In light of mental health awareness, let’s not forget the icons, the voices that made the hard days feel a little bit easier, feeling like we belong somehow, in this harsh world we live in.
I can still remember that morning, I was having my coffee, reading the news and there it was, a bold headline that Chris Cornell had killed himself. I had followed his career, his voice and lyrics suited me, it made me whole. You can never assume that someone has mental health issues when his “job” is to write compelling songs about sadness, grief, love, hate and faith. He inspired an entire generation by being a pioneer of the grunge movement. I was also very young when my father bought me my first rock album, Superunknown, therefore I had no clue that I too was dealing with mental health problems which would follow me for the rest of my days. His lyrics were hitting me in all the right places, clueless that he was dealing with depression that twenty-three years later, would make him take his own life.
I have been staring at this document for hours, feeling sad and frightened to share how I feel, how I believe that sharing our issues is so important if we want to get the help we deserve and need. It’s not even that I don’t have enough to say about the whole thing, I have too much.
I’m a fan, a true devoted fan of Chris and will remain until the day my son writes my eulogy. It hurts to know that he could still be there, inspiring others to open up about mental health, use his voice to help others. He wasn’t even able to help himself due to stigma making it so difficult to feel “normal” once you open up to your issues. He’s dead, never to be heard again except for recordings of his charming ballads, inspiring lyrics and strong rock anthems.
The man was a father, a 52 year old man with strong values with a certain glow that followed him around. People will say that his music was about being angry, absolutely not. It’s about depression and being a cynic. Depression has you into a grip that is so hard to get out of, then comes the medication and it goes downhill from there. You get anxious about things most people can handle on a daily basis and you don’t feel it would do you any good to talk about it because of the stigma and judgment that is still so engraved around mental health issues, anxiety, depression and everything revolving around it.
When is this going to end, when can we feel safe to talk about our problems without having our peers, family members, friends, coworkers treating you like a mental patient?
I’ve never been much of a sharing kind of man. I was not raised in a house where feelings were a very common occurrence. Substance abuse, neglect and avoiding to deal with the problems at hand was pretty much the menu of the day until I could have my own voice and move on. But let’s not make this about me, let’s make it about everyone that is struggling. I am merely one out of millions of Canadians struggling everyday with depression and mental health and I will work relentlessly to be sure everyone has a voice.
To Chris, thanks for helping me feel like I deserve to seek help, talk about my issues and open up. To everyone else reading this, don’t be afraid to reach out, there’s literally million of us out there. You are far from being alone in this and we’re there to support you in your journey to a better self.