How My Uncle's Struggle Impacted My Life

By: Bella Maria (@isabellexmaria)

My birth father abandoned me, and I was lucky enough to grow up with my uncle. He took on all of the responsibilities meant for my birth father. He taught me how to ride a bike, play basketball; he danced with me at family functions and treated me like a princess (he even called me princess and darling). My uncle was my favorite person. Though we were close, I didn't know he was struggling. I didn't know he had bipolar disorder.

In the weeks leading up to his suicide, I began to see the light go out of his eyes. He distanced himself from the family by locking himself in his room. I thought he was just having a bad day, but it was so much more than that. A week before his suicide I found him on the couch knocking back Coronas. He was crying, and I had never seen my uncle cry. He had always carried himself as a tough guy. He told me, "I don't want to live some days. I don't like the life I'm living so I drink. I don't want you to be like me.I just want the best for you." I looked on as my uncle just cried and drank. I didn't know what to do so I did some snooping and read my mom's texts with him.

They talked about his disorder and how he wanted to kill himself. On the night of February 6, 2015, my family was gathered together to eat. My mom had just gotten out of a major brain surgery, so this was our first family dinner in a month. My uncle ate with us for the first time in a long time, and it went great. He and my mom were telling stories from their childhood and stories of how they got into shenanigans. But after dinner, I got this unsettling feeling in my stomach. I saw my uncle packing a backpack, which wasn't out of the ordinary. He always packed an overnight bag when he planned to drink with his friends and didn't want to risk driving drunk. But this time, he wrapped his favorite glass with the Dallas Cowboys emblem on it. He never packed that, and I don't know why but something just told me "you're not going to see your uncle again."

At 12:01 a.m. they found my uncle's body by the Paterson Falls. Overdose. After that, I fell into this depression and couldn't get myself out. I discovered that doctors turned him away when he asked for treatment because they thought he was there just for drugs. I found out my mom knew all along and didn't do anything. 

In May, three months after his suicide, I attempted suicide. I went to school early, emptied my locker and walked to my step grandma's house. I took all of her prescription pills and a case of Corona. I took it all. They found me on the kitchen floor unconscious. They did CPR, but on the way to the hospital, I was in and out of consciousness. I wanted to die. Life didn't feel worth living if I didn't have my uncle. I stayed there for a while until they felt like I was safe to go back home. I have been in and out of therapy for the past year and a half. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. In therapy, I was forced to confront my anger.

The truth is: I hate my uncle for leaving me. He knew the plans I had for him. I told him he was going to walk me down the aisle. He was going to be at my high school graduation. He was supposed to be my person. I felt let down. But now I understand that my uncle had suffered for years. He couldn't keep a job or a healthy relationship, and it was damaging him. I miss him more than anything and I'm still angry with him, but I don't hate him anymore.

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