It's been well over a month, and I'm still having trouble finding the words. I'll never be as eloquent as his wife and her beautiful letter. But that's okay. This isn't about eloquence. This is about the sheer, brutal honesty that loss can bring, even if you never knew the person you lost.
Typically I'm not a person who mourns a celebrity's passing. It sucks, yes. It absolutely sucks. When Bowie died, I was sad. When Prince died, I was more flabbergasted than anything else. When Lemmy passed from cancer, I hated it, but in our current society we're not getting that cure.
However, when it happens by suicide, that's when it gets real dang personal for me. Because I understand. And that's scary as hell.
Robin Williams' death left a hole in my heart that won't be filled, but I think it's Chris Cornell's that has devastated me most. And even right now, I'm still struggling to find the right words, if there are any.
|Courtesy of Jan Childers, taken 5/10/17|
It wasn't just that he was an incredible vocalist--actually my favorite of all time, not kidding--or that he was a pioneer in a genre and was somewhat overlooked, though Soundgarden was LEGENDARY.
Part of it might be that I'd literally seen him one week before his death, playing in Indianapolis, sounding amazing, looking amazing, being amazing. It was easy to see his kind spirit and gentle soul as he sang and talked to us in the crowd. I'd been hoping and praying Soundgarden would play at Louisville's awesome music festival in October, watching the interwebs, following their route. Maybe it was that I'd only seen him once, and once wasn't enough until it suddenly had to be.
Maybe it's because he had crippling anxiety and that the very medication prescribed to help him ended up killing him. Maybe it's because I feared his history of drug addiction would be used against him, a last-ditch effort to tarnish and lessen his accomplishments, his fighting spirit, his beautiful family, the foundation he and his wife had founded to help kids out of desperate situations. I remembered Prince and Scott Weiland, who was demonized after his overdose and labeled Just Another Musician. I feared that outcome, so much. For a man who I saw bits and pieces of myself in. For a man who had struggled and fallen and fought and triumphed over and over again.
The thing about mental illnesses is that they don't go away. There are points where you'll go into remission and remember what life is like. Those points are amazing; the mountaintop after struggling through the Valley of the Shadow of Our Misery and Failures.
And there are points when you're so desperate to make the pain go away, to stop the negative and sometimes obsessive thoughts, to quell the demons that ravage your mind the way cancer or MS ravage the body, you'll do anything. For some, it's drugs or alcohol. For me, it's video games--I actually feel useful if I'm saving Ferelden from the Blight for the 20th time.
The other thing about mental illnesses is that sometimes people actually look down on you for seeking help. Because there aren't outward symptoms. Because it's all in our head. Well, yeah, it's in my head. It's a mental illness.
Those are the people who can't fathom it, and I've discovered that a large portion are the first to blame the victim when suicide is involved, whether it's from overdose or...well...what happened to Chris.
And to them, I say GOOD FOR YOU. Not in a bitter way, but in a way that's as joyful as I can muster because they don't know those struggles, they don't trudge through those dark times, they don't experience the emotional nothingness that mental illnesses can bestow. They've never felt the actual switch in their brains when a depressive episode takes over, and they've never had to watch their friends and family struggle to find the magic words to snap them out. They've never had people stop inviting them places after saying "no" one too many times, not because they don't want to but because they literally can't. They've never had to talk themselves into the most basic self-care because they don't feel like they're worth the effort. I'm glad. Because it sucks. It sucks to watch yourself fall down a black hole like you're merely a spectator to your own suffering, because you've managed to dissociate yourself from the very essence of You. It sucks to know that you're not safe with your own mind. It sucks to know that all it takes is One Bad Thing to obliterate the positivity you've so carefully crafted and nurtured. One chink in the armor and it's rendered useless. Might as well be that "high level" female fantasy armor that doesn't protect anything.
-I'm so glad there are people who don't go through that.
This post is not for them.
This post is for the ones who are terrified. If our heroes can't beat this, then what hope do we have? And to that, I say I honestly don't know. What I do know is that we have to continue carrying this banner and this burden until we can't. For ourselves. For the ones we've lost. For people who struggle and are too scared or ashamed to find help.
I'm here. If you need a therapist but you're not in a place to see someone in person, there's Talk Space. The National Suicide Prevention hotline - 1-800-273-8255. The Trevor Project - 866-
488-7386. There are more options now than even when I was a kid. The internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, so utilize it. Please. Don't let the closed mind of someone who doesn't share your experiences take away your willingness to help yourself.
And if you're thinking of taking your own life, please see this post as a girl who has been scared of her own mind and understands where you are, begging you not to. These things in our heads, they lie to us. They tell us we're worthless and unloved and unlovable. We don't deserve the kindnesses of our friends and family. They tell us we're failures. NONE of that is true. You are NOT too broken to be loved. You are NOT too broken to live. The world needs you.
I need you.