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Metal

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Linkin Park may not have been the kind of metal usually covered here but you can’t deny their influence. They turned a lot of fans onto heavier music, and any gateway to the wider world of metal is a good thing.

Bennington was outspoken about his depression and anxiety. In an interview with iHeartRadio’s 102.7 KIIS-FM in February, he talked about his struggles. “I know that for me, when I’m inside myself, when I’m in my own head, it gets…This place right here, this skull between my ears, that is a bad neighbourhood, and I shouldn’t be in there alone. If I’m in there, I don’t say nice things to myself. There’s another Chester in there that wants to take me down.”

I think heavy music provides an emotional release that speaks to people who are attuned to dark feelings, and it helps lift us up and connect us with others – it helps us to not be alone. But we don’t always talk about it in a healthy or helpful way. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life. There was a period in my teens where my feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness manifested in about six months where I virtually stopped eating (and if I did eat, I would make myself throw up). With a lot of help I was able to turn it around, but there was still something simmering below the surface, and within a few years it started to manifest as panic attacks instead. That evolved into full-blown social phobia. I could barely leave the house. I was constantly late for work because I couldn’t bring myself to walk out the door. I felt sure that people were staring at me and judging me. I would always race to the most negative possible interpretation of any event, any sentence.

Then one day I saw my GP for help with a chest infection and when she asked, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” I blurted out, “I have panic attacks all the time.” I didn’t go there with the intention of seeking help. It was like someone else said it. But my doctor was a huge help. We undertook Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to unlearn my negative thought patterns and reset my interpretation of my place in the world. Eventually I started going out, making friends, fell in love, had a child, got married. The panic attacks slowed. They never went away but they were much less frequent.

About 18 months ago I found myself in a deep depression again. Constantly tired, unmotivated, unable to find joy in things I used to love. I got to the point where I finally decided to ask my GP about medication. I’m on a common antidepressant and it worked great for the first six months or so but then it simply stopped. We adjusted the dose and experimented with taking it at different times of day, and it seems to be back on track now.

My point for saying all this is I wanted to share my personal experience and say that mental health care is a constant, active process and if you need help, don’t be afraid to seek it. And know that if you slip from time to time, your metal family is here to pick you up again.

If you or someone you know is struggling, there are stacks of places to get help. Lifeline is available 24/7 on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636. You can check out their websites for additional resources.