Weezer, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz Reflect on Anxiety for Mental Health Campaign

Weezer’s Scott Shriner, Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and songwriter-producer Butch Walker open up about their youthful struggles with anxiety in a new video for the Child Mind Institute’s 2019 #MyYoungerSelf social media campaign.

In a clip featuring the full band, Shriner reflected on his childhood self as “super sick, different and weird” — a kid who “hated himself and [was] scared of everything, hid under the bed when it was time to go to school.” But he emphasized the importance of finding a passion and pursuing it: “[Try to] find something that you really enjoy and just work really hard at it and know that you’re not alone and that you’re not always going to feel that way,” he said. “If I knew then how I would turn out now, I probably could’ve relaxed a little bit … Find some of the weirdos like you to talk to.”

The band’s frontman, Rivers Cuomo, noted the impact meditation has had on his life, and drummer Patrick Wilson emphasized the importance of embracing nature and escaping social media. “I feel it’s important for people to be outside a lot, stop looking at screens,” he said. “Don’t eat sugar, get to know the people in your neighborhood, ride a bicycle, go in the woods and do stuff like that.”

In his clip, Wentz addressed the normalcy of cycling through emotional “ups and downs” and spoke about “de-stigmatizing” our cultural conversation about mental health.

“It’s super normal … to be unsure of yourself and feel lonely,” he said. “One of the things I would have told myself 10 years ago or 20 years ago is that it’s alright to feel that anxiety and it’s alright to feel down, but you’ve gotta know that tomorrow might have a different feeling. I think you’re not really alone because people are all feeling that — feeling great and feeling terrible. Life is a journey, and I think it’s important not to just slap a smile on your face when you’re feeling down … It’s also important to know that you can reach out to people. Sometimes you start feeling like, ‘Ah, I’m feeling down, and I’ll just keep it to myself.’ I think it’s important to reach out to your friends. And if you notice one of your friends feeling down and it’s something you can’t handle yourself, you should reach out to someone who can help them.”

Walker (Pink, Fall Out Boy, Weezer, Panic! at the Disco) looked back on the “anxiety and depression” that came from “growing up in a small town and feeling different.”

“It was a pretty small town, and it was a lot of people who were scared out of the box of being ‘normal’ and scared to like things that other people didn’t necessarily like or weren’t into,” he said. “I was not that way. For some reason, I gravitated toward the weird — I gravitated toward doing things and loving things that a lot of my friends did not. And because of that I got made fun of a lot — ridiculed, teased, mocked. I got yelled at by a lot of people because I liked rock and roll. There were a lot of people who were too conservative and too scared to pursue anything like that — maybe just because they were afraid they would fail, I guess. Either way, it made it kinda tough growing up in a town like that.

“I know I’m not alone,” he continued. “I have a son who is 11 years old, and he’s very different from other kids in his school. He comes home and talks to me all the time about it. I think he’s misunderstood sometimes because he’s got such an incredible imagination and doesn’t want to filter that. I was very much the same way when I was growing up. I guess the bottom line here is I want to tell you, ‘Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.’ If you find yourself gravitating toward something you love that other people may not necessarily like around you, don’t worry about it. Just love what you love, and be yourself because everyone else is taken.”

Sugar Ray Leonard, Ray Romano, Kevin Love, Gillian Anderson, Bo Burnham and Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds have also participated in the third-annual #MyYoungerSelf campaign, which aims to end the stigma surrounding mental health and learning disorders. Each day in May, in conjunction with National Mental Health Awareness Month, the CMI will feature a new celebrity cell phone video and childhood photo on its social media channels.

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