[Trigger Warnings: this post will talk about depression, suicide, and emotional abuse. Please keep this in mind and take care of yourselves.]

I honestly don’t remember how I first heard of Linkin Park. Maybe a friend introduced me to them, maybe I just happened to come across their music videos and decided that I liked them. But at some point, I heard them, I liked them, and I bought two of their albums (Hybrid Theory and Meteora) in close succession.

The part I do remember is just how viscerally I connected with the lyrics to the song Numb. Everything about that song just seemed to be speaking directly to me, about me. I was living with my parents at the time, recently diagnosed with depression and barely able to function because of it. My parents, for the record, subscribe to the belief system that any mental illness – and probably physical illness – can easily be overcome if you just stop being so lazy. Yep. Words actually spoken.

Here’s the thing, though: when I did try to do things, they were always the wrong things. Didn’t matter what I did. It was wrong. I applied for the wrong jobs, I picked the wrong hobbies, I hung out with the wrong friends, I was into the wrong fandoms. I was trying to be my own person, trying to figure out who I was, but everything I was doing was wrong.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I played that song, singing along with the lyrics (and screaming along with the lyrics when no one was around to hear me). Sometimes, I would play it on a loop for hours, just to distract myself when my head got to be a dark place.

Linkin Park’s music hit home in a way that not a lot of music did back there. Sure, I listened to plenty of angsty bands because that’s where I was emotionally. But most of them seemed to sing about ex-partners and broken hearts and the loss of romantic love. Not my thing, even back then. I could put on a Linkin Park song and scream along and feel it in my gut because they sang about things that I knew.

So when I heard that Chester Bennington had taken his own life, it hurt. I remember just staring at my Twitter feed as more and more tweets appeared. I had to pry myself away. I made myself some grilled cheese – my go-to comfort food – and just kind of sat there for a long time. I loaded up Google Play music and found a Linkin Park playlist. And then I pretty much just cried for the rest of the night.

I’ve seen so many people since then talk about how Linkin Park’s music and Chester’s way of making the words he sang sound so real and raw helped them to deal with their problems in the past. I’m glad he was here to help them, and I’m glad he was here to help me. So I just want to say thank you, sir, and I hope you found peace.

~ Charlie