Closing More Than Just the Door

By Cameron Gurgainus

As my brother walks in the door after school, he goes straight to his room to take his “nap” that will end up being 6 hours. It could be that he is just tired after a long day of the hustle and bustle of work, teachers, and the other kids around him.

However, when it continued week after week, then my family and I realized that this was a serious issue that needed to be handled. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or the ADAA, anxiety disorders are fairly common in the U.S. and affect 40 million adults ages 18 and older.

Depressive disorder is also the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44 years old. These statistics are very overwhelming to look at, especially since most people know others who struggle with anxiety or depression.

It is one thing to read about people’s problems, but to live and constantly be around a loved one who grapples with their inner demons, is surreal. My brother and I are three years apart, and I consider him to be my best friend.

We were incredibly close when we were little and he looked out for me, as an older sibling should. Unfortunately, high school emerged and threw him a curve ball. He had zero friends and felt like he lacked a support system. He crawled into a corner and nearly everyone out.

He was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Major Depressive Disorder at 16 years old. At the time it was tearing our family into shreds due to him being the sole purpose for everything we did or said.

It was like we were walking on eggshells around him, and got tiring when all we wanted was to be a normal family. He was like a ticking time bomb. We never knew when he was going to have one of his episodes.

Everyone has their good days and bad days, but those with depression cannot figure out a way to get out of the ruts quite as quick.

Just like with anything else, my family and I learned much about the topic of mental disorders and how we could help my brother. What we did find out is that we could only help if he wanted it.

He closed more than just his door to be by himself, he shut out the world.

There is a negative stigma that revolves around mental disorders, and as if people who go through them are weak.

This is not the case at all. My extended family treats my brother like a lost puppy and gives him special attention.

What my brother actually strives for, is to be treated the same as before. He has become a stronger person after experiencing those dark times and proceeds to get better each and every day.

From our personal encounters with handling my brother, my family and I grew as individuals as well. We have learned to be more patient and to be fully aware that he had to find something that worked for him.

Going to counseling as a group made us insightful about issues we did not even know we had. Without my brother showing signs of anxiety and depression, there would still be an overlapping issue no one would want to talk about. 

My relationship with my brother has been strengthened by us jumping through hoops together and going through the ups and downs in so-called life.

He will always be the same person to me and the one individual I can go to for advice without judgment. Just because he has to battle with anxiety and depression, it does not mean I think of him any less as a person. 

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