These are the ugly, dark parts of mental illness and drug addiction that no one talks about, and by not talking about it, it stays hidden, and shameful, and powerful, and deadly.
My sister had 765 “friends” on Facebook. I don’t think I even know that many people. But I can count on one hand how many of those friends came to visit my sister during her four-month hospital stay. So apparently they were friends, but not quite that close.
I believe that if regret had a smell, it would be the smell of something burnt and visceral, and sharp in your nostrils. I think of that every time I listen to the last voicemail that my sister left me. It was so normal, absolutely nothing special about it, like the countless other messages we had left each other.
“Hi baby girl, it’s me. Call me back. Love you.”
Sometimes I listen to it just so that I can hear her voice, but often I find myself straining to hear something that I must have missed. Did she know that she was dying? Was there some sort of resolve in her voice? Or was that loneliness? But mostly what I hear is regret. Mine, of course, not hers. Because no matter how much I loved her, I couldn’t save her. I am painfully aware that I failed my sister. Sometimes I think that we all did.
Malika and I were two years and 10 months apart, and about as different as two people carved from the same parents can be. She was always the pretty one, the free spirit, and she had the goofiest sense of humor. The boys simply didn’t see me when we were together—she shone that brightly—and we could fight like nobody’s business. But above all, she was amazing to me.
My sister was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in high school, which apparently is a common age for that to rear its ugly head. We both shared a sort of rebellious streak borne out of a sometimes-tumultuous home life and an ugly divorce between our parents, but she never really grew out of hers. She had a self-destructive side but it was always directed inwards—she never set out to hurt anyone but herself. I can see clearly now that for years, she was self-medicating. Read more @the fix