This past weekend I found out that my best middle school through high school friend had died in her sleep last week, she was 42. She and I drifted apart a few years after high school due to different life choices. We eventually reconnected after several years and would email updates every so often. I saw her only a handful of times over the years before she finally admitted to avoiding most everyone she knew from her past because she was embarrassed she hadn’t done more with her life.
Like me she suffered from depression. She was ashamed she hadn’t finished college, she hated her unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend, she had several health issues she tried to ignore, and she refused to ever ask for help. The few times she would talk to me about any of these issues, she would vent, cry and I would try to be there for her. I would try to explain that I related to and understood how she was feeling. The self-doubt, shame and mental bashing we put ourselves through. But then she would crawl back into herself and I would not hear from her for another year or two or three.
The person that let me know of her passing had also been a close friend of ours in school. She sent me a message via Facebook asking if I had heard and if I knew what happened to her. Based on her line of questioning I could tell she wanted to know if I thought it was from health issues or suicide. Even she knew either one was a strong possibility.
The reality of this is slowly taking its course. I keep having memories popping into my head of the times we spent together, the mischief we would create and the openness we used to have knowing the other person would always understand and never judge. But everyone experiences depression their own way and over the years she no longer saw me as a confidant.
Right now I’m more angry than anything. I know she believed herself to be a burden no matter what anyone told her. I’m angry that the depression twisted her thoughts and distorted her better judgment. I’m angry that the depression brought her such shame she could no longer recognize anything positive or any of the accomplishments she had in life.
I may never find out for sure what the official cause of death was, but based on how I knew she was living I cannot see it as anything but suicide. It may not have been intentional but the lack of attention to her physical and mental health tells me she had given up a long time ago.
In your honor I will continue to try to bring mental health awareness to others.To those that are suffering from both sides. In your honor I will try remind myself as well as others we are never as alone as we feel. We are not the burden or horrible people our depression is telling us we are. In your honor I will try.
Good bye my friend, until we meet again…