I watched two people let mental illness take over their entire world. I saw the suffering. I see the suffering. Sometimes I feel the suffering. It turns me into someone I never thought I'd look in the mirror and recognize. I teach myself to recognize it until one day I refuse, one day I say I can’t look, one day I decide to break that mirror, to break the person I've become and begin to search for the pieces of myself I lost.
I watched one person let mental illness take them to a medicine cabinet. I saw the suffering. I see the suffering. Sometimes I feel the suffering. It turns you into someone who makes you think stealing prescriptions and shoving 20 pills in your mouth will make things easier, will make you less burdensome, will end a life that is not worth living. You teach yourself to accept that you shouldn’t be breathing until one day you refuse, one day you say you belong here, one day you decide that nothing should invalidate your existence.
It took my little sister two times to realize that she belonged here. Twice my mother has looked at me and said, “You and I, Han, you and I are lucky. We have happiness.” Twice, she clutched in her left hand a small book that I recognized as my sister’s diary. I asked her what she was doing and watched as tears began to trickle into thick streams of sadness. I stood as if someone had punched me in the chest, immediately drawn into her pain. Twice, I asked what happened and why she was crying and in response she extended her left hand and asked if I’d “read it.” I took the diary into my room, escaping the chaos of her emotions only to completely lost in the chaos of my own. Before me lay pages of a descriptive words that came together to create a detailed funeral plan –my little sister’s funeral plan. On four pages, her life became a tangible object that she threw away. My tears splashed over phrases like “when I’m dead,” and “after I’m gone.” I thought to myself, I’m living in a reality that my sister, my baby sister, no longer wants to accept, a reality where my baby sister is willing to kill herself.
I stayed in my room for three days. The door only opened when the wind kicked up enough to create an uneasy draft throughout the house. I was alone, thinking about my sister, thinking about her life, the life she wanted to end, the life she thought should end, the life she thought could end. I didn’t know how to look at her. To pretend like I didn’t know or to confront her? I didn’t know how to take her into my arms and make her feel like she belonged here, because she did belong here.
Eventually, medication did what I couldn’t. The depths of sadness that once painted her world with a lifeless grey ceased to exist. “No more suicide,” my mother said.
No more suicide.
Written by Hannah Pozen