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How I'm Finding the Light After Chris Cornell's Suicide

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Many of you may have heard about the unexpected passing of musician Chris Cornell. It’s evident through article after article I’ve read that he touched a lot of lives throughout his career. It was a tragic loss and his death has deeply impacted a lot of people.

While it’s hard to lose anyone you love and admire, perhaps this was especially hard because Chris Cornell died by suicide.

His struggles with substance abuse were well-known. He fought to stay sober. To me, his life seemed to be on an upswing, though. His band, Soundgarden, had reunited and were on tour. He was a dad and a husband. Just days before he was found dead, he’d tweeted a lovely Mother’s Day message to his wife professing his love for her. He seemed to be winning the battle against his demons.

And so it came as a shock when the world learned he had taken his own life. It wasn’t an accident and people may have a hard time understanding that.

When someone seemingly has it all — family, money, success, a career, talent — and yet they are still torn-up inside, it can be hard to reconcile. When all of the things in the world are at someone’s fingertips and they still aren’t happy, it’s hard to make sense of it all.

That’s because it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to the loved ones watching the struggle and it doesn’t make sense to the person fighting the fight.

I don’t know if Chris Cornell was ever officially diagnosed with any sort of mental illness. I only know what I’m about to share from my own experience.

Depression is a liar and a thief.

Some people may experience a bout — or even several bouts — of depression throughout their lifetime. Perhaps they will receive treatment and find relief from this monster. Many people are able to find the other side, the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. And that is wonderful.

However, there are also people like me, who struggle chronically. Who will experience multiple and excruciating bouts of depression throughout their lifetime. People like me who have to accept that this is their truth and although they will do their best to get through, they must realize that they may never truly be free of this beast.

Perhaps that’s how Chris Cornell felt.

It doesn’t matter how happy I may seem in any given moment, or even how happy I may actually be. Depression is always lingering underneath, waiting, putting a damper on even the very best of my feelings and emotions. It sits in wait, sometimes pulling me down with more force that you could ever imagine, sometimes just tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me that it’s there. I will not know when it will strike or rear its ugly head. I will not know if I will have the strength, yet again, to fight it.

Depression lies. It can tell you everyone around you would be better off if you were gone. It can tell you that you are worth nothing and that you offer nothing to the world. It can steal your joy, your good times, your connections with others. It can make you doubt yourself, your talents, your relationships and your self-worth.

And it can be relentless.

For me, I can go to very dark places very quickly. I can literally feel fine one minute and in crisis mode the next. That’s my disease. Depression can take the smallest, most trivial event, challenge, disappointment, mishap or uncomfortable situation and try to convince me all hope is lost. It can make me question my value, my beliefs and my place in this world. And it can hold me under water until I am not certain I will ever again breathe.

It’s scary, it’s horrible, it’s awful and it is real.

I hear all the time that suicide is selfish. Many people who die by suicide do not do so for their own benefit, but instead because they truly believe — because they have been convinced by depression — that their loved ones would be better off without them. Many do so because they cannot find a way back to the light. Because they don’t want to burden anyone else and do not know how to stop the pain, the anxiety, the attack and hold this disorder can have not only on them, but on their family and friends, as well.

Thus far, for me, depression has not won. By the grace of God, my family and perhaps myself, I have not walked my final path. But many times when my depression rears its ugly head, I wonder if I should.

If you’re fortunate enough not to face these struggles, I am so happy for you. Perhaps this post will help you understand a bit more what those of us who do go through every day.

It’s a terrible reality to feel like you may always be held captive, in some form or another, by this monster. To feel every day will be an uphill battle, though some are easier than others.

Please recognize we are trying our best. We are giving our all, and sometimes, our all doesn’t feel like it’s going to be enough. Please help us to continue to fight. Please remind us why we matter, even when we seem to be doing fine. Please help us to stay in the light.

We desperately want to be in the light.

We belong in the light.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Photo via Chris Cornell Facebook page.

Originally published: June 23, 2017
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