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Chris Cornell’s Suicide and Outrunning Your Demons…or not….

June 8, 2017

Chris Cornell, of grunge era’s Soundgarden fame and so much more, committed suicide in Detroit on May 17.

One of the best pieces I’ve encountered in the aftermath comes from Mike Zimmerman on, oddly enough or appropriately enough, the Men’s Health site. Zimmerman looks back 11 years to when he interviewed Cornell, and he writes —

Cornell’s suicide makes me wonder if guys can ever completely outrun their demons. You can fight, you can flee, you can drop countermeasures behind you, but can you win the race? He certainly tried: “For me, I always had one foot in this very dark, lonely, isolated world. Then about 8 years ago [he was 42 at the time of this interview] I got very dark and there was a ton of isolation. I had to do a lot of things I didn’t want to do. Like I had to admit that I made all the mistakes I assumed I would never make. I changed pretty much everything you can change. The city that I lived in, every person that I spent time with. I got a divorce, but then fell in love in a way that I didn’t know I was capable of, and then felt loved in a way I didn’t know I was capable of. I quit drinking, quit smoking. And suddenly I had all this energy.”

That release of creative energy fueled his Audioslave years. And it came from not from the depression, but the positivity of the changes he’d made. “I never felt like I had to be depressed or unhappy to write songs,” he said. “Now at this time in my life when I’m the most active in my relationship with my wife and my babies, I don’t slip into that type of depression anymore. And I’m having the best time I’ve ever had in terms of creativity and enjoying the process and feeling constantly inspired to do it.”

The positivity is what we need to hang onto. Cornell and I eventually got to the biggest thing he learned from battling those demons – and it’s a great lesson for all men. For him, coming out on the other side of a dark place meant having to open up, not shut down. It was a great monologue and from my perspective a much better parting shot than – with all due respect — a few Zeppelin lyrics:

“Most of the guys I grew up with ended up with the same struggles that I’ve had, which is you have every desire to communicate with your friends, family, with anyone, and absolutely no skill as to how to do it. And male-female relationships require that so much.”

“My experience is you have to allow the expression to come and not be so eager to check it or critique it or be embarrassed by it or shut it down. There’s risk in that.

“If I allow myself to get swept away into too much self-importance, self-involvement, just thinking about what’s going on with me, then that seems to bring on certain feelings. Suddenly I’m a little less than who I feel I really am. I’ve always been my own worst enemy in terms of having a negative attitude towards myself and what I could achieve.

“But if you keep your emotional life readily available and your relationships with people the same way, you don’t constantly bury your emotions and let things fester under the rug. I realized that if I can reveal my emotions in the songwriting world, then I can do it in the real world.”

— A lot happened to and within Chris Cornell in the years since he said those things.

Do you think people can “ever completely outrun their demons” or not?

As always, I welcome your input.

And as always, I hope to see you back here tomorrow.



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One Comment
  1. He was right (I believe we have the same diagnosis) when he said, “But if you keep your emotional life readily available and your relationships with people the same way, you don’t constantly bury your emotions and let things fester under the rug. I realized that if I can reveal my emotions …, then I can do it in the real world.”

    I falter in that I can only control my side of a current relationship. On days like yesterday, it is already adversarial and I walk a thin line to have shelter. Yesterday was one of those wrong if I do and wrong if I don’t scenarios. I have, when this rare occurrence happened, called or texted, only to be berated and asked what I wanted done, he was busy, “I’ll deal with it when I get there, stupid.” (I cleaned it up!)

    So, this time I waited, not sure what was wrong. It was much worse than when I would call. He couldn’t stop with the berating. Everything I said was fodder for another derision! I even mentioned the wrong whatever I do and he found one for that.

    I made a promise to never attempt again, but on those days I have to offer him up. I once heard a women express about her ill daughter, that when the girl was unmanageable and she could not reach her or help her, she would picture her as that tiny baby the nurses had handed over to her that day of her birth and she then hands her to God. It was her coping mechanism and I found it helpful with my elder daughter, I’m still working on the picture for the other and praying for that day a solution to my living arrangements prayer is answered.Yesterday, I simply pictured my hands over my ears, my knees up to my chest, and heavy sobs (none of that was physically visual, but the envision did help. If I had actually done it, the verbal abuse would have gotten worse.


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