Birthday Depression- Another year without you

Today is my 29th Birthday and the survivor’s guilt is consuming me. I lost my little brother to severe paranoid schizophrenia and suicide on January 27th, 2020, just 3 days before his 25th Birthday. All of the holidays have been extremely difficult, but the month of January is the most painful for me. My brother and I were polar opposites, he was so lawfully good that he never so much as received a parking citation in his short life and would literally give the shirt off of his own back to someone in need. He was an Eagle Scout, and volunteered a lot of his time towards the betterment of our community. He was so kind, compassionate, and caring. I often think that he was too good for this world. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s me- a recovering heroin addict that wasted my life as a young adult as my addiction consumed me and caused my loved one’s inexplicable suffering, especially my mother and little brother. I was living a life of overindulgence, filled with my own self-created hedonism and debauchery and chose vice over virtue many times. My brother was my moral compass and supported me unconditionally, he never gave up on me. We were only one year apart and he was my best friend and confidant. I have my own share of mental illnesses- major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, a history of substance abuse, and PTSD. I can’t help but to think that I should’ve been the one to develop schizophrenia and take my own life, not my brother. Why do the good always die so young?
Why should I get to live another year on this earth instead of my brother? If I could have taken his place I would have in a heartbeat. I should have noticed the warning signs and saved him. The reality is that no matter what I could’ve changed the outcome would have still been the same. There is a strong correlation between schizophrenia and suicide, the voices inside of my brother’s head were like a choir from Hell dragging him down to his own Dante-esque levels of purgatory.
These are all of the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve and what if’s that accompany complicated bereavement and survivor’s guilt. I know they are irrational and that I shouldn’t blame myself for his death. There will always be a part of me that feels like I failed him though.
I know my brother wouldn’t want me to feel this way on my own birthday. All he ever wanted for me was to be sober and happy. In a really screwed up way, his death saved me from myself. As soon as I found out he left this mortal realm all of my cravings for opiates and self-destruction completely vanished from my mind and soul. I give myself permission to grieve today but will not let it consume me. Writing this has been so cathartic. I will salvage the rest of today and focus on the positive aspects of my life. I know that part of my brother’s spirit will always remain within me, and that he is watching over me. I will continue to stay sober, cherish all of the precious memories I was fortunate enough to experience with my brother and never let go of the hope and faith inside of my heart. Time does not heal all wounds necessarily, grief is a nonlinear process. I have learned to take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and second by second. I have found acceptance in my brother’s decision to take his own life, because I know he is finally at peace. I owe it to him and myself to cultivate my own inner peace, love, and happiness. Perspective is key.

2 thoughts on “Birthday Depression- Another year without you

  1. Sounds like your brother truly was a kind person. You are right that you couldn’t have saved him. It is great that you are sober now. We can’t bring our siblings back but we can grow as humans and pass on their love they gave by giving it to others who are still here.

  2. Happy Belated Birthday. It sounds as if your brother were a truly wonderful person and you are, too. I am sure he wouldn’t want you to suffer so greatly. Be kind to yourself, love yourself, and pay forward the love your brother had for you. Peace to you as you heal.

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