Mac Miller’s Circles Destigmatizes Mental Illness
Lately, the trendy thing for brands is to talk about mental health. It makes sense, given that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018. According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, suicide rates have increased. They are currently at the highest rates recorded in nearly 30 years. Those who identify as LGBTQ and are multiracial experience mental illness at higher rates. While our collective communities attempt to tackle mental health by first destigmatizing mental illness, they seem to have ignored Mac Miller’s posthumous album Circles. Unlike Miller’s previous albums that hid aspects of his mental health, like his song ‘Best Day Ever’ to the casual listener, Circles addresses it head-on. Circles is brilliantly poignant. It is current, compelling, heartbreakingly optimistic, and a way to destigmatize mental illness.
Despite what many feel were Miller’s calls for help through his music, Miller’s death was still a shock to most fans. No matter his success his mental illness was not going to go away. That is hard for those who are not affected by mental health issues. Miller spoke openly about his depression and his subsequent drug addiction that was caused by his depression. “I had a drug problem for a long time. It wasn’t just in music, but I was definitely going through a drug problem, and I think it was more my state of mind. I was just pretty depressed,” he told Larry King in 2015. More often then not, people stigmatize mental health and drug addiction without really understanding how they could work hand-in-hand.
Many of Miller’s fans appreciated that he was so open and willing to put his own experiences out there to help others who felt similar. When Miller was found unresponsive in his Studio City home, headlines focused on his accidental drug overdose. It read like, “another young celebrity dies of a drug overdose.” Some fans even tried to blame his ex-girlfriend Arianna Grande. However, the truth is in Miller’s lyrics. Miller was dealing with serious mental health issues. He used drugs to self-medicate. What he left behind is music and a legacy that can help destigmatize this disease that affects 1 in 5 people. What he left behind was an incredibly human message.
The introspective Circles is a hard listen. It is over 48-mins of a therapy session. Some moments are infinite sadness, while other moments have a tinge of mania, but that is what mental illness is for some people. His mental health issues and how he sees them received by those around him and his fans are most evident in “Good News.” Good news, good news, good news/ That’s all they wanna hear/ No, they don’t like it when I’m down/ But when I’m flying, oh, it make ’em so uncomfortable/ So different, what’s the difference?
Through it, though, Mac Miller births his best albums. By looking in himself and ignoring the need to put out happy music all the time, Miller sounds like he finds peace and acceptance. He seems comfortable with who he is. “It’s a mad world, it made me crazy,” he says. He addresses his mental health issues, and it appears by the end of album weight gets lifted off his shoulders. With Circles we receive a deeply involved masterpiece that should, and I hope will heal others who are stuck in their heads, especially his fans who he put himself out there for, “Fuck the bullshit, I’m here to make it all better/ With a little music for you/ I don’t do enough for you/ Without you it’s the color blue.”
If you are feeling alone or think you have a mental health issue please, please, please reach out for help below:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Hotline: Here
Crisis Text: Here or text “home” to 741741
Remedy Live: Here