I don’t often get impacted when celebrities die. I was shocked when Robin Williams passed. And Prince. Whitney Houston. I was definitely surprised. But I didn’t necessarily feel a sense of mourning like other folks. These celebrities were humans like anyone else; doesn’t it feel a bit unfair to immortalize them in their death when we don’t tend to do that with “common people?” However, I will never diminish someone else’s mourning because I completely understand the impact that the arts and those who are amazing in their field can really impact others.
But now…I get it. I feel at a loss at the death of Chester Bennington. It’s only been a few hours since the news got out and we still don’t know all of the details. I’m not crying, I’m not depressed, but my heart hurts. In high school Linkin Park was one of my go-to bands whenever I was feeling intense amounts of emotions. Like any other angsty teenager, I related to their lyrics and felt heard and understood. At the time, I also loved Linkin Park because they wonderfully fused hip-hop and rock, two genres of music I was really obsessed with back in the day. Plus, Chester could SING! A lot of rockers might yell into the mic, or make their voice really raspy, but his voice could hit notes that I didn’t even think were possible. I was immensely captivated by his voice.
When I was 13 my depression hit hard. I was living in a third world country, with no friends, not able to speak the language, and had just survived over a decade of severe child abuse; physical and sexual. My home life wasn’t particularly healthy and I was living off of alcohol and cigarettes. Not to mention I was lying significantly and stole a lot; a way of acting out on my anger. When I was 13 I tried to commit suicide. I swallowed 38 pills of Advil and Tylenol PM. Luckily, I didn’t swallow “enough” pills to get the job done. I wasn’t successful and am still here today to write this blog. But….Chester did commit suicide. He went through with it. He ended his life. He was only 41 years old. Only 9 years older than me.
June 5th is my birthday and I spent mine this year standing on a fire escape, having a cigarette, contemplating if I should just jump. My depression was the worst it had ever been and I was ready to just be done with it all. The only reason I stopped was because there were other people in my house and I felt it was selfish and unnecessary to put them through that kind of trauma. I checked myself into a psych ward a couple of days after that and spent 9 days in a psychiatric hospital. That was a month ago and I’m still struggling. My suicidal tendencies have decreased immensely but I can’t say that I am particularly thrilled about being alive. After hearing about Chester’s suicide today my brain is shifting. That could have been me. That could still be me, but hopefully not.
I feel a loss and a hit to my adolescence with Chester’s passing. He leaves behind a wife and 6 kids. SIX KIDS. What must they be feeling right now? What might their future look like? Reflecting on my own life, I can’t even imagine the pain my friends and family would experience if I took my own life. It hurts my heart to think of it. But is that enough to stay alive? For now it is. And I continue to fight every damn day for another reason to live.
We all need to find our reasons. It’s hard. It’s fucking hard to live life. It has never been and will never be easy. But we can do it, right? We just need to work collectively to give each other reasons. We need to not judge those who are in their darkness and not acting the way we “want” them to. We need to come from a place of unconditional love. We need to practice vulnerability and asking for help before we even get to the thoughts of suicide. We can’t let ourselves, our loved ones, our heroes die because of depression, loneliness, or letting our internal demons win over the power of our minds. We can do this. Not just for our friends, families, fans, etc. But for ourselves, because we are the ones who have to live our lives; no one else. So tell me….what keeps you alive?
R.I.P. Chester. Your endless talents will be deeply missed.