Rock star, drug addict… Victim of suicide? Not the most uplifting start to an article I know. But stick with me here. I truthfully am at a loss on how to start this one. How do I talk about such a complex subject that effects so many people so differently? Do I talk about Mental Health Awareness day and how it was just a few days ago? Do I open up and talk about my constant state of anxiety? Or the depression that made me feel like I was drowning in a shallow pool? Or do I talk about all the musicians that chose to end their own lives, falling victim to suicide from drugs depression and anxiety. Maybe its a mixture of them all.
The reality is that this is a tough topic to talk about for almost anyone. So to make this a little easier on myself I am going to relate it to something within my comfort zone, which you might have noticed by now, is music. So how do music and mental health coincide? Unfortunately in more cases than not, they go hand in hand. How many musical legends have we lost to suicide? More than we can count on one hand – and its devastating. And it honestly doesn’t make much sense. They have it all, right? The traveling, the singing, the fans, the money. But at some point that money always seems to lead to an endless supply of drugs and alcohol, with no real consequences. And the drugs and alcohol lead to mis-performances, self loathing, and depression.
Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park. A supremely talented musician on tour to promote his new album with his best friends. Sounds like the life doesn’t it? You would think so, but just a few months ago, Chester decided to take his own life. The photo below was shared by his wife, Talinda Bennington, just days after the announcement that he had committed suicide.
Look how happy he looks – On the outside you would never now he was struggling. Its a sick talent, but you would be surprised at how well people can keep their depression under wraps. The unfortunate reality is that Chester was not the only one to go down this path. So many greats, Chris Cornell, just months before Chester himself, and the late great Kurt Cobain. How many more are headed in that same direction? My hopeful answer is none, but this is real life, and real life never seems to have room for the hopeful.
Depression is a filthy disease that consumes you in ways you can’t explain. It’s ugly and lonely and a goddamn literal nightmare. But there is almost always something that can get you through it. For me it was music. Sometimes I played banging rock ballads to let out all the building frustrations. Other times I played lyrical masterpieces that described exactly what I was going through, and I knew that at least one other person has felt the way that I felt. I’m not actually crazy and I’m certainly not alone. These people, these musicians, they were my saving grace – literal heroes sent to save me, and I am forever in debt to them for their melodic therapy. And isn’t that the point of music? To make people feel something? Musicians have this incredible platform to create safe spaces for thousands of people. Their concerts are places for you to be surrounded by people just like you, a place to feel a sense of belonging. How incredibly sad is it that the same people who can release us from the crushing weight on our shoulders with their words and songs, can feel like they are completely alone? It’s gut wrenching – and I wish there was a way for use to give them even a fraction of what they give to us.
To feel alone in a world with billions of people, is truly devastating. But we aren’t, they aren’t, you aren’t, alone.
For people who haven’t experienced this, it can be hard to understand. Why didn’t you say anything? You seemed fine, how could you have been struggling so much on the inside, and seem completely fine on the outside? It is something that I wish I could explain to you. There were so many times I wanted to just scream, and cry and tell everyone how fucked up I felt. And for reasons I will never be able to explain, every time I opened my mouth all that came out was, “I’m fine”, a monotone almost routine response of those two words. And it was a bold faced lie. But there was a part of me that believed that is what I was supposed to say, because no one would actually care about what I wanted to say.
How messed up is that? Looking back now its even hard for me to understand how I could have felt that way. I have an outrageously loving group of people surrounding me, and I know they would have wanted me to talk about it. But that is the thing with depression. It is a total mind fuck and it warps your way of thinking. You start to become this person on the inside who you don’t even recognize, while the rest of the world still sees the facade that you portray.
You feel like you are stuck, but I promise you there is something that will free you from the hell you feel like you are in. For me it was music – for you it could be something wildly different. But once you find that thing, and you feel that little flutter of hope in your chest, that is when you know you are going to be okay. That if you keep doing this one thing that eventually you wont feel trapped anymore.
I know this was a long post but this isn’t a topic you can just touch upon. For those of you still reading, I hope this article helped you in some way. Whether that be to search for your little flutter of hope, or for you to understand what someone else is going through just a tiny bit better.
Don’t be afraid to talk about it, realize you aren’t alone, and play some damn good music to help you through whatever it is you are going through.
In the words of Talinda Bennington, #fuckdepression