I honestly wish I could say that it is nice to “meet” you, but the truth is it’s not. You don’t know me, and that is okay, but I do know you. Well, at least I do now, since your face, full of tears, has been broadcast throughout the Internet. The look and feeling of guilt plastered across your face but your tears have not fooled me.
I am writing to you because I read, from beginning to end, the texts you sent your then boyfriend Conrad – texts that churned my stomach. The same feeling I had felt eight years ago.
Nearly eight years ago, my then boyfriend, Austen, had been found dead from suicide. I dread this day every year so much so that, my current boyfriend plans an elaborate day to keep my thoughts occupied. My life and many other lives changed eight years ago when Austen’s body was found.
I was 18 – I had my entire life ahead of me. Having just completed my freshman year in University, joining a sorority and developing what would become lifelong friendships, along with a supportive family, my life seemed picture perfect. Amidst this picture perfect life, I was harboring a deep, dark secret.
My boyfriend – the smartest and kindest soul I will ever know – was battling his debilitating mental health issues. Every relationship has its intoxicatingly beautiful moments of pure bliss, and ours did, but what nobody saw were the extreme lows that Austen went through, that I chose to stand by him through. I have to say, it truly is a choice, but when you care about someone so deeply, and can’t imagine your life without them, for me, it became my responsibility. I don’t think that this works for everybody, but my own mental health was in a place that I felt capable of supporting him without sacrificing my mental state.
I walked him through his episodes and sometimes we stumbled through them together. I tried to find remedies, from natural to prescription medication, I tried everything I could do to take the pain away from him and push it as far away as possible. I think many people who have seen a loved one face troubling times want to take their pain away, no matter how impossible it seemed. Even though these were the most difficult days of my life, I look back on our time together quite fondly, I feel fortunate to have had him in my life.
I looked at him every day, this handsome young boy, in a similar place to me, with his whole life ahead of him. Published in papers for his innovative theoretical physics theories, invited across the continent to meet with other like-minded individuals, a loving and supporting family, a dedicated group of friends, and an attitude of someone who would try anything once. He had what most people would consider a picture perfect life, but many people didn’t know the difficulties he was facing.
So when I read the texts that you sent your then boyfriend, I was shocked at how disconnected you seemed from him, while claiming that this was the person you loved. The seeming ease in which you sent messages that have ultimately led to his death left me with an extremely uneasy feeling within. I’m not sure that someone who loves and cares for another individual could ever consciously encourage them to take something you’re only given once. And now that he’s gone, you want to play the victim. You want the world to feel bad for you; you think you’re innocent.
I would do anything to bring Austen back, and I did everything I could to support him then, and even after all of that, I was traumatized. I began to blame myself for his suicide, I didn’t do enough, I didn’t find the right remedy, I didn’t do enough research into good therapists. The list goes on. And so, I can only imagine the guilt you’re feeling right now.
I felt responsible for the loss that everyone who knew Austen was feeling.
I wish I could have done more to avoid his suicide. And when I read your story I had wished that I didn’t, because there are people out there who wish they could have had those last moments with someone they love to convince them that life is worth living. No matter how cliché that may sound, you truly only understand that sentiment when someone you love and care for deeply is dealing with suicidal thoughts.
I’m certain that there will be justice for Conrad’s life and I hope that anyone reading this who faces thoughts of helplessness; knows that someone cares about you. I promise you this: life is worth it, please get the help and support you need.