End The Stigma

By Amanda Erickson

Its a little hard for me to describe how Chester Benningtons suicide has affected me. In every way. I have been listening to Linkin Parks music for over 10 years and they’ve helped me get through some really hard times. Making me feel not alone and thankful that someone could put these dark thoughts into words and then perfectly align them with the right music to go along with them.

Although I’ve always loved Mike Shinodas vocals and rapping, it was Chesters voice that really spoke to me. Somehow his screaming was just perfect and it released something in me that i couldn’t let out myself. Still to this day I’ve never screamed at the top of my lungs. I’ve sang at the top of my lungs, but never screamed. And his was just so strangely soothing and perfect.

Linkin Park is one of the few musicians that I rely on and go to when I’m down. Which is often. Especially recently and maybe that’s why this is harder for me as opposed to if I had been in a better state of mind. But no, I’ve been suffering. My head and heart and body have been aching so badly recently from the decline of my mental health and this deep depression taking over every aspect of my life. And until yesterday, I had no idea I was suffering alongside Chester.

As sad as it is for me to say, I’m happy for him that he’s not suffering any more. This is how important mental health is. How much longer are people going to ignore it? Underestimate it? Scrutinize it? This is what happens to people who don’t get help. This is what happens to people who have been strong for too long and are tired.

When someone dies from other diseases like ALS or cancer, the cause of death is listed as just that. It took over their body. But when someone dies of suicide, its their fault, not a mental illness. They didn’t want to die. There was a dark, evil part of them that took over their body. And then the reactions from people goes one of two ways: they’re upset and shocked and saddened or they say “what a coward” “how selfish”.

It’s 2017, educate yourselves. Mental illnesses don’t care what family you have, what your job is, who you are,etc. Just like cancer and other physical, more visually evident diseases. They take control and you have to combat it with will power, the most strength you can muster, the right medication, a support system and love.

But the funny thing about mental illnesses is, they make you so tired. Not that other diseases don’t. But its a different kind of tired. A tired that makes you not care, about anything. And eventually, your self perseverance is so worn down, that you don’t care. You just can’t bear to suffer anymore. Or have your loved ones see you suffer and bring them down with you. You start to feel like a nuisance because everyone else is having fun but the dark cloud hanging over your head wont go away. You start to feel ashamed and embarrassed and like everything’s a mistake and it snowballs and you can’t take it and need the emotion inside to come out and its not pretty but you can’t help it because this is the mess you’ve become.

Sound familiar? No? THEN DONT EVER SAY THAT SOMEONE WHO COMMITS SUICIDE IS A COWARD OR SELFISH BECAUSE THEY HAVE FOUGHT ON THE FRONT LINES OF A BATTLE THAT YOU HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT FOR LONGER THAN YOU KNOW.

Instead of bashing and hate, try to sympathize and imagine how hard things must have been for them. And know that thousands of other people are on the brink of suicide every day and they need help and love and support. Its so hard to live everyday so down and not seeing colors the same way, not finding joy in anything, not having energy for anything, not ever getting excited about anything. But they fake smiles because they don’t want to bring down anyone else.

1in4 mental health anthology

These people are the most loving, caring, brave, beautiful people because they fight through all this everyday and literally care more about others than they do themselves. Because sometimes, those people that we the sick surround ourselves with, are the ones that keep us alive. You could be keeping someone alive right now and not even realize it.

And that is my point. Stop shaming mental health. Its 2017 people. This is a very real thing and needs attention. Be strong for people, check up on your friends and families mental health, be there for them. In any and every way because if suddenly they’re not here tomorrow, you’ll be wishing you had been there for them or asked how they were or done something relaxing or enjoyable. Little moments like that can save people. And for the people who have mental illnesses, who have ever been suicidal, who have chosen to try living another day because you want to have hope that things get better, which it will, keep fighting and please stay. Stay here with us. You matter.

We can all be strong together and share our hardships, for this life isn’t easy. But its easier to face when you have someone beside you who has been there, crying on the floor begging for the pain to stop. We can pull each other up and face the world together, even behind eyes full of tears, we can still have hope and love in our hearts and take it day by day and eventually we’ll all be okay and things will be better. That’s my hope for myself and everyone. We are survivors.

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