My cousin a young, artistic, compassionate person, a mere 37 years old passed away last night due to an overdose of prescription medication. This is not something you expect to read all over FB first thing in the morning.
My cousin struggled with Bipolar and in his “goodbye letter” his final words were that of feeling tortured everyday and that he couldn’t take the hate and judgment. At times he was moody and a challenge that people felt like they had to walk on egg shells.
So much of this sounds painfully familiar. Sean had been dealing with this for about a decade and unfortunately had tried two other times to take his life. The moods are hard, and perhaps Sean didn’t know the tools to reach out to his support network. He didn’t like people knowing he had a mental illness.
There is a lot of shame that surrounds mental illness. I’ve said it many times in therapy, that the shame I feel for not being the person that everyone sees on the outside, to wanting my family to be proud of me. To having a sense of accomplishment. The vicious cycle that stops and starts, never-ending, it just goes around and around.
How often have I felt those words? How often have I said those words?
I have struggled today from a phone call from my Uncle, he wanted to let me know that there was a message from Sean. I remember feeling mixed emotions. Did I want to hear the message? What could my cousin have to say to me? I could not prepare myself, the words “Sean wants you to know he loves you”. I have never had anyone write a goodbye letter and mention me. It felt surreal, the tears started to well up, and then suddenly they stopped. I don’t know why they stopped, am I incapable of allowing myself to feel pain? Does being Bipolar rob me of feeling emotions?
I don’t know what inspired me today, but I made sure to take my dog for a walk, I took the time to talk out loud to my cousin. I asked if he realized the severity of what he had done. I have no way of knowing if he even heard me, but I felt that what I had to say what I was feeling out loud. I did a workout, I wanted to not allow myself the chance to fall backwards in my feelings. Yet, it was really hard to focus with being forward. Granted my program was an improved workout, it was still a struggle. The Voice telling me that in order lose, I have to work for it.
I wish I could turn back time, but that would be going into the past, and being mindful is of being in the present. It is not easy, it is bloody hard. I don’t know if I will get angry or if I will cry. I am feeling uncertain now.
He is (was? I struggle at looking at that very word) an amazing person, a spirit meant to sore and sore it is. But left behind the pieces of many hearts broken and shattered. It is this part of our mental illness that we don’t see and for that I apologize, in that moment where life seems as if it would truly be less painful, sometimes decisions are made that you can’t go back on. Suicide is a selfish means to and end. It is a conscious choice, yet the pain of what is inside of our soul, so trapped, that the torture felt can not be explained.
I know my cousin had felt hate and judgment. I also know what that feels like. People do not understand what it is like to have a mental illness, the stigma attached to what we have been diagnosed with is huge. I wish there was a button that people could press and become educated, to understand, to feel empathy. A lot of times we only want someone to hear, or to sit and give a hug.
Sean, although I don’t feel your choice was the right choice, I understand why you chose it. My love for you does not falter, will never go away. It is my wish that you are no longer in pain, that you are with our family at peace.