To the baby brother:
Right now, you are 13-years-old. I guess that somehow means you’re like a teenager or something, but you will always be my baby brother.
You always hug me. Every time you see me. Even if it’s only been a few hours, you hug me like I’ve been away for years. I hope you never stop doing that.
I remember when you were young, one time you jumped into a pool and you couldn’t really swim. Dad ended up pushing me in because I was thinking too much instead of just jumping in after you. I wish I had not of hesitated then, because now you’re going through life jumping into places where you can’t really swim, but I am hundreds of miles away and, baby brother, I can’t jump in and save you. I’m watching you grow up by texts from mom and snapchat stories, and sometimes I could really use one of your hugs. Baby brother, you strive for attention and approval but A.) if I could open up a calendar of memories and open up each time I brushed you off, delete them like a text message, and replace them with hugs – I would. and B.) I’m already so proud of you that if you were a book, I’d tell all my friends to read it and if you were a movie, I’d memorize every line. You’ll always be my baby brother
How is love so whole
Shown to someone so broken,
I couldn’t earn this.
I referred to you as the Fire because it’s a fitting description with someone as combustible as you and let’s face it – I’m water and we clash. We clash like swords but the thing about swords clashing is that iron sharpens iron and practice makes perfect, so little brother every time you swing I get to watch you grow. Taking a couple blows along the way is worth it to see you thrive, and sometimes I have to knock your weapon out of your hand, leave you defenseless, and then pick you back up just to remind you what real life feels like. Remember that no matter how deep we may cut each other, I will always be there to pick you up and be by your side.
As I watch you grow up, it’s hard to believe that you’re becoming a man, but I see you shine so bright that no shadow would dare come near you, and those that do learn quickly that they messed with the wrong person. You’re stronger than you know and I wonder sometimes – if you truly desired something, what could stop you?
You never learned how to shut up, and while your tongue is a catalyst for battle, your ability to always speak is actually one of my favorite things about you. You’re a piece of gold: already in your purest form, soft enough to still be molded, and valuable even to kings. You’re a golden fire. Sometimes loving you hurts, but being your big brother is worth a few burns.
For over nine months now I have been in a romantic relationship with someone who struggles with mental illness. She has also been in a relationship with someone who deals with mental illness – myself. Through this, I have started learning what it means to truly love someone who struggles with this, as well as what it means to truly be loved with a mental illness.
I will admit that I’m not an expert by any means. This is solely my opinion based on my experiences.
If you are dating someone with mental illness…
My final thought is this: love your SO. Never stop getting to know him or her. Make a real effort to love your SO in the way that he or she needs to be loved and don’t let the struggles outweigh the victories. Thank you.
- Acknowledge what may seem like small victories and achievements. If your significant other (SO for short) has social anxiety and he or she makes it through a social event with an abundance of people he or she doesn’t know, be vocally and visibly proud of that. If your SO comes down from an anxiety attack, tell them how good he or she did while dealing with it and how proud you are of your SO for beating it.
- Remember that people with mental illness don’t choose their illness or how it affects them. You have to be patient and realize that sometimes your SO acting out is them reacting to stress from his or her mental illness. However…
- Don’t let your SO use their mental illness as an excuse. Have compassion and be understanding, but don’t let them get away with bad decisions consequence-free. As Pete Davidson said, “Being mentally ill is not an excuse to act like a jackass.” Hold your SO responsible for his or her actions.
- Mental Illness is not the same every day. Some days your SO will seem like they have never struggled a day in his or her life. However, some days it can be crippling. Recognize both types of days. If he or she has a good day, acknowledge it. You have no idea how encouraging that is. If your SO has a bad day, be there for them as much as you reasonably can. Every day is different. Be adaptable.
- You are not responsible for “fixing” your SO. Please DO NOT go into a relationship with someone that has a mental illness expecting to be able to “love the mental illness away.” You may make your SO’s mental illness better or easier to deal with, but don’t put the pressure on yourself to “fix” it.
I am just lying in bed
watching you brush your teeth.
You occasionally look back
and catch me staring. Read More
October 16, 2018
The lights in Bridgestone Arena were low and you could feel the anticipation among the thousands of excited fans. My mind went back to a little over a year ago when I saw my favorite band live for the first time. This time I had better seats, somewhat knew what to expect, and had three people that I love more than life itself sitting next to me. I felt as if nothing could top that night from over a year ago. I was wrong.
You could feel the atmosphere shift from the moment we heard that first bass hit. Screams filled the stadium. We all knew what was coming. Twenty One Pilots were finally about to make their appearance.
There is something about seeing someone perform their art live that changes the way you experience it afterwards. In this case, the concert changed the way I listened to Twenty One Pilots. When you see a musician live, you see their heart and their passion. You can feel the emotions behind the words they are singing. Even better than that, you are surrounded by thousands of people who get it.
After a night like that, I can’t listen to the songs I heard in the same way I did before. I remember the emotion behind Tyler’s screams, the sweat dripping from Josh’s body as he played the drums, and the moments where Tyler would just stop singing as he enjoyed the sound of thousands of fans singing the lyrics back to him. I feel less alone. I think about how Tyler wrote these songs that express feelings that I never could; about all of the other souls out there having the same thoughts I did. I am sure they constantly feel like they are the only ones that think those thoughts.
Music has a way of uniting people in a very special way. I will never forget dancing to the music with my little brother or seeing my girlfriend’s face light up because she got to see me at one of my happiest moments.
The second to last song of TØP’s set list was Leave This City from their new album, Trench. I’m going to end this post with a line from that song that sums up this whole thing. “In Trench I’m not alone.”
Something in my life that I have always put near the top of my priority list is connecting with people. I love meeting new people, hearing their stories, and building a genuine relationship with them. I get my social prowess from my dad. My dad has never known a stranger. He and I disagree on things often, but this is definitely one of those cheesy things about my dad that growing up I witnessed and said, “Wow! I want to be just like that when I’m big.” Read More