It’s 2018 and I’m still pissed off about Chester. To know that we will never get new music from him again. I will never see Linkin Park in concert again. (Thank god I got to at least once!) His voice was amazing. His showmanship, raw and real.
Those left behind after someone dies by suicide are often times angry, understandably. They’ll want someone or something to blame. They’ll say drugs made their loved ones do it. Or alcohol. Their loved one “wouldn’t soberly kill themselves.” And maybe in some cases they’re right. Maybe their thing wasn’t mental illness per se. Maybe their thing was strictly addiction. The rush of dopamine as the chemicals go from the syringe to your veins and into your brain. Maybe that and that alone is what’s appealing to some. I don’t know.
But I do know some stuff. I do know that people with mental illness tend to self-medicate. Because their “thing” is mental illness. Depression. Sometimes severe. And anxiety. Sometimes severe. And we might cope by drinking. A lot. Or doing any number of drugs. A lot. Cocaine. Heroin. Even harmless (by comparison) marijuana. Anything to numb the feelings in our broken brain.
“In her system, Carrie Fisher was found with …..” who cares?! She was bipolar. She lived a wonderful and difficult life and she did whatever she did to cope with her mental illness and don’t you dare judge her.
And as someone with mental illness, I think it’s so important when loved ones of those that have ended their life recognize when it isn’t the drugs or alcohol. Even through their grief and their pain, it’s important to recognize that what took their loved one was skewed thinking and a broken brain.
Such is the case with Chester Bennington. He suffered, and I use that word intentionally, suffered with mental illness. Severe depression. No drugs in his system at time of death. Very little alcohol. Half a glass of Corona at his side. He had a mental illness. His widow says it, his band mates say it.
“….the demons who took you away from us were always part of the deal. After all, it was the way you sang about those demons that made everyone fall in love with you in the first place” read a portion of the statement from his band mates after his death.
Dammit if they weren’t right. We’re the same age he and I, give or take a couple of months. And I fell in love with the group over and over, the first time I heard One Step Closer…Crawling…Numb…Breaking the Habit…the list goes on and on. I heard those songs and I thought, “Man. Somebody gets me. I’m not alone. Someone else understands what it’s like to live with these demons.”
#FuckDepression and #MakeChesterProud are two hashtags his wife Talinda and his band mates created to raise awareness about mental illness. And I’m grateful to her and them for saying, “Yeah ya know what? Mental illness. Depression. It’s real.” You can have it all, you can be, well, you can be Chester Bennington, lead singer of one the greatest rock n roll bands of the last 20 years, have the money, have the fame, have a family that loves and adores you, have fans that love and adore you in their own way…. You can have all that, but your broken brain doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter. If you were born with a predisposition, if trauma triggers a change and neurons started firing differently, you’re going to suffer with severe depression. Mental illness won’t discriminate and doesn’t care, even if you’re Chester fucking Bennington from Linkin fuckin’ Park.
(Edit 1/12/18): To be clear, I’m saying the factors that lead to suicide are complicated. It’s external factors, things happening to you or around you. Abuse. Death of loved one. Divorce. And internal factors, chemicals in your brain. It’s not just one external situation or internal misfire.
I’m grateful to Talinda. Through what is a pain I can’t even imagine because even tho I myself have mental illness, I have never lost anyone close to me to suicide. I’m so glad Talinda is bringing awareness to mental illness. She recognizes that suicidal people don’t necessarily want to die. Chester didn’t *want* to leave her. Their kids. Friends. He probably just wanted the pain to end but didn’t know how to make that happen. Suicidal people are not selfish, we’re not merely thinking of ourselves. Indeed we think the world is better off without us.
Doesn’t make rational sense. But that’s the point.
And you can’t fix a broken brain. At least not without meds and/therapy. You can improve your situation, you can change your circumstances, sometimes. And that helps. But you can’t simply will it away, suck it up, make a choice to be happy. Can’t do it. But in this day and age of toxic masculinity (a topic that deserves to be its own blog entry frankly, and one I will one day write about) it was likely difficult for Chester to admit he needed help. I don’t know. I don’t know what he did or didn’t do to help his pain.
I loved his music from day one, Crawling in 2000, up to “Heavy,” a song he did with Kiiara. LP’s final single is haunting. One More Light. He wrote it, ironically enough, for Chris Cornell after he too died by suicide. Earlier I mentioned that Chester’s lyrics helped me feel less alone. Well now they do something else too. I listen to lyrics like “Let mercy come and wash away what I’ve done” and my first reaction isn’t to think “Someone gets me.” Instead now I think “God. Poor man. The pain he must have been in.”
Suicide will shift your perspective like that I suppose.
But I am grateful. Grateful for his music, grateful for his company through songs, during some lonely days and nights back in the day. And grateful to Talinda and his band mates for helping spread awareness (and compassion and understanding!) of mental illness. To them I say, thank you.
…….Who cares if one more light goes out? Well. I do.
#fuckdepression #MakeChesterProud #320ChangesDirection #IAmTheChange
#depressionlies #sicknotweak #TheBloggessTribe #NeverAlone #mentalillness #ptsd #stopthestigma #suicide #anxiety #EndTheStigma #BeThe1To #ReasonsISpeak #EndTheShame #EndTheSilence #AFSP #NSPW #TalkingAboutIt #IKeptLiving
If you are having a mental health crisis and need someone to talk to, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
(Edited Jan 12, 2018 to clarify there are always multiple factors and the complexity of suicide)