By all accounts, rapper DMX is a mess. The former Def Jam star fell on hard times after his music stopped being popular, he had several run-ins with the law, and X has struggled with substance abuse for years. But his recent appearance on VH1’s reality show Couple’s Therapy have many seeing him in a new light.

During last night’s episode, DMX told Dr. Jenn that his mother never told him he was loved and heinously beat him, sometimes braiding a rope together to whip him while he slept.

Despite her abusive ways, DMX said that he craved his mother’s love and would often call his estranged wife just to say the word, “mommy.”

He explained: “I use to always turn to drugs when I was feeling a certain way and now I’m not doing that. Sometimes when the pressure builds up I call ‘bino’ and be like, “I just wanted to say, ‘Mommy.’ I wanted to say that word; ‘Mommy’!, not my mother. I wanted to say ‘mommy’. I just wanted to say ‘Hi’ to her because I haven’t talked to her in years. I just wanted to say, ‘Hi Mommy, I love you.’”

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Over the years, DMX—like so many other men and women—has used drugs to cope with emotional (and mental) pain suffered from life’s traumas. But without an opportunity or a safe space to seek help, many of them continue down a path of destruction and become a drain on the lives of others.

I had no intention of watching last night’s show. I felt DMX’s problems were deeper than what should be discussed, or exploited, for the cameras. However, when I began to think about it, having him share his very real and visceral pain and watching him seek help for it might just help other men and women in his position.

When I was teaching I had several students who were experiencing similar kinds of anguish. Even in middle school, some had turned to drugs to cope, while others acted out because they felt they craved the attention, even negative attention, it brought them. When I think about the sheer numbers of black men and women who end up cycling through prisons and jails across our country, I can’t help but think that a large part of their issues have to do with the mental and emotional scars they carry without knowing any positive ways to cope.

For so many black folks, therapy and counseling is not an option because of societal pressure, so if DMX can help remove the stigma attached to seeking help, then I commend him for sharing his story with the world.

What do you think? Will seeing DMX and other black celebs talk opening about therapy inspire more black folks to seek help? 

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