Remembering Chester Bennington

I’ll never forget being a teenager, lying there in my bed watching MTV, when MTV was actually MTV. Meaning that they actually played good music videos. It must have been early morning I remember seeing Linkin’s Parks video for the song One Step Closer.  I was hooked from the first sound of the guitar, the break down and the perfect hybrid rap Rock vocals. The lyrics hooked me as an angsty teen. The lyrics were speaking to me in a way nothing else could.

I was a fan and will always will be. There was not a LP album that I was not a fan of. To be quite honest though, it was the lyrical depth that drew me in. The fact that the band was armed with a great live show was even better. I had never gotten the chance to see the band live, but I remember seeing them live on a show called Reverb Nation. There was so much emotional connectivity with the crowd, it was all so intriguing and inspiring to me.

To think that someone like Chester, or any member of the band could command such attention. When ever I was sad, depressed or angry it would be linkin park that I went to the most. The interesting thing is though, even through Chesters heavy, dark and even hopeful lyrics. I never truly connected that fact that he struggled with depression or mental illness. In my young mind at the time, I thought he was only telling stories of people that he knew.

There was no way he could be depressed right? I mean he was a world wide celebrity and had everything it seemed. That the was the younger, less wise part of myself. Now that I am bit older, I realize that it is truly possible to have everything and feel like you have nothing at the same time.

In my own journey with depression and anxiety, it was the lyrics of Chester B that gave me the room I needed to give voice to what I was feeling on the inside. I was never blessed with the chance to meet Chester, and tell him thank you for his words. And that I in some ways considered him a friend.

On a personal level, I often feel so up and down. Happy one moment and either want to scream or cry the next. I have had a handful of psych professors tell me that life, for most is very up and down or much like scribbling on a piece of paper. But thats never been a soothing or satisfying response for me.

The more I listen to the lyrics of Chester, the more I sense that he was truly crying out. Duh right? As a psychology major though, I have learned to pay more attention and see more deeply into a person. Are they truly happy when they smile or is there more going on below the surface?

Better yet, are we happy in a public setting and then fall apart behind closed doors? It’s almost been a year since his passing, and I honestly cannot believe that he is gone. I keep waiting for some FB article to pop up saying that he is alive and well, much like 2 pac. ..

But I guess that a big part of me is still in denial, that he is truly gone. All I know is that, we cannot afford to keep losing people this way. Regardless of what we believe about life. We must be willing to ask and have uncomfortable conversations, about how and where we are at in life.

We have to be willing to say **** the stigma behind talking about depression and suicide, for it is the only way to break free. We have to be willing to say enough is enough.

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A Tighter Grip.

I don’t even know where to begin

All I know is that I want to get a grip on myself.

My anxiety has been so bad.

My emotions have been everywhere.

And sometimes I feel like my chest is going to implode.

I find myself crying when I am alone.

I find myself utterly sensitive to the energies around me.

One moment I am happy and the next, anger, sadness, frustration rage.

I hate this…. I hate this.

My soul is desperate for change.

I want to know what it’s like to feel stable.

I hate feeling like such a wreck.

Perhaps its only a season or moment in time.

All I want is to break free. And not be dominated by this internal, unstable and insecure war inside me.

I want to get to the bottom of this, one breath at a time, one step at a time.

 

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Word Vomiting on Anxiety and The Christian Life.

Breath… Breath… I tell myself as the sense of panic sets in.

My chest tightens, along with the shortness of breath.

This doesn’t make any sense, shouldn’t I have the most peace and Joy in all the world?

Instead, I feel like everything is going into a spontaneous flat spin. And you call yourself a Christian!?  

This tends to be the inner conversation that I have with myself most days, when anxiety seems to be getting the better of me. Anxiety and depression are things that any and all people may experience in a life time. But it can be a little tricky (a lot tricky actually) if you are a professing Christian.

I’m willing to bet that there are many bible believing Christians that live with either or both anxiety or depression. But their timid about speaking up about it. I know that when I visit a new church, I tend to put my smile on and be prepared to tell everyone that greets me how great I’m doing.

Why?

Because talking about anxiety or depression in some christian communities is like a drill sergeant who goes into a room full of marines who are sleeping and decide to let loose a flash bang. It can be painfully deafening and stunning to ones vision, but that’s what it’s like when a fellow believer talks about mental illness in the church. It hurts peoples ears and blinds the perception of life. Or the Christian life rather.

I personally have reached a point in my life, where I am tired of stuffing how I’m doing just to better sooth others. Yet I am still tremble at the thought of hearing another cliche response to pain.

Are you praying enough?

In the word? (The Bible)

Are you memorizing scripture?

(even better) are you in fellowship with other believers?

Or… Or.. “oh, I’m sorry to hear that, I’ll pray for you”… As the pat you on the shoulder, as if to say “there there little one, its going to be alright”

Verses will then be quoted about how were not meant to worry, and how God knows every hair on our heads. I very much understand that. And I actually believe that deep down, though the anxiety in my heart wants me to believe other wise.

Believers that struggle with anxiety are not people that simply need fixing, we don’t need quick fixes for things that we might have until the day were led home by Aslan (Chronicles of Narnia reference to Jesus). For some, having mental illness could be the Lords way of using something seen as evil, for our good.

God knows that if I didn’t have CP, I probably rely or need him as much. I few my own anxiety and depression in the same. Not in the sense that I enjoy living with anxiety or depression, but that I know that God uses these things as a way of making me a more loving and compassionate person.

The classic passage in scripture where the apostle Paul, pleas that God would remove the thorn from his side, only to have the king of the cosmos say “my grace is sufficient for you”. The key word here is grace, for a Christian, grace is meant to be our driving force. Not our mustering of effort, Not our lists of accomplishments or failures.

Something inside believes, that this is how Christians are meant to live in community and relationship to one another. Yes, there is always room to encourage and push each other to grow. But more then anything grace is meant to abound all the more.

For so long pastors, and the church as a whole has seemed to only want to “fix” those who are learning to live and cope with various shades of mental illness. And that should never be the answer, nor the motivation for the church.First and foremost, I believe that the Church should learn to sit quietly with those who are in the midst of the storm.

This is best scene through out the story of Job, job in the opening chapters loses everything he ever held dear to him. He finds himself in a place of distress in every area of his life. His friends would soon arrive on the scene of his life. There they sat quietly as their friend mourned the loss of his children and vitality, but they seemed to be silent with him for a moment.

Then they started accusing him of doing something to royally piss God off. And as a result, God was then punishing job for something that he had done. The sad truth is that we Christians do the same thing today. Rather then sitting with someone in their pain, we tend to spew at the mouth with cliche statements and things that really say nothing in the end.

Could this be because were scared of not having the answer for something or someone in life? I think so, some of the most meaningful moments in my life have been when a friend has sat beside me and just let me cry. Not giving me a sermon, although we sometimes need that too. But they let me cry and scream until there wasn’t anything left to empty of myself.

We all could be better at this couldn’t we? As I have more then likely said before. If you have anxiety or any other form of mental illness. your not a freak, your not something that needs simple repair or fixing. you are not your diagnoses. your loved, created in the image of the king and thus have more worth and value then you could ever know.  Your pain runs deeper that mere pat answers. Healing and recovery are possible with time and diligence. You don’t have to go through life alone, nor were you ever meant to.

You were created to loved and be loved. Seek help, don’t be afraid to need it. Ignore what others think, your life matters to much to lay quietly in the darkness.

 

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From Me to You.

For everyone that has read my various posts, I thought I’d share a few more opportunities to read some of my work. Here are links to a few books that I have written of the past few years.

The first is The Emotional Struggle, which is a detailed memoir about my life with cerebral palsy, depression and faith.

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http://www.amazon.com/Emotional-Struggle-Brandon-Ryan/dp/1434348113/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1449964214&sr=8-7&keywords=The+emotional+struggle

The second is A Hunger for Touch, which speaks about how technology is causing a chasm between people and how it can also lead to addiction.

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http://www.amazon.com/Hunger-Touch-Brandon-L-Ryan/dp/1938480031/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449964592&sr=8-1&keywords=hunger+for+touch

Dealing With Cerebral Palsy and Suicial Thoughts

Going off my last blog, which discussed the idea of living with cerebral palsy and feeling like a burden. One comment in particular really stood out to me, one gentlemen wrote about how feeling like a burden can often lead toward suicidal thoughts and various other elements like extended bouts of depression.

Suicide first and foremost does not care about the color of ones skin, whether one is skinny or fat or whether on is living with something like cerebral palsy or is paralyzed. It spares no one and never well. So as humans, it’s almost as though we have something that can cause us to relate or open up to one another (if we were so willing). In a sense, it can be easier to say the powerful words of “me too”.

As a person living with cerebral palsy, I have battled depression for over the past ten or more years of my life. And yes, suicidal thoughts have been a part of that. I have even spent days in a hospital, in an attempt to try and balance out the disconnection of my thoughts and brain chemistry. I’m not ashamed or afraid to admit these things, and I certainly do not care if that causes people to think that I’m crazy or weird.

We are all broken people, the simple fact is that we have a choice to confess it, seek help and live in community and transparency. Dealing with both cerebral palsy and suicidal thoughts, can be different in the sense that if you don’t have methods to simply escape for awhile or friends that can care and help. It can be all the more taxing. For people to simply state that depression and suicidal thoughts are selfish, is simply them missing the fuller picture.

People simply aren’t physical beings, or emotional beings and even chemicals. We are all of them at the same time, and we must learn that if one suffers, the rest suffer as well. Having cerebral palsy and not having healthy social structure, can lead to intense loneliness and even despair. Having no one around you that tries to understand can make it all the more taxing.

A pastor once told me that, despite how you feel, you have to step out first and ask for help and community. While that can be extremely difficult, I do believe that he was right. That does not mean then, that a friend, loved one or doctor cannot step into your darkness first. It simply means that most times, it require us to rely not on our own strength, wisdom and courage. But that of the divine, the creator of the universe, for guidance and healing.

In fact, in terms of recovery the very first step is to admit you in yourself are powerless.This is not a popular perspective, but I truly believe that this is where healing and recovery truly begins. Suicidal thoughts do not have to have victory over your life, you are not your cerebral palsy, you are not your thoughts. You are a person with a immense value and purpose.

So I implore you today, whether you have cerebral palsy, or some other condition and have been quiet about the thoughts that fill your mind, please talk to someone, call someone, even a crisis hotline if you have to. Corner someone until they actually listen to you. But do not give your thoughts another ounce of power, for you are far more valuable then all the gold in the world. Then to be constantly haunted by this ugly demon.

Please call this number if you need help: http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=619

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