My best friend Jack was a young, healthy, hard working, kind, amazing lad. He really was a ‘proper’ friend. He could tell me my life story, tell me things I honestly didn’t know about myself. He always knew the right answer to my questions and always gave the best advice. He was my rock. We had been best friends since from around the age of 2, so he really did know me better than I knew myself. He held my hand through the tough times and laughed with me through the amazing times. Protective, as you can imagine a friend to be. He was the type of friend you didn’t have to speak to for a week or two but as soon as you did it was like you had spoken just yesterday.
Three years ago my world came crashing down. A phone call, that’s all it took. News that completely broke my heart. Jack died of a cardiac arrest, he was 20. He went to bed and didn’t wake up.
I didn’t sleep a wink the night I found out, tossed and turned. I had so many questions. I was so angry, angry with the world. My head was absolutely all over the place. How could this happen? His family needed him, I needed him. I didn’t even get to say goodbye, which was the hardest thing for me. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my best friend, tell him how much he meant to me. I had this strange sense of being completely lost, completely alone. I could physically feel the pain in my heart, the empty hole. My body was numb, I couldn’t focus or think. I just cried, I cried all the time. I was like a robot – daily activities, work just became a blur. I spent most of my days walking around aimlessly, hating the world. I couldn’t find the words to talk to anyone. I didn’t know what to say. How could I explain this pain? It’s easy to forget that it’s not just the person’s family that mourn, but all the people whose lives they touched. I felt like I didn’t have the right to show this emotion, this utter sadness, because I wasn’t a member of his close family.
I slowly slipped into a deep depression. It all happened so quickly, I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I had so many friends, but none of them knew or understood the pain I really felt. I went to a different high school to Jack, so my ‘high school’ friends didn’t know him; I couldn’t explain how much he meant to me, how amazing he really was. I couldn’t let anyone in – how could they possibly understand? I was worried about telling anyone how I felt because I didn’t want people to think I was doing it for attention. I just wanted this feeling of loneliness to stop.. I needed to help myself. I covered it up by smiling, being happy, trying to be my usual self. When I got home after school it was a different story. I would just sit in my bedroom, curtains closed.
I needed to do something; I couldn’t carry on in this way. I wasn’t living, I was just existing. I started to research depression, symptoms, treatments, anything and everything. This is how I came across CALM. It’s been my saviour ever since. It really did make a difference. Being able to read about other people’s stories, I knew I wasn’t alone in the way I was feeling. I was able to relate to people, read how they overcome their problems. I reflected on myself, my life, Jack.
It didn’t happen overnight but I rebuilt myself, rebuilt my life. I was able to open up and talk to people. Like I said, it didn’t happen overnight, it took me at least 2 years to find myself again. Talking to someone was the best thing I could have ever done. I opened up and released everything. My shoulders felt lighter and my strength was slowly restored. I still have days when I just cry, but I never do it alone. If I am having a down day I will sit with my family or friends and talk to them, surround myself with the people I love. Maybe I have more down days than good days; the important thing is I am on the right track. A problem shared is a problem halved. I still text Jack’s phone as well. Sounds crazy but it’s something that helps me, it’s the little things that help. I will never forget Jack, my best friend. Just because I don’t cry everyday doesn’t mean I don’t miss him as much as the day he left us. I learnt to celebrate his life, all the things we did, the memories we created. He will always, always be in my heart. My bestfriend.
I wanted to tell my story. I want to help the people that really need it, so much so I am now studying mental health nursing at university. I think the key to helping someone with such issues is to put yourself in their shoes, empathise with their situation, and for me I really can. I have been there and I am living evidence that life does go on and it does get better.