It’s been a while now. Quite a few hours since a seemingly harmless text from a friend killed a part of my childhood. I guess the transition from disbelief to bitter realisation is the hardest. But it has finally sunk in, Chester Bennington has taken his own life due to depression. And somehow we couldn’t hear his cry for help.
When you’ve suffered enough
And your spirit is breaking
You’re growing desperate from the fight
Remember you’re loved
And you always will be
This melody will bring you right
Back when I was a kid, listening to music used to be a little harder than it is now. We didn’t have Spotify or Apple Music. What we had was will and patience, lots of it. The pain of downloading albums on a Dial-Up BSNL broadband looked rather meek in front of the indescribable feeling of solace, angst, and fulfilment.
For me and countless others, who were discovering music in the early 2000s, Chester and Linkin Park offered what no one else could. The lyrics were tailor-made for every rebellious teenager, for every kid who couldn’t keep up with the changes. His voice was sometimes the only friend we had, the only friend who gave a damn, the only friend we needed.
Hybrid Theory taught us to let go, that we weren’t the only one sick with failures and almosts. It taught us to take responsibility for our own actions. Meteora taught us numbness is also a feeling, probably the one most of us are feeling right now. A new generation of listeners was brought into life, devoid of class, everyone had a place to belong. Next album, Minutes to Midnight, shifted the band’s musical direction. They were mixing punk, classic rock and hip-hop, and it worked gloriously. Linkin Park already had the winning formula, but they wanted to keep pushing their boundaries. Chester, being the band’s lead singer, adapted to the new style and approach, and tracks like Shadow of the Day show us how brilliantly he did.
Linkin Park in their early years introduced us to a whole new genre of music, the heavier side of it. Later they chose to explore the spectrum. Their music changed, but the soul was kept intact. Their music wasn’t about sunshine and rainbows, their music was about our daily struggles, about desperation and heartbreaks. And at times, isn’t that all we crave for? To just know that there’s at least one person listening? Chester was the one who understood, the one who voiced the assurance that everything was going to be fine, or bearable, at least. He was the ‘angel voice’ in our hearts, who brought us home, time and again.
I close both locks below the window
I close both blinds and turn away
Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple
Sometimes goodbye’s the only way
Chester’s demise has brought every music lover, passionate or casual, out of their shells. Everyone mourned in solidarity. Fans were distraught, how could he do such a thing? After all this time, after helping us win so many battles? Some showed sympathy, some just couldn’t accept his decision. And as a fan, I can’t either. But before tagging someone selfish for ending their life, we must think, think about the suffering. The amount of pain he must have been going through that ending his life seemed like the better alternative. A person doesn’t end his life because that’s the easier thing to do, not because death seems appealing all of a sudden. He does it cause the manipulative demon wraps his head to an extent that he chooses the only option he has. It’s a man trapped inside a burning building, choosing the option to jump out of the window. He’s still terrified of the fall, but when the flame gets close enough, jumping seems the less terrible of the two. This is what depression does; it cripples you, it sucks the life force out, pushes you to the edge, inch by inch.
Like every other demon, this, too, has its silver bullet, awareness. We need to take depression as seriously as we take any other disease, probably more. So many people laugh if off, some suggest to go out and have “fun”, and some suggest to concentrate on something productive. No, it’s not optional. A depressed person doesn’t just get to shake it off, he fights and struggles to even function as a normal human being. So, please, if you know someone who’s going through depression, listen. Don’t just shrug their insecurities off. And even though I agree it’s almost impossible to know what the other person is going through, showing empathy is not that difficult.
If you are someone who’s going through depression, seek help, talk to your close ones. Talk to people who understand, sharing doesn’t make you weak. Drop a message to us if you want, we promise to listen.
After my dreaming
I woke with this fear
What am I leaving
When I’m done here?
Chester taught us headbangs, he added spice to boring projects and assignments, his powerful voice pushed us for that extra set in the gym. His voice helped us get out of bed in gloomy mornings when we didn’t have anything to look forward to. But most of all, he made us fall in love with a whole new genre of music. If it weren’t for him and Linkin Park, I wouldn’t have listened to Black Sabbath, Megadeth and countless others.
This wasn’t supposed to end this way, and even though I won’t ever be able to get onboard with his decision, I completely understand why he did what he did. Thank you, Chester, for being our beacon of hope. Thank you for being so brave and holding on for so long. Thank you for creating a generation of youngsters with impeccable taste in music. Hope you’re in peace now.