Having struggled with depression for half of my life, I identify so much with what Rich Larson has to say about Chris Cornell’s death:
“Chris Cornell committed suicide on May 18, 2017, at the age of 52. He was a dad. He was a philanthropist. He was becoming an elder statesman of rock. He was a grown up. Cornell was aging gracefully, even doing that thing where some guys get better looking as they get older. He got Soundgarden back together, and they made a great new album a couple years ago. His voice still had all the power and strength it had displayed in his youth. Much like the rest of us, the world had kicked his ass a couple times, and he survived. But now he’s gone, and goddammit, his is the death that bothers me the most. As I’ve been thinking about this, I’m realizing that it’s both a personal and a generational thing. Cornell had a long struggle with depression. As have I. As have many of you. […] Depression makes you feel totally alone. You hit the breaking point, and then, like Chris Cornell, you hang yourself in the bathroom. […] This could have been any of us. And brothers and sisters, if it’s you, don’t mess around with it. Please find some help. Cornell is speaking to us all one last time. This isn’t something we left behind with our twenties. This isn’t something cured by age or financial security. This isn’t something you ‘outgrow.’ […] Call it a senseless tragedy. Call it a second-act cautionary tale. Call it whatever you want. Just don’t blow it off as meaningless.”
In my journey to win over depression I have lived through some extremely dark times. Depression sucked me into some very dark pits, but my belief in myself and the Universe (yes faith has a very important place in my life, perhaps it is the axis my life revolves on) brought me out into the light, each time.
Having a loving and undemanding family, a few unconditional close friendships–even though, many times, they did not understand or made an effort to understand, have been a boon. In hindsight, I realise that perhaps I was spared the stigmatisation due to my near ones’ lack of awareness and acknowledgement of the darkness that is depression. An ironical example of good being present in all pains. So it has been a tough and lonesome struggle and the eventual success over it, for me. And in the process I came to know and understand myself more. Developing new facets of my personality and expanding the reaches of my mind.
Left to my own devices with the blessed responsibility of my small child, I have constantly tried out various ways and methods to distract my mind. To express it out of my system with the help of art, words, jogging, counselling, cleaning the house till I fall down with exhaustion, yelling, crying, isolating myself, accusing, introspecting, meditating, helping others in need, or photography. And yes, all these methods helped. But the most effective ones have always been the ones that brought out my true essence—spending alone time with myself with awareness. All these have helped me live with mindful awareness. Watching my thoughts and the direction they are taking has taught me to be aware of the signs, which alert me to change directions. To consciously remove myself from that path and head on a different one.
But have I successfully banished depression out of my life? No, and now that I have stopped questioning it’s presence or blaming others for its birth or losing my patience over it or feeling shameful or guilty about it – by simply accepting it’s existence just as I accept mine–I have in many ways, won over it. I control it, instead of it controlling me. Though I still have a long way to go, but I know the path I am on is right and it will help me overcome it soon.
And today, I take a new step towards my on going healing–by sharing my journey and struggle with depression, with the world. With the hope of reaching out to others like me. Hoping that they find strength and solace in my words. Hoping they themselves embark on a journey of self discovery, where they discover their own respective strengths to help them overcome and heal. It’s time to stop running away from yourself . Time to embrace both the light and darkness that we all are within. Time to acknowledge the darkness as a part of you, to accept and convert it into your strength and light.
As Rich Larson so aptly says in the above excerpt, Chris Cornell leaves a very important message for us. To stand up for ourselves, own ourselves and reach out for help, beginning with yourself – be the help that you need.
Rest in peace, Chris, and all the souls we lost to depression.