We cling onto the words we find as we are thrown into the whirlwind that is our teenage years. They make us, the break us and we do our best to get on with it. It is tough. It is brutal. An unapologetic hell that I didn’t think I’d come out of without a few scars.
There are bands who become our lifeline. They are there when you cannot tell someone else what you are going through. They are there when all is quiet but your mind is doing otherwise. The noise that keeps you frustratingly awake and unsure.
For me, music was and is my lifeline. I was bullied all through high school. I was unhappy. My mood was more often than not, low. I don’t talk about it but I self harmed. I always thought I would regret it but I don’t. I can’t. It’s how I coped. I needed something other than that to make me feel less alone and less shit. I had a handful of bands I latched onto. Like most in my age group, I found peace in Linkin Park. My best friend, Katie made me a tape and on that was a song called By Myself by Linking Park. I felt like I had connected with the words more than anything I had heard previously. The words and the emotion in Chester’ s voice hit home.
I would walk around with my earphones in, clutching my portable CD player so it didn’t skip parts of the songs and drowned the bullies out. Sometimes they were louder but I was being shadowed by Chester’s words. He was guiding me through the school hallways which always felt like they were closing in on me.
It’s hard to take in that someone you really looked up to as you were growing up just couldn’t hold on. But I get it. Those who really felt his words got it. Chester was a voice of a generation. My generation. Not for all of us but a large part of us that didn’t really have a voice or the strength to speak up.
I remember my mum buying me a pair of jeans from a market in Doncaster and on the back pocket of them was the Hybrid Theory logo. I lived in those jeans. I felt tougher than I was when I wore them with Paperxut blasting in my ears.
I’m no longer a teenager but sometimes I get that same teenage angst creeping up on me. Certain Linking Park songs chase away that niggling feeling. But why couldn’t anyone chase away that niggling feeling Chester carried around.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that we need to talk about mental health problems. It took me 15 years to go see someone about mine. Like anyone, I have good and bad days. Some can hold on, some can’t. It doesn’t make them a coward or any less of a person.
Just be kind to yourself, and to others. And talk. Listen. Be the friend you would want someone to be to you if someone opens up to you. Mental health issues don’t have a target audience. It can happen to anyone.
We all deserve to be at peace. With ourselves and the world around us. I hope Chester has found the peace he deserves.
Thank you Chester. For making those years in hell a little less daunting. Thank you for making it okay for someone to not feel and think the same as everyone else. Thank you for guiding me through the streets and school hallways when I was terrified to do so.
Thank you x