I have experienced a lot of loss in my 26 short years of life.
Because of these losses I was diagnosed with PTSD—a disease that is always in the back of my mind and could keep me from living life and loving to the fullest. But, my experiences with loss and PTSD have also taught me some important lessons about love.
I was 3 my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she was a fighter and fought it. Even though I was young, I do remember some times from this experience. Then when I was 10 or so my Grandma was diagnosed with acute myogenic leukemia.
When they came back with that diagnosis I was so upset because my Grandma was my best friend. We lived across the street from her, and I felt lucky I could visit her everyday. I didn’t want to lose her.
Watching her battle cancer again, I was able to see how strong she was. She fought through the chemotherapy and was in remission for a little while, and I am so very thankful that we got that extra time with her. But then she got sick again and this time the doctor told us that the chemo wasn’t working and there was nothing else we could do but just watch my grandmother slowly deteriorate and become a person that she was not.
A few weeks after my 12 birthday she came home for hospice care, and I knew at that point, even though I wasn’t prepared for it, the end was coming.
While she was in hospice, I got sick with the flu , which meant I couldn’t be with my Grandma. This really hurt because I wanted to spend every minute every second of each day with her. While I was sick, my grandma passed away.
I was so distraught that I did not know what to do. That is my first experience with death. I can remember lying next to my sister just crying myself to sleep, but not sleeping much because my crying would wake me up. I kept wishing that it wasn’t true and hoping that I could go back in time and reverse everything. I had a hollow spot in my heart and my stomach just felt empty and in knots.
Shortly after my Grandma passed away, my uncle died unexpectedly. This added even more to my grief and trying to cope with both of their absences was very difficult for me.
The only silver lining in my life at that time was my nephew.
While my grandma was sick, my oldest brother had a baby. I was so excited that we were going to have a new baby. We needed happiness in our lives. Eventually, my brother and my nephew came to live with us.
I would bathe and dress him for the day since my brother was at work. My mom would feed him and I can still remember her rocking him in the rocking chair. We were happy to have him in our lives every day and I think that he helped in us grieving the losses we had just suffered.
But then tragedy struck my family once again, and our world came crashing down. A few months after my twelfth birthday, my nephew was in a horrible accident, and my oldest nephew, sister and I witnessed the whole thing.
After witnessing such a traumatic incident, I was in shock. Within a few hours of the incident, my mom took my older nephew and me to the hospital to be checked out. That is when my adventure with PTSD began.
Eventually I started seeing a psychologist and I really liked her. I felt that I could tell her anything and not be judged because I am not like everyone else. I like to feel like you get all of someone’s attention, and it is nice to have someone listen to everything you say, and to get advice you can take your time to consider before following through, because it is not a parent.
I was fine for a few years but then started having symptoms that my PTSD was about to but its big head out into my life again. So I went to see a psychiatrist. I was prescribed medications to help with PTSD, depression and insomnia. Also during this time, another nephew was born into our family.
Again, my nephew honestly made my life better and made me want to get better for him. I have always told my nephew that when I was traveling down a very dark tunnel he came into it and brought the light and joy back.
My experiences with loss, PTSD and depression have taught me that terrible things are bound to happen, you can’t avoid them. But my experiences of new life and love through my nephews have taught me that life and love are more powerful and still worth it.