"Queer Eye" star Karamo is known for helping other people work through their emotions. But it's his own experience with severe depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide and drug addiction that's helped him become an advocate for mental health.
"For me it was waking up and feeling like the sun just wasn't shining as bright as the day before. And it kept getting darker each day, and yet I couldn't understand why," Karamo recounted on "CBS This Morning's" special "Stop the Stigma" broadcast on Wednesday.
- If you're experiencing an emergency or need help right away, please call 911.
As a high schooler, he said he didn't have the language to tell his parents what he was going through.
"My mother and father were just like, 'Pray it away. Pray. You know, God will help you.' And I do believe there's a space for prayer, but I also believe that there's also a space for finding help right here. But what do you do when you can't find the help?" Karamo said.
He said he thought mental health support was for "rich white people."
"Because watching television I saw only rich white girls going to rehab and getting support. It's what I thought – anyone who looked like me, I never saw them seeking mental health support or talking about their mental health," he said.
But the turning point for him was when he said he realized, "I needed to live a better life. I wanted to have a better life." He started to educate himself and find support systems – and even got to a place where he could give back to others, especially those struggle with mental illnesses in the LGBTQI community.
"A lot of us suffer bullying. We suffer rejection… We suffer depression, anxiety," he said.
"You're already feeling isolated from your family or groups of support, so where do you turn when you feel like this? And for me it was important to make sure that I reach back out to LGBTQI youth. I worked in social services for many years, helping those youth to understand there is a place and there is support for them. That they don't have to live in this dark cloud every day, that they can get help," Karamo said.
He also offered a word of advice: "Set daily emotional goals" like you would set career or family goals.
"So for me, I wake up in the morning and I say, 'Today, I plan on being happy.' If there's things happening where I don't see myself being happy, I try to find support from other people or I try to figure out what I can do within myself, what education I can get. And I think that's important because when we talk about our emotions, we think of them as this ambiguous thing that's happening. Or I want a good year, as if like every day doesn't happen that changes that," Karamo said.