Another Year Without You Here

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Another year has passed without Sean.  19 years ago today, the age he was when he passed.  It seems like a long time ago but time has passed too quickly.  Some days I think of him a lot and others I feel guilt for not thinking of him more.  Wishing he were here to celebrate the good times, the holidays and to help me get through those tough moments.  In the last year he has missed birthdays, getting to meet my brother’s girlfriend, an amazing family trip to our cousin’s wedding in Colorado, Connor’s first birthday, grandma’s 94th surprise brunch and countless other family events.

To be honest, this is the most difficult blog of the year.  Usually it takes me maybe 30 minutes to write a blog but with this I started it last Thursday, revisited it Sunday and finally finished today.  In the last few years I have found great comfort and a sense of purpose by working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Participating in their local walks to raise awareness and support has proven to me that I’m not alone.

Keeping in touch with Sean’s friends is also cathartic.  The messages I receive with their memories of him make me laugh because he was funny and make me cry because I miss him.  If I can help raise money to bring awareness and support so no one else has to experience this makes me happy.  Please consider donating to this great organization by clicking here.

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Suicide Education

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Yesterday I heard the news about Robin Williams and felt sorrow for his friends and family.  I know too well the pain they are experiencing and the question the are undoubtedly asking themselves: Why? or I should have done… Unfortunately for them they will never have an answer and will likely live with some form of guilt the rest of their lives.

Depression and mental illness are diseases that are too easily disregarded in our country and our communities.  People are ashamed to admit they may have a problem and don’t seek the help they need.  I don’t know one person who hasn’t experienced some form of depression and yet we don’t talk about it.  Mental illness is like “the cancer” of olden times.  People whisper about it in fear.

In the last few years I have joined the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention which raises money to educate our communities and get the help people desperately need.  It’s so important to let people know there is help and not to be ashamed to seek it.  Please consider donating to this amazing organization for my upcoming walk:  https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.participant&participantID=551483

Despite that most of us do not personally know Mr. Williams, he has touched each one of us in an amazing way through his incredible talent.  I am hopeful that we all learn something from this tragedy and perhaps it will shed light on this important topic that affects every single one of us.

Do I Have the Strength To Go On?

First let me update you on my progress.  Yesterday was day 1 of week 2 and made a huge accomplishment.  I got through the entire class without stopping.  If you recall from my first day, I had to stop for about 10 minutes to catch my breath.  I also have dropped 9 pounds!  Not too shabby!

Secondly, I do my best thinking while I’m blowing out my hair which I was doing today.  I had so many thoughts of what I wanted to say and how to put it all in my blog.  My honesty to you and myself is a big part of this process.

I often look back on my life and wonder how I got to this day.  I reflect on my career, my relationships with friends and family but more importantly who I am on this Earth.  What have I contributed, am I a good person but more recently what has brought me to where I am today?  (Don’t worry I’m not going to get philosophical ‘n sh*t.)

The more obvious answer to this question regarding my  weight is food and lack of exercise, but why haven’t I taken care of myself before?  The answer is a bit more complicated but please bare with me because it contains and important message: mental health.

My life has been riddled with mental illness.  My brother, Sean, took his life when I when I was 16 and he was just shy of his 20th birthday.  He had suffered with depression (most likely bipolar disorder) for most of his life.  I had spent a lot of my childhood with psychologists/psychiatrists to help him get better but unfortunately his second attempt was successful.  For years I was so ashamed of the taboo term “suicide” but it’s more common than it should be.  I would not even tell people I had an older brother because of fear of having to explain why he’s not here.

My father, who passed in 2010, was also mentally ill with schizophrenia.  I can’t recall experiencing any of his illness because my parents separated when I was about a year old.

Why am I telling you all this?  This is very cathartic for me but also because this is a big part of me getting healthy.  For a long time I have feared being mentally ill because it tends to be genetic.  Sure, I’ve had my moments of being depressed like anyone else over work, relationships or just feeling bad about myself.  Those moments are normal but I’ve also been in that dark place and I don’t want to be there again….ever.  (and no, I am not on medication)

I have also become a people pleaser through all of this.  My mom and step-father have been through too much to have to deal with another child rocking the boat.  I just wanted to go under the radar and make them proud of me and not live in fear of this happening again.  They have been through too much.  But, being a people pleaser has caused me to put myself second.

I miss my brother every day because I won’t be able to share life’s accomplishments with him especially this one.  However, I have learned so much from these bad times: I’m so much stronger because of it.  I think this strength will get me through the days and weeks ahead.

Here is a photo of me and Sean with the creepy Easter bunny from Seaview Square Mall for you all to enjoy 🙂

seanlizeaster**Please know that this is a lot of sharing for me (and my family) so please be kind**