Warning: This post discusses Mental Health- especially Suicide. If you are uncomfortable with or do not with to see this sort of content, please do not click the “Read More”.
While my Mother and I had The Cure, Depeche Mode, and Gilmore Girls, Linkin Park was my Dad and I’s thing- right up there with The X Files and Stargate SG-1; that not so secret secret that you can recognize as just being “a Father-Daughter thing”.
When Hybrid Theory came out in 2000, it was the first album I purchased with my own money- a huge accomplishment for a 10 year old; I remember did chores for weeks just to have enough for it. And between my cousin stealing it from me and my sister scribbling on the back of the disk with crayon, I’d go on to repurchase it 6 different times just to keep it in my collection; hell, Linkin Park’s video for Crawling was one of the first music videos I can really remember watching with any enthusiasm. I used to get up at 6 am every morning, and the first thing I would do was turn the TV on to MTV or VH1 so that I could listen to the music while I got myself ready for school. And whenever I’d hear it come on, I’d rush to the living room and sit in front of the TV for it.
But more than all of that, they got me through a lot of tough fucking shit in my formative years; regardless of what emotion I was feeling, Chester Bennington’s Linkin Park- and later, Chris Cornell’s Audioslave- were there to help me through it. And it may seem strange that Music can act as a life line… But it’s true. And now that life line feels like it’s been severed at the root.
Since I heard the news about Chris Cornell’s suicide in May, I’ve been debating on whether or not to write this post. And quite frankly, I still don’t know what to say… It seems almost self serving to coast in on the back of someone’s suicide and talk about yourself. But with Chester Bennington’s own Suicide today- on what should have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday, no less- I’ve realized an incredibly simple truth: We need to talk about this; despite whether or not it may be self serving, despite whether or not people want to hear the reality, this isn’t a conversation we can keep dodging.
Not a lot of people know this about me, but from the age of 12 to the age of 23, I struggled daily with Self Harm- and that’s something that, while I’ve recovered, I still struggle with on an almost daily basis. It will never go away because like Cornell and Bennington, and almost 350 million people in the World, I suffer from Chronic Depression (specifically: Major Depressive Disorder with Atypical Features).
I’ve fought my disorder for as long as I can remember. In fact, I actually can’t remember a time when I haven’t had to fight against it practically every waking day. And sometimes it’s especially hard when an MDD diagnosis isn’t the only one you’re battling; Teenage Alcoholism and Pill Addiction complicates a lot of shit even after you’ve kicked the addiction and have lived most of your adult life sober. Coming to grips with the fact that you are, by all definitions, disabled doesn’t make things any easier, either.
I’ve almost lost that fight- not once, but several times; I’ve attempted to commit suicide 5 times throughout the course of my life. And each time those thoughts set in, all you want to do is end it; to either feel normal again, or never feel at all. Because depression’s funny like that (in a weird, twisted sort of way)… It’ll make you try anything to end the cycle- up to and including taking your own life– and each time they’ve set in for me, the attempts have gotten more extreme.
Some people will never understand that. In fact, a lot of people won’t; they’ll never understand that, in the pit of despair that Depression can bring, taking your life is a viable solution in our minds… That in a lot of cases, it’s the only solution that we can see; the only thing that will save the people we love- and ourselves- from continuing to experience the pain. And those people who don’t understand it will scoff at that sentiment. In fact, they already have; already, I’ve seen people calling Cornell and Bennington cowards for “giving in to the Demon” that is Depression.
You never know what people are going through. You never know what’s happening [in their head]. You have what seems to be the best life on the outside, and it is a nightmare on the inside […] And those that have it know that it’s not like a dark cloud on your day, it’s more like a thousand pound wet blanket that is both suffocating and crushing you at the same time. – Philip DeFranco
I can’t express in words how rage inducing that is. How hurtful and heartbreaking; I can’t articulate how this mentality doesn’t help, or describe how much damage it does to people who are already battling their damage every day… But I also can’t fault them for it, because that’s the narrative we push as a culture that makes it difficult if not impossible to access help, and even shames us for doing so.
I’ve been lucky enough to break the cycle every time- if not by the skin of my own teeth on more than one occasion- but others haven’t; Chris Cornell couldn’t break that cycle. Chester Bennington couldn’t either. And neither could Courtney Pratt (my ESO Guild Leader who committed Suicide last year), Ken Rogers (the man who was my Father’s Best Man at his Wedding), Zachary (a good friend of mine who took his life in 2006), or millions and millions of others who’ve fallen prey to both the failures of our culture and our own brains.
But we need to break it. We need to put a stop to so much unnecessary death; the snuffing out of a million bright lights in our Universe. Because we’re not alone, and people like us need to know that they’re not alone either. More than that, we need those around us to look at others with sympathy and compassion. To recognize our Humanity, and the fact that we are in a constant state of pain… And if now isn’t a good time to have that conversation, then when is?
It hurts to admit it, but there is no good time to talk about Depression, Mental Health, and Suicidal Ideation. Yet the fact of the matter is… That’s exactly why we need to have this conversation right here, right now. Because if we keep acting like this, then we’ll never have this conversation- and it absolutely needs to be had; to not have this conversation feels like doing an incredible injustice to the bright, creative, shining stars the Gods deemed fit to bless our lives with no matter how briefly… And not having it only means that we will continue to lose them.
We have two choices – take our local win, hope the fight doesn’t come back to us, die old and boring in our beds. Or [we] take the chance that [their deaths] bought for us; make their deaths count for something […] I don’t want to win just one battle. I want to win a whole bloody war. – Killjoys S02 Finale
So let’s start having it.
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