Almost a year ago, I was sitting in bed around 11pm and my phone started to ring. One of my best friends from back home in Seattle was calling me. I never got calls from him that late and immediately started to worry. He then told me that he had just walked into our other friend Jeff's bedroom and found he had committed suicide. The severity of Jeff’s depression was completely unknown to me until that moment. The next week that followed was one of the most difficult I have ever had to comprehend. I couldn’t accept that it was real and being two states away from my friends who saw it first-hand was awful. While I was able to fly back to Washington for a couple days to be with everyone, the return back to a normal lifestyle was difficult.
For the first couple weeks, it was hard to not constantly think about what happened. Everything became a reminder of him or my friends from home. I was extremely sensitive to the word suicide or slight jokes about dying. While it made me feel better to talk about my emotions, I avoided bringing up the topic because I didn’t want to make others uncomfortable or make my friends from home think about it more. Still, the hardest part of the experience was wondering if there was anything we could have done to stop it. It made me question if maybe we had texted as a group more, or said how much we all loved each other more often, if it would have made a difference in his choice. Knowing that I can’t go back and change my actions was extremely difficult to accept.
Time has honestly been the best healer in this situation. The more time goes by, the more I can think about him and focus on our happy memories. Sitting with my friends from home and telling funny stories about our high school adventures makes me feel less incomplete. As well, once I started opening up to a couple people at college about how upset I was, it helped me start to process everything that was going on. One of my most unlikely sources of comfort became going to work on campus. After an embarrassing moment crying one day at work, I told my boss about what I was going through and she was extremely supportive of me. Thus, my work became a helpful distraction as well as having someone I could knew I could talk to there.
While after a week, I did share a loving memory of Jeff on social media, I did not feel comfortable sharing anything further on social media. Knowing the audience on my facebook included friends from high school and his parents, I felt bringing up anything other than happy memories could make someone upset. I felt my personal struggles were far inferior to anything they must be going through. In addition, seeing as it was difficult talk about what was going on to even my parents and close friends, sharing it on social media seemed impossible.
The main thing I wish I felt comfortable sharing on social media from this experience is the importance of mental health and prevalence of depression in college. I would love to tell people, especially at my school, that I am a resource if they ever feel alone. Going to the counseling center can be extremely scary and oftentimes you don’t want to publicly show that you need help. If it helps anyone knowing they could talk to me or have me go with them to the center, that would be my goal. Depression can be so well hidden that sharing it on social media may help spread the message to someone who I had no idea might need it.
To anyone else who has recently lost a friend, know that while it may feel like your pain is unending, time truly helps and nothing can take away the memories you have of that person. Know that it is okay to be upset for as long as you need and that there are resources able to help if you desire. Being vulnerable to others around you can be scary but opening up to a couple people close to you can help the healing process.