My goal: To raise at least $5,000 for NAMI Walks NYC to increase awareness around teen mental health. JOIN MY TEAM or support the Archer’s Aim Team and NAMI. No one deserves to lose a brother or their life. #JoinTheMovement
My 16 year old brother died on July 13th, 2018 in the front yard of my mom’s home in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He was shot and killed. Countless times I walked out in and out of the front door with him, walking through the front yard. I hated when he walked out the door alone and went to school because I loved being around him any chance I got. My three siblings are my best friends and often times on weekends we would choose just to be together rather than hang out with friends from school (there are many reasons why, too).
Growing up, we dealt with a lot and went through a lot. That’s why we’re so close. And very protective of each other.
One of my sisters has been in and out of mental health treatment centers her entire life. She’s only 18 years old. My other sister struggled with an eating disorder for awhile in high school and went to treatment as well.
I knew my brother was struggling. All of the signs were there. He started vaping very frequently and selling alcohol. He got a tattoo on his ribs from some underground place. I watched him slow down on the lacrosse field. I noticed he wasn’t in as good of shape anymore. He slept in late and couldn’t fall asleep at night. He became more withdrawn than ever before. The last time I saw him he threw up a couple of times and told me he was always throwing up. This is a sign of severe anxiety. He would make alarming comments like he wanted to get a gun and that he didn’t want to live to a very old age.
He struggled to control his anger and aggression and you could see how horribly sad it made him when he yelled and lashed out. How could a child possibly understand these emotions?
He was more caring than I will ever be. He was a “cool kid”, but never rejected the “not cool” kids. He related to them and could always tell when someone was struggling. Because he was struggling deeply. He was the most beautiful boy I’ve ever met.
After my brother’s death, we asked for donations instead of flowers because what the hell do fucking flowers do. I picked NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness.
NAMI is the the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. They advocate for and support adolescent mental health research and they lead public awareness events to fight mental health stigma.
Mental illness effects 43.8 million adults each year. And this number is growing. What I’ve talked about here only touches the surface of the mental illness that has swept through my family and extended family.