To Anyone With A Family Member Battling Depression, Know This

To Anyone With A Family Member Battling Depression, Know This

They will find their way back.

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My older brother is one of the strongest people I know. At least on the exterior. Anyone who knows him would fully agree with this. He was the essential king of our high school, the tough hockey player with a Division I scholarship who everyone wanted to talk to but most were too afraid to. He seemed to have it all. And what's more, he seemed to most people relatively emotionless, immune to pain, and purely dominant. If only they knew. Underneath it all he's still just the little boy I grew up with. Despite him only being a year older than me, I always looked up to him like he was a giant. I was always proud to be his little sister. And though he might not know it, I still am now.

Maybe even more so.

The hard thing for me to admit and especially to write about is that my tough-as-nails giant of a big brother broke down a few weeks ago. And I mean broke down completely. Always a Mama's boy from the beginning, I watched him cling to our mother in a complete and utter anxiety attack just hours before his flight was scheduled to bring him back to Canada. He was playing juniors hockey up in Ottawa, Ontario and was one of the captains of their winning NAHL league team. But he couldn't go back. Despite every being in his mind and body that knew it was still what he wanted. The depression and anxiety had absolutely engulfed him. And as my parents and I looked at each other through pained faces we knew, we couldn't let him go back. Not like this.

It didn't take a doctor to know that my big brother had depression. And anxiety. But what did that mean? What did it mean really, not just according to the cheesy commercials advertising over-the-counter antidepressants? I don't know the exact medical analysis of this condition. I don't know exactly how to treat it or even what causes it. Essentially I don't know the formal medical truth, but I do know my own truth.

My truth is that depression is nothing to be ashamed of. My truth is that my big brother is still the strongest person I know and that showing your emotions to others and being vulnerable with those you love is the bravest thing someone can do. Just because someone is depressed doesn't mean they have a bad life, and it for sure doesn't mean they don't appreciate their blessings. It is simply a condition, an uncontrollable one that is half the time hereditary. It doesn't define my brother. I know who he is, and I know that person is still in there, maybe somewhat suppressed but still fighting each and every day.

My truth is that anyone who has struggled with depression and found their way out has utterly unparalleled bravery inside them. I think they are stronger than I could even comprehend or make up in my mind. I think that once they find their way back to the light, they appreciate life like they never did before, that they are made new again. Beauty without struggle isn't really that beautiful at all. That is my truth. And I know that my brother is slowly climbing his way back to the light. But even now, even when he's not quite there yet, I love him the same way I always did.

Maybe even more so.

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Dear Mom, Now That I'm Older

A letter to the woman who made me the woman I am today.
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Dear Mom,

Now that I'm older, I definitely appreciate you a lot more than I did as a kid. I appreciate the little things, from the random text messages to constantly tagging me on Facebook in your "funny" photos and sending me pins of stuff I like on Pinterest. Now that I'm older, I can look back and realize that everything I am is all because of you. You've made me strong but realize it's okay to cry. You've shown me how a mother gives everything to her children to give them a better life than she had, even when she's left with nothing. And, most importantly you've taught me to never give up and without this, I would not be where I am today.

Mom, now that I'm older, I realize that you're the best friend I'm ever going to have. You cheer me on when I try new things and support me in deciding to be whatever person I want to be. Thank you for never telling me I can't do something and helping me figure out ways to be the best woman I can be. Your love for me is unconditional. They say true, unconditional love can only come from God, but mom, I think you're a pretty close second.

SEE ALSO: An Open Letter To The Cool Mom

Now that I'm older, I don't get to see you as much. But not seeing you as much just makes the times I do get to see you the absolute best, and I look forward to it every time. Now that I'm older, I'm not going to live at home. But, I promise to always come back because I know the door is always open. Your house is always going to be my home, and no other place is going to be the same.

Now that I'm older, I realize how much I miss you taking care of me. I miss you making me dinner, making sure I was doing well in school, and taking me to endless appointments. I miss you waking me up for school and then waking me up again because I didn't listen the first time.

But, Mom, now that I'm older, I can see all that you've done for me. I can look back and see how big of a brat I was but you still loved me (and let me live) anyways. I can understand why you did certain things and frankly, you're one bada** of a woman.

To have you as my mom and my best friend has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. So, Mom, now that I'm older, thank you, for everything.

Love,

Your Daughter

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Why Having a Pet Can Greatly Help Your Mental Health

Pets may seem like a hassle and not worth it but even getting something as simple as a goldfish can help your mental health and can help you in other ways.

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Pets. They are wonderful creatures that come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. You've got cats, dogs, fish, and more and I believe all of them can help your mental health one way or another.

Starting off with fish, having something as simple as a beta fish can help your mental health out a great deal. Life is stressful and constant, never letting you take a break and having something to care for and talk to (even if the fish can't understand what you're saying) can help you out immensely if you feel are feeling alone.

Dogs are great because it is a pet you can actually hold. Dogs have a variety of heightening senses and one I've noticed with mine is his ability to know when I'm feeling down and he will come up to me and just cuddle up with me and check to see how I'm doing and just sit there with a smile on his face.

Dogs are also great to play with when you get done with a busy day of college or a terrible day at work or when you're just feeling out of it. For those of you who want a more laid back kind of pet that won't be as up in your face, cats are great.

Cats are interested in that one second they don't seem to care about you whatsoever and the next second they just cuddle up right next to you and purr and just want to give you all the love they can muster.

An interesting pet that I used to have when I was younger was a pet red ear slider turtle named Crush (yes as in the Finding Nemo Turtle). Crush was a wonderful companion to have around. I used to have a lot of anxiety and a lot of mental demons when I was younger and Crush would help me through those tough times.

I highly suggest having a turtle if you struggle immensely with your mental health. Watching in their tank swim around and cleaning their shell is some of the most therapeutic things I've ever experienced.

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