January 5, 2018 – What is it like to be a survivor of suicide loss? It’s something no one will ever be able to understand unless they have personally experienced it themselves.
I barely survived losing you: my brother. My best friend. The other half of my heart. It had taken me 25 years to develop and grow into the person I was, and then, in one moment, you were gone forever.
When you left, the person I had been was gone forever, too. I had to start over. I had to try to live again in this world without you.
After you left, I developed severe anxiety, panic disorder, and depression. The normal, everyday tasks I had done before became impossible. I couldn’t even get out of bed most days. I was afraid of everything. I was afraid of the world. I was afraid of death.
Every morning, I woke up and had to convince myself that this was my life now, without you.
It’s been two years, and I am still in the shock phase of the grieving process. Most days I still can’t believe you left me.
I had never known what it was to have a mental health condition. It seemed like something that was never talked about, either in school, in our family, or the world in general. I always knew you were in pain, but I never understood what that pain was until you left me.
Since losing you, the physical symptoms I get from my anxiety have caused me to go to the emergency room five times in the last two years. Every time I have an anxiety attack, I experience chest pain, numbness, tingling. I get light headed. It’s hard to breathe. I get severe leg pain. I feel like at any moment, I could have a heart attack and die.
I realize now that you had to live with psychological symptoms like this your whole life. I don’t know how you did it. You were so brave and so strong. You were always so silent. We never knew the depths of your struggles.
I do now.
I want to end the stigma that still sometimes exists around mental illness. We live in a world where people are so accepting of any body part breaking down, with the exception of our brains. People who are physically ill take medicine or get other kinds of treatment. I want others to know it’s okay to talk about mental health and get treatment for it. There are so many resources out there. Help is always available.
I am still here. I have survived. No one day is alike. Some days I feel like I’ve taken three steps ahead, then the next day as though I’ve taken eight steps back. But I have a lot of wonderful people who have helped me get through this.
I still struggle every day to try to live without you, but I know one day I will be more at peace with my life.
It’s a struggle, but it won’t always be like that.
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