Ryan Hamilton: Mick Rock, mental health, and me
Ryan Hamilton, leader of Texan band the Traitors, tells a story of mental health, and how help can come from unexpected places
Content warning: contains discussion of suicidal ideation and struggles with mental health.
Ginger Wildheart and Ryan Hamilton have done a lot to raise awareness (and money) for mental health related issues, and for organisations like anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label and Samaritans. Together, they released the Fuck You Brain single earlier in the year, raising money for the latter.
Here, Ryan tells a story of his own battle with mental health, and how help came from an unlikely source.
This is the story of how Mick Rock saved my sanity, and how a hero became an unlikely friend.
I don't know if I'd ever take my own life, but I've struggled with mental health issues my entire adult life... and there have been times when it's definitely crossed my mind. My family has a history of mental health issues. My younger brother got it even worse than I did. So I'm well aware of the times when it's extra difficult. I've witnessed it.
This particular time, it was worse that it'd ever been. I was on the verge of a breakdown. After a conversation with my amazing wife, Holly, I was preparing to go see someone, and possibly check myself in somewhere to get help.
I did this really strange thing. I started emailing a few of my artistic heroes and telling them how much they meant to me... because I was genuinely concerned my mental health, or mental state, and was about to be hospitalised and/or medicated to a point where I would no longer remain my former self. I know that sounds crazy, but it's a glimpse into how fucked up I was feeling.
Mick Rock was one of the people I reached out to. And the most amazing thing happened. Mick responded.
He sent me the most wonderful, heartfelt email. Maybe it carried a little extra weight because it was Mick Fucking Rock. But it was sincerely wonderful. After a few messages back and forth, he talked me off the proverbial ledge. He recommended some more healthy, natural ways to get back to a better place. I'm happy to report, after a couple of months of practice, self reflection, and determination... I'm feeling better than ever.
Mick saved me... he saved my sanity.
We've become friends, remain pen pals (or whatever today's email equivalent is) and it means more than he knows. It definitely means more than I could ever accurately describe. Our friendship, his support and his motivation is testament to how wonderfully genuine he is. I wish all "famous" people could check their stupid egos at the door the way Mick did. I mean, the man is a legend. The definitive rock'n 'roll photographer. The best of all time. He didn't have to respond to some musician from Texas. But damn, I'm forever thankful that he did.
I share my struggles, and this story, in hopes that others who struggle feel less alone. There are people out there who will listen, and help. Don't be afraid to reach out. If not to a friend, then to a wonderful organisation like Samaritans.
Reach Samaritans online at samaritans.org.