Why is everything so heavy?
If I just let go, I’d be set free. When I first heard the song, this line took on an entirely different meaning to me than what I think Chester Bennington intended, and it breaks my heart to know that he’s gone, having found his supposed freedom by hanging himself.
I know a lot of very well-known celebrities have died recently, but none of them have really affected me. I didn’t know them personally, how could I truly grieve them? But I grew up listening to Linkin Park on repeat, scouring their CD booklet, reading the lyrics, trying to sort them out. I had a huge crush on Chester in high school, and when I pulled out their old stuff about a year ago I was still struck by how much their music made me feel. I dealt with suicidal thoughts for about a decade, and listening to someone vent what I was feeling internally was therapeutic: I wasn’t alone. I had also just recently been thinking a lot about secrets and freedom, and so yesterday’s headline just hit me. I’m supposed to be finishing my final chapter in my book, but I can’t shake the sadness I have right now.
I spent a long time feeling an ever present darkness pulling at me. It manifested itself in an eating disorder and in visualizing my self-inflicted death over a million times. I was certain my family, my friends, the world would be better off without me. But I was never certain about where I’d end up afterwards, and I thank God he allowed me those doubts because I’m not sure what I may have tried if I knew I’d still get into Heaven.
Let me clarify that I’m not here to speculate on whether people end up in Heaven or Hell if they commit suicide; I’ve come to a place where I don’t need assurance for my personal reasons, and I’m also a firm believer that God is a loving and just God and that decision is his alone. What I am here to do, is to mourn another loss to suicide and to do all I can to prevent another.
I don’t know what was going on in Chester’s life recently, but he has revealed in the past that he was molested as a young boy, and throughout his life he struggled with drugs and alcohol. On a related note, I’ve recently either remembered or learned about a few devastating things in different people’s lives, and I’ve already been feeling really heavy lately.
In the past, these heavy feelings would lead me into a deeper depression myself. I’d lose sleep over what I had heard, I’d focus on how icky I felt and I’d try to find the purpose in it. Usually, I never found a purpose and felt all the more sure there was something wrong with me for feeling so deeply and being affected like I was. There was just a dark shadow surrounding me for years.
Fortunately, I’ve felt free from that darkness for years. I’ve gone through a lot of personal healing and freedom, and I’m so grateful that when I think about my past thought life, it’s hard to even imagine that that was me.
Yet, when I saw the headline about Chester, it was after weeks of weird (personal and local) news that was already affecting me in ways I couldn’t quite verbalize. Of course I didn’t know Chester personally, but in many ways the news of his death felt personal. Like I said before, I had connected with his music back in high school, at the height of my depression and eating disorder. And the fact that it was him right at this time when I’m starting to feel the same dark shadow that I used to just made me stop in my tracks. I had to process and figure out what to do with these feelings before they swallowed me up again.
I started writing this post, right after I read the news for the first time yesterday. I had to stop midway through, because I had no direction. I was just full of sadness and a felt like I was in a dark corner with nothing to say. So I walked away from writing, made some dinner, watched a kid movie with the family, but found I couldn’t get Linkin Park’s lyrics out of my head: And I drive myself crazy thinking everything’s about me. Just this one line, over and over, until it hit me.
I think all these terrible things I’ve been learning about other people, and the timing of Chester’s death (not that I think his death was “meant to be” by ANY means, but it just so happened I learned about it the very moment I sat down to write the last chapter of my book) is all a reminder from God that this book I’m writing isn’t really about me. It’s not for me the way I’ve been treating it. Yes, God has been teaching me and doing some cool things in my life, but they’ve all been rosy and cool and fun and bringing me from a neutral to a fun place. I don’t really need it.
With all of my writing projects, my hope has always been to bring hope and light to my readers, and while that is true about my novel, I’ve gotten a bit caught up in the story without purposely injecting a message into it (which has always been the plan, actually), but all of the sudden I feel as though I’m being reminded that I won’t be the only one reading this. My family members won’t be the only ones reading this. There will (hopefully) be all kinds of people who read this, and if I’ve done my job right, it will be moving as all good novels are. There are millions out there who are hurting in a way I can’t fathom, and this book is hopefully written for them. There may be one person who needs to read what I wrote.
So now I feel that what I need to do with all of these feelings and revelations is to first and foremost pray for the hurting. I’ve been praying a lot about the success of the book – that I’d be able to handle the rejection from publishers and would be content with self-publishing if nobody wants to make a deal with me. Yet now I feel as if my focus needs to shift. I need to be praying that whatever message needs to come through my book would come through, and that the people who read it would be encouraged and inspired and that my words would actually have power.
Second, I think I just need to be another voice that says if you feel as low as Chester was feeling the day he died, you are not alone, and there are so many people here who would be devastated if anything happened to you. There are resources, friends, medications, and therapies out there that could literally save your life. I’m one of those people who came out of it, though I never thought it was possible. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone close to you. If you feel you have no one close to you, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 where someone can help you sort through the darkness.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.
May you rest in peace, Chester Bennington. And to your family, I pray that God will comfort them in this terrible time of loss.