Chris Cornell’s death this week has affected many of us. He was one of our favorite frontmen of the ’90s, giving us hits like “Black Hole Sun” and “Fell on Black Days,” songs that spoke about struggling with depression. I mean, how could you not feel heard and seen with music that both rocks you and speaks to you?
For many people who struggle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, his death hit home. For one mom, this was especially true. Kerry Neville, a Huffington Post contributor, opened up about her own struggles with suicide and depression in an article titled “Suicide and Surprise, After Chris Cornell.” She starts the essay off with the honest truth: Sometimes, suicidal impulses are surprising–and they can be so momentary that the people around you may not realize you are in pain:
“Misery that has you researching the methods and means of suicide in the middle of the night on your cell phone, back turned to your husband, who is fast asleep, and to your children, who are curled up and asleep between you both…”
Neville went on to explain that people with suicidal thoughts aren’t unhappy all of the time–but more afraid that momentary happiness is merely just that–and it’s tempting to find a way to curtail that impending sense of loss:
“But the real danger is inside moments of happiness, when happiness feels fleeting, feels heartbreakingly fragile, when the world’s beauty hurts because you know you won’t be able to stay inside of it for long, when your own happiness and lightness of being is undercut by the knowledge that the fall will come again—that’s often when suicide seems most reasonable: ‘This cannot last,” your demon whispers, “so get out now with this one perfect beautiful happy moment.’”
She then describes a heartbreaking moment from her own life where she considered suicide–but at the last minute, decided not to go through with it–showing us that it’s not just celebrities and musicians and artists who deal with depression and other forms of mental illness. Moms suffer too:
“Such as: a perfect morning, waking up without the alarm to birdsong and early sunlight filling the room, and not burning the pancakes and not yelling at the kids to Stop and Hurry and singing along to the radio on the way to school and kissing their foreheads goodbye and watching them disappear into their classrooms and thinking, “Now. No need for plans. Just drive your car into a tree.”
Do you know how hard it was to drive the ten blocks home, not press the accelerator and aim my car at the enormous maple tree at the bottom of the hill? And then, just like that, as I passed the maple, its orange leaves turning in the sunshine like fingers beckoning me forward into now and tomorrow, I drove past my sure and possible death and went to the grocery store with my lengthy list for tonight and tomorrow and the next day.
Even now, six years after my last dive into Bipolar Depression’s well, my brain can very occasionally light (yes, like a chimney swift on a branch!) on suicide.”
Neville concludes the post saying that “vigilance keeps me from surprising my own self with a happenstance suicide.”
It’s not easy, and it’s tiring, but she stresses the fact that we must work through the dark moments. And of course, this also means seeking help from those around us (and professionals) when you are considering suicide or having suicidal thoughts. Suffering alone doesn’t have to be an option.
If you or someone you know needs help, our sister site has a list of resources for depression and suicide.
This post is part of the Here.Now series, which seeks to destigmatize mental health,
and is made possible by UJA-Federation of New York and The Jewish Board.
You can find other educational mental health resources here.