Open Letter ~ Full Version
Dear "Rihanna on the tube" viewers, My name is Alika, and as an artist I’m known as ‘Infecta’.
I have stayed quiet about this video for a long time because there were so many things taking place in my life I didn't want to disclose, and I assumed people wouldn't understand.
The video wasn't planned. I was just a boy living in the moment, trying to be free, but unfortunately for me it got captured. At the time I was going through depression, anxiety, manic episodes, self-harm, voices and illusions in my head and I didn't let anybody know. My extreme highs and lows made me start seeing life...differently. I no longer valued it or cared what anyone thought of me. I was dealing with the death of my auntie, the end of my five year relationship, family arguments and issues relating to an absent father. Singing became my escape. To be honest, it was more like a cry for help.
A day before the incident happened I prayed in the early hours of the night asking God to give me a sign, any sign that I was not alone as I had started to contemplate suicide. So when the video initially went viral in 2012 it lifted me, because I was happy to be heard. I got lost in the attention – it was such a change from feeling like a ghost to instead being a bringer of joy. I could only see the good in it.
Shortly after this in early 2013 I had a breakdown and found myself hospitalised and on high medication. My attitude to the video changed. People laughing at you is different to people laughing with you and the fall-out hit me badly.
The time I spent was very scary but thanks to the love of my Mother, Sister, Brother, the great staff at SLaM - Leo Ward plus close knit friends & family I was able to pull through. Threw myself back into youth work; supporting other funeral young people and of-course my music - My first love.
Two years later the video went viral again, reaching almost 2.5m views (and counting). Initially I started to slip back into relapse as the laughter and jokes on social media platforms affected me negatively.
Thankfully though, I sought help, and decided to speak out so that others who are in the same dark place can realise that there are people and organisations that you can turn to. There is always hope.
Being hospitalised for 4 months I had time to reflect as I became better. This time of reflection opened my mind to a lot of things that are going on. After lots of reflection, the message I want to leave you on is this: there are many young people in the country especially in London. Lack of hope and low self-esteem can have a very detrimental impact on the minds of young people. All around us see we live in a troubled world with; Planes shot out of the sky. Children bombed in their beds at night. 170 teenagers murdered on our streets of London since 2005. Politicians shouting abuse at each other. Advertising bombardments of overly high priced products. The pressure on young people is extreme, really extreme. Many of us struggle with inner turmoil and most try not to let it show. So why laugh at the few brave enough to tackle their troubles/let it be known?
I’d like to tell young people to remember that failure is part of the process to success, in life until you make mistakes you do not learn (vital) lessons and people laughing at you shouldn't ever sway you from your goal.
One thing that Tube video did is it got me thinking that while my music aspiration may always be becoming an established performer, perhaps it is my writing skills and ability to help others that I should focus on. My song-writing may turn out to be a God-given gift, but maybe I should leave Rihanna to do the singing (even I can now laugh at myself for how bad I sounded).
I admit I didn't know anything about singing at the time I just knew I wanted to sing. Sometimes it's just like Ashley Bashy Thomas said "you just want to release, you can't feel alive if you ain't living". So being able to sing like no one is watching or like you don't care who see was my little break from grey estates and dreary faces so with that said sorry to those I offended and thank you to those that supported but being honest I would now truly appreciate as we move onwards in future we leave that in the past.
As I said, I've had a lot of time to reflect. So what now for me? Well I am back to being the happy go lucky soul I believe that God intended me to be. I'm working to try and inspire others and make my family proud. Hopefully one day the world will see Ri Ri walk onto the stage and sing a song that a boy from London has written. Who knows ..That boy might have been me. To you, from I.