I have struggled with depression for nearly 8 years now. And some days are more manageable than others. I’d been through therapy, countless doctors visits, and a solid list of medications. Though now I’ve been off medication for almost a year. I was so proud of what I was able to get through this last year without feeling dependent on medication. I lost my grandmother in the fall, and a month before that I lost my uncle to suicide. And I wasn’t okay, but I was still okay enough.
By December I had graduated my undergrad program and I was looking forward to starting graduate studies for the fall of 2019. But in February, things got rough. Two years ago my younger cousin, “little brother”, and best friend was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer. And he began an impossible fight. A few weeks ago he passed away after the longest 5 months of our lives. February was a slap in the face – he had been doing so well until he suffered a stroke one morning getting ready for school. He lost most expressive communication then, though he could still understand us for the majority of the time. When he was finally home from the hospital a week later, I moved in with my aunt and cousin, and his older sister. I’d spent the last 5 months sleeping on their living room couch. Feeding him. Getting him medication. Talking to him. Sitting with him to watch shows. Teaching him ukulele. Anything I could to keep normalcy in his life. Anything I could to make this time easier. Anything I could to be there for him. And my aunt. And his sister, my best friend of 20 years. The only times I’d leave the house was to go to work, which became absolute torture in the last few months as any time I was away, it was like I was still stuck in the room with him. When he passed I was the one in the room with him, holding his hand, and stroking his hair – trying to calm him. He was trying so hard to say something though he couldn’t speak anymore. I can’t seem to get the moans out of my mind, nor the look in his sweet eyes. All I do want to remember is the feeling of his hand in mine. And while I have our memories, all the memories hurt now. He’s in a better place, but I only want him here.
I’m not okay, I am more not okay than I have been in years. And I know it’s from grief, it’s from anxiety of starting anew, and it’s from the depressive thoughts I go through daily. It’s been harder and harder to suppress those thoughts, to eat and sleep normal, to stop bouts of crying, to keep myself from hurting myself over it all. And most of the time, it feels like the only thing that will make it feel better again is to see him again. To sit in his bed and giggle over a cartoon. To hold his hand and to know that we can stay stuck in those moments when he was alive for as long as we need to.
I now sit in a hotel, 3 hours away from my family, friends and hometown, the night before my first day of graduate school. I stare out my window at a brand new city full of people I don’t know, longing to be home with my aunt, and cousin, and friends. And while they all tell me that this is good for me – that things will get easier – I’m not ready. But life does not wait for you to be ready. Life does not wait for you to stop hurting, or grieving, or worrying. I just have to do what I have to do. So I have to find a way to keep living, if anything to make him proud.