Chester Bennington’s death came as a big shock for everyone across the world.
For us desi kids, Linkin Park was one of the first bands that introduced us to videshi music. Remember all that teenage angst you had that no one understood? Well, Linkin Park did and that’s exactly why at a certain age, we all listened to their songs.
Even to this day, if you’re sitting with your friends and Numb plays, you’re all going to sing along, ain’t you?
“I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there,
Become so tired, so much more aware…”
Immediately played in your head, didn’t it?
In fact, from all the tributes still pouring in on my timeline, I can gather that songs by Linkin Park helped a lot of awkward teenagers all around the world deal with anxiety, depression and the dark days when it felt like the roof was going to cave in.
That is the power of music, that was the power of Chester’s vocals.
If you’ve been a fan of his lyrics, you know that some of them are extremely dark. As they say, art usually comes from a dark place within. But this darkness was enough to consume him. As his fame rose, so did his mental issues. In no time, his mind became his biggest enemy. All the appreciation and fame he had built for himself, all destroyed with his own hands when he decided to commit suicide.
It shouldn’t come as a shock to everyone because he was quite open about his struggles. In fact, he had once said in an interview:
“I wanted to kill myself. I could very easily not be the person who’s sitting here right now. I could be dead. It was a horrible, horrible existence.”
Aren’t those the saddest words you’ll hear from someone who has given hope to so many teenagers across the globe?
Doesn’t it break your heart to know that the one man whose words are engraved on the slate of your childhood, felt this way about his own life?
Despite all that fame and money, he was still depressed. He was living the dream that most of us aspire to but he didn’t want to be a part of that dream.
Well, sadly, he wasn’t the first one.
There have been so many celebrities who have been crippled by their own mind.
Chester’s close friend Chris Cornell had a strong, haunting voice that will forever resonate in our ears. He gave the lyrics a life of their own. While we all listened to his songs to deal with our own emotions, not a lot gave attention to the fact that he was struggling with depression for years. Depression pushed him deeper into drug abuse and when his body was discovered, he was lying on the floor with a band around his neck and blood in his mouth. All that his wife could say was:
“Something clearly went terribly wrong and my children and I are heartbroken and are devastated that this moment can never be taken back.”
Then there was Robin Williams who made us laugh throughout our childhood. He was the funny man with a lesson to give. Be it Jack, Flubber or Dead Poets Society, he gave us so many on-screen memories. Generations of kids grew up watching this goofy man who had some great dialogue delivery. And when he said, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone” in World’s Greatest Dad, he really broke our hearts, didn’t he?
He had it all going for him but his mind tricked him too. After a long battle with mental illness, he ended his life in 2014.
Or Kurt Cobain, the man who in his limited years gave us music that we all still listen to. Kurt had a wonderful career, fans all across the world who loved his music, he was in love with Courtney Love and had a daughter too. Great talent, recognition of that talent, fame, money and love, he had it all. And yet, he chose to end his life after his battle with drugs and the media pressure around him.
He ended his suicide note by saying:
“I don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
While you read their stories, you probably wonder why they would throw it all away. They had everything going for them and yet, they couldn’t handle it. They talked about it and took therapy, but even they couldn’t stop being their own worst enemy. They had all the reasons to be happy and live a full life but they chose to end it.
But why does it surprise you?
We selfishly appropriated Chester’s lyrics for our own emotions instead of realising the kind of hell his mind had turned into. We didn’t care for what he was going through and only looked at the facade of fame that gave us the impression that he was living it up.
We never noticed because mental illness is always on the inside. The people you see everyday might just be fighting a battle we don’t know anything about. That competitive colleague you see smiling at her achievements might just be getting by because of mood-altering medicines. The chirpy boy you see with a big friend circle could be feeling like he is the most lonely person.
Because mental illness attacks you from within.
Everything on the surface seems great but on the inside, you’re just struggling for your mind to love your body. You’re waking up everyday hating your existence. It is a struggle but so many of us deny it because of the social taboo around it. However, the next time you’re creating a huge social media revolution over a suicide, please remember Ijeoma Umebinyuo’s words: