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The Choice I Have After My Brother's Suicide

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

You want the truth? Well, I’m going to give it to you. Life is hard, and brutal, and horrific things will happen, and you will fall. Life is not censored, it will expose you to things you never thought you would see. Life can change from a single choice. Life is not easy, nor was it meant to be.

• What is PTSD?

I don’t know myself right now in this present moment, and I don’t even remember the woman I was before I walked into that room. All I know is that I’m still there, still processing the scene, still screaming inside with fear and panic.

You don’t think about these things happening. You don’t plan to come home from work on a Monday afternoon to walk in and see him lying on the floor, note on the door, and the worst of all, him struggling to breathe; clinging to what’s left.

You don’t think about your life completely changing in such a static moment.

You never think about your 14-year-old brother dying before you.

You can’t even comprehend the fact that he killed himself; you can’t comprehend seeing it and facing it.

He felt so much pain, pain that I’ve endured.

There is no pain like this, no loss like this.

When he pulled the trigger, he took not only himself, but he took me as well.

I look in the mirror and I don’t even recognize myself.

I don’t know what I want.

I don’t know what I feel, there’s too much or too little.

All I know is that I believe in fate, and that I was meant to find him that afternoon.

All I know is that my father would not have survived finding him.

I was strong enough, but I don’t feel strong enough right now, not like before.

I’m still searching for my soul, my sanity and everything that was once a part of me.

How do I go back to what once was?

I believe my brother had demons, I do; but what were they? I would have slayed them all if I could have. I have my demons, and I’ve been fighting them for years.

But now? I have more, I have mine and his combined. He didn’t get rid of them, he got rid of the pain. I feel like those demons are now trapped inside my mind; hiding behind a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The fear and paranoia is debilitating. Every person in my life, every room I walk into, there is the fear.

I can’t breathe, I can’t stop thinking about who is going to do it next.

How will I react again, if this were to occur?

I have to breathe, this is not happening again, or is it?

So I run.

I escape those I love in fear of losing them; I detach, and fade into the numbness.

The fear is drowning, dragging me back to that room; the blood, the gun and bullets, the sounds and sight of my brother.

Every inch of that room is burned into my memory, affecting every part of my new being.

The days pass, and the fear is still there, but I’m learning my triggers. Do I still fall? Yes. Do I still cry? Yes. I can’t even get out of bed in the morning, but I do it.

Dylan wouldn’t want me to do this to myself, he doesn’t want me to be afraid. I can’t make it go away, but I can choose to live with it, and better my life and others because of what happened.

Trauma is a funny process. There’s the shock, the denial, the settling and helplessness, then there’s the hope. Combine that with grief? Well, you’re a walking train wreck.

Truth is, though I don’t know who I am right now, I know who my brother was. I know what he wants. He wants my family to be happy, for me to be happy.

I’m exhausted, I’m torn, I’m fighting constantly; but I’m breathing. I’m waking up to a new day, and facing it. I’m taking each moment for what it is, and each day as a reminder that though you feel like complete shit, and though it feels like those demons will never stop yelling at you; you have a choice.

There’s always a choice. I can’t bring my brother back, and I would do whatever it takes to bring him back if it was possible. I have no control over what happened, I couldn’t have helped him in that moment, except to put my hand on him, and cry and mourn for him, and just wait until I heard the sirens.

I still have a choice. I do have control over my PTSD. I have control over my life. I choose to breathe, to wake up and live.

I want to show suicide survivors that they can eventually be happy. My heart breaks for those who have found their loved ones, and my heart breaks for my entire family. I want to show the world that we all can choose to move on, but not forget. I love Dylan, and I will never blame him.

The author and her brother

We will never forget, I will never forget. We can learn from this pain, and we can advocate. We can grow. Life is a blessing, and it’s too damn short. So listen to what I’m saying, because I will only say it once.

Choose your life. You don’t know your strength yet, but you will find it. Life gets better, it’s chaotic, but it’s beautiful.

Reach out, talk, help is there.

Your strength is there.

You have to fight, but you will survive.

You will get through this.

I will get through this.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: December 10, 2016
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