Farewell, Chester

July 22, 2017

I was inside the shuttle going to work Friday morning when I learned about the news. I scrolled the front page of Reddit and saw 3 posts saying the same news - Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, has committed suicide. As I read each of those headlines, I felt coldness travel down my insides. It didn't sink in right away. As I read the linked articles, my anxiousness increased. This is not a hoax. It's true. He's gone. Chester is dead.

I'm not the biggest fan of Linkin Park, but their songs have always been part of my childhood. I know by heart the lyrics of In The End. Shadow of the Day is the theme song of one part of my college life. Though I haven't been following the band's activities in recent years, hearing the news that morning came to me as a shock. It weighed a lot heavier because of the manner of how he died. He took his own life. Reading Chester's Wiki page, I realized he had experienced so much in life - being sexually abused, having family issues, getting into drugs - he experienced it all. His craft in creating music gave him comfort to live on. I just could not imagine the pain he had to go through to finally come to the decision to end it all.

I'll never listen to the songs of Linkin Park the same way again. Every lyric made more sense now. The songs were coming from the dark areas of Chester's soul. He was 41, already an adult, someone who you'd expect to handle things more logically and maturely. But that's what scary with depression - your own mind is trying to kill you. It grows with the person, always planting ideas of hopelessness about life.

In the office that morning, I happened to talk about this sad news, in fleeting, with a colleague. She expressed how she was so baffled that Chester chose to end his life that way. Was he tired about the fame? Wasn't he satisfied with all the success? I tried to tell her that the singer had gone through a lot of horrible things growing up, and those really affected him until today. I tried to tell her that he was depressed, but I was not able to successfully send that message. I guess not all people understand depression and other mental illnesses, and it really disturbs me a lot. The stigma about depression is real. I've witnessed people feel awkward or be at a loss of what to say when you tell them you are suicidal. Other people react like you were joking, or as if you just said something disgusting and you need to feel embarrassed about it.

The people that I've talked about my own struggles from that night have since acted like nothing had happened. No one has mentioned about it again anymore save for one soul, and it's because he's in that same battle too. He even handed me a booklet the following week to remind me to call those numbers in case I needed it. Since that conversation, I avoided being in the 'hot seat'. What people expect to talk about during those sessions are things like love-related rants and other shit. Well not for my case. Talking about depression is the least thing people  would want to hear when they just want to have a good time on a Friday night. I just don't want to ruin the fun.

But I do try to mention it during casual conversations I have with my colleagues. Like say, over lunch, mentioning a quote my therapist told me during one of our sessions. I want to make it common knowledge, that yup I have undergone mental therapy sessions, and it's just normal.

I hope conversations about mental health become as normal as talking about this irritating cold you had the other week, or that migraine that just would not go away. Chester's death, though it brought shock and sadness to a lot of people today, would stir up conversations about suicide, depression and mental health.

It's the first time I've been deeply affected by a death of a famous person. It's sad to realize that I would never see Link Park in concert anymore (I've been rooting for them to come to Manila with One OK Rock).

Rest in peace, Chester. †

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