My story begins as far back as I can remember around the age of 5. I had always felt kind of different from other people and I was always made fun of because of it. I remember I was always teased for being skinny and wearing second hand clothing when I was in school.  My parents struggled to keep a roof over our head and food on the table but made sure my younger brother and I were always taken care of.  When I was 11, my family and I had to move as the house we were renting was being torn down to extend a park that we lived across the street from. My parents had a dream of living a cottage style life in the north but couldn’t afford to move there as there were no jobs. So the closest thing they could find was a cabin on a lake that was on leased land that had only 10 years left on the lease so it was cheap.
It was a boat access only island that had no electricity, no telephone lines, or running water. And although this sounds really awesome to a lot of people at the time it truly was not. I had lost all my friends and was put into a new school. Getting to school we would walk a quarter mile from the house to the dock,where majority of the time was down muddy trails,  have to boat across the lake, and our father would drive us to the closest farm where the school bus would pick us up and it would take another hour to get to school. Beginning again in a new school, I was the new kid and was picked on and bullied. This continued all the way up to the day I graduated. When you are bullied day in and day out you start to believe that you are worthless. So many times I had wanted to commit suicide.
I had headed into a depression that ended up lasting over two decades. Now it wasn’t all because of being bullied. A couple years later when I had turned 13 I had my first girlfriend.  We had dated for about 6 months before she decided to break off. I was devastated as I thought what was infatuation was love. Later that week I had gotten a phone call that I would never forget. My friend had called telling me that she had been brutally murdered. A young man had stabbed her 16 times in the chest, raped her, kicked her head in, and through her off a 50’ cliff where here body landed in some tree branches and bled to death. Hikers had found her the next morning. When I heard this I went into shock and disbelief that anyone could do such a thing. I had no idea being 13 how to deal with something like this. I turned quite and kept my emotions inside. My life just kept getting worse and worse from that point on.
Later on that year, just before Christmas, our neighbor was threatened buy a man who told my mother he was going to kill him. As my mother went to warn our neighbor. In that time the man had left to get his hand gun. Our neighbor had a shot gun and was prepared for the worst. Well the worst had happened. The man had walked into our neighbors home and had pointed the gun point blank range towards my mother and another womans head and in that moment our neighbor had shot him in the heart. Blowing him back out the door. He still had enough energy to raise his gun again and he was shot a second time in the chest. This horrific scene had haunted my mother for years as she had flipped him over and seen what the shot gun had done. The devastation had put its toll on our family.
My brother and I were treated badly by some of the community members who were friends with the man who was going to kill our neighbor. We were treated bad for something our neighbor did because our parents associated with the man who ultimately saved my mothers life. We had done nothing wrong but we were still being harassed. Then not long after that my mother had fallen off the roof and broken 8 ribs. Still lucky to be alive she had spent 6 months in hospital. We would visit every day we could. I was scared that I had almost lost my mother. Then about 6 months after that I myself had gotten into a home made Dune Buggy accident. Spending another 6 months in hospital with a badly broken leg. Had my head been an inch further up I would have been dead as the roll bar would have crushed it. Being it was home made, there were no seat belts or cage. I was very lucky. Drs said if there had been any more damage to the leg they would have had to amputate it. It took me a year to learn how to walk again. This experience made me truly grateful for the things we often take for granted like walking, sight, using our hands etc…
Not more than a few months later my little brother was complaining that his back hurt. My parents had taken him to the Dr and the Dr said  he’s fine, that he’s probably just complaining about nothing. Well it wasn’t nothing. A few more months had gone by and one morning my brother had woken up paralyzed. We rushed him to emergency. They took x-rays  and had found out he had a rare muscle  cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. He was diagnosed a week before his 12th Birthday. Unfortunately on the day of his Birthday, to top it all off,we received a call saying my uncle had passed away from lung cancer (never smoked a day in his life) It was from asbestos. The Drs had told us that my brother would have a 99% chance he would never walk again and only an 8% chance of survival. My family and I had spent a year watching my brother struggle to survive being poisoned with twice the amount of chemo and radiation as other children as it was so advanced. We had to move to Ronald McDonald House which is a home away from home close to the hospital so we could be with him daily. 13 other families had lived there as well with children with cancer. We became one big family as we were all going through the same hell. Unfortunately all the families we had gotten to know, their children had died. Young children, ages from 2 to 14. Still till this day I have a hard time seeing those innocent children struggling to stay alive.
At this point in my life I wanted to end it all. I couldn’t stop the suffering that I had seen and heard. I was still being bullied at school and having to watch children fight and die for their life. I was only 15 and had felt I had dealt with more things in my life than what most people go through in lifetimes. I had no idea how to handle all of this. I felt like I had no one to talk to or that anyone would truly understand the hell I was going (let alone my brother). I had been to so many funerals and memorials. I honestly couldn’t handle it. I was depressed and suicidal but felt like I couldn’t tell anyone. There was always that small voice that kept pushing me to keep going. How does a 15 year old deal with  his girlfriend being murdered, almost losing his mother twice, almost loosing a leg and dying, watching his little brother struggling for his life for a year while watching other children around him suffer and loose their lives, and continue to deal with being bullied feeling like a piece of shit. I wish I could say that the bad things ended there. But they didn’t. My mother was later diagnosed with Breast cancer. She had suffered through the same treatments ( not as intense though) and fought cancer and won. She was in remission for 2 years before the cancer came back and in full force. Drs gave her 2 years to live and we managed to get 2 and a half which I am grateful for. She died at the early age of 43.
Ultimately I had spent my teenage years up to my early twenties dealing with things I wouldn’t wish on anyone. All these trials have ultimately made me stronger and has given me the heart to want to help others in need. It has taken me years in dealing with all this. I have read so many self help books and have listened to hours on end of some of the most amazing motivational speakers. All of which has helped me get through it all. My Brother is also an inspiration to me as he not only survived but beat all odds. He is healthy and walking even after they told us he had a 99% chance he never would walk again.  When faced with so much darkness you truly appreciate the light so much more. I have ultimately learned that life is but a glimpse and that we are here to live in the moment because this moment is all we really have. Don’t ever wait to tell people that you love them or how you feel because tomorrow is never promised. I have always told myself that all is temporary, this too shall pass. That saying alone will make you appreciate the good times and be grateful for those moments and will help by giving you hope when the hard times hit knowing it is only temporary. I know that the sun may disappear for awhile but it never forgets to shine.
Written by Sean Barrett – Shots of Positivity on Facebook