Black Hole Sun: Chris Cornell and Depression

My good friend, Jess, was a fan of Audioslave, especially the late Chris Cornell who died on 18 May. I’m proud to host her piece here. Check it out:

I pretend to be stoic, and I’m sometimes successful at that. The truth is that I feel every emotion possible to the point of pain. I’m in the grips of a firm depression right now. I feel that everything is out of my control, I feel like I’m drowning in suspended animation and screaming inside for help, for anything to bring me back to dry land.

When I’m depressed, I find myself exhausted and struggle to get out of bed. I have no motivation to do anything that I’m not obligated to do, and it takes a great amount of energy to do those things (go to work, deal with people, and act like I’m okay). One of the only times that I feel okay is when I’m at the gym – working out gives me a break from the noise and the pain for a couple of hours. When I’m at the gym, I can just turn up the music and release the rage, the pain, and the frustration without distraction. A couple of weeks ago I was raging away on the elliptical to the tunes of Audioslave’s Show Me How to Live. A day later, I found out that Chris Cornell, a man I had idolized, a man I adored since childhood and a man who made me feel understood, killed himself. That same day, a lunatic on drugs decided to run down a bunch of people with his car right outside of my office building. The world is fucked up, and you cannot hide from that anymore. 

What people don’t get is this: depression is NOT logical. It’s NOT always manageable, and it can kill you. And Piers Morgan, a vain, narcissistic parasite of the highest order, can fuck off to the depths of hell (or to the abyss) for saying differently. If you do not suffer from depression, you are very fortunate and also completely unaware of what those who do suffer from it go through. Imagine carrying a heavy weight around all the time. Sometimes the weight is manageable, and sometimes it’s cripplingly heavy. Sometimes you don’t know if you can bear it. Sometimes you don’t even want to – sometimes you want to give up.

I’m a white woman who grew up in a divorced home from the age of eight. I watched my great-grandmother die in front of me, and could do nothing but scream for a neighbour to help. And at 10 years old, I had to learn that other people will let you down and that your desperate pleas will go unanswered because life is not fair, and it’s a fucked up game of chance that we all keep choosing to play. And all of these years later, I still see that ugly truth. I’ve seen miracles, my dad Neil is living proof of them. Whether it be the Scots-Irish stubbornness or he just won the lucky star lottery, he kicked the shit out of cancer on three separate occasions, including twice when he would now be left to die under proposed healthcare legislation. And to be honest, the single thing that keeps me going is knowing that I would shame and disappoint him if I took the “easy way out” of this world and its trappings.

Chris Cornell struggled with the same condition that I do. I can’t speak to the ins and outs of it for him, but I understand the feelings. I understand the need to do ANYTHING to make the pain stop. I do know that he struggled with a history of drug abuse, and had been battling his own demons for more than 30 years. He wrote music about what he went through, and he shared it with the world. When you listen to songs like Black Hole Sun and Fell on Black Days, you can taste his despair. You can listen to him pour out his anxiety and pain and know that it’s not just you. There is comfort in knowing that you don’t suffer alone, and I will always admire him for sharing that with the world.

Chris Cornell wrote many songs that spoke to a generation and beyond. He made us see that we’re not in it alone. We’re not the only ones that have fallen on black days. That’s what music does, it brings us back from the brink.

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