in 2001.

“I never accepted or faced my emotions about that,” he recalled.

At the time he couldn’t make sense of how he was feeling, which added to his stress. “I had anxiety that I didn’t know was anxiety. I had panic attacks that I didn’t know were panic attacks. Any time I felt something I considered abnormal, I just reached for the bottle.”

His wife said, “You are killing yourself. You are committing suicide.” It wasn’t until his first day of rehab that he could see he had a problem.

Now, the iconic MC is sharing his message of mental health awareness far and wide. “I want people to get help,” he said. “I did it. I’m not a genius. I’m not a rocket scientist. All I am is a living, breathing example that anyone can defeat whatever it is that they’re battling.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr