This is Why Chester Bennington's Death is Heartbreaking & Terrifying At The Same Time
The first time I remember clearly forming the idea that I wanted to end my life, I was 8-years-old.
At the time, I had come to the conclusion that there was something intrinsically wrong with me. I felt sure that the reason my mother was overtly cruel to me, the reason my father ignored me, & the reason I had very few friends, was the result of my immense & insurmountable shortcomings. It was my failing to be anything of value that kept people at bay & disconnected me from the world at large.
As an 8-year-old, this realisation, this sureness that my mere existence was problematic, impressed upon me the idea that suicide would be a merciful act. I believed that the kindest thing to do, or, more aptly, the RIGHT thing to do, would be for me to end my own life. The fact that I hadn’t yet built up the courage to follow through with what I perceived as the inevitable, filled me with guilt.
With this idea fully formed in my mind, that my inevitable end would be met shortly & brought about by my own hand, my life became a waiting game, with the only questions being how & when.
My Own Struggle With Depression & Thoughts of Suicide
Life as a Depressed Teenager
With the 20/20 clarity of hindsight, I now understand that I was deeply & profoundly depressed. As I got older, these feelings only deepened & served to build a wedge between me & the world around me. I felt an intense divide & disconnection from everyone around me. These feelings of isolation only served to compound the problem.
As a teenager, lost out at sea in the tumultuous waters of my depression, music became an anchor which sustained me. The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails, The Bends by Radiohead, Mer de Noms by A Perfect Circle, & so many more, took the edge off of what was an otherwise grating, chafing & uncomfortable life lived at the end of my emotional tether.
I took deep solace in the words of musicians whose lyrics reflected thoughts & feelings similar to what I was going through & experiencing. To know that someone had been in the same pits of despair that I was currently wallowing in didn’t make everything okay, but it certainly did make me feel as though I had company. Lying on the floor while Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” blared from my speakers, helped me feel as if I might not be an oddity among humans & that I might not be the worst thing that had ever stumbled into existence.
It was music that sustained me.
When I First Heard Linkin Park
I was 17-years-old when Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park was released. I was in my senior year of high school & at the height of depression. The song, “One Step Closer”, was filled with lyrics that just made a whole lot of sense to me. In particular, “I find the answers aren’t so clear, wish I could find a way to disappear”, resonated with what was going on with me at that time.
I spent hours listening to that album at full blast. I’d put the CD in my Discman & head out for an angsty walk. I’d walk for hours, marinating in the music of Hybrid Theory. When, three years later, Meteroa was released, I was 20, but in roughly the same condition as I was when Iwas 17.
Meteora, even more than Hybrid Theory, made me feel as though there was someone else out there who, for lack of a more sophisticated way of expressing the feeling, just got me. Songs like “Somewhere I Belong”, “Breaking the Habit”, “Nobody’s Listening”, &, in particular, “Numb”, were the emotional equivalent of a warm hug, which left me with this sense of belonging & a feeling of real, human connection.
I can unequivocally say, if it had not been for music, & to a large degree, Linkin Park’s music in particular, I would not be here.
How I Survived Depression
As I got older, I became more familiar with my own depression. With that familiarity, came the clarity that it wasn’t death that I sought, but rather a solution & a way for things to be better. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to feel better. Of course, death was one way for me to end my own suffering, & what I perceived as the suffering I inflicted on others, but an ending didn’t necessarily mean that anything would be better.
With the realisation that better was what I wanted, I worked my proverbial butt off to try to attain that for myself & for those around me. I paid careful attention to the self-destructive habits my own depression had foisted upon me. I became aware of my perpetually negative & demeaning self talk. I became acutely aware of how depression filtered out the world & kept goodness from me & I began to consciously stop these detrimental habits as they happened.
I felt sure that if I nipped depression in the bud, I’d be able to help myself develop habits that corrected my depressive thinking & the work that I put in paid off. Gradually, my thinking began to evolve & when someone was unhappy, it wasn’t because of something I had done, or my mere existence. Suddenly, I wasn’t the ugliest, most boring & all-around worst human being on the planet.
The Similarity Between Depression & Alcoholism
When an alcoholic completes their 12-step program & begins their life of sobriety, these individuals are taught to think of themselves as “in recovery”. They’re not cured of alcoholism, rather, they are an alcoholic who is undergoing the unending processes of recovery. In this way, I am a depressive who is also in recovery.
I’m not sure if there is a light at the end of the tunnel of depression, but for me, it has never been that way. Rather, for me, depression has been more of a matter of keeping a lid on things while those same old feelings bubble just beneath the surface.
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I often used to fear lapsing back into my old depressive routine, but as time has propelled me forward, I’ve begun to believe that, while my old depressive habits are still a part of me & buried within me somewhere, I am out of the woods. Chester Bennington’s death has proved to me, just how wrong I am.
Depression can overtake us & triumph over us at any moment.
Rest in Peace Chester Bennington
If Linkin Parks’ lyrics are anything to go by, Chester dealt with a number of the same thoughts, feelings & struggles that my own depression dragged me through. While it might seem like success, Grammy Awards, money & millions of fans would be a well from which to draw the inspiration necessary to keep on living, it is markedly different when you are being torn apart from the inside out.
There is no escaping your own mind. No matter where you go, no matter what you do, your mind is with you. Everything you encounter & experience is filtered through your mind & when that mind is troubled, all the goodness in the world can’t break through what I have always referred to as “The Depression Filter”.
Watching the musicians, like Chester, that I have idolised for so long, it always looks like they’ve got their thoughts & feelings under control. It looks like they’ve beaten, or at the very least, are coping with the depression that they write & sing about. Watching someone that I have perceived to have beaten their depression, has always given me hope.
The flip side of that hope is that, when you see someone that you have admired for a very long time succumb to their depression, it’s terrifying. It’s a reminder of what is bubbling just beneath the surface when you are battling depression. It’s a powerful reminder that, if left unchecked, that voice, the one who moved into my brain at the age of 8 & took up shelter in my mind, could return & overpower me at any moment.
Most of all, it’s a reminder that, sometimes, we need help. I would urge you, if you are reading this & you are wrestling with any demons in your mind, or if you know someone who is struggling, speak up & get help. You don’t have to go to therapy if you don’t want to. You don’t need to take any pills if that is something you’re worried about it. You won’t look weak, or broken. Most importantly, you won’t be a burden to anyone.
Speak to the people in your life, I guarantee that someone will listen. If you don’t feel like your family will hear what you are saying, speak to your friends. If your friends won’t hear you out, speak to your teachers, professors, or someone at your work. If none of those people are able to provide the support that you need, reach out to the Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Above all else, though I know it is hard, please keep going, keep fighting & stay with us. We want you here & life is far too precious to lose.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR - BRITTEN THOMPSON
Who is Britten? She's a reticent little beast born in the wilds of Northern Alberta to a foul-mouthed, French-Canadian father & an angry, stiff-upper-lipped mother. Britten is, almost always, wild-haired & poorly dressed. She recently left the beautiful & untamed chill of Canada for the blistering & somewhat oppressive heat of Australia. Her list of pastimes is short & includes reading, writing, petting cats, overeating & alphabetizing things. She's a fan of Windex on Facebook because who doesn't want a streak free shine? She dreams of one day writing a super-awesome novel that affords her & her partner a comfortable lifestyle, a large property, a few horses & the means with which to foster children in need...or just becoming a red panda.
When Britten isn't writing, reading, or organizing things in her home, she can be found cuddling with her boyfriend, arguing about why Rajon Rondo is the best point guard in the history of ever, browsing Gumtree for a future cat or kitten, or contemplating days gone by, the passage of time & how ridiculous it is that humans have yet to evolve enough to grow a third set of teeth.