Better Days Gone By

The announcement of Chris Cornell’s death plowed over the rock world with the same shudder and delirium as the Grunge movement itself.

I have experienced the loss of many relatives, acquaintances, and loved ones including my son, Noah which was a life changing tragedy. In light of experiencing the loss of people that I’ve known, when I hear about a celebrity public figure that I know about passed away blow it off as a curious event but nothing more than that.

The news of Cornell’s passing hit me more than other celebrity deaths.  His sparked something in me that I haven’t felt since the death of Rich Mullens, one of my real-life heroes. It felt like I lost a brother, (albeit estranged brother.)  Before you think I’m just a crazed fan trying to cope with the loss of a rock god, please know I was never really a big Soundgarden or  Audioslave fan, even back in the 90’s and 2000’s. However, I did always appreciate Cornell’s vocals and the bands’ unique styles.  Later on, I became more appreciative of his music when he started his solo career and focused more on his artistic abilities.

Cornell’s sudden death was probably less of a shock to those that knew him as the announcement of suicide drew a lot of answers and questions alike.   His death follows a long list of casualties of the founding Seattle Grunge bands.  Andrew Wood, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Mike Starr, Scott Weiland, and maybe some I don’t know, have already left us to the hands of drugs or suicide.  Because of these losses, some have accused the Grunge movement as the deadliest musical genre.  And I wouldn’t argue, much of the music relies heavily on darkness, stark realities, and brutal truths.

Like many, I did not know or realize that Cornell suffered with depression most of his life. One Associated Press article stated that he dropped out of school as his depression was so severe he couldn’t leave his house.  Music then became his outlet and gave him much needed confidence.  I saw a lot of myself in Chris’ story; spending childhood as a loner, I too had to deal with depression at a very young age and not knowing who to talk to, I kept it inside.  Like Cornell, music and art where my counselors for depression.

I have long believed that depression is something that you never actually shake, it’s always just under the thin layer of any mask that you’re wearing.  Like many mental health issues depression is something you live with your whole life it comes down to just learning how to manage your emotions and knowing when to trust them and when to not.  Depression is said to be hereditary disease and I would say that is true more so on a environmental level rather than biological.  Many in my family have battled the disease including my father who lost the fight when I was four years old.  Knowing about Cornell’s battle with depression help me not only appreciate empathize with but also to help reevaluate myself and where I am in my relationship with depression.

The unfortunate and tragic loss of Cornell also provides an opportunity for others who don’t understand the disease learn that even for highly successful celebrities it can still wreak havoc on the suffers’ life.  Through Cornell’s experience, others that suffer can better handle and deal with it and remember that it is not a temporary disease is a disease that becomes a part of you.  While depression is always there but that doesn’t mean you have to be controlled by it.   I have managed to treat it without medication, others may be helped by prescriptions.  Maybe counseling is all you need or maybe your faith or pursuing your dreams will help you to go on.  Whatever your situation, please do not allow yourself to succumb to the overwhelming emotions of emptiness, they are just feelings and nothing more.  And also, more importantly, you are not ever alone in the fight.

If you or someone you know suffers from depression, please call the 24 Hour Suicide Hotline at: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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