Updated: Aug 12, 2019
*Trigger Warning* Suicide, Depression
My journey with mental health and mental illness began when I was either 10 or 11 years old. That is when I was told that my paternal grandfather had completed suicide in June of 1999, when I was 5 months old. Up until then I obviously knew that he had passed away but I was unaware of the cause. When my dad told me I remember feeling a flood of emotions, mainly confusion and sadness at seeing my dad hurting. At that point in my life I had very little concept of suicide and I found the entirety of it hard to understand. My dad worked me through it all, explaining me how my grandpa was really hurting and how he thought that was what he needed to do. My dad also made a point to tell me how depression and mental health runs in families. He wanted to ensure that if I was ever feeling sad or down that I would reach out for help. My dad has always been willing to give me the help that I ask for and often the help that I didn’t ask for or really thought at the time was helping.
The second part of my journey with mental health began in January of 2012 when my older brother, Cameron, completed suicide at the age of 15. I had just turned 13 the month before and was just starting to find where I fit in and with who. Cameron’s death was a hard thing to process and to take in over the next couple years for everyone in my family. We each dealt with it in different ways. My mom was much more open with her feelings and struggles while my dad and I both internalized our hurt. My father and I are both stubborn and independent people who take pride in the fact we can do things ourselves.
My grieving process over my brother’s death has taken me a long time to get through. At this point in my life, almost 7 years after he died, I would say that I have accepted what happened. While it is hard every day that he is not here, I have come to terms with what has happened. I never would have been able to get through it though without the people that have surrounded me. My family and true friends have been with me every step of the way. They have encouraged me to ask for help when I need it, allowed me to open up to them, and sometimes even forced me to do things that I didn’t want to do in order to help myself. I am positive that I would not be here today without the support system I have had through my life and am incredibly grateful for all they have done for me.