This is my nephew Tyrel. He would have been 28 on his next birthday, Dec 31, 2013.
This is Ty’s daughter, Saylor. She is 3 now. She was a 3 month old fetus when Tyrel took his life. He never got to hold her and see how beautiful she is. He was buried holding her first ultrasound picture.
We’re lucky. Saylor’s mom, Destiny, is wonderful and has been great about letting us see their daughter. I don’t think I would have been that strong. We don’t get to see her often because she lives far away. Destiny got married Oct 11, 2012. It’s happy and it’s sad. We love her. She is family. We’re happy she’s found love again and that Saylor will have a daddy. We are sad that Ty will not be the one she grows up calling “dad” but does that matter anymore? She won’t remember him at all. She wasn’t even born before he died. Still, she’s his. His child, his DNA. She looks just like her daddy.
I can’t tell, some days, if that makes it better or worse. Sometimes I think “He made that choice.” but he was just a kid. He was scared and overwhelmed and hurting. I don’t think he really understand the global ramifications of the choice he thought he was making. In his despair, he chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem and that decision not only ended his life but irrevocably changed the lives of everyone who loved him.
I put together this slideshow for what would have been Ty’s 26th birthday on December 31, 2011.
It never seems to get easier.
Tyrel suffered from rapid-cycling bipolar depression, like most the rest of our family, and hung himself on Jan 2nd, 2010; two days after his 24th birthday.
After Tyrel’s suicide, I quickly came to realize that the subjects of suicide and mental illness are taboo. Few people even expressed condolences to our family. In fact, my boss yelled at me for taking the day off work, the day after we found Tyrel dead. We told people that Ty hung himself. As my mother said “I refuse to be ashamed of one thing that kid did. I am proud of him. It took a lot of guts to hang himself and I won’t lie about how he died.” Suicide and mental illness go hand-in-hand and both subjects are strictly avoided by most people.
I wanted to do something to honor Ty’s memory, but also to smash preconceived notions about mental illness and suicide, and to help lift the taboo. I know that my blog, alone, won’t make a big difference, but we are capable of changing the world one person at a time. If it helps one person feel less alone, less stigmatized, then it’s worthwhile. I have been diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar too. The night of Ty’s suicide I experienced the first of many total fugue states – which I later found, was also my first break into completely separate identities. I was eventually diagnosed with DID (formerly known as multiple personalities).
Statistically 1 in 4 people suffer from diagnosed mental illness. The number is probably much higher, as many people refuse to admit they’re abnormally anxious, depressed, etc. It’s a good bet that you or someone you are very close to is mentally ill. You may not even realize it because, as a rule, it’s not socially acceptable to talk about. People grow visibly uncomfortable when the subject comes up.
The fact that mentally ill people are made to feel like they are somehow to blame for their illness is ridiculous and must stop. Mental illness is real. People suffering from mental illness can’t just “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” “stop feeling sorry for themselves” and a zillion other types of stupid advice mentally ill people are given. Most mental illness is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Mental illness isn’t a “pretend” disease. There is a physiological basis for most types of mental illness. If mental illness were treated like any other illness, a lot more people would seek medical help for their problems, rather than try to self medicate them away with drugs or alcohol out of feelings of shame.