Trigger Warning: This is an opinion column that deals with suicide.
By Dylan Baggiano
This is an opinion column.
Monday was a year since I lost my father to suicide. My father battled mental illness for the entirety of my 22-year old life. After my family’s numerous attempts to get my father the help that he needed, he refused. It is my belief, that my father, who I loved, yet struggled to understand, was incapable of understanding the situation he was in.
I remember the shock that I felt as I was typing away at an organic chemistry lab report and heard my mom’s voice as she knocked at my apartment door in Birmingham.
At first, I didn’t realize the knocks were at my door. I assumed they were coming from the apartment next door or above me. “Knock, Knock, Knock!”
The second round of knocks brought me off of my couch and I shuffled to the white front door, squinting my left eye into the brass peep-hole. “Dylan, it’s your mom!” she said.
It was Saturday evening and my mom should have been on a movie date with my stepfather. As I opened the door, my eyes met two pairs of concerned faces. My mother and stepfather explained what had taken place that afternoon and gave me their condolences, after giving me hugs.
I didn’t feel anything in that moment. After the pair headed back to Montgomery, I started to feel angry at my father’s decision to leave everyone and choosing to not see what I would do with everything that he and my mother had invested into me.
As the months passed by and the pandemic continued to get worse, I thought that I was healing. After all, I had been comforted by friends and family for months before the pandemic, but my anger refused to subside. I began to lash out at one of my best friends and roommate over things that he had no part in, like dealing with another friend’s drama, and expected him to know how to help me.
My roommate explained to me that he could not act how I believed he should, because he could not relate to the situation I was in. He told me that talking with a counselor has given him new lenses to view his past traumas through, rather than letting dark memories take his happiness away from him. He recommended finding a counselor that could help me address the root causes of my anger and help me change the way I view the situation surrounding my father’s death.
I admit that — after only a year — I don’t have the tools that I need to get through this on my own. I need help. and I plan to schedule tele-health sessions through UAB student counseling service to learn healthier coping strategies.
The pandemic isolation has forced me to explore creative expressions as a form of therapy.
Writing stories for theredmountainreporter.com has allowed me to have an outlet for me to focus my energy on, rather than ruminate on my dad’s actions, unfortunate outcomes that I could not have changed.
As a team, the writers and editing staff collaborate via Zoom, GroupMe and Google Docs to pro-vide constructive feedback on each other’s work and recommend solutions when someone doesn’t know where to go with a story’s content. GroupMe and Zoom have allowed me to connect with my classmates and get to know each other as we struggle through these difficult times, though there are no real substitutes for face-to-face get-togethers.
The first time I covered a city council meeting this semester, I had trouble deciding what was newsworthy. I appreciated my flexible editors’ efforts to answer all of my questions in a timely manner, as I typed away on my MacBook Pro, into the night.
Establishing self-care rituals has helped me maintain my sanity during these trying times. Before my 8 a.m. class, inhaling the scent of my aromatic pumpkin-spice snickerdoodle candle in combination with my morning coffee, puts me in a better mood every Monday.
At least twice a week, I try to take a hot bath and relax while I meditate to the sound of sweet violins playing in the background. Every night before bed, for around 10 minutes, I do a little exercise routine consisting of squats push-ups crunches and calf-raises.
During these unpredictable circumstances that we are all living in, the ones that my father does not have to go through, it is important to remember our friends and families. Maintaining contact, whether it be through phone calls or video calls, does help when coping with loneliness.
If you are alone and are struggling, consider your options. And, importantly, get help.
[National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) ]
Edited by: Diane Mwai & Madison Goodgame