As a depression survivor, I’ve wanted to write this post ever since the news about Chester Bennington’s suicide hit the Internet. You might wonder what is the relevance of this to the University community, but my own depression has greatly impeded both my strictly academic work, as well as my presence – or lack thereof – on this blog.
The front man of Linkin Park was not the first “famous” person to commit suicide. Yet I would still argue that he has been a companion to many of our’s trials and tribulations growing up, perhaps even more so than the greatly missed Robin Williams. Linkin Park’s songs – safely – saw me through the experiences of feeling inadequate, lonely, and / or controlled. They didn’t cure do away with those feelings, but they gave me a sense of being understood; of not being alone with those problems.
The last, but not least poignant example of that was with a song from LP’s most recent album “One more light”: “Good goodbye”
While going through extremely challenging personal circumstances, I found that Chester’s chorus of
[…] Pack it up and disappear
You better have some place to go
‘Cause you can’t come back around here
Good goodbye […]
resonated with me a lot. Equally, Stormzy’s lines about “saying goodbye to his demons [… and his] past life”, etc. were sort of a catalyst for my recent improvement. But what sticks out for me is that Chester Bennington himself didn’t have the much needed support. I keep thinking of the “Good goodbye” as his cry for help.
That is also why it’s high time for us to have a frank conversation about depression. We need to underline that no amount of fame, money or power can render us immune to this horrifying disease. It is also high time to think about depression in terms of what it really is. Depression does kill. Thus, we need to stop telling our friends and loved ones to “get over themselves” or to “stop inventing problems”. Most of us wouldn’t dream to say any of those things to someone struggling with flu, or a broken limb for that matter. Why on Earth do we even begin to entertain those sort of ideas about mental health? What does it say about our societies and local communities? How many lives could’ve been saved if they met compassion instead of judgement?
I want to leave you with those questions… But before I go, let me remind you of the brilliant University Couselling Service who have helped me on a number of occasions. If I can recommend something about accessing their services, I’ll say this: try not to wait until matters get really bad – the sooner you reach out, the sooner you’ll be seen. I know it’s not easy (been there, done that), but really it’s best to tackle those challenges in the early stages!