Letter to Brian: May 7, 2013

Dear Brian,

In the spirit of “Mental Health Awareness Month” I’m going to continue my  brutally honest chatter with regards to my own mental health.  Each and every time that I’ve had to cancel a doctor’s visit or have to postpone filling my medication because I didn’t have the money I have thought of you.  It both haunts me and frightens me because, though I know I’m not currently in a position where I would succumb to the same fate as you, I can’t help but be painfully aware of the same financial pressure I know you were feeling towards the end.  If I have to choose between paying my rent and antidepressants… the rent will always win.  The doctor had been requiring monthly visits for refills at $130 per visit… and that didn’t include my co-pays for the medications.  At that astronomical rate, and as a single person trying to pay that astronomical rate, it was simply not feasible. As of now I’ve been completely off of my medication for 4 months.

It’s actually been OK, really!  But obviously there are good days and bad days… which is no different than anyone else.  One thing that I find so extremely frustrating is the condescension in a person’s voice as they ask, “hey, are you sure you shouldn’t be back on your medication?”  There is something not-so-subtly insulting about the suggestion that a bad day, or several bad days in a row, requires the resumption of a daily prescription drug regimen.  Someone who has not been previously handed a diagnosis of “recurring major depressive disorder” is somehow allowed to have bad days or even get a little bit lippy from time to time without it being suggested they seek medical attention or risk tumbling into an eternal abyss.  I will say the medication did serve a very important purpose for a long, long time.  But now that I’ve been med-free for a while, I feel confident about staying this way for the foreseeable future.

The self-injury has not resurfaced with the absence of the antidepressants, either.  So that’s good news!  I truly believe that using my words (communication) is the greatest preventative tool in keeping the self-injurious tendencies at bay.  The times during which I would most often cut were when I was feeling trapped, unheard and unimportant… or when I did actually share my feelings only to be shut down, made fun of or ignored.  When I found myself in a relationship (with friends, family, roommates, romantic partners, etc…) in which I didn’t feel safe expressing myself or setting healthy boundaries the urge was far more consistent.  As a child, and even until more recent years, I wasn’t confident enough to assert myself and say “no” when I could have or should have; I would often stifle my feelings so as not to create any tension or disappoint anyone.  Well, I’ve stopped doing that and it turns out that people seemed to have liked me better when I was quiet and agreeable.  Well, the me that was “quiet and agreeable” was also far more miserable always letting people have their way because I was too scared to speak up.

Your death surely exacerbated my existing depression and continues to be a continued presence in my life each day.  I think of it like this– let’s say a completely mentally healthy person lives like a pot of water at room temperature… it might take a lot of heat to get it to reach the boiling temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit.  I think the combination of my genetic predisposition to depression compounded with the trauma of your self-induced death have turned me into a pot of water always living at about 195 degrees… I don’t have as much “wiggle room” for taking on heat before reaching my boiling point these days.  Or maybe I’m like a tiny little kayak in a rough sea… I feel every toss and turn of the waves so intently whereas a slightly healthier person might be on the emotional equivalent of an ocean liner; they could be on the very same sea and be experiencing the same rough waves but won’t feel a thing.  I’m OK with that, though.  I mean, I’m not a threat to myself, I’m not a threat to other people and, if anything, my depression and the grief I’m experiencing after losing you have only made me more compassionate towards others and more intent on protecting my own boundaries to keep myself healthy and safe.  Those aren’t bad things… so what’s the big deal?

Thanks for listening as always, dude.



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I lost my brother Brian, my only sibling, to suicide on October 13, 2010. I write about dealing with the loss as well as my own life-long struggle with depression and suicidal ideation.

4 thoughts on “Letter to Brian: May 7, 2013”

  1. I would have to agree with the quite and agreeable. I’m tired of worrying about others when the same is not always returned. It’s good to express our emotions and surround ourselves with people who can handle our bad days and move on realizing that we are who we are and love us because of who we are. I know that I love you and think you’re awesome and I’m so happy that you’re such close friends with Leashya (who I also love and think is equally awesome) which in turn brought you into our lives 🙂

  2. Keep up the writing Laura, it is so good to see you expressing yourself in a way that is helpful to you.

  3. I am so proud of you for speaking up and not allowing other people’s thoughts or feelings to override your own! It’s not ever fair when anyone reduces us by suggesting that our feelings or actions must come from a damaged place that only medication can cure. I call bullsh*t! I love what Kari said! (She is a lifetime member of the awesome club as well! :-)) It’s important to be around people who know who you are and love you through all the days- the dark days and the sunny days. We may not have much money, but we DO have each other!!! Love you!

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