Throughout my teenage years, I passed time in my room blasting music through headphones. Sometimes, when I thought my parents weren’t around or I just didn’t care, I’d unplug the headphones and blast it through the speakers. The neighbours would complain and I’d smile and wave out the window. Mum used to scream from downstairs and eventually stormed up the stairs and swung open my door to yell: “TURN THE MUSIC DOWN!”
Music was my favourite drug. I hated life, I hated being alive, I was so depressed and although I wanted to die, I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. Music was how I escaped. I don’t know what it was that it did or how it still works, but it’s always been a lifeline for me. Many bands have carried me through the hardest times of my life, but my love for rock and heavy metal started with Linkin Park, and I was in absolute love with Chester Bennington and his lyrics.
I still remember the first time I heard Linkin Park. Somewhere I Belong came on TV one day when I was 13 or 14 and I remember thinking: “What the hell is this and where can I get it from?” These were the days before limewire and iPods. I was staying with my grandmother at the time, so internet was non-existent. I rushed to the local warehouse and browsed the CD collections and grabbed every Linkin Park CD I could find. I still have one of those copies, Hybrid Theory. I have no idea where the others went. Once that was done I ran back to my nan’s house and listened to the CDs over, and over, and over, and over until my nan pulled the plug out from the wall.
I tried to learn how to rap to be like Mike Shinoda, who I may or may not have had a teeny-popper crush on, but that didn’t go so well. So I taught myself how to scream by going along to songs like Faint and One Step Closer. I wrote poetry and lyrics. I learned to play heavier riffs on my guitar. I was going to become a rockstar and I was going to go on tour with Linkin Park one day. Before my obsession with My Chemical Romance came along, my walls were smothered with posters and cutouts of the band. I even planned my first LP tattoo (which I never got). In other words, I loved Linkin Park.
My mum actually banned me from listening to Linkin Park, hilariously. I’m not sure if it was because I played them non stop or she just hated their music so much, or both. Actually, I probably overplayed them to the point she couldn’t stand it anymore. So when I unwrapped my Christmas present when I was 14 and discovered Linkin Park’s Live in Texas CD/DVD, you can imagine my surprise. I just about shit myself from screaming so hard. I’m pretty sure I cried, and I know there’s a photo of me holding up the album somewhere. I need to find that picture.
Looking back, I think Linkin Park/Chester Bennington had more influence on me than any other band or musician. I was a freak when it came to MCR but I analysed every word and lyric Chester wrote. I tore each song apart and found the underlining meanings. I read the lyrics as I listened to them over and over again, so that I could recite them on demand. I learned to bend words and structure sentences in poetry and short fiction, learned how to make it all fit in the right tone and shape, and when I look back I think it was Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda that taught me how to do that.
About two weeks ago Linkin Park crossed my mind again and I decided to give Meteora another listen, which led me back to their other albums and I sort of rediscovered my love for the band. Upon hearing about Chester’s death, I felt really sad, but when I learned that it was through suicide a generation lost their musical icon, six children had lost their father, a band had lost their brother and a wife had lost her husband, I was devastated. I had known of Chester’s drug and alcohol addictions as well as his battles with his depression, but there’s an illusion that comes with being a fan that your idols who have it all, are happy.
But they’re not always. I feel like Chester was one of the people who carried me through the darkest of hours, even though I never met the guy. But I’ve read countless comments and blogs of others saying the same. Clearly, Chester had a massive impact and positive influence on millions of people. To hear it was it was the same demon that he saved us from … It just shows we are never really far from the edge. I define myself as a mentally strong person, at least I usually do until I hear of someone who has all the success in the world: all the money, an amazing career as a musician with millions of fans, a beautiful wife and tribe of children, nice house and all that jazz, but still isn’t happy with life and chooses to exit early, then as far as I can see we’re all capable of it.
This is why I have been blogging about depression, mental health and suicide awareness lately. Why can’t we just talk about it? Why can’t people be open to hearing about it? Is it too much to handle, is it too hard to hear? I don’t get it, I really don’t. I’ve tried to open up to people before, and I’ve been shut down. But then there are the other times where I’ve opened up and had breakthroughs. If there was more of the latter in this world, suicide rates would plummet.
If someone you know is severely depressed or you think they may need help, just reach out to them. A simple “hey man, how are you going? No honestly, I mean, how are you going?” makes all the difference. Depression lies to us and tells us no one cares, so when people ask us those kinds of questions, it shuts the depression down. If you are depressed, just talk about it. Reach out to someone, your mum, your best friend, someone at school/uni, wherever. If someone judges you, just move on to the next person until you find the one who will help you. Keep going.
R.I.P Chester Bennington, thanks for all your help and inspiration while I was growing up. Music will never be the same without you.
#Lifeline – 0800 543 354
#Depression Helpline (8am to midnight) – 0800 111 757
#Healthline – 0800 611 116
#Samaritans – 0800 726 666
#Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865
Suicide #Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Youthline (open 24/7) – 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email email@example.com