In May 2021, I lost my sister Heather to suicide. Just a few days before her birthday, she was well on her way to turning 27. There are so many conversations incomplete, plans unfinished, and family dinners forever postponed. I would much rather listen to her stories and struggles than never get the chance to listen to her voice again. I never realized how imperative this notion was until it hit close to home; the closest to home it could ever be.
Whether we knew someone who got COVID, or got it ourselves, most of us have all faced the tragic consequences of this pandemic. Our lives have forever changed through the setbacks and chaotic times we’ve experienced. In the midst of worrying about COVID, anxiety and other mental ailments invaded our wellbeing, impacting us all in one form or another. We worried about ourselves, our families, and our friends until it overwhelmed us. The financial difficulties, lack of social support, and instability gave rise to the mental struggles we all faced, which provided leeway for mental illnesses to take precedent in some of our lives. This past year and a half have been exhausting and demanding to say the least.
Advocating and discussing mental health was always imperative and sincere given the struggles that prevented me from believing in myself and expressing myself fully. Yet, losing my sister to depression trumped every episode of grief I had experienced throughout my life. Everything I experienced suddenly held little weight in comparison to what she had been going through.
For Heather, I keep on striving. I no longer shutout my grief but instead channel it through my work with Alonesy. Ensuring other people do not feel helpless or voiceless is crucial. These notions I hold dear to heart: my struggle is your struggle because I would much rather listen to your story than hear of another tragedy. Understand you are never alone even if feels as if you are. Every time you feel helpless and unheard, reach your hand out for support and someone will always be there for you. Even on our hardest days, we will always be there for each other.