Yesterday, Chester Bennington, husband, father, son, brother, friend, icon, died.
He committed suicide.
Yesterday everyone I know called, texted, messaged me to tell me the news because they know what Linkin Park and their music means to me. Linkin Park are my all-time favorite band not just because of their music, but because of the way the handle themselves as people and celebrities. They are very accessible to their fans, they keep a hands-on approach with them. And more than that, they donate their time and money to various charities–hell they even started their own charity. And they are not scared to share their political stances and get involved. Their music has gotten me through depression, and continues to help me while I grieve the loss of my father. Music in general means everything to me, Linkin Park is just my automatic go-to.
From the outside looking in, Chester seemed like he had a great life. He definitely had a lot to live for–not counting his career. He had a beautiful wife and six children that I know he adored, and they loved him just as much. And he had five best friends, who all loved one another like brothers.
So imagine the pain and anguish he had to be going through to feel like the only way to end it was to end his life?! I’ve been where Chester was. I have been so depressed and suicidal that it felt like ending my life was the only way to end the pain, and more than that it felt like I would be doing everyone around me a big favor. People would be better off without me. That is the mindset of someone who is truly, deeply depressed.
I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t use drugs and alcohol to self medicate. Because for many people, that’s how addictions starts. They use drugs and/or alcohol to mask the pain, which always makes things worse. But many people do it because they don’t realize that what they feel is normal and that they can get help. Some people think seeking help won’t end the suffering. And some people seek help, but it never really works for them. I was also lucky enough to make it through my suicidal thoughts with my life. But it is a daily struggle sometimes. I can go months and months without suffering from a severe depressive episode and then it just hits me. And there doesn’t have to be a trigger, or reason. My mood just drops and I feel sad and useless and I curl up into myself until the feelings ebb. Sometimes I can tell when an episode is coming on and I alert my support system, my husband, or my kids, or my bestie that it’s coming and to help me however they can. It doesn’t work that way for everyone, otherwise we would have no suicide. And not everyone has support. And sometimes, sadly, support is not enough.
Many people do not understand mental illness, and worse than that, they don’t want to. Because they don’t have those feelings, they don’t understand why people can’t just, “suck it up and get happy.” They need to understand that their “depression” of having a sad/bad couple of days is not the same as the soul crushing sadness that others experience.
Depression and suicide is not about attention seeking behaviors; it’s not about selfishness, it’s about selflessness. For many people who contemplate suicide, or succeed in it, it’s about making life better for the people around them. They truly believe that their loved ones would be better off without them. And in many cases, they just want the pain to end. Pain that people who do not suffer from mental illness will never be able to understand.
The other problem people who don’t understand mental health is that they think they can throw everyone into one box; that if one person survived their suicidal thoughts, why doesn’t everyone else? It. Doesn’t. Work. Like. That. Everyone is different. Everyone reacts to their depression different. Everyone’s illness is different. Everyone’s life experiences are different. What worked for 50 people might not work for 2 or 3. And what worked for 1 person, might not work for 100.
I don’t know what kept me going as a teen. Maybe the hope that it would get better. Maybe my friends. Maybe even my family. I just don’t know, but I know what keeps me going now. My kids and my hubby. It works for me, and has for many years. That doesn’t mean it will work for the next person, or the next person. It doesn’t mean it will work for me in the future.
That’s they way of mental illness. You never know what you’re going to get. And you never know what will work. And what works today, may not work tomorrow.
So maybe before you open your mouth and start spouting off about things you could never comprehend, take a minute and think about how fucked up someone’s mind has to be to think ending it all is the best option they have. It’s not a pretty feeling. It’s an ugly, horrifying feeling. And for those of us who make it past those feelings, we feel worse because we almost gave in.
Stop commenting on things you don’t know. Stop pretending you understand about depression because you took a psych class, or because you were depressed one time and you came out of it fine. Just because you’re a licensed therapist or psychiatrist doesn’t mean you understand. Mental Health Professionals can’t and don’t always help all of their patients. And don’t be one of those pretenders who says “I thought about suicide once so I know, what I’m talking about.” You don’t know! You don’t get to judge them just because you’re experience was different. I don’t know what was going on his Chester’s head, or Chris Cornell’s, or Robin William’s, or the average person’s head. I just figure it had to be pretty fucking bad. They had to feel completely hopeless. And let’s face it, hope is what keeps us, as humans, going. We hope for some better luck, or for a better job, or that things will get better. We hope, and that keeps us going.
Suicide is the loss of hope.
And if you take nothing else from me spilling my guts on the internet for the world to see, take this:
Someone has died. No matter what your thoughts, opinions, or beliefs, trying showing some compassion. The last thing people in mourning need is your bullshit opinions. They don’t need you to tell them they should be angry, or sad, or relieved because the pain is finally over. Let them grieve and be sad in whatever manner works for them and keep your insensitivity to yourself. Or go tell it to like-minded people. And don’t ever tell a depressed person to suck it up and just be happy, because you may get someone who resorts to murder rather than suicide. I wish someone would say that bull shit to me (in person.) You’ll get a fist to the throat and I won’t ever be sorry about it.
If you need help, or you know someone who needs help, don’t ignore it thinking they’re being dramatic, or looking for attention, or just hope it goes away. Help them! Talk to them, be there for them, or get them to someone who can help them.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255