The news of Chester Bennington committing suicide shocked me. I think it is especially my generation, who are now in their 30s, feel that his death is like suddenly a huge part of our teenage world dying. I almost think there is no one, who has never thought about suicide in their teenage years, or later. Especially those, who suffer from depression, like me. If not thinking about suicide then at least you play with the idea that you die and that you can see how other people feel or react to your death. You imagine what they would say at your funeral. I find it deeply understandable, because there is this thirst for understanding where your place is, how others feel about you. And how better to test it than when you are actually not there? Do people remember you? Do they forget you incredibly fast? In real life that is not possible. If you are dead, you are gone. You’ll have no clue whatsoever how people feel about you. It is over.
Obviously there is the other idea of dying, which is pain. You are in so much pain that you think that your death will release you from all the pain, all the suffering. I can imagine that this is something that happens, hence I support euthanasia. Some illnesses are so grim that there is no point of being in care 24/7, relying only on the help of others, not being able to live an independent, fulfilling life free of pain ever again. But there is the psychological pain that is hard, and that you have to deal with that does not need to end in suicide because there is a solution to it. Chester couldn’t find the solution, and I am so very sorry for him, his friends, his family, and his fans.
I took antidepressants when I was a teenager. I was medicated the first second I entered a practice and the medication was so heavy on me. I was exhausted from it. I could not focus in school, by the time I got home I was incredibly hungry and tired, I ate, went to bed and slept until 7pm then I was awake way into the night, fell asleep around 2am to wake up at 6:30 to go to school. I took the medication, and the dosage was slowly changed to take even more of it. From 10mg to 20mg and then more. I didn’t see the point. Now I know that what I took was going by the name Prozac in the States. I put on weight, I felt miserable, life was incredibly hard on me because of my sister and her newborn baby, my niece. And I remember that Wednesdays were the worst in school that year.
So I went to school that Wednesday. It must have been towards the end of the year, because it was spring. I think I didn’t mind the first two lessons in the morning, but then I just have had enough, I went outside and got on the bus, feeling incredibly tired. I thought what is the point of this life? I have just got my new prescription, I thought if I were to take a lot of them, I wouldn’t wake up, just fall asleep fast and very deep. I remember looking at how much I had, both the yellow and the stronger green pillows. Then I also thought, I will not be one of those, who doesn’t leave a letter. I do want the others to understand what pain I was in, and that I was better of dead. I looked at the time, it was 11am in the morning, I knew that I was supposed to be sitting in biology class, and probably no one really notices that I am not in school anymore. I took out a paper and a pen. I was just looking at it, getting a book to write on, half-lying in bed. I felt so very tired. I was trying to think: where should I start? What should I say? I was very aware that this is going to be bad, so I don’t want my mom to be to upset about what I will write, but I still wanted to tell her how I felt.
I fell asleep, I never started writing, I was so exhausted… I slept for hours… I woke up in the afternoon thinking, okay, I slept it off, I don’t want to do it, because I haven’t written the letter, people will be home soon, this is not the time. I went back to school the next day, I was clearly not there, and no one noticed I had not been there. Somehow I got out of it, but those years around 16 or 17 were a blur, a big blurry-fuzzy time with no outlines, with no real memories. When I looked at my grades in my finals years later I was surprised how long I managed to still perform despite falling completely apart in my head. When I saw the worse grades I understood those were the times when I was often out of school or just starting the day with a bit of alcohol to be able to deal with what was going on in there. I was deeply sad and desperate for at least a bit of love and attention from someone.
The second time around I was abroad. I lived in England at the time. The culture there is so different from what I grew up in. I was so lost. I had no job, I ran away from home, I was living with someone, who was kind of my saviour at the time. I was very successful in my work before moving abroad, so there, not being able to find a job I like, where I felt appreciated was incredibly hard on me. It wasn’t only that. I did work, but because of a conflict as I was employed black I was kicked out of the house I first stayed in. I was an au-pair, I was taking care of the three children way too well. Unfortunately I proved the parents wrong, and that was a really bad idea. The children loved the food I made for them, they were happily around me, I was enjoying taking care of them. Well, that is what I have been trained for up until then. Taking care of people, being attentive, a teacher, someone, who is “there”. I was really good, and the parents started being incredibly jealous of me. So after three or five weeks they kicked me out of the apartment.
No, they didn’t kick me out, they locked me out, and didn’t let us back in, with my then partner. When they did they were gone and we had no choice, but to move. They could not deal with conflicts and knew that they were the ones, who were wrong. The mum was an alcoholic, the father just a horribly weak person. Where we moved it was really bad, yet again. It was an emergency solution, and the same thing happened again. Even though we told them what happened I was asked to clean again, in order to reduce the rent. It was nonsense, and that hadn’t been the agreement. In 6 weeks’ time we had to move again later turned out. I was exhausted for being under the same roof with a psychopath. Now I know he was one, it was scary.
So when I found myself in the second desperate situation in a very short amount of time in the middle of dealing with panic attacks, bad sleeping, migraines and just a general denial of life I thought about doing it again. We lived close to the sea, I knew where people go to jump. And yet again, I thought: I need to write down how I feel, so people understand that this wasn’t supposed to be some impulsive move, but that I meant it. The way I wanted to do it was to leave a letter to my then boyfriend. I would go to the place on foot, so if he was fast enough he could have stopped me. He would understand what it was about, how miserable I felt and he could potentially stop it. But the idea that I needed to communicate why and that “it made sense” to commit suicide was there the second time around, approximately 6 years after I originally considered doing it. I took a paper out… and I fell asleep yet again. Trying really hard to know how to write it, what to write. I think it also started raining a bit. It matches my mood – I thought, and then slowly from the exhaustion I just fell asleep.
Later on I toyed with the idea, but not really. Never managed to fall that deep again. I understand how selfish suicide is. How much pain it is for everyone, who stays on Earth after you. So I thought if I ever did it, not before my mum died, so she wouldn’t have to deal with my death. I think that was the idea that kept me from doing anything self-harming later on.
What is the moral of the story? I really wanted to make people understand how I felt, how miserable I was. Now I find it easier and increasingly easier as time goes by to just write. Just get it out of my system, tell the story from my point of view, to know that here I am validated to write whatever I want to say. This is me, this is who I am. This is how I am struggling, this is how I am healing. And to anyone, who is struggling, who doesn’t know what to do: please, please just start to write, tell your story, get it out. It might be painting, might be dancing, or singing, just get it out, let it out, and please never ever give up.