Pat Anthony penned a letter of sorts to the nagging and destructive voices of anxiety and depression that set up camp in his head for many years.
The Denver native, who grew up in the Westwood neighborhood, set the words to a soft, distant piano and synth melody just barely floating over a trap-influenced set of hi-hats, a snap and a kick-drum loop. The minimalist result is “Dear Anxiety,” the first single of his upcoming second album, Vrain Street.
“It’s just kind of my own personal story of how I struggle with anxiety and depression due to sexual abuse when I was younger,” Anthony says. “It took me a long time to get through it. People who’ve dealt with it know it’s a slow process to get out of. You aren’t fixed the first day you try.”
Anthony isn’t alone. In 2002, the World Health Organization estimated that 20 percent of girls will undergo some type of sexual abuse before they turn eighteen years old. About 8 percent of boys will also be abused, though that number may be lower because of underreporting. The abuse can have long-lasting psychological effects, resulting in drug or alcohol use, depression, anxiety and, in some cases, suicide.
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“It’s really common,” Anthony says. “It’s troubling, especially being male. It’s traumatizing for everyone, but being male, there is a stigma involved with it. It’s kind of hard for us to socially accept males who’ve gone through this. … It’s a sensitive subject no one wants to talk about, but it’s something people need to talk about.”
Anthony says he’s gotten his anxiety and depression more or less under control, but it hasn't been easy. He’s struggled with drug abuse and attempted suicide. He credits a good support system that includes his family, his fiancée and his musical partners with helping him pull himself out of a multi-year rut.
“I’m a lucky one, for sure,” he says. “Not everyone has that, though. I think that's the problem a lot of people have: They're just stuck in this circle they can’t get out of, because no one is there to help pull them out of it.”
That’s not to say that it ever goes completely away.
“I have my days, that's for sure,” he says. “I think everyone who's dealt with this has had their days. It’s a daily struggle. Some months I’m very active, and some weeks I fall into a rut that I have to pull myself out of. Luckily, I have momentum going, so it’s easy to pull myself out of it.”
The video for “Dear Anxiety” shows Anthony sitting in a chair in what appears to be a photo studio and singing as the lyrics unfold across the screen. He says that he’s alarmed by the number of messages he’s received from fans with similar stories to tell.
“I really didn’t know [abuse] was that big around the circle of people who listen to my music,” he says. “My main goal is to reach those people and help them with my story. Me coming out with that story and making it public can help someone else do the same. I think that's where people get help.”
Anthony is donating half of the profits from the single to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a nonprofit that helps people struggling with anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as other mental health issues.
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The singer-songwriter adds that he is not overly concerned with making money off the track. He just wants as many people to see it as possible, and hopes that it will help.
“I want people to hear this song," he says. "The amount of people who’ve had similar things happen to them or had family members who took their own life — it’s super-alarming. It’s my mission for the next month to push this song. It’s something near and dear to me, and it helps me be more motivated.”
Listen to Pat Anthony and more favorites from Westword writers on our Westword Staff Picks playlist.