I can’t shake away the feeling of finding one of my brothers on a suicide attempt. Overdose. They had to pump his stomach at the hospital. This was my oldest brother, who became addicted to crack that eventually poisoned his mind into thinking voices were in his head. Sedated into feeling like a zombie, my brother became restless of the constant over-medication. When he got worse, they put him in a rehabilitation home in pill-induced routine until he couldn’t take it anymore. He ran away a couple of weeks ago and none of us have heard from him since.

It’s unreal to see the transformation of someone taking meth. Sunken and soulless eyes. So thin he looked like a skeleton. My other brother got involved in gangs, experimenting until meth eventually imprisoned him for a little more than a decade after high school. He would sneak into our house and steal things to further his habit; cars, computers, money, credit cards. I don’t think I can ever explain how it felt being uncomfortable in my house, for him to taunt me saying he could watch us and we would never know. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to call the police when I’d find him coming back to our house, him being stuck in a limbo in and out of jail and my mom’s hope that he would get better.

Growing up watching my brothers took a real toll on our family. To see people that you once knew and love became warped by drugs and decisions made me promise myself that I would never be or let anyone I care about go down that road. While it’s a reality with memories echoing in my head every time I look at their now empty rooms, I know that there is a choice to remember what is important in life. The bright light at the end of the tunnel is unfortunately, in my opinion, an unnecessary cautionary tale. But it’s one that exists regardless if I want it to or not.