Zac Brown Releases New Music Video to Help People Who Struggle During the Holidays: 'I'm Trying to Face Things That Are Hard'
Zac Brown has an important message for anyone with the “Christmas Blues” — you’re not alone.
To help uplift people who are dealing with depression this time of year, the lead singer of the Grammy-winning country group Zac Brown Band is premiering the new music video for their single “Someone I Used to Know” exclusively on PEOPLE ahead of the holidays.
“The holidays are a time when people feel a lot of pressure, and I think it’s good to remind everybody that it’s okay to be human,” Brown, 40, tells PEOPLE. “It’s okay to ask for help.”
Brown considers himself “really blessed” that he doesn’t feel particularly down around the holidays, though he’s faced some tough times in his personal life recently, including when he and wife Shelly announced in October that they were separating after 12 years of marriage.
“Personally, overcoming things in my life,” he says of moving forward, “I’d love to be able to share this with other people.” And Brown has seen the toll that depression can take on people firsthand.
“I’ve lost dear friends to suicide,” he says. “Whatever was gnawing at them, whatever was eating at them that we didn’t know and couldn’t see, it obviously felt bigger to them than asking for help and having someone else go through it with them. It made me realize, too, that I don’t want to be that person that can’t face themselves and get to the other side so that I can be well for myself and for everybody else around me.”
In the Zac Brown Band’s new music video, Hunger Games actor Alexander Ludwig portrays a young man as he moves throughout different stages of his life — first as a star college football player, then as an Army recruit and finally, after being injured on the battlefield, as a coal miner. While it’s clear he’s battling with his emotions throughout every stage of life, and often turns to alcohol to cope, it isn’t until the end of the video that he realizes he has a group of people standing behind him and willing to help.
It was important to Brown to depict the particular set of struggles veterans face after they’re done with their service in the video as he has long worked with and supported them through his non-profit organization Camp Southern Ground.
“One of our big missions at Camp Southern Ground is helping veterans transition to battle and transition them back home from battle,” he says. “I feel like we owe our veterans a lot and we’ve got an amazing program going here at camp to help them find meaning after their service is done or to find a path that fits their strengths and their passions and help them to be more fulfilled in their civilian lives after they’ve given so much. We try to give back as much as we can.”
The music video concludes with a powerful testimonial made by Brown, in which he says, “‘Someone I Used to Know’ is a touchpoint to remind people that they don’t have to be alone in what they feel.”
He continues, “Pain and depression doesn’t discriminate. This song is me facing that part of myself of where I want to go and not where I’ve been. I would encourage people that when they feel like they have a need or they have a voice that’s telling them to face something, it’s a sign of strength to ask for help and to face the things that are really hard. That’s what defines you, overcoming those things.”
Despite recent upheaval in his own life, Brown says he’s currently “doing great” and focused on the future.
“I’m definitely in a spot in my life where I’m trying to face things that are hard so that I can be as well and healthy as possible and so that I can have more energy and be able to be more present for my kids and for my business and everyone,” he says. “It’s not the struggles that define you; it’s the fact that you can overcome those struggles that define you. It’s what makes you who you are.”
RELATED VIDEO: Zac Brown and Wife Shelly Separate After 12 Years of Marriage: ‘This Was a Difficult Decision’
In October, Brown and wife Shelly issued a joint statement shared exclusively with PEOPLE. “We feel blessed to be on such an incredible journey in life and sometimes the journey begins to lead in different directions,” they said. “It is with deep love and respect that we announce we are separating as a couple.”
“We’re really blessed,” he says. “Everyone goes through the same struggles no matter who you are, no matter what the job is or where you come from. Hopefully this can put a little hope out, and I’m glad to be able to share some of my life with people.”
There are a few things that Brown says make him happiest now: exercise, rest, sleep, good friends and “moving forward.”
“Being on a good path and being able to spend the holidays with my kids — that’s the best thing, seeing their eyes light up and being able to be together,” he says, before adding, “Nothing better.”
Whenever Brown is going through tough times of his own, he says he has “dear friends” who talk him through the darkness.
“It takes a village,” he says. “It’s a good year for growth this year coming up. It’s going to be a good one.”
Ultimately, Brown hopes that the song and music video will help people get through their struggles of their own.
“I write songs about my life and things that are real a lot of times,” he says. “This is one of those songs that’s just honest and raw and real. I hope it can encourage some other people to be vulnerable so that they can be better.”
He adds: “We’re going to continue to try to spread light.”
Fans can join the Zac Brown Band by sharing their story of strength this holiday season using the hashtag #SpreadHope.