The dreaded anniversary is almost here. It's been tough. I wanted to share my thoughts with you guys. This community has been amazing this past year, and I know you guys will hopefully agree/empathise with the sentiment here more than anyone else. Remember that you are loved, you are valued, you are worth more than you realise. <3 *** I know people don’t get it. I see the side eyed looks, and I see the patronising smiles. "Why has it upset you this much?" I hear them silently wonder. I didn’t know him after all – what was he really? A singer in a band I liked? But to so many of us, Chester Bennington was so much more than that. He was eloquence, and light, and hope personified. When we were children, teenagers, adults, who didn’t understand why we felt the way we did, why our minds worked the way they did, why it hurt so much in ways that other people didn’t want to know about, his voice brought to us the embodiment of everything that we felt but couldn’t articulate. Before social media took off, before people talked about mental health openly; for perhaps the first time, we were not alone. Other people out there suffered too. A lot of them, as it transpired. He brought us music, he brought us community and he brought us acceptance. Most importantly, to me, he brought me hope. Here was a man who had suffered so much, who still suffered, who had triumphed over his addictions and mental ill health to become a hero to millions around the world. He taught me that it could be done, that our journey was not pre-determined. When I thought I wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly, get out alive, his voice told me that there was hope. So when he died as he did, it hurt more than I think people on the outside looking in could ever hope to understand. I mourned for him, but I also mourned for myself, and for that hope. It confirmed, to me, every single one of my worst fears. That this was my end, too. That it is inevitable. Nothing I can do will ever let me outrun it – sooner or later it will catch up to me. In my darkest moments, I still believe that, and I wish that I didn’t. Chester Bennington was my hero, an insuppressibly bright light in this world; and maybe it was unfair of me, of us, to pin so much on Chester. We hear these people - people that we hold up as so much more than us - sing about things that feel so deeply personal, sometimes we forget that they are people like us, and we don’t own any part of them, even when they give us so much of their soul, the way that Chester did. People who are so open about their mental health, people who tell you when they are low, people with a "good" life and a loving support network aren't supposed to go like this; it feels like life reneged on some unspoken deal. The loss of Chester devastated a community, but it also brought out the best in us. I have seen so much goodness in the past year. Strangers who feel like family, bonded in the same strange grief that nobody understands, lifting each other in the darkness. That is Chester’s legacy. That is my new source of hope. Chester saved me before I even knew what it was that I needed saving from. He gave me a past, a present and a future, and I know I'm not alone in that. There are likely hundreds, maybe thousands of people who exist today because of Chester Bennington, and those like him. I think that someone like Chester Bennington creates ripples of change that never truly leave us - they create a permanent mark on the world. He saved me then and he'll keep on saving me. In every song, in every kindness shown to one another, in every advancement in mental health awareness, he'll continue to save those of us that sometimes need a hero. If you are struggling, know that you are never alone, and that there is always hope, if you can just hold on long enough to see it.