Conway The Machine’s life changed significantly in March 2012 when he was shot in the neck and shoulder, his injuries leaving him with Bell’s Palsy and the right side of his face paralyzed.

In a new interview with The Athletic, the Buffalo native opened up about the incident taking a toll on his mental health and how he needed to strengthen his mind in addition to learning how to eat and talk again.

“I don’t feel like I’m disfigured or none of that, but when you gotta look at yourself in the mirror and you know that you don’t look the same or your kids gotta see you don’t look the same and your momma gotta see you like that, it definitely takes a toll and it’s like a war in your mind,” he admitted. “In my mind it was like, ‘Man, I don’t even want people to see me like this.’

“The mental part of it was harder than the physical. I had to re-calibrate. I had to strengthen my mind before I could strengthen my body. I lost it for a minute. Mentally I just wasn’t in a good space.”

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Conway also acknowledged the stigma around mental health issues — particularly in the Black community.

“I’m opening up more and knowing that it’s okay if you need to talk to somebody,” Conway revealed. “Especially in the hood — in the Black community, period — it’s like this stigma of mental health issues is equal to weakness. Even I struggle with that.”

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The Griselda rapper’s openness about living with Bell’s Palsy follows a kind gesture earlier this year. In May, Conway connected with 11-year-old Ally, a fellow Buffalo native also with facial paralysis who was giving back to the community on her birthday.

“What she was doing with the drive, the donations and the canned goods and stuff, it inspired me,” he told Spectrum News. “I thought it was incredible. Dealing with that and feeling how I was feeling and now signed to Shady Records and on tour and working with JAY-Z, I just want to show her you’re not alone in this. You just got to be strong-minded and keep God in your heart, and if you have a strong family you can overcome anything.”

He added, “We’re beautiful, and it’s what’s on the inside and not what’s on the outside that matters.”