When I was first diagnosed with depression (now diagnosed as bipolar 2 disorder) and anxiety, I had absolutely no idea what to make of it. I knew I was sad all the time and had absolutely no desire to live, but I didn’t fully understand what it meant in terms or treatment or for the remainder of my teenage years.
I turned to music as a way to cope with the overwhelming sadness and hopelessness. I listened to music every chance I got – on the bus, in class when teachers didn’t care, after school and in my room late at night when everyone else was asleep. I listened to music when life felt like it was all too much. I listened to music as I cried because the voices in my head just wouldn’t quit.
Although much of my childhood was defined by artists like Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, NSYNC and Spice Girls, this wave of depression led me to artists who sang about things I could actually relate to.
That’s when I found Linkin Park.
By that point, my depression had morphed into self-injury and suicidal thoughts. It was my biggest source of pain, and I felt so alone. Although their music didn’t cure my depression, it certainly saved me. And it helped to know I wasn’t the only one who felt such intense pain and sadness.
It’s been over 14 years since I first discovered Linkin Park’s music, and once again, I’m facing some really dark times. And just as I did when I was a teenager, I find myself listening to their music on repeat every day.
So, when I heard the news about Chester Bennington’s death on Thursday, July 20th, my heart shattered into a million pieces. It ached and sank deep into the pit of my stomach. It’s the same feeling I had when Robin Williams died in 2014.
It’s a tragedy when any life is lost to suicide. But for me, there’s something extra terrifying about it when it’s someone who’s older than me. Someone who I thought had their life figured out. Granted, I know depression and mental illnesses don’t discriminate. I know suicidal thoughts can impact a person at any age – regardless of whether they’re a celebrity.
For me, what’s hard about deaths like Robin Williams and Chester Bennington is how they shatter my mental health recovery mantra and leave me questioning how I approach my treatment.
My recovery mantra is based on the fact that things will get better. Maybe not tomorrow, next week or even next month, but someday, I will feel better. Someday, I’ll be able to get out of bed without battling with myself for two hours. Someday, I’ll be able to cope with my emotions without harming myself. Someday, I’ll be able to go 24 hours without the voices in my head whispering the world would be a better place without me.
The basis of my entire mantra is the idea if I put my recovery first, take my medication, go to my appointments and do everything I’m supposed to do to get better – that “someday” will arrive for me.
So when I see people older than me – people living the “someday” I’m striving for – die by suicide, it shatters my faith that things will ever get better.
I start to think, “What if someday never comes for me? What if I still feel this way when I’m 35, 41 or 63?”
Honestly, I don’t have an answer for that.
But maybe I don’t really need one. Maybe all I need to do is to keep moving forward. Keep showing up to my psychiatrist appointments, taking my medications and reaching out for help when life becomes overwhelming. Because even though I can’t see the light right now, I have to believe that someday, I will get better.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741.
Photo via Linkin Park’s Facebook page.