It's been a year since the world of Rock was robbed of two of it's finest voices far too soon for reasons that seem inexplicable to some.
Chris Cornell rose to fame as the frontman of early Grunge pioneers Soundgarden, before taking his multi octave voice to Audioslave (with the musicians from Rage Against The Machine) as well as his own solo career before resurrecting the band that originally brought him into the spotlight. He had a wife, a family and a successful career. Life looked good.
Chester Bennington burst onto MTV screens as one of Linkin Park's two frontmen, his soulful singing and screams sat alongside those of Mike Shinoda. For years they toured the world performing gig after sell out gig. He even fronted Stone Temple Pilots for a while to great reception. Again, a wife, a family and a successful career. Life looked good.
Chris and Chester were contemporaries and friends, fans across the globe looked up to them and let their music into their hearts, minds and souls.
Chris Cornell took his own life on May 18th 2017.
Chester Bennington took his own life July 20th 2017.
Both singers had a long history of battling their own inner demons, they both crossed paths with substance abuse and addiction, but eventually it would be their own internal fight with mental health issues that would overcome them.
I cried the moment I heard that Cornell had passed. I had loved Soundgarden for years and had been totally captivated by his voice on so many occasions. I felt a huge hole open inside me that I knew would never be filled again and the world seemed to get that little bit more grey. When Chester followed the same path two months later there was more tears from me. Again, I felt numb inside. I wasn't LP's biggest fan but I enjoyed their music and really enjoyed his singing. When it emerged that both had killed themselves that's when everything really hit home.
I've struggled with my own mental health for so many years. Anxiety and depression sit deep within me, occasionally coming to the surface in their own brutal way, robbing me of calm, peace, confidence and joy. I can understand why these two chose the path they eventually took, I've been to that point myself.
It's a hard beast to live with. I started talking openly and publicly about my issues a few years ago when it all became too much. By using my voice, I could try and externalise what was going on with me, and by doing that I could help other's give themselves a voice. I could let them know that they were not alone and that they didn't have to struggle alone.
There is no cure and I certainly don't hold claim to knowing all the answers. What I do know is that we can all help each other. We can all speak up when we're struggling. We can all reach out and ask for help. We can help others by taking an interest in others and by asking what we can do to help. No matter who you are, no matter your social standing or how much cash you have (or don't have). Mental health does not discriminate, it is an equal opportunities illness that will take on anyone it wants.
All you can do is keep fighting. There's always someone who is there for you, even if you think there isn't. You might not even know them, it may be stranger. You never have to go through this alone. Talk to your friends. Talk to your family. Talk to you GP. Talk to a professional help group, there are so many out there in the world that are there 24/7 no matter what. Have faith in yourself and don't become a hole in someone you love's world,