This post is dedicated to those the people I’ve lost, the love I’ve found, and to those everywhere living with mental health issues.
I lost a total of 5 people in exactly one year, that’s one for every finger on my hand. 2015 took my uncle in January, my dear friend Katie in July, my beloved orthopedist of nearly 30 years in September, and my buddy Clint in October. By November, I enrolled in therapy. Between the constant grief and my grandmother’s health failing, I could barely function. Here’s just some of what I’ve learned about myself, love, and life during that time.
For starters, let me tell you that death is a part of life. You will be forced to face it, at times you will have no idea how to cope. There will be days you wish whatever form of the after life you believe in had a phone. Lastly, you will realize that no one lives forever. I know it sounds factual enough but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget this. Unfortunately, my losses gave me no choice but to remember.
Secondly, I have been humbly reminded that I am human. My first instinct was to help those around me cope with loss, especially my family. I’ve always been a nurturer so I wasn’t surprised to see myself fall into that pattern. However, I was realized that I too, needed to be nurtured.
I took to social media, sharing my day to day experiences with grief and my new diagnosis of depression. I reached out to friends for advice, help, even encouragement to eat. There was one friend in particular though, who would step up to the plate in the most unexpected way.
I first connected with Vinny on social media in 2013. We had a few mutual friends, later discovered shared interests, and by March 2015, Vinny and I had our first of many visits. They were simple yet fun, silly yet deep, and everything I needed to get my mind off of things. He always came baring goodies, movies, food and everything in between.
It was the weekend of New Year’s Eve, when I hit my lowest point. My grandmother was on her death bed and there was a week long lapse of communication between myself and my then love interest. When you’re grieving and losing people left and right, you tend to wanna hold onto to everyone around you. You become consumed with worry and fear.
While everyone was ringing in 2016, I was wishing I wouldn’t live to see it.
I made two very important phone calls, one to my friend Ayanna and the other to Vinny. Neither of them answered, I figured they were out partying. Ayanna called back first, around 3am. She calmed me down and helped me get back to sleep. Then, I got a text from Vinny asking if I was okay. I called him and spilled my guts. He agreed to come over and hang out later that night. That night is now affectionately known as CuddleGate. We ordered food, made milkshakes, and watched the movie Train Wreck as we cuddled on my couch. I have cuddled with friends in the past, so I didn’t think much of it. We couldn’t stop talking about how much fun we had in the days that followed.
Exactly 2 weeks later, on January 13, 2016 my grandmother passed away. It was exactly one year to the day that my uncle had passed. Vinny was the first person I told, it just felt right.
We have now been dating about 3 months. We know a lot but are still learning about each other. We are helping each other on our respective journeys with mental health, and practicing the art of being lovers and friends. He has taught me how to let someone take care of me, in addition to helping me find new ways to take care of myself.
He did not cure or save me, he only held my hand along the way. My journey is far from over but with the help of family, friends, therapy, and meds, I am proud to say I’m finding my way back.