I’ve only touched briefly on my thoughts about suicide and after Chris Cornell passed I really wanted to but couldn’t find the right words. Today I learned that Chester Bennington also passed and I’ve thought all day that maybe it’s time I shared my thoughts about it.
First off a little background on me so you don’t think I’m just running my uneducated mouth. My brother, my only sibling and my best friend took his life September 28, 2009 he was 37 and it was the day that changed my life. This was my first experience with suicide but not my last. Little did my brother know I had spent years and years struggling with my own depression and anxiety fighting in my head and little did I know that he must have too. We never really talked about it and I think it was because neither of us even had a clue what was going on with us, and if we did speak out or at least when I tried to speak out the responses I got were these , “oh just get over it you have nothing to be depressed about” “there’s nothing wrong with you”, “why don’t you just be happy?” just get over it is the worst one.
I know since my brother’s death I have researched and researched and spent countless nights dissecting my head and trying to figure out why I think the things I think and why I feel the way I feel. And this is my take on what I discovered about myself and what I see from society.
I’ve learned we are a society that tells people how to feel, we are molded from a young age to feel certain ways, to believe certain ways and to do certain things and even how to look and if we, at least for me, questioned these things we are told because that’s the way it works. Do it because I said so. Do it because that’s the way of the world. Those are the answers I got when I questioned things. I can’t say that I’ve ever had anyone actually answer my questions of why must I do it this way?
I can tell you I’ve had anxiety my entire life. As far back as I can remember! I’m 43 years old and I never even understood what anxiety was or could do to me until my brother died. I promise you I know now! Not because someone told me but because I hurt when he died. I hurt so bad and I was still alive. I cannot imagine how much my brother hurt to do what he did! It had to be absolutely unbearable! Two weeks before he died he came over and just cried. Sobbed and sobbed and all I could do was hold him. I didn’t know what to say to him because I didn’t understand. His words that night he came over were “I just want the pain to stop” I brushed it off kind of and told him it would eventually. Fuck I didn’t know I was fighting inside myself, I didn’t know what would happen. Three days before he died he text me this jumbled text that I couldn’t even make out and I freaked out and he clarified that he felt like he was having some kind of panic attack and felt like he was on the fringe. But he didn’t say fringe of what. The day he died at the time he died, I got a text from him when I was about to get off work and I never heard from him again. And when hours had gone by with no reply I knew he was gone.
Since he’s been gone I’ve attempted 4 times. 4 times that I count as an actual attempt. I’ve been suicidal my entire life but have rarely acted upon it because death terrifies me but so does living this way. I’ve attempted 5 times in my life and have the scars from my first attempt still and it was 20 years ago.
While I cannot speak for the way my brother felt when he did it, or Chris or Chester or anyone else that has completed suicide I can only speak for myself and what happened to me to get me to that point of not giving a shit whether I lived or died. It was years and years of confused feelings with no direction or help in why I would feel that way or how to even fix it. I’m not blaming anyone. I blame ignorance. I blame the fact that so many people have these feelings and thoughts and I’d bet most of them have actually told someone or even tried to get help but they were either turned down because the ones they asked for help had no clue how to help, so to save themselves from looking stupid or ignorant they brushed it off to the person desperately seeking help. I blame the generation that chose to not talk about their feelings. The generation that because they didn’t understand the question shut down the one asking. Where does that leave the ones asking for help? Let me tell you where it left me. It left me ashamed, broken and feeling absolute worthless in a world that seemed to be fine and I spent years wondering what the fuck was wrong with me?
For Chris and Chester I cannot imagine the pressure they felt in their careers. I cannot imagine the pain of being an artist of their magnitude. All eyes on you always. How can anyone figure out the shit inside their heads when society and the media and the fans are always up in their shit? To me that seems like a battle far far worse than my own battle. Chris’s music reached out to those suffering. As did Chester’s to so many people struggling. There isn’t one song of either of theirs that doesn’t describe me in some way and the way I feel. To me that was their way of reaching out for help. To me they were screaming for help. I’ve always thought that but I also always thought that their music was also an outlet for them to get their thoughts out in some way to relieve some of the pain they suffered. Throw all that in the public eye along with a tour, albums, interviews and god knows what else the recording industry throws at them including drugs and alcohol and holy shit you have a recipe for disaster in my eyes.
How can anyone actually ask for help when so many people just don’t want to hear it? In my own journey I’ve lost so many friends since I’ve started talking about my mental illness and that was the worst feeling to have on top of already feeling bad. The world lacks any kind of compassion and empathy anymore. In my own journey I’ve jumped way outside of my box and went to people I barely knew because I just wasn’t getting help. And strangely enough those people I decided to reach out to have been the ones that have saved my life. Since my brother’s death when someone has came to me for help the advice I give them is something like this. I cannot imagine what you feel like and I am happy to listen and help any way I can and if you don’t like my advice or my answers I beg you to keep talking. Keep asking for help. Do not stop asking. If you don’t like the answer someone gives you because it’s negative in some way do not take that answer as the only answer. Ask someone else. Keep asking do not stop talking.
I believe that is one of the main reasons why I am still here. The fight inside my head is terrible and exhausting and one day I may be tired of it I don’t know. But for this moment I’m still fighting. I’m still talking and I’m still asking.
Going back to Chris and Chester, they were pleading for help with every lyric they wrote. Each one touching someone’s heartstrings and giving them hope for one more day. Until the day came where it was just too much. Too much confusion, too much pain, too much despair. I believe with my whole entire being that no one truly wants to die. I know I don’t. I think they just want all the fighting in their head to stop. Imagine fighting with yourself and then having to listen to society telling you so many other things and having to try to deal with that and please your fans, the record label and all those other people these artists deal with?
If you know someone who is struggling don’t be ignorant. If you don’t understand how they are feeling it’s actually okay to tell them that. It’s okay to ask them to describe it to you. Maybe it will help you understand. Most of the time when I ask for help it’s not actually for help it’s just to be heard. For someone to say holy cow man that’s got to be tough, I don’t really understand but I’d like to can you tell me more about it so I can try to help you some way. I know I just want to be heard. I just want someone to say I understand and it’s okay to feel this way and let me talk it out. When my anxiety is at it’s highest along with my depression I am a mess. I can’t think straight I can’t even see straight and during my attempts. My actual attempts not the cries for help I’ve had but the 5 times I’ve tried to die were times where I was alone. I didn’t tell anyone because it was so very bad the only thought in my head were to stop the thoughts in my head, nothing else but to stop them. And when I woke up the following day I wasn’t really even sure what I had done. Your thoughts go that black. Once you mentally get to the point of putting the knife to your wrist, the gun to your head or those pills in your mouth the only thing on your mind is trying to stop them. To stop all those thoughts going on telling you how worthless you are, how much of a burden you are, and how much better you’ll feel if you just press the knife down, pull the trigger or swallow the pills. Those 4 times since 2009 I’ve attempted I was already past the point of seeking help I was already in the tunnel of despair and I was not about to tell someone what I was about to do, that was so far from my mind. My focus was stopping this pain in my head nothing else.
My dad explains suicide this way. Imagine you as a house. You have all these windows in your house and your windows have blinds sometimes a few blinds are open and some are closed but there is always light somewhere. That light is your hope. Now add in some stress, some social stigmas, some opinions, some ignorance and some pain, the blinds are still open on some windows. Now imagine they open and close often and then one day they all close so fast and you’re left in total darkness. Imagine that panic you’d feel. Imagine they all closed at once and your hope was gone. My blinds have never closed completely but they’ve came so close I only had a glimmer of light coming in but I went to it and was alive the next day. I can’t say that will always happen but I am alive today and the more I talk the better I feel. I wish Chris and Chester and my brother and all the other people lost this way had some kind of light to hang on to I wish I could be there for everyone that is struggling with living this way and I would, I promised my brother the night he died that I would do everything in my power to never let anyone feel as lost as he must’ve felt that night.
So when I see posts of suicides of artists or anyone for that matter my heart breaks all over again because although they were stars and the world loved them they must’ve felt so alone and I don’t want anyone to ever feel that way. No one should ever feel so alone in this world and no one should ever feel ashamed to say hey I’m not well.
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