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Have you ever been so afraid of a “scary movie” or something else that wasn't real, that you couldn’t do some other everyday activity? Well, let me tell you, being afraid of your own life is much worse. Ally was real, she still is real, and this is the first time in years that I've even spoken (or in this case, written) about her. I still think about her, don’t get me wrong. In fact, now that I've found Jesus and have been alone in my bedroom for the past two years. I pray for her every night, along with prayers that they don’t change their minds and send me to the hospital.
My name is Val, and I am fifteen years old. My older sister’s name is Allyssa, but her and I haven’t spoken in a while now. Allyssa was born with anxiety disorder, and although it was very severe when she was young (as in Kindergarten-third grade), it only got worse when she got older, to the age of about, well, fourteen. Age fourteen was when the “whole thing” started for her. If you looked for the dictionary definition of pure struggle, you would have found my sister.
Sometime in the middle of the summer before my sister’s eighth grade year, her anxiety disorder got worse. It had always been bad, but it was getting “out of control” as our (admittedly dramatic) mother had said. Although I was younger than Allyssa by some length, and didn't know half of what was really going on, I knew some. I would console Ally, and she would cradle me (even though I was young, I was still too big to be held like a baby, in all honesty) for comfort and cry, and I would just shut my eyes tight and try to imagine myself anywhere else in the world while still comforting my big sister.
“Oh, Vally, sweet, sweet, Vally,” she would sob into my hair. “Please take care of yourself when I’m gone, please take….” and she would disappear into another frantic episode.
Allyssa was very sweet and fun to be around when she wasn't in full-fledged panic mode. So, one day when her and I were playing checkers, I asked her the question that had been bothering me since she had first started deteriorating.
“Ally?” I approached.
“Yeah, love?” she replied with a smile.
I looked up at her and tried to sound casual when I asked her, “What do you mean when you say ‘when I’m gone’”?
“Well, I’ll be in college and moved out of the house before you do, so you’ll be alone with mom after I leave. I-I’m just thinking ahead,” she said with a smile.
This reassured me, so I smiled and left it at that.
Our family lived by a nice river, and we had a little dock. When Ally was having her good days, she would go down to the dock and just sit there. I would hear her talking sometimes, and after listening for so long, I realized she was talking to the water. I would hear her let out small, but deep sighs, as she told the water how much she trusted it. It made me feel bad that she never said that to me, but whenever I brought that up to our mother, she said my sister just didn't want to worry me with her problems and concerns.
Late in Allyssa’s eighth grade year, our mother and her therapist forced her to take a medication, and she was told to give up all hope by the one doctor she used to trust. Allyssa lost it for a little bit, shutting out our entire family aside from me, who she still invited into her bedroom every night to hold and cry with. It was strange, because for the few days before the medication started, Allyssa wouldn't talk to anybody. She came out to eat and use the restroom, and for the rest of the time she stayed in her room. I could hear her not-so soft sobs whenever I walked by her room, but mom and dad ignored them. I always wondered why, though.
Life went on as usual for the rest of us, just no Allyssa. See, she would go to the river every once in a while with her friends, but we only saw her if we spied on her. The doctors said she could become depressed as one of the side-effects of the medication, but she didn't until later on.
The only side effect my sister really got and didn't lose was sleepiness, but she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Allyssa was morally (and strongly, at that) against medication, so when our father suggested Melatonin, she somewhat quietly and all-the-way politely refused. Allyssa would be up in the middle of the night sobbing, awake for a few hours in the day, and then take multiple naps in between her hours of consciousness. One thing had gotten better, though— Allyssa had started coming out to see us. I didn't know it at the time, none of us did, but this was her way of saying goodbye.
A normal morning with Ally would be waking up at 8:00 and finding her in the living room, on her laptop. Her cheeks would sometimes be stained from tears, or dried mascara under her hollowed eyes. She would act happy, and if anyone asked if she was okay, she’d say she was. By about noon, mom would go in to offer her some lunch and she would be asleep on the couch, headphones in and her hand hanging off the couch. The day would repeat these hours, weeks repeated days, and months repeated weeks.
A year and a half had passed of this, and Allyssa was getting much, much worse. She would still come out, but she refused to fall asleep in anyone’s company. She stopped going to the river. I heard her sobbing and praying desperate words to the God she had whenever I passed her room. Sometimes I’d listen and pray along with her quietly, but I was nine years old, and didn’t know what to pray about or who God really was.
A few weeks after I had started praying with her, I noticed lines across her wrist. She had told me she was practicing drawing straight lines for her art class, and had ran out of paper. Later, I learned she had told her friend our cat had gotten mad at her and that's why she did it. We didn’t have a cat. Ally stopped seeing her friends after that, and she got thinner. Thinner, quieter, darker; and she practiced art a lot more, but could never find any paper. We didn’t know it, but three days later would be the beginning of my nightmares.
One day when mom was in the kitchen, she saw Ally taking one of her pills. Mom yelled at her and got really scared, because she had already seen Ally take one earlier that day, and she was only supposed to take one every day. Ally said she had just woken up, and the one she had taken was that morning. Mom said it was four in the afternoon, and Ally had taken three naps already. There was some yelling, and Ally admitted to taking a pill after each nap.
“You all think I’m fucking crazy!!” she yelled, and she stormed out of the house, bag around her shoulder. Mom was crying now, and she was about to call the police when she saw Ally, with three friends, at the river in their bathing suits. Mom walked down there and came back an hour later, saying she had talked with Ally and her friends, and that they had both apologized and hugged.
Ally never came home from the river. Her friends said that when they went to Abigail’s house to get snacks, Ally wanted to stay behind and pray. When they got back, she was gone. They thought she had come home, so they called to see if she was okay… we never heard from her again. Police searched, churches prayed, friends went on secret hunts, but nobody ever found anything. Until two years later.
I was eleven years old, and was not allowed to go to the river because my parents thought Ally had drowned in it. I had gotten depressed, and really wanted to go down to the dock like my sister used to. She always seemed so at peace when she got back. I told this to dad, and he finally agreed. Mom was hesitant; but I told her I would be back in an hour, no matter what, and I’d be extra careful.
That loosened mom up a bit, because ten minutes later I was down on the dock. I was just sitting there, quietly sobbing, until a large gust of wind came. I don’t know why, but the wind scared me and made me cry even more. I just sat on the dock, hugging my knees to my chest and crying. I decided that I was gonna go for a swim, to cool down. I slipped my sneakers off and gently started to climb in the water.
When I had gotten used to the water, I let go of the dock and swam to the middle. It was so relaxing! Feeling the urge to go under, I did, only to have my urges take over, and I was soon about ten feet under. The river was only about eleven feet deep. When I was at the probably eight-foot mark, I saw what looked to be a corpse at the bottom. I swam down more, going to get a closer look. What I discovered that moment changed my life forever.
The corpse was Ally. I held her freezing hand and pulled her to the top, laying her lifeless, rotting figure on the dock. There was mold growing around the scars on her wrist, and I started crying just looking at them. I screamed for my parents, and when they came running down the ramp of the dock and saw Allyssa’s corpse they froze. My dad started yelling at me, while my mom ran back up the ramp, pulling her iPhone out of her pocket on her way up.
There was a metal box tied around Ally’s stomach, and dad was too busy trying not to look at it, that I had time to distract him. I cried harder and more intensely on purpose, and when he finally looked down at me, I covered the box with my arms and screamed, “Call the police, dad!!” He ran up the dock, already working up a sweat, as I struggled to break open the box. Inside I found rocks, which was probably why she was weighted down, and something I didn't expect to find: a suicide note.
I’m so, so sorry to do this to you. It was the medication, I couldn’t take it anymore, I couldn't take life anymore. I’m so sorry baby girl, please take care of yourself. I’m watching over you as best I can.
Your big sissy,
Now fifteen years old, I am diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder and minor PTSD. My father and I live alone in the city, far away from the river. My mother killed herself last year, and dad and I pray each night.