by: Lauren Streich
I was in my freshman home room class and during the usual morning announcements I decided to go to my locker to retrieve a textbook. Before I could pass the threshold, Sister Lynn came on the loud speaker and said: “Seton Catholic Preparatory has called and asked is to keep in our prayers the family of Eric Francese, Eric passed away late Monday night”.
The first thing that came to my mind was “she said his name wrong” and then with realization of her words, I collapsed to the floor. “This is a joke” I thought to myself, saying “oh my god, this isn’t real” repeatedly while my home room teacher and classmates sat staring at me. I was numb, it wasn’t real, he wasn’t gone.
Crying hysterically I went to my first class and asked to see the guidance counselor. I had explained to her that I had been talking to Eric Monday night and all of a sudden he stopped responding, I didn’t think anything of it. To know that I talked to him moments before he took his own life crushed me. I will always wonder if I could have said something to make him feel loved but the truth is I had no idea he was depressed.
Our friendship had faded when we went to different schools. Eric had texted me for the first time in months the Thursday before he died. But, in the moment I felt guilt, and then I began feeling useless.
I starting thinking of what he had done and began to understand and relate to it. I quickly became suicidal and with no desire to talk to anyone about anything, it’s a miracle I made it through this very dark time in my life. I thought no one cared if I was alive or not.
I think part of this belief was because, once I became depressed, my friends distanced themselves. They saw that I wasn’t talking or being my bubbly self and didn’t know how to talk to me. But since I was in a depressive state I saw it as them not caring that I was sad and them not trying to help me.
That was definitely at the core of my depression and that is what I want people to realize; depression can’t be ignored. Depression doesn’t simply go away and the mentality that just letting the depressed deal with it alone is completely counter-productive.
Together, supporting one-another and truly caring that the person next to you is alive and telling them that is one of the biggest steps the human race could make. Whether it is directed to a stranger or loved-one, random acts of kindness can not only change a person’s day, but their life.
Acts can be as simple as giving a compliment or something as grand as paying for a stranger’s meal at a restaurant. No matter what random act of kindness you perform the message should remain the same, we are all loved and we all here for one another.
As for myself, when I can’t fall asleep, I lay in bed and talk to Eric because I know he is listening in heaven. There are moments when I start to lose faith and fear that I will go back to my dark times; but then I think of all the amazing people, places and opportunities I would have missed out on if I had succumb to the disease and I can’t help but smile.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” –Albus Dumbledore