The song Heavy, written by the band Linkin Park and sung by lead vocalist Chester Bennington and guest vocalist Kiiara, offer up a new poignancy, as friends and fans grieve over Chester’s suicide in July 2017. The riveting lyrics strike a chord of truth from the outset:
I don’t like my mind right now
Stacking up problems that are so unnecessary
And from the chorus:
Why is everything so heavy?
In his music and in interviews, Chester had been candid about his struggles with the darkness of depression and addiction. He talked about the how devastating it was to be a victim of sexual abuse as a child, saying in an interview with The Guardian in 2011, “No wonder I became a drug addict.” At the age of 11, he started smoking marijuana, followed by cocaine and methamphetamine. Chester had the self-awareness to understand that being a victim of sexual abuse, and his drug addiction and depression were inextricably intertwined.
The fact is, depression and substance abuse often occur together. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol can be an attempt to numb oneself to painful truths. Addiction and depression devolve into a cycle that feeds itself, so getting help that can effectively break the cycle for good involves getting help with not just one problem, but both.
Whether it’s yourself, a friend or a family member who is struggling with any or all of these issues, what’s most important is to get help. Chester Bennington’s songs are haunting, beautiful, familiar — and they were also a cry for help.
We all can relate to “stacking up problems,” feeling preoccupied by worries that are getting in the way of being one hundred percent present in our everyday life, but when does this cross over into a burden that is too heavy to carry alone? If you are asking yourself this question, then it’s time to get help, whether it’s for yourself or someone you love. The bottom line is that the stakes are too high to ignore it.
If your concerns aren’t about yourself, but rather, a family member or friend, you may be faced with another issue: it’s not always easy to convince someone to seek help. So what can you do? You can be a bridge to getting help in any number of ways: by identifying and reaching out to a treatment program that addresses not only addiction but the underlying psychological issues, by providing the reassurance of your love and caring for that person, and by stepping up to be a go-between, and following through to see that the person gets help. There’s nothing easy about this, but it’s crucial to keep your eyes on the goal: treatment can help a person feel better, get clean and get healthy again. There’s no greater gift.
By Lori Enomoto