So many people grow up thinking that they’re invincible, including myself. This was proven wrong two months ago when I lost my best friend to suicide. This event taught me that I was not as strong as I had once believed. However, I believe that strength comes in different forms. When the death of a loved one forces you to face the days without them for the rest of your life, that is strength.

I cannot pretend that I knew what strength was before I met Josh. He taught me all I needed to know. I consider that his going away present. When I was going through the hardest patches of my life, he was by my side every step of the way. He held my hand through the bullying, negativity, and overwhelming downfall. I could never thank him enough for that, although he knows I tried. He would send me messages on Twitter about how great of a person I was and how beautiful he thought I was. Little things like that helped me keep my head up. To this day, I read those old messages and sometimes I even write him. I always think that maybe there’s wi-fi up in heaven and he can read my messages.

“You are never alone.” Josh Byers

After losing my best friend, I was instantly introduced to the love and support of the community. I received phone calls, cards, and donations for the family. All of which were beyond comforting to me. When I saw the community come together to mourn the loss of a great soul, I realized that I am never alone. Nobody is. Everybody holds each other’s hands in times of trouble, and gives hope to those without it. I’d like to take this moment to thank everybody who contributed to the family and friends of Josh with monetary donations and/or well wishes.

“It only takes one shattering event of sufficient magnitude to change one’s core beliefs about life.”

Losing Josh was one of the hardest things that I ever had to go through. My emotions were sent into a whirlwind and I couldn’t think straight. What happened to invincibility? I had to remind myself that all good things come to an end, although for the longest time I didn’t want to accept that this was the end. I stayed up late at night and wondered what I could have done differently. Just as you’d expect, blaming myself and others came with no positive results. As time went on, I began accepting what had happened, and I looked at everything differently. I decided that we are, in fact, here for a reason. In some cases we may be unaware of our reason, as Josh was. However, there is a reason for each individual life on Earth. I also learned that every day is a gift. We never know when it all may come to an end, so we should be grateful for all that we have. I, for one, am grateful for the amazing friend that I found in Josh.

“A person never truly gets ‘over’ a suicide loss. You get through it. Day by day. Sometimes it’s moment by moment.” Holly Kohler

In Loving Memory of

Joshua Russell Byers

October 8, 1998 – May 19, 2016


To Those Affected by My Anxiety

Anxiety is a bitch. It not only hurts me, but everyone around me. A lot of the time, it can scare others enough to make them leave. For those who stay, it’s an emotional rollercoaster. The struggles involved are draining on both ends. That’s why I’m writing this. This is for anyone who has been impacted by my anxiety.

I guess I should start off by apologizing. Sometimes it can get exhausting and I recognize that. It takes plenty of patience and practice to deal with me. Anxiety affects me in many different ways, some of which I have yet to master. I know it can get excruciating at times, and I am deeply apologetic for the amount of effort I require from others. There are times when I am fully aware of how ridiculous my anxiety can be, and how annoying it may seem to others. Trust me, I know I’m being a pain in the ass, but it’s not something I can handle. Irrational fears can swallow us alive. We need reassurance almost all the time, and I know for a lot of people that can take its toll. It’s a scary thing for those of us with anxiety. We often worry that asking for the affection that we need may start to feel repetitive to others and maybe eventually ruin the relationship. So for every chaotic moment that we have shared where you have questioned your sanity as well as mine, I am deeply sorry.

Although I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused and the seemingly unnecessary chaos, I am also thankful for your constant support. The reassurance from everybody helps more than you could imagine. I’d especially like to thank everyone who has taken time to research anxiety disorders and how to respond to them. I know that it can be scary at times, but having stable relationships with people is extremely helpful. I feel a sense of trust between us and it helps prevent attacks. I owe you all so much for watching out for me.

My boyfriend deserves recognition for his hard work in taking care of me. In our nine short months together, he has learned how to effectively calm down my breathing and get my attacks few and far between. He has become my second home, and even the sound of his voice can calm me down in my darkest moments. One night that I will never forget is when I had a panic attack in my living room. For those who don’t know me too well, I rarely go in my living room. There’s no real reason behind it, but I just feel more comfortable in my bedroom. Once my boyfriend realized that I was breathing heavily, he took action right away. He held me tight and told me, “everything will be ok. Do you want to go to your room? Let’s get you out of here.” I felt my body trembling as he helped me out of my seat. He helped me to my room, where he continued to assure me that things would pass. He rocked me back and forth and reminded me that I had beaten these types of attacks before and that I could do it again. He told me to remember my breathing, and then held me silently until I calmed down. If he hadn’t helped me get to a safer environment, I wouldn’t have moved and things wouldn’t have gotten better.

As I said at the very beginning, anxiety is a bitch. It’s something that I’ve been learning to understand and cope with, however, because without it, I may not have met many of the people that I have. As strange as it sounds, I am thankful for my anxiety and for the doors that it has opened for me. That was such a strange sentence to type. Optimism and anxiety in the same sentence? It’s kind of weird, but if you think about it, it makes sense. It’s taught me plenty about myself and others, and that has helped me grow. So for anyone who has been directly affected by my anxiety, I apologize, thank, and applaud you. You are the greatest friends I could ask for. Thank you for constantly believing in me and for encouraging me to better myself despite my disorder.

Photographer captures anxiety in a new light.