For My Cousin

I spent this past week with my family. My 22 year old cousin took his own life about 10 days ago, and I flew back for his funeral. Suicide is a horrible thing to have happen, especially within your family.  From my perspective up until now, it was  something that I was aware of, but never thought would happen in my family.

I hope you’ll forgive this post, because it doesn’t have much of anything to do with personal development. It’s really more of a memorial to my cousin, and a plea for everyone reading it to be aware of the pervasive nature of emotional problems.

My cousin suffered from depression and battled with panic attacks. I wasn’t aware of this, for the most part. He was quite a few years younger than I am, and we only talked when we would see each other at family functions. I had heard through the family grapevine that things weren’t going well for him, but I never knew they were this bad.

This is part of the reason I’ve taken this loss so hard. I’ve had a history of clinical depression, and have had to deal with bouts of anxiety, as well. I feel like I may have missed an opportunity to speak with him at some point, and that perhaps our common experiences would have allowed me to say something comforting to him.  For those of you that have dealt with these issues, you understand the oppression they can bring, and how hopeless a person can feel when they’re being affected by them.

I just wish I would have known, you know? The unfortunate thing is that it seems there were very few people who knew that life was this much of a struggle for my cousin. For whatever reason, through shame or guilt or a desire to handle it on his own, he never felt comfortable sharing these challenges with the vast majority of our family. The members of my family that did know did an amazing job of trying to help my cousin, but it unfortunately wasn’t enough.

So, please, consider this a public service announcement.  If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, let someone you trust know about it. Don’t try to handle it on your own. There is no shame at all in admitting you need help in dealing with these issues you’re facing.

If you don’t deal with these challenges, chances are you know someone who is, or has in the past. Know the signs, and be on the lookout for them. If you notice the symptoms, don’t be scared to ask about it. So many of us don’t want to intrude, or worry that we may look foolish by asking questions. Please don’t allow your own pride to get in the way of doing something that could potentially save a life.  Thanks.