Four years ago, Alika’s life changed dramatically.
In the space of a month, he lost his auntie, two of his friends were stabbed to death, he was mugged at gunpoint and he was told that his absent father may have passed away. This would be enough to send anyone into sky fall but for Alika, that wasn’t all. Alika’s only coping mechanism was music. Whenever and wherever he started feeling anxious, he would sing out loud to stay calm. But his saving grace soon provoked his disintegration when overnight he became a YouTube sensation. Filmed singing to Drake’s ‘Take Care’ on the tube, a video of Alika received 2.5 million views in four days. To add insult to injury, Alika had also become a laughing stock amongst his friends.
With both his private and public lives falling apart, Alika lost grip on reality. He moved back home, only to lose himself in his room: hurting himself, seeing figures, hearing voices in his head and sitting in darkness for entire days. As Alika puts it, he was a ‘real life ghost in a shell’. He later found out that he’d been living in a state of psychosis. He continued like this unnoticed until his sister caught him in the shower fully clothed. Finally, Alika was put in an Early Intervention Centre for four months where he was diagnosed with bipolar.
Now a rapper, Alika, who performs under the name of Infecta, only feels his mental health taking hold of him while on stage. Although music is his support system, it’s also his Achilles heel because his YouTube video had caused ridicule. Nevertheless, Alika carries on, using his music as a platform to share his story and help others. His forthcoming album, ‘True Colours’, are inspired by his past and present and will explore the spectrum of colours that make him: Alika has travelled ‘Out of the Blue’ and ‘Into the Yellow’ (titles of his latest EPs).
It’s a powerful message that he’s delivering and that’s because he’s got one to give: Alika isn’t defined by his diagnosis and he won’t take medication for it. He’s a positive, young, black male using his experiences to inspire and support others through music.
Every one of us will be touched by mental illness at some point in our life, either directly or through someone who is close to us. Head Talks believe there is no single path to mental wellbeing and that people can be helped in finding what works for them through information, inspiration and discussion.
By hosting short talks with psychiatrists, academics, yogis, authors, meditation experts, politicians, nutritionists, those who have struggled with and met the challenge of mental illness, and many others with a keen interest in the mind, Head Talks wants to enable each of us to build our own personal toolbox to support mental wellbeing and stay mentally fit.
By bringing these thoughts and discussions into the open, they aim to help lift the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
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