Musician Before the Music

“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

Good Goodbye

Talking to Myself

Battle Symphony

Invisible

Heavy

Sorry for now

Sharp Edges

Halfway Right

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

 

I’m a Liability

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“They say you’re a little much for me, You’re a liability

So they pull back, make other plans, I understand

I’m a liability. Lorde:  Liability

This is one of Lorde’s new songs from her upcoming album called Melodrama. It is a sad ballad about her first heartbreak. When I listen to this song I feel like it’s about me. I connect with it on every level. Having a mental illness is hard to accept, but what’s hardest is for someone else to accept it. I just started dating and I think this guy has no idea what I’m all about. Is he going to run for the hills when I tell him, if I tell him?

I feel like it’s a deep dark secret that I need to keep until I meet someone I can trust. I fear that they will see me as a liability, and pull back and make other plans. At first they say, “It’s okay I love you,” but they don’t know the truth of what this disorder looks like; they don’t know I could be dancing in the light of the kitchen, or I could be crying and unable to function. When I listen to this song I cry because I know that is what I feel and I know that others will feel that way about me.

I walk around life with a smile on my face, but underneath that smile is my secret. It’s a voice inside my head that says, “You are damaged goods; who will want to live in your storm, dating hasn’t worked out in the past, what makes you think it will now?  All the same stuff will eventually happen. You will meet a nice guy and then you will unravel and cross the fine line between excitement and mania. You will feel suffocated. You will feel like you can’t breathe. You will say goodbye and exhale; however in that freedom there is a truth that you are better on your own in order to stay healthy.”  But here I go again, giving it another try because I get lonely, yet I’m scared I’ll unravel like pulling a string in a knitted scarf.

I’m going to try it; I owe it to myself to try again. I’m doing things differently this time. Maybe that will make a difference. I hope so.

Wish me luck!

 

 

I’m Done but I’m scared

Today I realized that I need to change my relationship with my daughter, for the sake of my sanity. She is a junior in high school and she is a top student and violin player. My daughter does her homework and gets amazing grades, so I don’t even have to worry about her academics. She is struggling with the transition to living with my parents and I know the divorce still weighs on her and it may always be something she carries around with her.

I am constantly “making sure” she’s okay; I am always thinking about how to make her life easier. I sometimes answer for her because she does not communicate well. Her father and I are trying to explain to her how confusing and frustrating it is to talk to her. She says she’s different and she is, which is fine because I want her to be herself, but she says she doesn’t understand her thoughts or feelings sometimes and she lives in fear. She does have anxiety and I have guided her through a panic attack once, so I am always worried about upsetting her, but that is coming to an end. I am starting to resent her because of all the “extra” stuff I do to make sure she is “okay.” Ironically, she says I don’t listen to her and I don’t believe her; she feels the opposite of what I am trying to do; I feel like a failure. I buy her her favorite ice cream every week and I think she’ll be happy. Parenting is so hard, but I decided I can no longer be her shadow. It is mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. I have to let her just go and live and make choices and live with the consequences of those choices. She’s 16 and she has good, healthy friends; she is an old soul. Her interests are far above the average 16 year old. No social media. She just finished reading War and Peace and we got tickets for the Broadway show this fall. She was happy about that! She loves old stuff; her holiday presents are things like real war love letters, a french pamphlet from a restaurant, Russian cameras and dolls, original books, and antiques. We went to an antique store and she bought a world war 2 ration booklet. In addition, she is writing a book and teaching herself Russian! She even has a teacher from last year guiding her with the book and the teacher plans on helping her get it published. Her skills are off the chart with painting and drawing and photography. I told her she is a creative genius and many creative people seem to have some type of mental issues, myself included. She is fully aware of all the writers and artists who had mental issues. I just recently read that Van Gogh checked himself into an asylum twice! I knew the ear story, but I didn’t know he had bipolar, at least that’s what today’s doctors think.

It’s time for me to stop being her voice box and doing everything for her. What I need to do is focus on the things that are important to her, rather than what I think is important??

Lastly, she doesn’t really like my personality. I am loud and animated because that’s just who I am. I talk to strangers; I celebrate moments with singing or dancing. I feel like she has been stifling me. For example, when we were in NYC to see Halsey, a woman tried to take our cab and I told her she was not getting that cab and the people behind me were like you go girl! Later she tells me that I was loud and embarrassing. I told her that’s who I am. I told her she doesn’t have to like it, but she has to respect me. When we are in the car listening to music I am usually singing and she doesn’t like that, or if we are in a store and a song comes on I like I might start dancing a bit and she doesn’t like that. I feel like she’s suffocating me. When she comes back I am going to tell her I am not going to be different and she doesn’t have to like it, but she can’t tell me what to do; I am in charge of her not the other way around. Yesterday I was frustrated because she didn’t listen and gave me an excuse and I was firm and told her what to do and she cried, but instead of letting her tears get to me, I told her what to do and I walked away. I came back and it was done. This has to end now. When she was a little girl it hurt me to see her cry and I guess this is the teenage version of that hurt. I don’t even know if I am making any sense here. I just know I have to be me and I have to parent her and let her cry and punish her if need be. When I told her to clean her room and she didn’t, I said clean the room now or you’re not going to your friend’s house. I heard it come out of my mouth and I was like whoa…for me to actually follow through with that would have killed me. She cleaned it. One more thing: she constantly gets water on the floor when she showers and I am tired of cleaning it and having sopping wet towels. I showed her several times how to avoid getting water on the floor. Part of the problem is she has hair to her waist, and when she comes out of the shower she lets it drip and hang. All she does is wrap a towel around the bottom of it, and she holds it with her hands and her pajamas get all wet. I bought her a turban and she won’t use it. So her father and I decided this has to end and she puts it in a towel properly or she has to cut it. As I type all this I realize how pathetic I sound; why am I so afraid to let her hurt? I think it’s because I cried every day as a child and I attempted suicide at 14. Oh, and just so you know I did ask her if she wanted to talk to someone about her thoughts and feelings that upset her and she refused to see anyone. So I told her well that’s the only way I know how to help you feel better. I bought her books about divorce 6 years ago; she refused to read them. I bought her books about growing up and being a teenager; she refuses to read them. Also, I feel guilty because she is dealing with my bipolar; having a bipolar parent is very hard on a child. My therapist offered her to come for a session just to tell her what bipolar really is and how it can effect me and my moods, so she would have a better understanding of the illness; she refused.

If anyone has any suggestions or tips I would greatly appreciate it. Please feel free to hit me upside the head if you think that will help!

Thanks for reading this long ass post!