An Open Letter to Chester
You changed my life, Chester. Not with your spectacular exit from the planet. It happened long before that.
It doesn't take many years as part of the human race to learn selfless souls are difficult to find. I never imagined I’d discover one in an uber-talented rock star who turned primal screaming into a career.
I know what you struggled with and how easy it would have been to wallow in the darkness, giving in to addiction, surrendering to the pain. Fortunately for all of us, you were never one to take the easy way out. You battled that temptation every day, making a conscious choice to live a life full of generosity and humor regardless of what roiled inside, chipping away at your resolve.
I wish you'd given someone a chance to help you that morning, but I don't blame you for the decision you made. Partly because I can't find it in me to be angry with you. Partly because focusing on your death pushes aside the wonderful person you were in favor of a dark moment of mental instability. You hit your breaking point. I get it.
Instead, I hold tight to the memory of the witty, kind, and open-hearted man I am honored to have known. To have called my friend. The memories you left behind have become my most cherished possessions: your laughter and infectious smile. The brand of hard-won wisdom that comes from adventures in the badlands of misery and despair. An entire chorus of silly voices and a poop joke for every occasion.
You might not be with us anymore, but you’ll live forever in the music. In the anecdotes we share with each other. In our hearts. You were a light we can never replace, but we’ll do our best to shine a little brighter in your memory.
Good-bye, Chester. Life will never be the same without you.
A Word About Depression
I know most of you are familiar with society's misguided opinion that depression is as easy to cure as changing your outlook. You should be able to go for a walk and return home with a brighter perspective, the blues in the past. For some that's true. The danger is when self-professed experts assume their personal brand of depression is the same as everyone else's.
The truth is, depression has many faces. It's a spectrum that ranges from the blues to the chronic kind of darkness that's impervious to anything but medication and professional intervention. If you suffer from the smothering kind that keeps you face-down on the carpet and refuses to let up, you're not alone! (For the record, you're not weak or lazy or whatever else people have told you.)
There is help. There are organizations out there that understand what you're going through and won't respond with ignorance and useless platitudes. They're more than hotlines designed to talk you off the ledge. They're also resources that can point you in the direction of local help for a more permanent resolution when you feel strong enough to take that step.
If you're feeling desperate, don't give up before you give someone a chance to help you rediscover hope. Life can be better than it is. It doesn't have to be this hard.
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(877) 330-6366 (Canada)
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Chester C. Bennington
1976 - 2017