I grew up listening to Chris Cornell’s music as most other 90’s teenagers did. He was able to easily evince a feeling of sensitive yet aggressive angst with operatic bravura. This ability most likely came from his own struggles with mental health and personal darkness.

I understand what it’s like to be artistic and depressive. I’ve been suicidal for long periods of my life. I’m not suicidal now and haven’t been since January of 2016 when I sort of figured out how to exist in my darkness. It’s work. Daily work. Artists and sensitives have to deal with their environment, and America as a country is very dark. America tries to wear this ridiculous, happy mask to try and convince the world that it’s “so happy!!!” However us sensitives get to swim in the darkness, seeing the realness that others might be able to ignore.

There is relief of mental health troubles, but overcoming these struggles requires the best in us. I’ve found ancient Zen and Taoist concepts of letting go, nothingness, and peace to help me cope. I’ve also found solace in the passion and suffering of Jesus although I’m definitely not a mainstream Christian by any measure. I also use modern mental health techniques like dialectical behavioral therapy to address my anxieties and extreme emotions. I try and use a holistic and whole body approach to tackling mental health concerns, and I believe I’ve found a modicum of success in this respect.

I don’t really blame people for committing suicide because it’s a tough row to hoe, but I definitely think it is a tragic error that tends to amplify your suffering onto other people. I’ve come to see suicide as “self murder,” and I believe that murder is not really helpful in most if not all circumstances. Through this re-framing of concept, I’ve been able to take the romanticism out of my old obsessions with suicide. Mental health concerns challenge us to radically confront ourselves, and this is often a most precipitous mountain to scale.

But I want to say that there are other climbers on this mountain willing to help you if you reach out for help, which is my final point: always reach out for help. If you humble yourself and say “I just can’t figure out how to live,” most likely someone will be there to help you, and often this act of letting go can free us from the notion that we have to fix everything ourselves.

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