“Crawling in my skin, these wounds they will not heal.” Chester Bennington
“People have to remember we are human beings.” Chester Bennington
TRIGGER WARNING: post about mental illness and suicide
Lyrics from Heavy off the new album One More Light: I don’t like my mind right now/ Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary/Wish that I could slow things down/ If I just let go, I’d be set free.” Heavy by Linkin Park
Chester’s band mate said Chester was in a bad place the day they wrote this song. Chester actually told the band he wasn’t well and he was feeling like his life was too heavy. He said, “I’m NOT fine. I’m NOT ok. Too much stuff is happening to me. I just feel underwater.”
Album titles from last album One More Light:
Nobody Can Save Me
Talking to Myself
Sorry for now
One More Light
Chester was crying for help, but I think everyone was used to him using his writing and music to help them through the tough days. Here’s the thing: his music helped countless people feel less alone and it helped them to deal with their demons. The question is: Did it help Chester? Perhaps the writing was temporarily cathartic, but the pain doesn’t go away. Chester was open about his sexual abuse, his addiction, and he talked about his mental illness freely. I don’t know if he was getting help, but I do know that he was hurting so badly. I watched an interview he did 4 months ago and he said his head was a dangerous place to be and he shouldn’t spend time there alone. He literally pointed at his head and said, “My skull is a dangerous place.”
There is only so much writing, screaming on stage, alcohol and drugs, and pounding his mic stand into the floor that can keep the demons away. I too connected with Numb and Crawling. Perhaps we are grasping onto the music and its meaning for us, that we are unintentionally not aware of the musician’s suffering and pain. This is where we need to put the musician before the music. I write poetry and most of it has been depressing and that’s because of my issues. When someone reads my poetry they love it and feel emotionally connected to it, but I don’t feel better; my demons aren’t gone. Maybe Chester’s band mates and family did everything they could to help him, and it just couldn’t stop his pain. Nobody wants to die; we just want the pain to stop and sometimes suicide seems like the only way out. The pain becomes too unbearable to live with; it reaches a point where you have to stop it, and you truly believe your family will be better without you.
In this case, Chester talked about it all and that is the first step; I don’t know where he was in his recovery or support for his mental illness. When I saw the news I felt it so hard and deep and I thought, no not another one. I’m sure it was not a coincidence that he killed himself on Chris Cornell’s birthday. And now we will have another funeral of a troubled 41 year old man. I don’t know how to stop it; I do know there are lots of resources out there, but people have to reach out for help. If someone really wants to die and there is no part of their brain that says Whoa call someone, then they will succeed. Whenever I feel suicidal I still have that little part of my brain that says call someone. I know I am at high risk for suicide, and I know that the hotline and the therapy and the meds could one day not work and that scares me.
I’ve been processing this event by talking about it and my good friend asked the right question. She said, “How has this impacted your mental health? Do you need support?” If you just say, “How are you?” you will usually get a basic answer like fine. It is very easy to hide that you are not fine; I did it years ago in an ER. The doctor said, “You seem fine,” meanwhile I had just attempted suicide the day before. Please don’t say that phrase to someone with mental illness. One reason is it’s insulting because yeah I seem fine, but you can’t see inside my head where I’m not fine. Another reason is because it’s frustrating to hear it and you just want to scream, “I’M NOT FINE!”
This post may seem all over the place, because it is another way for me to process Chester’s death. I don’t have any answers, but I do think we need to put the musician before the music.
NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255 NOTE: They spend time talking to you about what is going on and try to help you move through it and return to your life.
“If we look outside ourselves to find love and peace we will ultimately fail. It has to come from within. Lead by example.” Tweeted by Chester on May 23rd 2017