It is 19:56 on Sunday 7th February 2021.
I am smoking on the front porch, it is dark. The snow has woven a moon blanket across the lawn. I am listening to Lil Peep on my phone and I can feel the emotion like the sharpness of the cold easterly breeze against my face.
“Maybe I should listen to something that isn’t depressing right now. I have work tomorrow, I should put myself into a good mood”
“If it was only that simple to put oneself into a good mood. You have never been into nice, happy music. Would you describe yourself as nice & happy?”
“I can describe myself as I see fit. But yes, I do relate well to sad music because it helps me to stay aware of my thinking habits and to accept my anxious state of mind. My mood will lift tomorrow maybe, so why not enjoy sad music and ride my low mood out”
“Yeah sure. Don’t expect too much.”
“Yes, I do expect too much in life. It is better to employ mindfulness to keep my cognitions clean and clear. I try not to focus on the clouds when I look at the sky.
“Bruised, barrel-shaped clouds are your favourite. The type in the sky during stormy weather. I am just saying.”
“I am finished smoking. I am going inside to carry on listening to Lil Peep.”
Lil Peep is a deceased emo-rapper who I only started listening to in mid-2020, when I was absent from work due to depression & anxiety. I think of his music as modern day 90’s grunge, which I admired when I was a teenager.
An article from The Guardian written in 2017 – sadly only 6 months before his tragic drug overdose death- has a succinct description of Lil Peep’s creative intent.
“Peep is simply repurposing Kurt Cobain for bedroom diarists who are more used to rap than they are guitars.” (1)
I could not agree more. Sad, depressed, tormented music must exist in every era and Lil Peep heard the calling to take on the challenge of creating such music when he got his first face tattoo at 15.
As I can relate to:
“Peep developed intense anxiety around age 16, sometimes vomiting in the morning at the thought of going to school.” (2)
I am fortunate that I have never vomited due to anxiety. But I have felt like I wanted to. An invisible shroud was forming over me when I was starting sixth form at 16, which developed into a full-blown diagnosable mental illness once I reached 21 and was at University. It may have been the worst time for a mental breakdown to happen to me, but such is life. I am still alive and trying to thrive.
“Not the life you were aiming for 10 years since your diagnosis. Kind of disappointing.”
“Yes, but it’s easy to say that. I don’t wear disappointment on my sleeve.”
Lil Peep did not get counselling for his anxiety, he did what most anxious youngsters do and self- medicated. His mother Lisa Womack “was aware of Peep’s problems with anxiety and repeatedly tried to get him to see a psychologist. Instead, he self-medicated, mostly with weed and Xanax.” (3)
I believed that the heavy, sad feelings I had in sixth form (16-18 years old) were just how it was and natural for me. It did not occur to me that a psychologist could alleviate my early anxiety & depression. When my mental health issues turned into a full-blown chaotic illness at 21, I was adamant that I needed assistance from professionals, and I was eventually diagnosed with Bipolar. My ailments were treated with prescribed medication. Self-medicating with street drugs is the unsafe way to cope with anxiety & depression. A tragic demise can be result from using this practice.
I have experienced grief in my life. I know that Lil Peep (Gustav Ahr) is still alive in spirit. 3 years since his death, he remains a bright flame both culturally and musically. He is/was a diamond in the dark.
In tribute to Lil Peep, I would like to share with you my favourite Lil Peep song and what it evokes for me: A drug-addled feeling of sadness and frustration. Amazing production by Smokeasac and contribution verse from Lil Tracy
Artist: Lil Peep Song: Cobain
No embed here as it clogs the post: Go to Soundcloud/Youtube/Spotify/ Enter Music Source and type “lil Peep Cobain” to listen