Lead singer Jesse Leach of Killswitch Engage has gone public with his battle with mental illness, and the importance of having a language to discuss the topic. Celebrities such as Jesse Leach help raise awareness on traditionally taboo topics and empower others to identify and articulate similar experiences.
According to a recent article in Psychology Today:
It’s bad enough when we feel broken.
But when we have no way to understand and describe our pain and suffering, we can feel not only torn apart by our struggles but also lost and helpless. Worse, when people minimize or trivialize our experience we can become hopeless, convinced we’ll never find empathy or peace.
Such was the experience of Jesse Leach, the frontman of Killswitch Engage. Leach struggled with anxiety and depression throughout his life, but was not able to articulate his experience until he was an adult. Further, he felt that the people in his life did not understand the severity of his mental illness, and thus trivialized his pain. The result was that he suffered alone, driving him to consider suicide as the only means of escape. But Leach eventually found his voice and understood his mental illness, and connected with a community who empathized and aided him in his ongoing recovery. And now Leach is encouraging others to reach out and understand their struggles and find their language of mental illness.
Leach’s first experience with mental illness was witnessing his grandfather’s struggle with bipolar disorder. In retrospect, he was struck by the discrepancy between the severity of his grandfather’s condition with the relatively causal way it was described by his family.
“My grandfather was bipolar and we didn’t talk about it. It was just, ‘For the next four weeks—he’s in bed.’ And we’d walk in and he’d be watching I Love Lucy and just staring at the screen looking like he was lobotomized,” Leach told me. “And on the flip side he was out waterskiing with my grandmother’s dress on, the life of the party, passing out Snickers to all of the kids or taking us fishing at five in the morning, just manic. It wasn’t ‘Grandpa’s sick,’ it was just ‘That’s how he is.’ So we never had a language for it. And I look back and realize he had a mental illness.”
To continue reading this article on Psychology Today, click here.
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