Yesterday I was scrolling the socials on my phone and started seeing multiple posts about Chester Bennington. He was 41 years young. The lead singer and frontman of Linkin Park committed suicide. Anytime this happens I feel like my heart just breaks.
How long was he feeling like this? How dark were his last moments? How could we have helped him? Those are the questions that run through my head and heart.
You look at a guy like that and think, why? You seemed to have it all. A successful career. Songs that were listened to. Fans that showed up to shows. It was success in most senses of the word. He had a wife and six kids. Why? What pain is so constant, so grievous that you have to escape it? I think it’s hopelessness and loneliness.
I know mental illness is something that we as a society don’t talk about a lot, but I wish we did. I wish there weren’t stigmas surrounding treatment and therapy and seeking help. Because none of us can escape the dark times. Dark times will find us all, but the only way we make it out of them is through and the only way we make it through is with other people.
Jill and I always say that loneliness is the worst disease. When we are going through a dark time you often hear the lie in your head that you are the only one who has ever felt like this. You are the only one with these circumstances...but it’s not true. That’s what lies do. They isolate. They want you to stay small and alone, but that’s why we as humans have this incredible gift to care for one another. To watch out for each other and to share in each other’s grief, loss, fear, hardship, etc.
I never met Chester, but I did share an elevator with him once about 5 years ago in Vegas. We were both headed to the same venue for an event and were in the bowels of this fancy hotel, both taking the dingy service elevator with a kind security guard leading the way. He was tall, seemed very kind, and for about 5 minutes we shared the same oxygen. I don’t have anything poignant to say about that story, just something I recall.
All of this got me thinking that I want to be healthy and I want you reading this to be healthy too. The headline is far too familiar...someone successful, wealthy, and good-looking has ended their life. By their own volition they couldn't bear the pain any longer that breathing was causing them. So, it makes me think. What are the things that make us healthy? I’m not just talking about eating kale vs. donuts...although physical health is definitely a component. I’m talking about what makes you feel alive? What issues have you not dealt with? What brings you joy? Who do you love...and are you seeing those people enough? Are you in a job that you hate? Do you have something to look forward to? What keeps you up at night? What makes your body feel great? Are you happy? What makes your heart beat faster?
In the entertainment industry, there is sort of this weird thing. Unhealthy people sometimes make great art (write great songs) but at the cost of hiding/running/drowning themselves in numbing the pain that they’re feeling. Call it being a “tortured artist” or what have you. But, it’s definitely something we’ve seen. If you’re writing great songs or putting on a killer show... no matter the cost on you as person, sometimes people want you to keep doing it. Keep drinking. Keep shooting up. Keep doing whatever it takes. Anything to keep up the “product” you now are.
And I just want to say no. Personal health is so much more important. Because you can have the number one song and all the money in the world, but if you are dealing with pain, real pain...none of that will satisfy. Nothing will ever be enough to cover the pain. You have to deal with it. I want to be a healthy person...and I think I can be a healthy person and a great artist. It takes work, but I value myself and my health more than a #1 or a million dollar bank account.
For me, my faith in Jesus has also helped me overcome pain and I think that old adage of a “God-shaped hole” inside of each of us is true. We will try and fill it with whatever we can find...and sometimes something works for a little while..or maybe it even fills the hole for years...but it won’t last. If you’ve never talked to God, you can start wherever you are. If you’re looking for a starting place for purpose in your life, The Purpose Driven Life is a great book. A group of us read it on tour a while back and it was a great guide.
Anyway, what I’m saying is that the news about Chester broke my heart. It also breaks my heart to think that his death was reported because he was a celebrity and yet there are suicides happening all day, EVERY day. Ughhhh….this is just so sad and heartbreaking.
We’ve always said, there is no shame in needing help. Both Jill and I have sought counseling and therapy. We even see a therapist for band counseling and it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done. So, if you are in a dark spot, please reach out, ask for help...you were not meant to carry all of your feelings alone. It is SO helpful to speak them out loud.
If you’re reading this and you find yourself NOT in a dark spot right now...excellent. Keep up the good health. But, someone in your circle of friends or neighborhood or office is probably not in the same place. Sit and think of the people you know and see if there is anyone you think might be having a hard time. The best thing you could do is extend kindness and a listening ear. Again, a LISTENING ear. Our job is to sit in their pain with them and let them know they’re not alone. Our job is not to give them a “how-to” or to tell them anything for that matter. We listen. We hug. We hold their hands. We hand tissues. We tell them that we are for them and that we’re with them.
I don’t really know how to wrap this up, except to say: You are not alone. We are all in this together. Life is precious and WE NEED YOU HERE. If you want a list of songs we’ve written from our sadness and dark times, you can see that here. We need your thoughts, your smile, your ideas, your work, your inventions, your laughter, your writing, etc etc etc. WE NEED YOU HERE.
Hug the ones you love tight today. Let’s all aim to be the healthiest versions of ourselves.
Love to you all,