Tomorrow and the next day are two of the hardest days of the year for me.
July 10th and 11th might just be days of the week to most people. Until five years ago, they were just two more summer days to me. To my family.
Five years ago, on a warm Thursday evening, my brother waved goodnight to me and walked upstairs to his room where he typed a final letter to his estranged wife and hung himself in his closet while I slept in the room right across the hall.
The next morning I found him after a co-worker had come to check on him.
Those 24 hours changed my life beyond any other single event. In one act, numerous peoples’ lives changed. I lost my brother, one of my closest friends. My sister lost her hero, as did my young son. My step father lost his first born, the son that was most like him. A brother, an uncle, a nephew, a friend, a grandson, a lover- all were lost to us.
My brother had been battling a dark depression fed by the break up of his marriage. Though just days earlier he had promised to not harm himself and we had thought he was maybe coming back to us, he still took his life.
Depression and mental illness can be crippling. So often we look okay on the outside without ever giving clues to the battle being waged in our minds. We don’t want to look weak, we don’t want to bother our loved ones, we think we can handle it ourselves.
It is NOT weak to reach out, it’s a sign of strength to realize that this is not a battle that should be fought alone. It is NOT a bother to your friends and family. They love you and WANT to help, they just need to know you want help.
WE CANNOT BATTLE DEPRESSION ALONE.
Nor do we have to. There are hotlines and agencies that can help if you feel like you have no one.
From the very bottom of my heart, I beg you to reach out. Don’t leave your family like my brother did. I’m here to tell you, it’s not better without him. I miss him each and every day with a bone deep ache. He’s missed births and family events. He won’t be there for my wedding, instead there will just be an empty chair where he should be. He won’t get to see my son go on to join the Air Force just like his favorite uncle. He’ll never get to hold the babies he so desperately wanted to father.
All because he listened to those lies that depression spread within his mind.
Please, if you’re battling with depression or mental illness, REACH OUT. You are not alone. We’re here to help.