I still have a hard time writing about it, it's not something I necessarily want to write or think about. Actually, I want to lock it up in the corners of my subconscious and throw away the key.
October 27th 2018 Friday, the weekend before Halloween was the night my close friend overdosed and passed away.
That afternoon, I texted her and asked her to grab lunch with me while I was going to get my nails done. There was a long waiting line, and my nails took longer than expected, by the time I was done, I was tired. I texted her and asked to reschedule, and she wasn't even upset, she just told me to have a nighty night.
Then Saturday I called because we made plans, and it went straight to voicemail. That's weird. You always have your phone on you, let alone charged.
I texted you Monday, then Tuesday and the text bubble was green...I thought it was weird but didn't think too much of it, maybe you were somewhere without wifi.
Then, Tuesday night I get a text from another friend, saying, "how are you holding up?"
My heart sunk, and I knew what he was talking about, without really knowing. I grabbed my computer and logged on to Facebook and searched your name. That's when I started seeing the RIP posts all over your wall.
What a sick joke, I thought.
I call you right away...voicemail.
I sat there staring at my computer, I slowly put my hands over my face. I try to sob quietly, but I can't.
During the first week or so, I felt the worst I've ever felt. It was a combination of my first break up, and uncontrollable tiredness, multiplied by 10. I couldn't sleep, and when I did, it was only for a couple of hours. I was drinking a glass of wine to start and end my day, with some more drinking in between. Everything reminded me of her. I just wanted to go home. My eyes hurt every day for a week because I couldn't stop crying. There was a point I was so numb, I thought I was done crying, and tears kept coming.
I tried going to class, sometimes I could sit through a lecture, but at other times, I just left.
During that first week, there's no use in trying to keep it together. I've only had a couple of out-of-body experiences, and this was one of them. I felt like I was standing next to myself, watching me go through the motions. I don't really remember those two weeks.
This is what I wish someone would have told me:
1. It's going to hurt, and it's going to hurt A LOT.
I was in denial until I went to her wake. I wasn't expecting it to be an open casket, and I almost lost it. Seeing her there, still...I couldn't fathom. My mind didn't understand. That's my friend, she was only 20, we didn't even celebrate her 21st. I was so angry, and guilty. I was angry, because you left me here, and now what am I supposed to do? Fuck dude, I miss you.
2. It's going to feel like you're losing your mind a little.
For those two weeks, my mind felt clouded, it probably didn't help that I was drinking a lot. I blacked out for the first time. I remember trying to do simple tasks, like going grocery shopping, and I couldn't even do it. I would go in with my list, and not know where things were, which is weird because I've shopped at the same place for the past 3 years! Tasks that normally take 20 minutes, were taking an hour. I would try to leave my apartment, and could not find my keys for 20 minutes, just to find out they were in my hand...
I thought I was losing it. I couldn't remember what I did 5 minutes ago, and my mind would just go blank if anyone asked me anything. I think this is what a zombie feels like.
3. There's no right or wrong way to react.
Because of the type of person I am, I didn't want to talk about it. I'm the type of person that keeps everything bottled up until I explode. At this moment, I want to take a moment and thank everyone that texted/called me during this time, it meant a lot, I just wasn't in a place that I could reach out.
There's this pressure to react a certain way when you are grieving. You're supposed to look like shit. I felt like people expected me to act or say certain things, but I couldn't. You're supposed to wear all black or something... honestly, f*ck off. One professor asked me, how long I had known her for, as if it would have mattered? Would you have more apathy if I had known her for 10 years rather than 3? Since I'm not crying, I must not be in pain, right?
Just take your time, if you need to keep yourself super busy, do it. If you need to lock yourself in your room and cry it out, do that too. If you need both, then so be it.
4. Put the bottle of wine down.
I wish my friends could have actually told me to stop drinking before it was too late. I know it seems harmless at first, and it actually helped me when I couldn't sleep, but don't do it. Halloween, I was triggered, and instead of calling it a night, I took shots on my own, which followed by me getting into a fight. Full disclosure, this girl was being a total c-word, so she kind of had it coming. But that's not the moral of the story! The moral of the story is that self-medicating when you're hurting can go really south, really really fast. It doesn't make grieving any easier and only gets you in trouble, tbh. I know my friends were trying to be supportive and thought that drinking couldn't be that bad, but it was.
5. You will be triggered.
Every freaking place reminds me of you. The quad, Devil Dawgs, Starbucks, 1237, McGee's, the list is endless. I couldn't walk through school without having a flashback of every other place. I would start off strong, leaving my apartment was the first step. Then I would see the stu and think of you, and the tears would come. I couldn't help it. I'm lucky that I was able to go home to Florida soon. Had that not been the case, I think I would have had some serious issues. All the memories are going to come back like a disease, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.
6. Listen to your body
Wanna workout? Run on the treadmill. Wanna eat desserts? Go to Sweet Mandy's. Wanna stalk your friend's profile? Go for it. Wanna lay in bed and stare at a wall? Play some Amy Winehouse, it helps. I wish I would have been in tune with my body. It may be hard to do so while you're going through it, but try. Don't try to do what you "think" you should be doing, instead try to listen to your body.
7. It's okay to depend on your friends
Easier said than done. I'm usually the happy, positive person in the group, and for the first time roles reversed. I'm the one that usually has it together, but things hit the fan so quickly. I could no longer handle my anger. I was that drunk friend that you have to take care of and it was weird.
Depend on your friends to write emails for you. Let yourself be vulnerable and let them take care of you. During this time, I found which of my friends are good with this kind of thing. Greta checked up on my every other day, even though she was thousands of miles away in her study abroad. I got to see the best qualities in my group of friends and I will forever be thankful. I also got to see some friends that are actually not that good of friends, but that's life.
8. Let your professors know
A quick email is all it takes. If you want to, or can't, try to talk to the dean of students, or ask your friends to type an email for you. Most professors will be understanding, and even if you think you can power through, letting your professors know will help.
9. You're not going to feel like yourself
You are going to be numb for a while, and that's okay. You're probably going to have a great day, just to follow a night of breakdown. It's okay, let time do its thing.
10. Find your way of coping
So, one of her friend and I got into an argument. I used social media to help me with my grieving, and this girl had the freaking nerve to basically say that the way in which I was coping was wrong. If you're reading this, F U. First of all, she was my friend too, and you're a piece of dirt for questioning my friendship with her.
See, the thing is, my friend overdosed, so it brought up the question of mental illness. In our society, we like to remember the deceased as an angel. Which she was not, she was human. We got into an argument because this girl wanted me to "rephrase" one of my posts about her.
Grieving is hard, let alone in college. You're trying to keep up with your classes, while in a big drinking culture, and it can be a lot to handle. Know that everything will be okay, even if it doesn't seem like it. Take it day by day, and if you need help, each school offers different kinds of help, whether that's a counselor or a referral to talk to someone outside of school.