Ignorance

Every day I am more and more amazed by our society and their complete lack of respect for themselves, and especially for others around them. Ignorance and disrespect is nothing new to our society, and it has been happening for many years. With all of the changes we have implemented, trying desperately to make ourselves into a whole, equal society- how come we never seem to find respect for each other?

During the time of slavery and discrimination, people obviously had no respect for each other. What’s worse, they had no logical reasoning behind their actions. Simply ‘because he/she is black,’ was a fair enough reason to spit on somebody as they walked by. How? What makes their inside any different than your inside? Nothing. MLK Jr. made that point, and proved to the world that we are all exactly the same. When my mother was younger, (after MLK Jr. had changed the idea of discrimination) as a mixed baby being raised by two white parents, others would continue to say disrespectful comments to her parents. In the seventies, my grandparents were walking through the grocery store with my mother in the cart. Another person had the nerve to ask, “What are you doing with a nigger in your cart?” They were speaking of a four-year-old baby. Can you imagine? How can you disrespect such an innocent soul, at such a young age.

We all wish to think that disrespect in these ways cease to exist in today’s society. Homosexual couples are now allow to be married, our president is black, so clearly the world has changed! People hardly even see color any more, and if they do- it’s typically to compliment someone on their beautiful skin tone.

If only that were true. If it isn’t one type of discrimination it’s another. If someone is rude to us at the store we automatically assume that are a huge b**** and they deserve whatever horrible karma comes their way- but what if they just lost their job? Lost their house? Is trying to leave an abusive relationship? You have no idea what is happening in their life. You have no reason to shun them for one rude action. What if you respond to their action by saying, “I hope you have a better day.” And that person bursts into tears because you are the first person in their life to care for them.

The discrimination that now hurts me the most in today’s society is the way people view addicts and recovering addicts. Many of you know that Des Moines has suffered multiple heroin overdose deaths since Anna died, and most recently was a young man from Roosevelt High School. The story was on the local news, and Anna/Anna’s Warriors was mentioned in the story. The stiry is absolutely horrendous and so wrong it makes me sick- but that is for another post. The part that really got to me was the online comments being made about the story on the KCCI website.

I quote, “Look at the bright side: with every overdose death there’s one less addict.”

How can you, as another person living in the dark world we live in, honestly think that way? What makes your live more valuable than the one who accidentally died? What are YOU doing with YOUR life that gives you the right to find the death of another person has a ‘bright side?’ It is mind boggling to me that people actually think this way of another human. Especially when they are saying it about my best friend. We are all people. People are people. We are not defined by the choices we have made, and no one should be judged by the mistakes they have made. Half of the people living on the streets, half of the people using drugs, they all have a bigger heart and more love than most of you reading this- because they are living in the worst hell they could ever imagine. Many of them are in this hell because they are masking such intense emotions. They would never wish that upon anyone else, and because of that- their love for others is amazing. They know they have made wrong choices, they are not proud of their drug use, but they are proud of each and every one of you who have never used drugs and most of them would give anything to be sure that you never do use drugs. So please- think about what you’re saying, think about how you’re comparing and judging people, think outside the box about who they could have been before and after using drugs or becoming an addict. The one who died of cocaine overdose because he was in med-school up studying all night on cocaine- could have cured cancer. Yes they made a wrong choice, but that doesn’t mean their life is not worth living.

Think about it. Think about who you are and how you look at those around you.

And never judge someone by their actions again.

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Warrior

Now that I have reached 1,500 views, I guess I should probably mention why the title of this page is called “warrior,” considering most of my messages are about death and heroin addiction. To some, that doesn’t sound like much of a warrior. Here is why.

According to dictionary.com:

warrior: (war-ee-er, wawr-yer, wor-ee-er, wor-yer) 1. a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier. 2. a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.

According to the World English Dictionary:

unknown soldier or warrior: (in various countries) an unidentified soldier who has died in battle and for whom a tomb is established as a memorial to other unidentified dead of the nation’s armed forces.

Merriam Webster dictionary:

warrior: a man engaged or experienced in warfare; broadly :  a person engaged in some struggle or conflict <poverty warriors

And lastly, the online Urban Dictionary:

warrior: A person who beyond all obstacles still manages to be successful. A warrior will often be troubled in life, but will persevere in the end.
Socially, a Warrior will often be down to earth, functioning entirely off of what they perceive as logic. While this can lead to arrogance and stubbornness, a Warrior has a soft center, and can be befriended with ease by anyone knowing how to reach it.
Often intelligent, strong, determined, and skillful. A Warrior, despite whatever problems they may have, is perfect. In their own way, each Warrior is perfect.

All of these definitions come together to create a new definition of a warrior, my definition of a warrior.

Warrior: a man or woman, who chooses to fight a battle, even if they know it can not always be won. A warrior is not perfect, but does not squander their time on personal issues. A warrior learns from their imperfections, and shares their lessons with the world. No matter how big or how small the challenge, a warrior fights with the same determination and strength in order to succeed. A warrior never gives up. A person who fights vigorously for themselves and for the people around them. A warrior is selfless, willing to make large sacrifices. A true warrior takes charge and shows initiative to help others win their battle, doing whatever it takes in order to succeed. A warrior is someone who carries on their legacy, their fight, their strength, and their determination to win the battle, even after they are gone.

That is my understanding of a warrior, and my understanding of who my best friend was and still is. Anna made the choice to use heroin, but she also made the choice to change. She went to rehab, she fought the horrible disease in her brain. She prevailed, and she went through the worst hell anyone can imagine to do so. Anna was not perfect, she did relapse (along with the other 90% of opioid addicts in the first year after treatment), but Anna went back to rehab. She went back to detox and put herself through an intolerable misery again. She continued to fight, she never stopped fighting. She had journal after journal after journal of her struggles, changes she made, and her thoughts throughout her trying times. She was determined to get clean, determined to make a change for herself and for her family. She never wished to hurt anyone, and she knew that her actions were killing those around her, and she was willing to put herself in copious amounts of pain in order to see happiness in those people.

In the end, Anna did pass away. BUT Anna did not lose the battle. She is still fighting. Anna sacrificed her life in order for the rest of us to see what heroin can do and is doing to so many amazing people. God took Anna, one of the greatest warriors there was, in order for those of us who are still here to become warriors as well, and to succeed in Anna’s fight against addiction. Anna didn’t give up when she relapsed the second time, she was making a point to prove the true power of addiction. She shared with us the lesson she was forced to learn the hard way. Anna saved all of us the trouble of being put through such a hell, by simply showing you her hell. I would have never had a clue about heroin addiction, lack of care in rehab facilities, extreme expenses to get help, or the power opioids have over the brain to create such a strong addiction- without first losing Anna. Anna is one of, if not the, best person I have ever known, and for this I know she left me here, with her family, because she knew we would never stop fighting for her. She knew we could be the ones to step up and make a change in so many of the one-minded, stubborn people in our world that refuse to see the bad that is surrounding them. That is why Anna’s family created “Anna’s Warriors,” because that is exactly what we are, what Anna is, and what we are doing. We are fighting for Anna, Anna’s battle, and we sacrificed the most amazing person we knew without wallowing in our grief- but instead using it as motivation to save the rest of you, your family members, your friends, from experiencing anything like what we have been forced to go through. Along the way, we will continue to pick up more warriors until we have a fully stacked, impregnable army to fight Anna’s fight of addiction and raising awareness of drug use. It is not a race, together all we have to do is save one soul at a time, and we will succeed: together.

Not a day goes by..

I was up last night, unable to sleep, and missing my best friend once again. I was searching through music and listening to old songs on youtube when I came across the song “Meant to be” by TLC. It was written when TLC got back together after one of their members had passed away. Anna loved TLC, and it was just too perfect of a song for me to find while missing Anna so much. I decided I needed to do something to remember this song, and remember Anna with forever- and thats how this video came about! I have plenty of pictures of her, a couple songs that fit her perfectly, and her voice at the end reminding me she’s still my “long lost best friend, Anna.”

 

Point Proven.

I had to share with you a real life example of why the world needs Anna’s Warriors, Anna’s story, and a complete attitude change.

I work two jobs in order to pay for school, rent, and life in general. One of them is a receptionist at a hair salon, and the other is working at one of the better known bars in my college town as a bartender. Part of doing your job well, (without a required uniform) is adjusting yourself so that you ‘fit’ the position you hold. When I go to the salon, I wear conservative clothes, jewelry, cover my tattoos, fresh make up, hair done, and I’m prepared to interact with clients from age two to ninety-two. When I work at the bar, I change into a whole different mold. If I were to show up to the bar the same way I show up to the salon- students would either make fun of me for looking like an old woman, not order anything but water from me for fear that I had no idea what I was doing, or.. my boss would probably just fire me for losing more money than selling. If I were to show up to the salon the same way I show up to the bar, I’m pretty sure Ethel would have a heart attack on sight. Therefore, when I go to the bar, I wear more college-friendly clothes. Dresses (with shorts on underneath because I’m too much of a tomboy to trust myself without), short shorts (not too short, but you understand), crop tops, etc. I have no worries about showing my tattoos, and usually end up getting complimented on my ink. Because I am constantly flipping bottles, scooping ice, running back and forth, grabbing, stacking, and shaking things around with 180 students screaming, sweating out their alcohol consumption, and giving off more body heat than usual- it gets really hot behind the bar, so I always try to wear outfits that are going to keep me as cool as possible in fear of customers running from me because of my sweaty armpit B.O. (hot, I know). One tip for future bar employees: definitely NO full length pants, NO long sleeves, and as much as you hate them- crop tops and high waisted shorts ARE your friend. I cringe just thinking about my first shift while wearing jeans and a cute t-shirt (luckily it was black, so you couldn’t see the pit stains that reached to my waistline). Ugh.

 

The other night I was waiting for the bar to get busy and I could start working my shift. I usually sit at the bar, so I can still chat with other coworkers and friends around me. I was sitting alone at the time and an old friend walked in and sat next to me with his buddies. We were chatting and eventually he introduced me to one of the friends (we’ll call him Henry). Henry and I were chatting about school, where we are from, just normal, small talk things. He grew up in Texas, but his parents now live in Singapore due to a job transfer, because of this he told me about his envy of me for growing up so close to our college town that many of my childhood friends are still nearby. I chuckled a bit, and he said, “Well I mean, just like you could have childhood friends, I moved a lot so I never really got to have any, but yeah.” I’m assuming he thought I was a huge loser who actually didn’t have friends growing up, but I smiled again and said, “Yeah, I do. A few of my friends study here as well so it’s pretty cool to have people I know so well around, but unfortunately, I’ve had to bury a few of the others. I know they are still with me in spirit though.” His face just froze while he brainstormed an appropriate response. He apologized for my loss, and asked what had happened. I told him my best friend died of a heroin overdose in April, and I’ve had a couple other friends die of suicide. He apologized again, and told me about how he had to watch his father die of cancer when he was 19, so he knows what it’s like to lose someone so close.

As we kept talking, I told him it definitely is a very hard thing to go through, and that I was in a terrible place after Anna’s death. I then explained how I have finally come to find that I can do something good from her death, and I am now interested in DEA or drug rehabilitation counseling, since my degrees are in Criminology and Psychology.

He looked at me, laughed, and said, “You’re wearing a snap-back hat backwards, you have tattoos, you’re wearing that, you work in a bar and you want to be DEA? Ha! How does that work?”

With a little attitude, I promptly and conceitedly replied “Ask me how many times I’ve gone out drinking in the past 8 months. Then ask me how many drugs I’ve done in my life.”

Henry pondered for a bit, “Li- wait, you’re going to say 0 aren’t you?”

“Yep. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been out drinking, I just don’t think it’s very fun anymore. I smoked weed before (sorry Grandma, Mom, and Dad & Elisa), but I don’t like it because I have a very controlling personality and it just wasn’t fun. That’s the only drug I’ve ever done. And my best friend since I was nine still managed to overdose on Heroin. Didn’t expect that did ya?”

Henry was shocked. “Wow,” he said, “I just completely judged you so differently and wrong. I thought you were like a typical college party girl who gets smashed like every night.”

Nope! I’m very far from it. I personally don’t understand the fun in spending an hour to get ready just to go sit in an extremely loud, crowded, dark place where you can’t hear each other, and having people not even look at my hair or face that I just spent an hour beautifying, but instead everywhere below that I haven’t spent twenty minutes on in the past month. That just really does not sound like my idea of a good time, personally.

After I had explained all of this to him, I began to giggle saying, “You know, it’s funny. I had written a blog about this same exact thing a bit ago. Anna’s family started a non-profit for this exact reason. People don’t know about heroin, don’t know who is doing heroin, and judge people by their outer appearance- often being so far from the truth. You just proved to me exactly why I am doing this, to educate people and show them the way their society really does judge people instead of love and listen to people. I told you Anna is with me all the time!”

The Recovering Addict

After getting to spend the last couple weekends home, it’s amazing how much I have learned.. about everything! We were so lucky that Anna’s best friends from Nevada were able to come visit and stay with Carla, and I was able to spend a lot of my time over there catching up with the girls.

We had our share of ups and downs during the trip, but I soon learned it was all part of Anna’s plan. Nancy and Kathryn have been such a help in explaining to me how the mind of an addict and addict in recovery works. They have allowed me to ask nosey questions in order to pick their brains as an attempt to understand. They explained the details of addiction in a ‘dumbed’ down version, so that my (very innocent to addiction) self could better understand what they meant. Everything, good and bad, that happens now seems to always relate back to something Anna said before or some scheme she’s up to in heaven. I, personally, over the last couple weeks have learned a very hands on approach to what addictive behaviors look like. How the behaviors and mind of an addict are truly warped from this world and so far out of their control. After explaining all of the occurrences to Carla, she said to me, “Can you imagine Anna being that way?” That’s when I knew that Anna was trying to show me what it was like for her and how hard she struggled without any control over what she was doing, so that I can share that with you and help you to also understand what goes on.

Not every addict is exactly the same- some steal, some don’t. some manipulate with tears, some manipulate with pity, some feed off the people that love them most, some feed off of the helpful people who don’t know them at all, some are incredibly mean, some overly nice in order to receive care and affection, some push their families and friends away, some keep them close and use them as a crutch. Now matter the form in which the behaviors are being done, they are still doing them one way or another.

For me to really see it hands on was quite the experience! I fell into the trap as quickly as I’m sure most parents and close friends would. When I saw the way people that had previously dealt with addicts could spot these behaviors, their reactions to the behaviors, and observations the could make almost instantly- I was amazed! Even just saying something a different way, would change the behavior of the addict. If I were to say, “Don’t worry, I can lend you $5 for toothpaste and a soda.” The response would be, “Well, I actually need $10 because I really want to stop and get McDonald’s too.” But when someone can spot the behaviors of an addict, their response is, “Let’s go get you what you need, and nothing more. No you’re not going in alone I’m going with you.” and suddenly, that was the end of it. No more manipulation to suck more out of someone. When an addict says, “I’m going to a meeting now.” You can’t just hand them the keys and off they go. The correct behavior is for you to drop them off, walk them in, and pick them up afterwards. (Or have your sneaky friends with connections check up on who is attending the meeting that day.) Many parents have no idea how to respond to the behaviors of an addict. Even when their child is clean for days, weeks, months- the behaviors still tend to come out on occasion. As a friend, I would have no idea how to deal with the behaviors. That is a scary thought to know that we are allowing them to continue these behaviors without making a change, simply because we don’t know how to respond. We don’t want our child/friend to think that we don’t love them, don’t trust them even though they did make such a big life change, or that we don’t want to help them now that they’ve been sober. So what do we do?? When it seems like they are suffering so badly, do we just let them suffer? No, you get them proper help and care. Take them to a professional who knows what they are doing.  Unfortunately, many financial means do not allow for everyone to get immediate, professional care. There are resources to help for free! Check out this link for a list of centers around you.

Addiction is truly, truly not something that one can control on their own. Most of the time, the addict doesn’t even realize what they’re doing until someone snaps them out of it. They don’t catch onto their behaviors because everyone is feeding into them and not telling them they are wrong. We don’t want to cause any pain to our loved one, or send them into a place where they are contemplating relapse, so instead we just go along with the behaviors and allow them to treat us poorly. That is not the right thing to do. People who have friends that are addicts or family members that are addicts should have a class or resource for online lessons that will teach them how to cope and behavior with recovering addicts in the home (another one of my personal issues with addiction facilities and treatment centers). Right now, we are sending the addict home from rehab, family thinking they are perfectly healed and can go about business as usual, but that is not the case. The need boundaries. In rehab, they have a set time to wake up, a set time for lunch, group meetings at certain times- a very strict schedule. In order for the recovery process to continue working so well, these things need to continue to be implemented when they leave the center. Giving them a free schedule with plenty of free time allows the addict to pick up old behaviors and friends almost immediately. The recovering addict also cannot be stuck in a little box while trying to figure out how to live life while being clean. It can lead to depression, causing another psychological issue that needs to be treated, and again leading to a relapse.

Living with an addict very closely resembles living with a handicap that can function alone, but needs to be monitored for the half of the day. It is not an easy task. I applaud any family that is willing to take their child back in and give them the help and stability they need because it is not easy for them to do. I can imagine it would be very frustrating having to babysit your thirty-year-old son the same way you did when he was thirteen- but it has to be done for a least the first few months post inpatient rehab. They need to get back on their feet, meet new people that aren’t triggers, and create a schedule for themselves that includes commitments they simply cannot miss (i.e. a close knit AA group that counts on their arrival, exercising with their sponsor who picks them up from home, a concrete work schedule, volunteering in places they enjoy and want to be, etc.) Anything to keep them busy and on track, without suffocating them completely from normal life. I can imagine it would be hard as the addict to do come home and have to do all of these things that they are not accustomed to, and I’m sure they often fight back- causing more stress and tension between family members, but it is so necessary. It’s not as easy as it seems, and people don’t understand the stress and difficulty behind it for the friends and family involved. Families and friends need to be educated on these things; only educating the addict and putting them right back into their trigger city is not going to keep them clean forever- some people, yes, but many young people need more motivation and supervision than only relying on themselves.

Humor me, please.

I have a riddle for you all, and a lot of my personal thoughts and research to back it.

If you have ever had surgery, you know that you are prescribed two to four weeks of pain medication to help ease the pain. If you need more, it’s not too entirely difficult to get it. I mean, the doctor doesn’t know what you’re feeling, so if you say you hurt- here’s another month of pills for ya, buddy!

Almost everyone says, it’s up to the patient to decide how much meds they need, when to stop, and when the pain is unbearable. What people don’t understand is that, just like heroin, pain pills and all other opioids are a disease of the brain. Taking opioids repeatedly for an extended period of time changes the structure and the biochemistry of the brain. Many people, including myself, follow the doctors orders to a T. They are the professional, so I should trust them, right? When they prescribe me a months worth of pain killers and tell me to take one or daily as needed, and to come back if I run out or the pain is unbearable, I am going to do just that. Following the doctors order in this way, can change my the biochemistry of brain to then think that my pain is still there, even when it is not- just because of the addiction that has started in my brain and my need for the medication in order to function.

So, why is it that the doctor continues to prescribe us such a large dose of pain pills, knowing the chance for addiction is so high and that the rate of opioid abuse in the United States has sky rocketed year after year? How is it that when one doctor prescribes you medication and you run out, your are able to go to another doctor with the excuse of, “I’m still having pain here from this incident, I ran out of pills. Can I have more?” and there ya go, a brand new script for your addict brain! How do we not have enough technology to fix these issues? Why do doctors continue to create more addictions that we don’t need?

How many of you have heard about TakeAway: Iowa? My guess is very few. I didn’t even know about TakeAway. You probably still have no idea what I’m talking about! TakeAway is a twice a year, nation-wide event started by the DEA and put on in Iowa by the Iowa Pharmacy Association as a way for citizens to safely dispose of prescription drugs that are either old or left over, in order to create safer households and less addictions. (Learn more about TakeAway: Iowa) A large majority of teens that begin using prescription drugs, stared that they had originally found the pills in their home medicine cabinets or from a friend who had easy access to the medications. Even worse, many kids who start by using prescription pills, turn to heroin because of the ‘better’ high and one-eight the price. Almost everyone I know, that had been addicted to heroin, all started by using prescription pills. There have been 7 days of the nation-wide take back event put on by the DEA in the past four years. In these seven days, over the past four years, a total of 780,158 pounds or 390 tons of old or expired prescription pills were returned. Many people had no idea how to dispose of old medications, and would result to either flushing them (contaminating the water) or throwing them away (potentially handing them out to rubbage searchers). As soon as someone searching through trash finds the address, name, and type of medication prescribed- it makes that house a very easy target for robbery and theft. Many people don’t realize how dangerous prescription pills are. On the streets, a single oxy pill sells for $20. If you don’t use all of your pills and just throw them away- you just gave a dealer $200 and helped cause a death by overdose. See more prices of drugs on the streets.

No one is thinking about the consequences of their very mild actions. I mean, who in their right mind goes digging through trash for old pills? A LOT OF PEOPLE. That is some of the quickest and easiest money for people to come by. With the increase in opioid and prescription pill addictions we are facing today, it’s time for us to open our minds and think about things in a different light. You can help stop all of this, you can make a difference. You can help save a life, even by the smallest steps.

You can start today.

Find a safe place to dispose of your medications HERE.

21.

Ahh, the big 21st birthday!

Now that I’m 21, I’m obviously much, much older, mature, and smarter- just like every 21 year old out there…. Oh.

Twenty-one doesn’t feel much different than twenty (sorry to spoil it), and twenty-one without your best friend around is even less fun than twenty with her around. Anna and I had been planning our twenty-first birthdays since we were roughly sixteen, and had the best trip to Vegas with all of our high-school girlfriends planned out in our heads. I’m not sure how we thought that trip was going to work out considering we’re all broke college students… No, I take that back- Knowing Anna I’m sure the hotel room would have been charged to Carla’s credit card and Mom would have grounded us for life. On our twenty-first birthdays, Anna and I would obviously meet each other after a long semester of college, go out and show this town how it’s done, and have the greatest night of our lives because we are legally able to drink without our parents taking our cellphones or cars. Anna’s birthday was first, December eleventh, and she was really, I mean reallllly excited to be twenty-one. I’m not exactly sure why thinking back on it now, I suppose just because she could go buy a six-pack whenever she wanted and was no longer terrified of the Kum and Go worker telling her she looked nothing like a 24 year-old Rebecca, with blonde hair like her ID said. That, and the fact that Anna had the height of a sixth grader and would still get ID’d for cigarettes at age twenty, both caused her to be even more excited for her birthday than the average college student. I, who has always looked older than my age (mostly because of my height), was always excited, but never really over-the-top like Anna. At age seventeen, most people assumed I was around twenty-ish and it just went up from there. Luckily, I have remained looking twenty-one for the past couple years, and I’m praying it will stay this way the rest of my life. Wishful thinking. Anyway, Anna had enough excitement for the both of us. She was more excited for my twenty-first birthday than I was. We would set all of these plans, Anna would write out timed itineraries for our celebrations, where we were going to be when, and she was researching our girls weekend in Vegas before we were even out of high-school.

Our twenty-first birthdays were nothing like we planned. The itinerary was bologna. On Anna’s twenty-first birthday, we hadn’t factored in the fact that I was taking a final exam and had three more left to take that week, while her college was already out. We didn’t factor in the fact that Anna was a recovering addict, and couldn’t drink anyway. We didn’t expect Anna to no longer have the jeep that we had spent countless days driving around blaring music in quiet neighborhoods for no reason. We didn’t realize our lives would have made such a sharp turn. That wasn’t the plan. It was all ruined, and I didn’t even get to see Anna on her birthday. All I could do was send her a, “OMGGGG HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY BEST FRRRRAN! TAKE A SHOT FOR MEEEE! And call me when you’re drunk later! Lolz. Love you babbbyyy” text at midnight while I was cramming for my exams at the library. That wasn’t the plan.

But, God had a different plan. He needed Anna to come home before my twenty-first birthday even happened.

I spent my twenty-first birthday in Iowa City with some of my dearest friends, all who know what I’m going through, and they showed me the best time I could have asked for! I mean, I got two free meals that day.. they know the key to my heart, what more could a girl ask for?! Well, okay, yes, I could ask for my best friend, and I often do, but that just isn’t going to happen. I did enjoy my birthday, but in the back of my head I kept thinking back to my birthday itinerary and it was all wrong. It’s little things that pop up in my head all the time reminding me of what I think it should be and what God’s plan really is. I still drove over to Anna’s on Sunday, just like my itinerary said, except this time it was just Carla and I. Carla got me a gift, including Anna’s Chapstick egg that she had signed, so I knew Anna was still there, but it just seemed like something was missing.

It will feel that way for all of the days to come, especially the milestones Anna and I had already planned out, but somehow there is always a comfort around me knowing that change happens, Anna is still popping up around me, and it’s up to me to figure out why my life doesn’t match our itinerary- what I’m supposed to do with the life I do still have on Earth, knowing that it’s not going to match the plan I had all along… and that’s okay.

Sisters

Sometimes, best friends are even more than that. When you find a best friend that you know is going to be there your whole life, she’s now your sister. I looked up to Anna in so many ways. She showed me so much in life, and I learned so much about life from her that she could be nothing less than a sister to me. Blood could not have made us any closer. I had always wanted a sister growing up, and I even went as far as to dress my baby brother up in my clothes and call him Tina. However, Dad was not amused, and little Joshy wasn’t Tina anymore. God did give me Anna though, she was closer to me than anyone in my life. She knew more about me than I knew about myself, she knew how I was feeling before I even said it, and she knew who I was without me explaining myself. I think that’s why these past few months have been so hard for me.

Lately all I can think about is trying to pick back up all the pieces of my life that shattered right in front of me after I got the worst phone call of my life. It seems like nothing is fitting back together the same way it was before. My life changed so quickly in such a way I could have never imagined, and I mentally could not handle it for a long time. As I mentioned before this is not my first rodeo with losing a friend, but this is the first time losing a sister, a best friend, someone who knew me for so long, so well, and a spot in my heart that is completely irreplaceable. It was such a shock to me mentally that I just completely shut down.

I physically could not get out of my bed without breaking down. I couldn’t leave my house without crying. I couldn’t eat without being sick. I sat in my room for days upon days, usually watching Netflix, the sunlight blocked out completely, and just a lamp on to keep me company. I didn’t want to do anything. I did have a need to do anything. I had no motivation to do anything or to live my life at all. I stayed put in my bedroom where the real world couldn’t get to me, and I could block it all from consuming me. Most people say it’s the opposite for them, sitting inside makes it worse, but if I had left my room during that time- I know something terrible would have happened. I was in such a confused, whirlwind place, with thoughts racing through my mind every second of the day, it was exhausting.

Many people, including my Father, Grandmother, siblings, no one knows is that I have been going to therapy for months now. Since Anna died, I have been going twice a week in order to try to keep myself sane. I am a psychology major, but I never in a million years thought therapy would be anything that could help me- I was strong enough. There comes a point however, when you mind experiences so much, that you can’t take it any longer. I was in such a depression I was losing weight by the day, even when I would eat. My hair was falling out, and I just looked miserable all the time- and I was miserable all the time. I didn’t talk to anyone for weeks after Anna died. I had no desire to talk to anyone. I just wanted to curl up in a little ball and wake up a new person, with a new life, and be somewhere far, far away from all of these memories. No matter how badly I wished the next day would be different, it was always the same.

The hardest thing about all of this, was the fact that Anna wasn’t here to understand how I was feeling. No one has understood me the way Anna did, and when I try to explain it to them- they still don’t get it. Until you have been a person suffering from depression, you have no idea what it is like. It is the worst thing you can imagine, and you wake up feeling like hell every single day, praying you can stay out of sight and counting down the minutes until you can crawl back up into that black whole and hide from the world.

I’m on medications for anxiety and depression, and after 3 months of extreme depression I am able to leave my house without having a huge panic attack. Large crowds without someone I trust around are still a trigger for the anxiety and a longing to run back to my black hole, but it has been much easier to cope with when I know it’s coming. The hardest part now, is putting the pieces back together.

I was in my room, alone, not talking to anyone really, for a good two months before I was able to come out of it. In that time, my friends graduated and left, people I cared about deeply came and gone, and eventually I was left with my family, my therapist, and my ex-boyfriends dog (whenever he was willing to let me steal him). I didn’t go out, congratulate my friends, or even tell them goodbye before they left. Even thinking about going to see them made me so anxious I would have a hard time breathing or even moving- I would just freeze up (or faint- which gave me my first black eye).

Now, I have forced myself to be social again. Before all of this set in, I was always with friends. You couldn’t get me to leave anyone’s side for twenty minutes. I’m a twenty-year-old college student, all we do is hang out with friends and have sleep overs on school nights, and do everything our parents wouldn’t let us do when we were nine. The only problem is, I have no one left to be social with. I managed to lose all of my ties with everyone because anytime anyone asked me to do anything, the answer was always no. Eventually, they gave up. Trying to rebuild friendships is not an easy thing, especially when everyone has gone off and made new friends and you’re just there, taking up space, and not understanding any of what’s happening around you. My world is still foggy walking around and seeing people. I feel like I’m moving in slow motion, and everything around me is just passing by in fast blurs. It’s impossible for me to get out of my head, and try to enjoy what is happening around me. With time, things will get more clear, but for now I am still so lost. I continuously have thoughts like, “who’s going to be my maid of honor?” “Who am I going to call when I get engaged?” “Who is going to celebrate with me when I get my first job?” “when I graduate college?” “Who is going to be with me ten years from now” The answer to all of those questions was always Anna. Since high school we had planning on giving each other speeches at our weddings. Instead, I was a giving a speech at her funeral.

It seems like without her here, nothing fits in place. The relationships I want to be in aren’t working, and the places I want to be with myself aren’t there. I have a hard time knowing who I am without her, because so much of my heart was consumed and created through Anna being my backbone.

So for now… it’s just me. Trying to figure out how these pieces change their shape and mold into what my new life is going to be without my sister next to me. I don’t have answer for what my life will even remotely look like next year, next week, or tomorrow- and that ‘unknown’ is a very scary thing. It changes who you are and how you think. Everything I built my whole life is completely changed, and for the first time in my life- I have to figure it out completely on my own.