“It reminds me of the dark that I've gone weary
So many ways to save the day but it eludes me
How did I get here, how did I fall?
Such a blur from the memories, plagues that I belong”
—From “Where Revenge Ends” by 36 Crazyfists
Brock Lindow, vocalist of the heavy metal band 36 Crazyfists, has struggled with depression on and off throughout his life. Lindow feels that his depressive episodes often were triggered by loss—both through death and loss of relationships.
“I believe my parents splitting up when I was in 9th grade may have been my first real dealings with true sadness. I became aggressive at times and was finding myself more as a person who was getting into fights often,” Lindow told me. “I lost my grandmother and mother about 30 days from each other and without question that was a very dark time for me. I have had plenty of death in my life, losing our original bass player in the first year of our band and plenty of friends all within a couple years of each other has been difficult to process at times and certainly was as a young man...and I found myself being asked for divorce by my wife after being together for 13 years.
“Life was punching me right in the mouth.”
Finding the loss and sadness too difficult to manage, Lindow often turned to substance abuse and aggression to dampen his feelings. “Well, of course, I tried it all to numb the pain of loss and failure. I have had many bouts with substance abuse and by all accounts, I have always been a heavy drinker so it was a natural band-aid to lean on,” Lindow said. “I was on a trip with my hockey team to Buffalo, New York, when I got into a fist fight mid-flight with a college student sitting in front of me. I remember many people wanting me kicked off the plane...When I landed in Anchorage, I was told the police would be waiting for me but as I walked off the plane there weren't any to be found.
“Wouldn't have worked out very well for me had this same thing happened modern day.”
And by failing to hold himself accountable for his own destructive behavior, Lindow found that he held grudges against others. But as time went on, Lindow was able to turn to forgiveness as a new coping strategy.
“Holding onto these grudges—these empty calories of sorts—has never allowed me to move forward and through certain conversations with people I truly respect,” he explained. “I was able to start owning my mistakes, my head started to lift itself a little bit higher and my mental fragility began to start moving out of my head. I read a great quote about holding onto grudges and it made a lot of sense to me as well as helped me start turning the corner in my life. It read, ‘Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.’ That was something that truly resonated with me.”
One of the reasons that Lindow was able to evolve from self-destructive behavior to become more introspective and forgiving was that many of the people in his life stuck with him. “What I have found in all my experience of trudging through the mud is that I have the most amazing friends and family. They have been there for me more times than I deserve,” Lindow described. “And once I realized that I needed help I found that having the hard conversations, burning through the feelings of being ashamed and embarrassed is a cleansing of sorts. The old saying, ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going,’ couldn't resonate truer in my search for personal peace.”
Lindow explored some of his feelings in 36 Crazyfists’ new album Lanterns. “We have a song called "Where Revenge Ends" and it stems from the quote I spoke of earlier,” he said. “It's self-evaluation, it's a man trying to retrace his step but those steps had been blurred by substance abuse. And without the support group that I have, I may not have been here to discuss where I was and where I am today.”
The journey is not ending for Lindow. He knows that he must struggle with sadness and addiction for the rest of his life and continue to work on understanding himself and how he relates to others.
“I'm always working on it, I know who I am and how I can easily slip into the paths that have to lead me down the wrong way. I have certain alarms in me now that remind me of those paths and I try and listen to them very intuitively as I move forward,” Lindow explained. “I am a father to the most wonderful little girl and she has been such a light source for me. I know I have to be the best I can be for her.”
And Lindow encourages those who struggle with issues such as depression and substance abuse to seek out others—both for support and for the opportunity to process feelings. “I believe everyone struggles differently but I think one thing remains true no matter what the issues are, we need each other. People need people, keeping your struggles bottled up has never proved to be healthy for me,” Lindow described. “And once you come to terms with acceptance and ownership of who you are and what you have done to drive yourself to your low points, and you can express them with people who love you and encourage you.
“Hopefully, you will start finding your way out.”