With another birthday passing, I’m struggling with what could have been! Each time I attempt to write this or think about what I’m going to write, my eyes well up, my chest tightens and I get a knot in my shoulders. I suppose it’s a bit of anxiety at the thoughts of opening up and seeing it in black and white and reliving it all. His name is Anto, he was my older brother- one of my eight siblings and he took his own life at 20 years old in 2005. 12 years on and the pain doesn’t go away. Sure, I don’t have to write this, I could just block it out and distract myself with something else but what if someone reads this, takes something from it and feels a little different, then it’s worth it!
Death can bring up so many different emotions as you go through different stages of grieving. Some people feel hurt, anger, confusion, guilt- the list is endless but they are individual to each person and the stage they are at. Some people feel think suicide is a selfish act and hold anger but this is something I have never felt- how could I be angry at my brother for feeling so trapped that there was no way out of his own mind but to end it?! In the beginning, I felt lost, I didn’t know how I would get through it and I wished that he could have taken me with him, I wasn’t suicidal but I certainly didn’t want to be here going through it and seeing my whole family broken. I wanted to be with my brother and understand his hurt or take it away. A few weeks ago I was stopped at the place where he was found, I was on my way to an appointment. I was feeling great, happy at where I am in life, content and looking forward to so many things- things that didn’t even seem possible to me this time last year. Then I crumbled, I balled my eyes out from there all the way across the M50. I thought about how much my life has changed up and down over the years and yet he didn’t give himself that chance. He could have been anything he wanted to be, so much could have changed for him.
Suicide and Depression
I don’t think that they always have to go hand in hand. Teenagers, young women and men in particular go through tough times, and unfortunately they sometimes think that their problems are bigger than they are in the grand scheme of things. People can make life changing decisions in one impulsive moment. Life has some tough lessons to be learned and rough times to get through but trust that you are not alone! Sometimes you may find it hard to talk to friends or family for fear of being judged for your choices, your opinions, feeling weakened or exposed or just reliving a terrible time. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone you don’t know for those reasons. This is exactly what I did and it took the weight off my shoulders and gave me a new perspective on things.
Two important quotes
There are two things that were said to me since he has passed that still stand out to me today, the people who said it didn’t realise the impact it would have on me or how much it meant.
“Things can’t get any worse” – My sister Audrey to me on the way into the cemetery in the days following his death. This could be seen in 2 different ways but in hindsight this is how I feel. She was right, nothing could be worse at that moment and things could only one way- UP! As much as it didn’t feel like that at the time, experience has shown me that if I could get through that, I could get through anything.
“Anto’s life was more than what happened to him”- My boyfriend to me on one of the many occasions I was upset. He was right and this one thing made me completely change my way of seeing things. Up until that time, each time I thought of my brother, I crumbled when his name was mentioned, I thought of how we were all looking for him that day, how I knew something was wrong, I thought about the guards coming to the door with my Dad and brother and the distraught look on all of their faces including the young female guard who knew our lives were about to change for the worst. But Anto’s life was bigger than that day- in my 17 years, we had great times. We laughed way more than we did cry, and from that moment on, I chose to think of the good times when we mentioned his name.
I am an atheist- I believe that we have one life. Sometimes that life is shorter than we could ever imagine. Sometimes it’s taken in cruel circumstances and sometimes it’s taken before we understand our full potential and capabilities. At the young age of 20, my brother had his whole life ahead of him but in that moment his vision was blurred. He didn’t see a way out. He was wrong, but that’s no consolation and it’s an expensive price to pay for everyone. I don’t want my brothers life to be in vain, I want it to be a valuable lesson, and what I’ve taken from it is to do the best I can, live life to the fullest and do what makes me happy. There is no second chance and if you don’t push yourself to the limit now, when will you?! You are capable of anything and so much stronger than you think.
Only you have the power to change your mind – look after it!