This is the hardest celebrity mental health story to write.
Because every time I think of Chester, I want to cry.
The day I heard Chester Bennington committed suicide, it was like a part of me died.
Linkin Park was some of my favourite music since I was 17. I looked up to Mike. I wanted to hang out with Chester, Mike, Joe, Phoenix, Brad and Rob.
Their music put into words the feelings that I could not express.
It’s a weird feeling and people might not understand, because it’s not like I actually know Chester personally. It’s not like I had ever talked to him. I had only seen him live twice, and listened to his music and interviews.
But he felt like a friend to me.
When I was a teenager and had a lot of feelings of depression, Linkin Park’s songs were a way for me to feel like I wasn’t alone.
Knowing that Chester also suffered from depression and suicidal attempts made me feel like there was at least one other person out there who understood what I felt.
Crawling (off of Hybrid Theory) helped me to relate Chester’s sexual abuse when he was young, to my molestation incident when I was a teenager, and the song helped me get over my post-trauma.
Linkin Park made a total of 7 albums and won 2 Grammy awards.
And as they made more and more albums, I thought they become more stable.
We humans always think that money, a family and a career makes people stable. And Chester had all of that.
- A great career (he was successful and got to do what he loved)
- A beautiful model wife Talinda
- 6 kids
- Money (there were never any reports of him having trouble with managing money)
- Good friends
It was like; everything seemed to be going well for him? He wasn’t having obvious money problems or relationship problems, like bankruptcy or divorce, or death in the family.
That’s the scary part.
Even though to us he looked okay, he wasn’t.
And that’s the real face of depression.
Everyone is struggling. Even when they don’t look like it. Even when they look happy and upbeat most of the time. Even when they look like they have everything.
One of Linkin Park’s last songs released before Chester committed suicide was Heavy.
Mike Shinoda described the day the band began writing it:
“Chester walked in and it was, ‘Hey, how are you doing today?’ and he’s like, ‘Oh, I’m fine,’ and we were hanging out for a few minutes and he was like, ‘Y’know what? I have to be honest. I’m NOT fine. I’m NOT okay. Too much stuff is just happening to me. I just feel underwater. Things feel so heavy to me…'”
~ Linkin Park band member Mike Shinoda
Mike also described that:
“What I would say is the key to the song, the most important lyric to it all is ‘if I just let go I’d be set free’.”
So that’s the thing, depression is just so deceiving. You don’t have to be homeless or have no money or be going through a divorce.
You can pretty much have your shit together and still be horribly depressed.
Chester was just this hilarious guy on LPTV, full of jokes and full of life. The guy who always seemed to change his clothing style and his hairstyle. Chester was this all-around amazing badass unicorn.
But Chester was also the guy who faced sexual abuse as a child, who struggled with alcohol, who had a toxic relationship and divorce. Chester was a fighter through all of that.
But no one can stay strong forever.
And after his friend and fellow musician Chris Cornell died by suicide, maybe Chester felt like he couldn’t quite hold on anymore.
Two months later (and what would have been Chris’ birthday), Chester committed suicide on 20 July 2017.
It’s been exactly one year since Chester’s gone. Since he stopped struggling with mental health issues. In the meantime, we still continue fighting the fight.
And in days when it’s hard for me, when I feel like I can’t quite hold on for myself, I try my best to hold on for him.