I want to start off this blog by telling you my story. Tell you about a tragedy, that leads to healing, and happiness that can still be found.
I wrote this story two years ago, and I kept re-writing it. Maybe because I felt like I wasn't sharing my story across the way I wanted to. I never thought I would be writing a story like this, but here I am. I want to share my story with all of you that take the time to read it, while also staying true to myself. I have this feeling of wanting to protect it, but a stronger feeling wanting to share it. I remember my senior year in high school was the first time I found out my mom was struggling with anxiety. Our house was going through a huge re-model, and it was taking a toll on my mom emotionally. At that time, that's all she told me was bothering her. I remember one night my mom was getting ready for bed, and my dad and I were on the couch watching tv. My mom was taking longer than usual to get ready for bed so my dad went in to check on her. I could hear her sobbing and asking my dad why she felt the way she did. It was heartbreaking to hear her that way, I felt so helpless. That moment, If I'm being honest, I didn't think much of it. I thought, "She is just overwhelmed, and once the re-model is done she will feel better and all her anxiety will go away." And that's what happened - at least in my eyes. I don't think my mom just woke up one day and felt overwhelming anxiety and pain, it was something that happened over time. She kept most of it in, trying to put on her "brave face" for her family and her friends. I just want to take a moment for anyone reading this that is going through depression: You are still brave on your hard days, and depression does not define who you are. It is okay to talk to a professional, or someone you just feel comfortable with about how you are feeling. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, you are not alone, and you will make it through. There will be another story of my struggles with depression after my mom passed away, and I hope to share more of my journey with you, but until then, I'm focusing on my mom. You wouldn't have thought my mom was going through depression if she didn't tell you. I think that's why a lot of people were shocked when they found out what happened, and still are. After tragedies like this, I hear many people say there were signs, but they didn't realize the significance of those signs until it was too late. I pick at my brain trying to remember things that she did that I should have seen as a red flag, a sign at all. But at that time, my mind never went there, because I never thought this would happen. That's why it is so important to talk more about mental illness and suicide. Learn more about the signs, and take action. I don't want anyone to have to learn the way my family and I did. Yes, it can be an uncomfortable conversation, but the result is saving lives. September 11th, 2015. I remember this day like a bad dream that keeps replaying in the back of my mind. I remember that morning I thought about my mom. I was planning on seeing her after work. I didn't care if she didn't want me seeing her in the state she was in, I just wanted to be there for her, and show her some new devotional cd's I got that I thought would help her. I was at work panting a pumpkin for our new art project coming up, and my Aunt walked through the door. I was so happy, thinking to myself "She brought mom up here to paint, finally!" I was so happy, until I saw my aunts face that showed so much fear and heartbreak. My heart dropped, I started feeling dizzy, and sick to my stomach. I knew, at that moment, something was terribly wrong. My Aunt asked me to leave work immediately, and I remember my mind was in a complete blur and I was shaking uncontrollably. As we got into the car I looked to see who was driving, and I couldn't figure it out. About half way there I realized it was my cousin who was a police officer in my home town. The moment I realized who it was, I started crying immediately, because I knew deep down what was happening. I looked out my window with tears in my eyes watching the cars go by trying to collect my thoughts and calm down. People were laughing and talking on the phone, small children looking out the window. In that moment I thought about driving around with my mom while signing and laughing to the voice impressions of our favorite singers, and thinking, will I get to do that again? Will I ever hear that laugh again? Will I ever get to look into those beautiful eyes and feel so blessed to have you as my mom? Will I ever get to tell her I'm sorry? Sorry for not being there more than I should have, sorry for not going to get our nails done that one day, not going to the movies that one day, not making sure to call you everyday. Will I get to do these things we take for granted everyday? I started thinking of the worst, then I thought maybe it's not as bad as I'm thinking it is, maybe there is still hope. We arrived at our house and all I wanted to do was run and scream for help, "Someone just please help, Jesus please help." Even though, police officers, ambulance, and many family and friends cars were parked in our driveway and up and down the street, I still had to hold onto hope. My Aunt and Cousin tried to calm me down and tell me what happened, but I couldn't bring myself to hear it, not yet. I kept hoping it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. I started to run inside, and when I opened the door the first person I saw was my Dad. I fell to my knees as he caught me, and I begged him to tell me it wasn't true. "She wouldn't do that, she wouldn't." We held onto each other so tight in that moment I never wanted to let go. Everything and everyone around me went into a blur. My life changed in an instant, everyones lives that were connected to my moms were changed forever. I think the hardest part to get through was the funeral. We didn't go to the viewing, because it was just too hard. And given the circumstances, we wanted to avoid any questions people were going to ask. Some people were surprised by that, but, they weren't in our shoes. We did visit her earlier that day at a private immediate family viewing. I really thought I would want to see her one last time, but nothing can prepare you for that, nothing. Seeing the person you love like that is heartbreaking. The day of her funeral was the hardest day of my life. I think back on that day and wonder what people thought of me. I was trying to put a smile on my face when people came up to my family and I at the burial site, hoping to avoid sobbing and questions. On the inside, I was just screaming for it to be over, so that I could go home and cry. This has always been hard for me to say, let alone write, but it needs to be shared. And if you have already read this far, I'm sure you already have an idea of what I'm about to tell you. My mom died by suicide. My heart drops every time, because words cannot ever explain the pain. My mom was an amazing and beautiful person. Always wearing a smile "the contagious smile" as people would say. This was her favorite bible verse, and she lived by it so well. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud -1 Corinthians 13:4." She never had anything bad to say about anybody, even for the people who may have hurt her the most. She was always forgiving, and never held a grudge. From the outside she was the best wife, mom, daughter, and friend. But, from the inside, she was struggling. Mental Illness is not a joke. It hurts me when I see people making fun of suicide. Yes, I have seen it on my own Facebook news feed. People I grew up with making jokes about it, so you can see why it has taken me so long to share this. But, honestly, those people might just need to read this to understand and learn to be sensitive. So, here I am, telling my story. Our story. I look back on the day I lost my mom all the time. Everyday I wake up and lose her all over again, but it's how I choose to move forward that matters. I think about how far not only I have come, but our family and friends as well. I am amazed, because by Gods grace, family, and friends (you know who you all are) I am able to say that I am happy. I wasn't wanting to talk, barely eating, and thought I could never be happy without her in my life. I honestly never thought I could lead a happy life again. There's a saying "Time Heals." For me, Jesus heals through time. Here I am today with a son of my own, a husband that loves me, and AMAZING family and friends. Happiness is something you choose. I could choose to not see the good things and dwell in my sadness, but I have learned doing that is so much worse. And while going through grief and tragedy, you have to choose joy, or it won't get any better. I have my hard days, just like anybody else who has lost a loved one, but that does not define me and where I am today. It's just part of the process. I choose happiness for her, for my husband, my son, my family, and my friends. I don't have all the answers, and that's not why I shared our story. I shared it to maybe open eyes, to help others, to speak out. I want to share so much more with you all, so I hope you stick around. Just know that you are not alone through your heartache. There is always someone going through similar battles. We are here to share those battles with each other, and lift each other up. "We rise by lifting others." If you are someone you know is in a mental health crisis there are professionals who can help. Call: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope it helped in some way.
-With Love, Lauren.