This is a guest post from Adrianna Prosser. Adrianna lost her brother to suicide 5 years ago. She is now a passionate advocate for mental health and suicide prevention, using her many creative talents to remind everyone she can that their lives matter – even when – especially when – they can’t see that themselves.
This November 12th marks the fifth year my brother has been missing from my life because he took his life. To say that his death changed me is an understatement. It seems like another life, a person that I used to know, when I think back to who I was and what was going on and what my priorities were.
To simplify the chaos and hurt and change, I have rounded it down to 3 things that are completely different about me.
1. I cry. I cry a lot.
That’s not to say that I’m a blubbering idiot all the time, though I was the first year of bereavement… But even now, I am more likely to give into my emotions when triggered. I can’t help it, and I kind of don’t want to. When I see so many people unable to feel anything because they are hiding behind their “Normal Masks” – you know what I’m talking about, right?
2. I hate surprises.
My brother’s death was a huge surprise to me and to the people who knew him. Some of us knew more about his depression, but most never knew he tried to kill himself a few years before he died in 2010.
3. I just don’t care as much.
This sounds bad. But it’s actually a good thing: I don’t sweat the small stuff as much. Okay, I get strung out like most people who need to make a deadline or are waiting for a grade on their exam. Yet when the subway is delayed and makes me late for work, or when I spill coffee on my presentation, or when I forgot my phone at home – I have this knowledge that is just a fact of life now that Andrew is gone, and it makes it all seem so silly to get in a huff: life is so much more than the small stuff. Accepting the fact that you are not in control of EVERYTHING and that EVERYTHING is not for you is kind of liberating. I tend to care about the bigger things and I even find myself empathizing rather than sympathizing with those around me.
I am happy that my friends turn to me when they want to talk about the heavy stuff, the hard topics. I like that co-workers and acquaintances seek me out to talk about how best to care for their depressed sister or partner. I take pride in how I help people connect to resources and information on mental health and suicide prevention.
I just hope the way that I have changed and how I continue to grow as a person would make him proud of his big sister. The one thing that hasn’t changed is how much I miss my brother Andrew. I don’t think that will ever change.
About the Author
Adrianna likes to wear many hats: actor/playwright/geek/suicide prevention advocate. Her most personal piece is a one-woman show about dealing with her brother’s suicide in Everything But the Cat…. Combining her Learning Through the Arts training and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) certificate, she hopes to engage the audience and go beyond the stage into creating a safe place for discussion and sharing. She is currently working on a children’s book for mental health awareness and a dark-comedy web series about grief.