Late Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots singer Chester Bennington’s widow Talinda was recently interviewed by Zane Lowe on Apple Music‘s Beats 1. She told a funny story about Chester and Brad Pitt, it is in the PT 4 quote seen in the recap below.
ZANE: What does a day like Chester’s birthday mean to you? So many complex emotions going around I’m sure. So how do you feel in a day like like 3/20?
TALINDA: I don’t know, the feelings are unexpected and overwhelming. I guess that’s the best way I could put it. I didn’t think I was going to be so emotional over his birthday. He has, anybody who knew Chester knew that Chester didn’t really like to celebrate his birthday. Every time I brought a cake out, he at some point you know he’d give me that cute little side eye roll like OK. He just never enjoyed celebrating it, but you know the kids myself we always did. So part of me thought that you know we’d be able to push through just like any other day and you know we’d like light a candle for him and the kids will draw a card and write down their wishes and put them in their wish box for him. You know but today, today has a lot of feelings.
ZANE: So 3/20 Changes Direction is your way to reach out to people in a way that Chester reached out to people through his music. And I always felt very much like Chester really shared overwhelmingly any fears he had through his music and it’s something that people really responded to. He must have been very proud of that fact, to know that he was helping people with his music and I always got a sense that he felt a purpose to.
TALINDA: He did, absolutely. Yeah you hit the nail on the head. He absolutely did. He loved what he did. It healed him, it gave him purpose, and the biggest thing for him was to help other people. You know he wasn’t always helping you know on stage and through his music, I mean at home he was involved in Philanthropic work and also involved in just helping out our kids at school. He just always wanted to help and make someones day brighter. There’s this little man that every morning, 7:45, like clockwork stands in his front yard and he waved good morning to everybody driving by dropping their kids off at school and Chester would go, we’d have to drive a little bit of the way to see him and he would always get excited and get the kids pumped up and say I’m going to be that old man one day, making people’s day. And that’s really how he’d be life. Like he just wanted to make everybody’s day brighter.
ZANE: One of the things I really admire about what 320 Changes Direction is, is the fact that it has very specific goals. I think there has to be very specific information put in front of people otherwise it just becomes a conversation. And I think that bringing these five signs into the conversation and then talking about five activities and actions that you can do in order to minimize those is really interesting
TALINDA: Well, Change Direction was already started. It was founded by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen. She created an organization called the Give an Hour which made a call to action to mental health professio nals to provide one hour of their professional time to veterans coming back from war. That later expanded to helping the families as well. And then she was asked to work with Michelle Obama to help create a new way of talking about mental health. And there was a meeting with politicians and Senators alike at the White House, and they created Change Direction. Changed Direction, the motto is literally to change the direction of mental health culture. That’s from how we speak about it to how we offer our mental healthcare services and how we educate our kids about it. And when I spoke with Dr. Barbara for the first time I fell in love with her. Just like, this is exactly what I want to do. I feel like if we could talk about it more, if it was de-stigmatized, if it was wasn’t so much shame, I feel like you know my husband’s life and mine and our family’s would have been a lot different.
ZANE: Chester was so honest in his music about these things he was going through. Did he feel he could be honest outside of his music, do you think as well? Was he open?
TALINDA: Yes. He was absolutely an open book, a little too much so at times. He was too much too soon guy. I’ll never forget, we met Brad Pitt and we were having lunch with him and I was getting coffee and getting my husbands coffee prepared how he likes it. Chester’s like, babe? I look at him and he’s like I’m telling him the Bon Jovi story and the Bon Jovi story is like the funniest story because I’m the biggest Bon Jovi fan ever since I was like 11 and about 10 years ago Chester arranged an opportunity for me to meet him and I was so nervous that I walked over and I pretended like I was on the phone and Chester’s like yeah this is the wife, Talinda, and I couldn’t be bothered. I just kind of glanced up, was like hey. So long story short, Jon Bon Jovi just assumed that Chester really was a super fan. Chester walks out of his trailer wearing all like Jon’s jersey and indoor football arenas swag and you know it was just so funny. So it’s like the most embarrassing story and here he was telling it to Brad Pitt, of all people and they had just met. We just got our coffee and I looked at him and I’m like why are you telling him that story. And he’s just like just laughing. And I just look at Mr. Pitt or Brad, I mean I don’t know what the heck to call him at this point, the guy knows the most embarrassing story you know. So he’s just that guy.
TALINDA: One thing he didn’t do was, excuse me, one of the goals of what I’m trying to help change is he didn’t talk too much about the feelings that weren’t they happy feelings, at home.He had a lot of shame. I remember in the early years our marriage he went to rehab and you know I remember him saying I don’t want to be an alcoholic. Alcoholics were something else, right? He didn’t want to be that. And then with depression, like he didn’t want to be depressed. He didn’t want to, like no, that was somebody else and that somebody else had all these negative stigma surrounding them. As somebody who lived with him, day in and day out, I saw his struggles and I mean I didn’t understand them. I don’t suffer from depression and I’m not an addict. So I really just didn’t know what to do. I thought you know, he’d have anxiety attacks. And I remember not understanding that. I would get irritated and tell him to just breathe, you’re fine. You know, all the stuff that I know better not to do now. But I believe most people don’t know better. And so one of my favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou, “when you know better, you do better”. You know through my marriage with Chester I’ve learned and through his death I also learned how could my seemingly totally blissful happy husband go home and take his life, like I had to try to learn something. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to normalize it. It needs to be normalized. These feelings, we all have them.
TALINDA: One of my favorite analogies, I actually gave it to my son, he just turned 12 on Friday, and a couple months ago he asked me about 320 and he was trying to understand it and what my goal was with trying to teach others about mental health because you know he has his therapist and he’s actually extremely emotionally healthy, in large part thanks to her. But he just wanted to know about what I was doing. So I said think about it like this, think about your physical body your arms your legs your head your brain, but that’s a car. What’s your favorite kind of car? And he said Mercedes AMG and I said OK. So your body is a Mercedes AMG, what color? Black. Alright, what kind of rims? He’s like silver with gold brakes. OK, cool. So what would happen if you got a dent in your car or somebody hit you or you’ve got a flat tire. He said well I’d get it fixed. So what would happen if you twisted your ankle or you broke your arm, or you cut your hand? Well I’d go to the doctor and get it fixed. Right. So you would get your body fixed just like you’d get your car fixed. I said, did you know that seat belts weren’t always required in cars? He was like What? And I said yeah. I said it wasn’t until 1968 that a federal law was passed saying that every car manufacturer needed seat belts. Why do you think that we needed seat belts? He was just like, because people were getting hurt? Yeah, people we’re getting hurt. Who do you think was insisting that we have seat belts? He said, the car company? Well think again buddy because the car companies, they weren’t getting hurt. They would just have to spend a lot of money updating their cars. And he thought about it a little more, he said it was the people that were getting hurt. I said yeah, the people are getting hurt, but there are a lot of people dying. Who spoke up for that? He just looks at me and he says the families of the people that died. That’s right. So the families of the people that died spoke up. They made organizations. They got loud and got loud across the country and they lobbied on the Hill and they got this changed because passengers in a car need seat belts for safety. Now I want you to think of your mental health as the passenger in the car and in life a car wreck could be something that happened to you, in your case Tyler, you were broadsided by a semi-rig on July 20th and while you didn’t have any external damages your body, inside your body, your mental health was highly effected. There are ways to take care of that too. And he said mom, so 320 is like people putting seat belts on a mental health? I said yeah, pretty much.
ZANE: How can people get involved in 3/20 and what would you love people to do?
TALINDA: For Chester’s birthday, I would love for everybody to take a minute to visit ChangeDirection.com and learn the five healthy habits of emotional well-being. Then once you’ve done that, take a selfie holding up your hand and write “I am the change” on your hand and post that to all of your social media outlets. Hashtag 320ChangesDirection, hashtag ChangeMentalHealth, hashtag MakeChesterProud. That symbolizes that you have taken a moment to understand what the five healthy habits are and also knowing the five signs of emotional distress. Because they’re two different things. One is when you’re in distress or somebody you know is in distress and it’s understanding those five simple signs. The other five simple sings are your healthy habits of emotional well-being and that will keep you mentally healthy. When you don’t take care of your mental health that can be a catalyst to jump into a mental illness. If you’re prone to it, genetically prone to it, if you already have it. So mental health and mental illness are two separate things. Mental illness is at the point where you need care. Mental health is something that you can take care of. Stay on top of it.