Pop Punk Icon Has ‘Severe’ Depression Like Chris Cornell & Chester Bennington: ‘Medication Didn’t Help’

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Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick discussed depression in a new interview with Kerrang.

“The doctor wanted to put me on anxiety medication, and it was a drug that I’d heard of and knew people took. That medication didn’t help me, so they switched me to something else, and that helped me a little bit for a few weeks, and what the doctor told me was that there’s no magic pill – we had to find what was right for me. That conversation in and of itself was frustrating for me, because it seemed so experimental.

After a year and a half of all that was when the clinical diagnosis of severe depression came. The doctor and my therapist both agreed on the diagnosis, and it was like a lightning crash – they would describe the symptoms of depression, and I literally had all of them. That was hard for someone like me to take: to be ‘the funny guy’, to be the guy in Bowling For Soup that tells the fart jokes, to be the guy that walks into the room and no matter what can turn it on and make everyone laugh… to be told that I had depression was like a punch to the stomach.”

He later said, “I wasn’t worried so much about any stigma before I got help – it was more me being stubborn. I thought I could work it out on my own. I equate it to my dad who hates doctors: his knee was hurting for two years, but it wasn’t until he literally couldn’t get out of bed that he finally went and saw the doctor. What other people thought of me never really bothered me, because, at the time, I wasn’t anticipating putting it out into the world. I was planning on my interviews forever revolving around Bowling For Soup being the greatest band that ever lived, and our album being the greatest album of all time. I just wanted to continue doing what we do.

But, interestingly, you used the word ‘stigma’ in your question, and a friend of mine started a Facebook page called Louder Than Stigma. He’s a musician and psychologist, and he put out a post to all our musician friends in Dallas, saying, ‘If you’d ever consider talking about anything – substance abuse, anxiety, depression… whatever – get in touch.’ And it just caught me on a weird day – I emailed him back and said, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready for this or not, but what’s the plan with this project?’ He said, ‘I just wanna sit you down and film you talking about your issues, and when we’re done I’ll put it together, and if you don’t want it to go out into the world, it doesn’t have to.’ So I thought, ‘Fuck it – I’ll do it.’ When I sat down with him and began talking in front of that camera, it was like another weight being lifted off me – my lungs felt like they held more oxygen as I walked out of that room. I called my wife afterwards and said, ‘Holy shit! It feels like I just got out of a two and a half hour yoga session!’ I thought it was such a great thing this friend of mine was doing, and I thought that, given all the amazing things people have given me to help me have a great career, I owed it to people to be honest about myself. I knew there were people out there who were affected by mental health and who listened to my music, so I told him to put the video out there. I never even watched it.

What’s funny about that is immediately after the video went out, I messaged my publicist and said, ‘I don’t want every interview I do now to be about mental health.’ Since then, I’ve ended up telling my story a bunch of times! But I’ve ended up deciding that, if people want to lead with and talk about my mental health experiences, let’s do it, because things are too fucked up right now. Chris Cornell is gone, Chester is gone – and that’s just the high profile people. What about the kid that sends me an email saying they’re having a bad day and I don’t see it… how do I get to that kid? So I’ve decided, ‘Fuck it’ – whoever wants to talk about this, bring it on. I’m very thankful to Kerrang! for having this conversation with me.”

  • Olga Stewart

    Jaret, thank you for deciding to both open up about your own struggles with depression and for reaching out to others.

  • makingconnections

    I’m with Olga, Thank You.

    We seem to have an epidemic of depression and anxiety in our world today and the musicians have been talking about it very openly for the past few months. I’ve read everything on Alternative Nation by artists trying their best to share their feelings…some have been helpful, others have been harsh and not so helpful. This is one of the best, very hopeful and sincere and I hope many people read it.

    • Olga Stewart

      You’re welcome.

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  • Allison Mandel- Giampietro

    I know it sounds awful but millions of people suffer from depression and anxiety every day. Half of them do not have the type of money or privilege that they have. We all suffer. However, those who have this level of fame and money are probably at a disadvantage because people enable them instead of helping them. I have to force myself out of bed cause no one there is to spoon feed me or pay my bills. What about all the other people who suffer but somehow have to carry on ?

    • makingconnections

      It’s important to try to find help and to find the right doctor. You owe it to yourself and personally, as a member of society I feel it’s my responsibility to fight for healthcare for all people. It’s an ongoing issue but thankfully in my city if a person goes to Emergency they will be cared for, regardless of income. If that doesn’t happen where you are, join one of the many groups trying to make good healthcare for all happen. We can’t wait for those in position of authority to do the right thing; I believe it has to come from the bottom up…with the help of someone like Bernie Saunders of course.

      When you are feeling better, you won’t feel anyone needs to be spoon fed unless they’re sick. This really is an epidemic.

      • Kay B

        Agree. We have touched on this before. The people running the US have to get their heads out of their asses and make healthcare…all healthcare affordable and available to everyone. Maybe after these 4 long ass years something will happen.

        • makingconnections

          There will be no extra money for healthcare if those in power give extra breaks to the wealthy as the news we get here seems to suggest. You know when you think of the big changes for good that have happened in the world, it’s been grassroots efforts that were so powerful that the leaders had no choice but to respond. I think of Gandhi’s leading of the people of India to kick the British out. If so many other democracies can take care of their people (not perfectly but fairly most of the time), the supposed leader’s of the free world should be able to do it.

      • Trovoid

        Definitely Makingconnections. I agree healthcare should not be an issue like it currently is in the states.. Another thing a lot of people seem to miss as well is that we should also be researching about other drugs/treatments.

        Antidepressants don’t work for everybody and can have lasting side effects. I am not trying to discredit any of you on Alt. Nation who have had their lives improved by antidepressants. I am just saying there are illicit drugs and alternative treatments that could be regularly and safely moderated and they could be more promising for mental health. Ayahuasca, Psilocybin, Ecstasy, Ketamine, LSD. Instead the FDA and DEA lobby against harmless plants like Kratom because they can’t cash in on it and tax it. They trick us citizens into thinking harmless things are extremely dangerous. Meanwhile all of these bastards are responsible for the opioid epidemic. Alcohol and cigarettes are always off the hook. Even Tylenol kills more people than something like Kratom. (Kratom has never directly on its own killed someone. The stories coming out are believed to be false).

        Rant over.. I’m having an angry day, feeling hopeless and frustrated with our disgusting joke of a media lately. If you question anything you become a conspiracy theorist. But I feel all of the bs is slowly being revealed. We live in an age where people are doing their own researching and thinking. Hopefully everyone else starts to wake up. I feel so frustrated with the times. It seems nothing is done in our best interest. As you know I have, like many, dealt with mental illness and it upsets me knowing that I’m limited to what they’re willing to prescribe me. It is hard for me to trust anyone in this day and age..

        • makingconnections

          There is definitely more research needed into drugs that are less harmful to some people than antidepressants can be. There’s very little research done on migraine, a problem for me. Sometimes it seems doctors do a lot of profiling..not all, but some…you’ve got your mental health people and your headache people and they have 20 minutes to try to help you. It’s not adequate here and we’re better off here than the US, because of the fact that we don’t have the financial burden. The opioid crisis is horrible and many people are taking to the street here to treat pain with street drugs because their physicians have tapered them off because of the nasty word that pain medication of any sort is….we always swing so far when we try to improve our situation. People are suffering because the whole scene has become so political and doctors are afraid of being charged if they prescribe even small amounts.
          I think that we have to seriously organize and start advocating for each other. Anyone that has any success fighting the “powers that be” should help those who are too sick to speak for themselves. We have to take charge and be responsible for each other if we can’t count on our elected representatives to do it. Maybe they’ll be embarrassed by their gutless efforts and ordinary people doing a better job. I’m angry too. We call ourselves civilized countries! In the meantime, take care of yourself…I send you all the best wishes I have.

          • Trovoid

            I completely agree, I don’t even have much to add to what you said. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles with migraines. There really needs to be more research done on a lot of things. We are deceived by greedy old-fashioned thinking wealthy liars on a day to day basis. The ones who want to help aren’t usually the same ones with that type of power unfortunately. We gotta do whatever we can I suppose and try to be heard in some sense. I send you the best wishes as well.

          • makingconnections

            For me, my personal challenge is to not lose hope and to not be bitter. Bitterness can grab hold of you and soon you’re unable to lend anyone a hand up because you’re sort of full of negativity and barely able to deal with yourself. I am determined to not go down that road!

          • Trovoid

            Great philosophy to have 🙂
            Negativity does indeed become a vicious cycle. We can never lose hope for that is giving up. It is hard to care for others when you don’t care about yourself, absolutely.

          • makingconnections

            I’ve obviously glimpsed that road if I’m so determined not to go down it! My First Nations friends call it “The Black Road”, and it comes in many forms. So many people think it just refers to addiction but I think it comes in many different shades of black dealing with emotional problems as well.

          • Olga Stewart

            I’ve heard of depression being called ‘The Black Dog’.

            And sometimes when I have felt really depressed, I’ve also felt bitter.

            So I do believe they are connected.

          • Olga Stewart

            Like you, I also suffer from migraines.

            So I understand the pain such that you deal with in regards to this.

            And I am very sorry.

        • Olga Stewart

          I am sorry to hear of your frustration with what can be prescribed for treating depression.

          And yes, I well understand about trust issues.

          I trust our (my husband’s and my) cats more than I do some humans.

          • Trovoid

            Humans are overrated. Your cats will always unconditionally love you. And they won’t go around creating stupid laws and wars!

          • makingconnections

            How right you are Trovoid. I always think of the unconditional love of a pet when someone loses a pet and their grief is so deep. They love you every day every minute, these dogs and cats we love.

          • Olga Stewart

            Having lost two cats, I know how deep the pain and hurt goes.

            It was heartbreaking for both my husband and I to see them both go.

          • makingconnections

            Yes, it’s so hard. They say it’s worse when you have to have a pet “put down” and I’ve found that to be true.

          • Olga Stewart

            Our second cat had to be put to sleep

            And that was one of the worst days of my life, emotionally.

          • makingconnections

            I have a friend who said to her husband: “Just treat me half as good as you do the dog.” We always laugh at such black humour stuff…it’s the only thing we can do sometimes!

          • Trovoid

            That’s how I am with some of my friends and peers. I try to laugh at whatever I can and find humor in the bleakest of situations.

            And I’d say that’s a reasonable request from your friend 🙂

  • gabbi castellano

    I don’t think he’s that famous to kill himself yet so I’d hold off the meds first… but hey, whatever gets you clicks and likes right?

    • makingconnections

      Every now and then the truly ugly people come out.

      • Olga Stewart

        Indeed.

        • makingconnections

          Happy Trails Olga…you raise the bar on this site. You’ll be missed.

        • Kay B

          Olga take some time off and come back. It is real easy for people like gabbi to sit behind a screen and pretend to know all about depression. She is the only snowflake on here and I’m about to piss on her.

          • Olga Stewart

            It’s not just her.

            There have been others on here who have been abusive towards me.

          • HippieChic61

            Sorry to hear that. Even though we may not always agree, i enjoy reading your comments.

        • makingconnections

          Olga, please consider that Gabbi could very well be a person who has multiple monikers and is the same person who has lashed out or been hurtful before. Not 3 different mean people–just one.

          • Olga Stewart

            It’s not just her but some others on here as well.

          • Kay B

            It was good to know you Olga. Take care of yourself.

            “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
            ― Mahatma Gandhi

          • makingconnections

            I hope I talk to you again Olga. I have the feeling that the person that has been hurtful is actually the same person changing her name and trying out different personalities, just to entertain themselves or to feel powerful; who knows why. I doubt we’ll hear from Gabbi again, but we’ll hear from her calling herself something else.

        • Trovoid

          I’m sorry that people were cruel to you Olga. I saw some of the nasty comments. This site has grown a lot over the years so a bunch of the crazies have unfortunately found it and started commenting. I wish you the best.

          • Olga Stewart

            Thank you, as that’s most appreciated.

    • Pam Meckley

      Gabbi: Better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and erase all doubt. There is nothing remotely amusing about having depression.

      • gabbi castellano

        Boo hoo…harden up snowflake. Funny, you rarely see starving people in poor countries killing them themselves just because they’re sad. Depression is a first world dillema.

        • Elena Fedele

          Hello from the continent with starving people. Contrary to your belief, many poor people in my country and others do in fact commit suicide. Many of the children I teach in disadvantaged areas self harm. One of my former pupils was murdered and his dad died from a heart attack two days later. His mom has strength I can only dream of – despite her debilitating depression, she gets up daily and goes to work. She often speaks of joining her son but stays because of her three girls.
          I hope you never experience paralysing depression as it is literally hell on earth.

          • Kay B

            Thank you for your comment.

          • Elena Fedele

            Be safe and have a peaceful day. With love from Africa 🌍🇿🇦

          • gabbi castellano

            Wow, i’d be sad if that were to happen to me…but then again, did she kill herself? No?…Did these so called rockstars lose a loved one? No?… So it ain’t exactly the same is it…

          • Elena Fedele

            We often chat at 2am when she can’t sleep and is missing her son and husband more than she can bear. She speaks of joining them but realises her girls need her here. But her situation is different to anybody else’s. Even someone else who has lost a son and husband, as each person’s pain and way of dealing with it is different. Chris and Chester had their own demons, as we all do. I don’t want to anger anyone on this board but feel we have no right to judge anybody for their decisions. We don’t live their lives and weren’t in their heads when they took their final decisions. Please look after yourselves, everyone and love from me to you all 🇿🇦

        • makingconnections

          I guess we have to monitor ourselves here. I’m surprised Brett allows your comments to stand….they are offensive and ignorant. Depression and suicide have been part of the human condition for as long as we’ve been recording our experiences. I remember being in a museum in Greece looking at a beautiful statue of a long-ago King’s lover. He committed suicide because he thought he wasn’t loved any longer. It was probably two thousand years old.

          • gabbi castellano

            I’m sorry I offended you little snowflake…please don’t melt! Please delete my comment Brett! I’m a heartless snowflake killer! Oh how my life is ruined now! I’ll let myself out now…live free little sbowflakes!

          • makingconnections

            No need to apologize. I understand that there are angry and sad people in the world who lack compassion. I hope life improves for you.

          • HippieChic61

            Are you 10 years old or just extremely immature?

          • Kay B

            Say snowflake one more time and I’ll punch ya.

          • makingconnections

            I think gabbi has gone away to come back as another commenter.

          • Kay B

            If she truly thought what she stated was right or wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed of what she states she would stop changing her name. She sounds like an uneducated fool.

          • makingconnections

            …or a troubled person…whoever they are. It’s noticeable that whenever the antagonistic comments come, so do the Google ads. Some sort of game is being played but people get hurt in the meantime. That’s the sad part.

          • Olga Stewart

            How does one deal with multiple online personas anyhow?

            Is there a support group?

            I know I joke (and I’m sorry about that). But honestly, how can one person keep track of some many personas online?

          • makingconnections

            Wow, I hope there’s not that many of them to need a support group, but maybe?
            I think there are ways of doing all sorts of things on-line and sometimes I think the nuisance person here works in the industry. Maybe they’re bored at work. Maybe they just like to toy with people.
            If they really want attention they can reply in what they think is a clever way to their own comment with a different moniker.

          • Olga Stewart

            If you are replying to your comments, then something is off.

          • Olga Stewart

            Ah but I like snowflakes. :).

            **Runs to the corner.**

    • Olga Stewart

      Please go and look up with compassion is.

      The reason being?

      You don’t have it.

      And one day you may need it.