The weight of mental illness can feel overwhelming, and for many it’s a burden they feel compelled to bear alone. Many people can feel a sharp sense of self-consciousness, as if by sharing how they’re suffering is unduly adding to a loved one’s own emotional baggage. Equally as difficult is navigating the stigma of mental illness generally, where by admitting to being sick can lead to feeling singled out or cast aside.
Anthony Green, lead singer of the bands Circa Survive, Saosin, The Sound of Animals Fighting as well as an accomplished independent recording artist, knows those complicated calculations better than most. He was first diagnosed with a mental illness at a trauma center in his hometown of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. A clinician there told him he suffered from schizophrenia, a mistaken diagnosis that would follow Green for years. It wasn’t until he met another psychiatrist who suggested that he may instead have bipolar disorder, a disease that causes manic highs and relentless lows, that he began to understand his own needs.
Green suffered through a 3-month long major depressive episode during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when many others were coming face-to-face with emotional and mental trauma in isolation. It’s a mental wound that reminded Green that suffering alone is a quick way to compound the darkness, and he’s learned that reaching out to loved ones and using them as a grounding source can help him recenter.
That wasn’t always the case for Green, though. He struggled with admitting to friends and loved ones that he was indeed suffering, and that he would need their compassion to help him survive. “The alienating part of it is that you don’t want to tell people, you don’t want to put it on them,” he says. “But it’s also an arrogant thing because without knowing, I want people to think I’m all good so they trust me and so I feel all good—but that’s dangerous and the more I do that the more it’s like I’m hiding.”
Green’s perspective shift has given him a voice in advocating for mental health awareness, and is why he’s participating in Sound Mind’s Unmasked video series. “It was an honor to be involved in this and talk about being bipolar and how it affects my life and work,” he told Billboard about the series. “A few years ago I wouldn’t have been able to feel as open about my mental health. I’m excited to be a part of a group of people that are learning from and sharing their experiences in an effort to break the stigma and silence around mental health.”
Green’s struggles in letting others in even as he was suffering have inspired him to help those struggling with mental illness seek help in whatever form it takes. “There’s 100% people out there that will not judge you for what you’re going through. There are resources out there and people that are so compassionate and so understanding,” he says in the Unmasked video. It’s a message meant to reach every person who has felt like they couldn’t share the burden of mental illness; it’s a weight that wasn’t meant to be carried alone.