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    How The Star Of A Viral Video Ended Up In A Psychiatric Hospital Before Turning His Life Around

    Millions of people were amused by a video of Alika Agidi-Jeffs singing on a Tube train last year. But the musician was suffering from serious mental health problems, and told BuzzFeed News what it was like to be caught up in the viral web.

    This is 23-year-old aspiring musician and artist Alika Agidi-Jeffs.

    Rethink Mental Illness / Via youtube.com

    The Londoner became the unwitting star of a viral video back in 2012, when he was filmed singing along to Drake and Rihanna's “Take Care” while travelling on the London Underground.

    The clip has so far been watched around 2.5 million times on YouTube, and numerous websites, including BuzzFeed, covered it when it went viral for a second time in 2014.

    Agidi-Jeffs today gave his side of the story and revealed he was suffering serious mental health problems at the time the video was recorded.

    youtube.com

    The Londoner said he was dealing with the death of a family member, the end of a five-year relationship, and issues relating to an absent father and family arguments.

    As a result he was suffering from severe depression, manic episodes, and suicidal thoughts.

    "Singing became my escape," he said. "To be honest, it was more like a cry for help.

    "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."

    He later had a breakdown, spending four months in a psychiatric hospital, before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2014.

    But Agidi-Jeffs, who performs under the name Infecta, told BuzzFeed News he is now grateful for the video's existence, saying it "needed to happen".

    Rethink Mental Illness / Via youtube.com

    "When the video first came out I was definitely outraged and embarrassed by it," he said.

    However with the passing of time, "I look back and actually appreciate going through that depression or breakdown or whatever people want to call it. It gave me a chance to just take time off, so I appreciate it, I’m actually happy for it."

    He added that it had also given him a new perspective on the nature of viral videos and how the subjects may not always have consented in their recording.

    "Whenever I see something on Facebook nowadays... As soon as it’s anything that’s going to be like someone who is hurting themselves or basically someone who is being made a fool out of, I deliberately avoid them," Agidi-Jeffs said.

    "I don’t watch it, I won’t partake in it, because now I know what it’s like being on the receiving end of that, I’m not going to be a hypocrite. And life has been better since."

    Agidi-Jeffs said the video was indicative of a wider problem of people recording everything they see in the hope of finding the next viral hit.

    The result, he said, is that people are too afraid to relax properly. He said it felt, especially in London, that everyone was overly self-conscious and worried about being politically correct and socially accepted.

    "As soon as anyone let's their hair down, it's usually seen as something so out of the normal that 'oh my god, it must be captured', and as soon as it gets captured... If they trace back who that person is, it gets used against them," he said.

    "Where does the line get drawn? It's like – OK, that's just normal humans doing normal human things once in a while, breaking away from behaving like robots."

    He added:

    For me, it's getting a bit out of hand. Is it by force that someone had to capture that? Because it seems like normal day-to-day [behaviour].

    At this rate people will start capturing, "Oh look, people wake up in the mornings differently." It's starting to get ridiculous.

    There's a big surge and urge for people to try and create what they now call "content" – literally videos, pictures, memes, and Vines.

    That's why you're starting to get a lot of opportunists who are just like, "Oh, I'm going to capture anything and upload everything.'

    Ultimately, it's making all the videos and all the content that we get fed more and more pointless, and the only substance to it is, "Oh, maybe someone can get a laugh out of it."

    Everything else that should be thought about doesn't get thought about, like the consequences, the person, is there consent? All this stuff goes out the window.

    Agidi-Jeffs revealed that years after the video went viral he actually met the person who recorded it following one of his performances in Stratford, east London.

    youtube.com

    Despite having rejected Agidi-Jeffs' requests to take the video down, the two men have actually formed something of a friendship.

    And the video's owner has now allowed it to be used in a new campaign for the charity Rethink Mental Illness, with whom Agidi-Jeffs is working in an attempt to highlight his story and the support the charity provides.

    The musician, who says he has written songs for artists such as Jason Derulo, said he was pleased to see the video come full circle.

    youtube.com

    "I remember when I first saw it go viral just on YouTube alone, I thought, ‘Oh, maybe that will be it, it will stick on YouTube,’ then my friends told me it was on BuzzFeed, initially I was like, 'Oh my god,' because I know how well BuzzFeed gets a quick reaction with sharing and stuff.

    Agidi-Jeffs repeated his belief that he is happy the video happened, but said he hoped a future employer never sees it.

    He is now working on a number of projects with Rethink and says he wants to help young people suffering in the same way he did.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    "I've always said I am a humanitarian," he said. "I believe very strongly in trying to help people while I am alive in any way I can."

    You can find out more about Agigi-Jeffs' career on his website.

    thank you to everyone who attended 🌐 you have my loyalty @tedxeastend 🙏 closing this chapter 📖

    I.@InfectaFollow

    thank you to everyone who attended

    you have my loyalty @tedxeastend

    closing this chapter

    1:07 AM - 25 Jan 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

    And find out more about Rethink's work here.