I remember when I received the call from Greg.
I was in my sophomore year of high school. It was February and I was playing in an indoor lacrosse tournament in Chestertown, Maryland that weekend.
In between games I ran over to my stick bag to grab my mouthguard when my phone rang.
"Hey, what's up?" I asked when I picked up the phone knowing it was Greg on the other line.
"My Dad is dead."
"He shot himself."
My Dad who was there with me at the tournament drove me to Greg's house. I walked in to see his aunts and uncles, grandparents, and neighbors with tears in their eyes and grave faces.
Mike, Greg's best friend, came over and hugged me. I was in shock; lost for words.
I saw Greg standing with his grandfather with his head hung low. I walked over and embraced him. I could feel him just melt into my arms, but he did not shed a tear. When I looked him in the eyes his eyes were full of hurt, sadness, and confusion, but his jaw was clenched tightly as if there was so much he wanted to say, but it was not the time or place to let it out.
Greg came and stayed the night at my house that evening. I remember how he just let himself fall backwards onto my bed with a thud and stared up at the ceiling. I stood about 6 feet away by the dresser not knowing what to say so I stuck with silence.
Tears started to stream down his face. It was the only time I saw Greg cry besides the time we broke up briefly.
"He is dead. My Dad is dead..." he kept saying in a low tone.
Greg's father had suffered from bipolar disorder. Doctors had put him on various medications. One med in particular made this brilliant accountant foggy and lifeless. I watched as would sit on the couch with a blank stare.
Then there was the time I saw him explode in a fit of rage. He threw Greg against the basement door choking him. Both of their faces were bright red. He then turned towards Greg's mother, cornered her and pulled her hair as he shouted at her. It was as if he was no longer human, but a beast was coming out of him. Greg called his Grandfather to come get his Dad to settle down as he was the only one who could restrain him in these moments and coax him out of his rage.
I wonder how it could have been different. I wonder if there was anyway to help Greg's father without medication that made him feel lifeless to quell his rage within. I wonder how it could have been different if he had someone to talk to who didn't dish him out pills, but listened and guided him towards inner work.
If you're in need of help please know you are not alone.
What I have discovered on my journey thus far is that someone who simply listens and hears you is deeply healing. I have started working with Ootify as a provider. You can get matched up with a mentor, licensed therapist, or counselor based on your needs. Taking the first step to receive help can be the toughest part, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We're not meant to embark on this quest called life alone, reach out and someone will be there to take your hand.