This one hit me hard. Harder than I thought it might.
Yes, I’m a Linkin Park fan, but I’m not a diehard fan. I never went to any one of their concerts, and I don’t feel anxious about the fact that I never will now. I can’t even say that I really grew up listening to Linkin Park because I was already in my 20s when they came out. But their music was, indeed, a soundtrack for many years in my life- important years.
As a newlywed and then as a young mother I listened to Hybrid Theory and Meteora. Through my divorce and the events prior to and after it, there was Minutes to Midnight. I skipped over A Thousand Suns and most of LIVING THINGS, but I played the heck out of Hunting Party. Their music was always there. In fact, I was listening to Hybrid Theory during a mad housecleaning session the weekend before the tragic event of July 20, 2017.
And the truth is that, in a way, I do feel like I kind of grew up with the guys in Linkin Park. We’re all about the same age and I distinctly remember them all as young, skinny 20-year-olds just like I was. And I saw them grow up and evolve, just like I did.
Aside from all of this familiarity, however, there are other reasons- deeper reasons- I feel such sadness over the death of Chester Bennington. Not only did the music world lose an iconic powerhouse, but a whole family lost their husband and father. Bandmates lost their friend. People lost a voice they connected with and who reminded them that they were not alone.
But mostly, I feel sad that Chester Bennington felt so much pain that death was the only way out for him. He must have just been So. Freaking. Tired of battling his own mind.
I know a thing or two about that. I have battled with depression for more than 20 years. I know what it is like to feel debilitated to the point of immobilization; I know what it is like to feel in all honesty that there is just no way out and nothing- NOTHING- can pull you out of it. It feels like drowning. And you honestly believe that the world would be better off without you because you have nothing to offer but damaged goods.
It is not a pity party. It is feeling extreme pain. Mental illness produces an invisible pain that, cruelly, also comes with stigma. When people are in extreme physical pain, they take extreme painkillers. Cancer patients are given morphine. People coming out of surgery are given percacet or oxycodone or whatever. People with mental illness are not given anything, or they are given numbing medications with dangerous side effects (one of those being, ironically, suicidal thoughts). Mental illness often goes undiagnosed and untreated. That’s why so many people end up self-medicating and then suffer from substance abuse. So stop judging alcoholics and drug addicts, and have a little compassion.
I wish I could tell every single depressed and tormented person out there that they are loved. Even if I could, I know from experience that sometimes that doesn’t help because, well, sometimes *nothing* helps. But if you can just hang on… hang on and ride it out just a little bit longer… it will get better, I promise. Even if it’s just for a little bit.
As for Chester B….. I don’t know what I believe anymore as far as life after death. I do know he is finally out of his misery. He is no longer in pain. I feel horrible for those left behind and my heart and compassion goes out to them. Now is when things will get really hard. But hang on. It is always darkest right before dawn.