When Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington took his life a few months ago, the loss was palpable. One of the unfortunate by products of his loss is that he has become one of the faces of mental illness.
His widow, Talinda Bennington, recently shared photos of her husband that were taken just days before he left this world. Without knowing anything about him, one might guess that based on the pictures, Chester was a man who was content, even happy with his lot. He had a successful marriage, happy children and a music career that many can only dream of.
But pictures and smiles can be deceiving. Living with depression and mental illness does not mean that someone is spending their day lying around, mindlessly watching television or staring at the wall. For some, living with mental illness and depression means finding whatever it is within ourselves to get up and do what needs to be done while fighting the urge to say f*ck it and lay in bed all day.
Underneath the smile is an ocean of dark emotions with dangerous creatures whose sharp teeth threaten to pull us down to the murky depths at any moment. Somehow, we want to find a way to swim to shore, but the ocean and her inhabitants keep us in the water.
I wish I could swim free, but it seems like the more I swim, the more I tread water and the farther away the shore feels.
Today we remember the late, great Robin Williams who took his own life three years ago. He is sorely missed for his humor, his heart and his own unique brand of comedy that can never be duplicated.
When I think of Robin Williams, I think of one of my favorite childhood movies, Hook. There was no other actor who could have portrayed that character of the adult Peter Pan so perfectly.
His death also reminds me of how mental illness and depression specifically are not one size fits all diseases. For some people depression means staying home all day, mindlessly watching television and afraid to step out the door. For others, it means scheduling every moment of their day so they don’t have to face what is brewing inside them. For another group, it means putting on the mask and doing what has to be done, even though all they want to do is lay on the couch and watch television.
If I take away anything from his death (in addition to recent and heartbreaking loss of Chester Bennington), is that we need a new approach to treating mental illness. We also need to remove the stigma of mental health to allow those suffering to receive treatment openly and honestly.
Z”l Robin Williams. You are truly missed and loved.
Depression, like any illness, knows no bounds. Whatever labels we or others use to distinguish ourselves are meaningless in the face of mental illness.
The suicide of Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington last week hit many people hard. Linkin Park’s music is powerful, raw and real. It was not just the loss of one the great rock singers of this era, but of a man who lost the battle to the demons in his head.
One of the podcasts that I sometimes listen to is WNYC’s “Here’s The Thing”, hosted by Alec Baldwin. His guest on the most recent episode was actor/singer/Broadway superstar Audra McDonald. One of the things that she spoke of was her suicide attempt during her college years and how surviving it helped to create the person she is today.
The old saying “you can never understand a person until you walk in their shoes” is an especially potent statement when it comes to mental illness. Unless someone knows what it is like to live with mental illness, as well-meaning as they are, they cannot the difficulty of living with mental illness.
I will leave you with the video above. We have lost one too many to mental illness. How many more will we lose before we do something about it?
In the wake of the sudden loss of Linkin Park’s front man Chester Bennington to suicide earlier this week, the outward pouring of grief from fans, his band mates, fellow musicians, friends and his family speaks of the collective heartbreak of the loss of a man who will be missed.
Korn guitarist Ben “Head” Welch initially called Chester a coward before altering his statement.
Is suicide the act of a coward? Some may say yes. It is giving into our personal darkness instead of fighting and finding a way towards the light.
To label suicide as the act of a coward is wrong. It does not help those who are dealing with the pain of mental illness and it does not help the loved ones who lost someone to suicide.
Mental illness and suicide are a call for help. To label someone who has committed suicide as a coward only ostracizes those who are haunted by the specter of mental illness and the thoughts that lead to suicide.
I understand that grieving often brings us to say and do things we would not do otherwise. I also understand that we are all entitled to our opinions. But at the same time, the statement that suicide is cowardly only hurts the effort to prevent suicide and help those who feel that it is the only way out from their pain.
Mental illness, like any disease is immune to class, race, income or even level of fame.
Recently, Prince Harry opened up about the years of emotional numbness he went through after the death of his mother in the summer of 1997.
As much as I would like to say that his experience dealing mental illness is trivial compared to someone who has lived with it their entire life, I can’t. Mental illness is mental illness is mental illness. Whether it is due to the loss of parent that has not been emotionally dealt with or someone who has diagnosed depression and is being treated, neither is more important than the other.
What is important, is that his celebrity has opened the door just a little and started a conversation. We need to have this conversation and if this conversation starts with Prince Harry, I am happy to continue it.
The late Carrie Fisher was more than an actress known for the iconic role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies. She was a writer, a feminist, the face of mental illness and a badass who took no prisoners, especially when it came to her own life.
Her 2008 book, Wishful Drinking, is an autobiography as only Carrie Fisher can write it. Pulling no punches, she writes about everything from her conventional as only Hollywood can create family, to her iconic role in Star Wars, to her public bouts with addiction and mental illness and finally to the fact she was no longer the 19-year-old she was when she Star Wars:A New Hope in 1977.
This book is hysterical and is everything that we, as fans, loved about her. Brassy, bold and not afraid to lay all of her cards on the table, she lets it all hang out in a way that is joyous and wonderful. I absolutely recommend it.
I also recommend the one woman stage show based on the book. It is nothing short of perfection.
RIP Carrie. Your gone two months, we miss you everyday. Z”l.
“When a good university friend of mine told me she had suffered from depression in high school, I reacted with skepticism and little understanding: ‘What do you mean, you couldn’t get out of bed in the morning?’” This is a meaningful quote from a text published by Sara Bøgh. A quote, that perfectly summons how…
via The Black Dog – DEPRESSION – — BayArt
If only we had the ability to be honest about our own black dogs, the world would be a better place.
Another week, another shooting. More innocent lives lost.
Yesterday, a gunman walked into the baggage area at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and starting shooting innocent passengers. By the time he stopped shooting, five people were dead and eight people were injured.
The man accused of the massacre is Esteban Santiago, a former member of the National Guard who had recently become a father for the first time. According to reports from the press and family members that have been interviewed since yesterday’s shooting, Mr. Esteban suffered from mental health issues.
Aside from the issues of lax gun laws and the fact that the TSA seems not to make changes until a tragedy happens, the major issue that seems to have contributed to the unnecessary loss of life is the mental health of the shooter.
Mental illness is not a joke. Millions of people, not just in the United States, but around the world, suffer from various forms of mental illness. Under the best of circumstances, those living with mental health issues attempt to live a normal life. Under the worst of circumstances, not only is the life of the sufferer taken, but he or she may kill someone else in the process.
The fact is that we need to take the issue seriously and we need to ensure that those suffering from mental illness receives the treatment they need. That treatment maybe the only thing that saves lives.
One week ago today, we lost Carrie Fisher. While many will remember her as the daughter of famous parents, as Princess Leia and the best writers around, Ms. Fisher will also be remembered for her battle with mental illness.
Mental illness, in its various forms affects millions around the world. Some are able to put on a face and go about their business, pretending that they are emotionally healthy. Others are crippled by their demons, forced to spend their days in the shadows, afraid to even step out of those shadows. Carrie Fisher was one of us. Diagnosed with bi polar disorder in her twenties, she embraced her demons and openly commented on them with honesty, gusto and a sense of humor that few with mental illness have the bravery to speak of.
I’ve been a fan of hers since my teens, when the original trilogy was re-released in movie theaters. Over the years, I’ve come to admire Carrie Fisher not just for her most famous on-screen alter ego, but for the bravery and the sense of humor that allowed her to face her demons and live her life to the fullest. Those of us living with mental illness want to live a full life, but our demons hold us back. She was our voice and our courage. She spoke when we couldn’t. She gave us the push we needed to give our demons the middle finger and just enjoy life.
It’s only been seven days she left this world. While our tears may still flow, we can start to remember why we loved her.
RIP Carrie, you are missed.
There is an old rhyme from childhood that many of us are familiar with.
Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
Earlier this week was the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. I don’t go to temple very often, but it is important to go on Rosh Hashanah. One of the Rabbi’s sermon’s was about words, how we use them and the power they have over us.
Most physical wounds can heal. But emotional wounds that come from hurtful words have the potential to last a lifetime.
One of the points the Rabbi brought up was the negative words we use when we are feeling depressed or we feel angry or we feel uncertain. When living with mental illness, especially depression, the access that a depressed person has to negative words is astounding. At the drop of a hat, we can beat ourselves emotionally, let the bitter voices in our head knock us around or even worse, let the negative words keep us from living a full life.
Looking from the outside in, its easy to say that we should stop talking about ourselves in the negative. We are not alone, we are not stupid, we are not any of the things that the voices in our head tell us we are. But the problem is that it is easier said than done.
Words do hurt and words can kill. They have more power than any physical weapon a human being can create.
I wish would all remember that.