Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the last time Nicole Ryan saw her brother Alex alive. The 18 year old died after taking a synthetic drug at a house party. Nicole has struggled ever since to cope with her loss, and writes about it on her blog. She now wants to educate the world about the dangers of “legal” highs, and to share her brothers story. This is a beautiful piece…
Hi Guys, 
My name is Nicole. I’m 23 and almost 1 year ago I lost my only brother, Alex. He was my everything. He was my life. I come from a single parent family and while my mother worked to provide for us, I, as Alex’s big sister, pretty much raised him. He was my brother but he was also like my child when he died, I lost myself completely. He was just 18 years of age, just started his life. I worked as a Marine Engineer and I got the worst call of my life while I was out working at sea. I can still feel the same heart-breaking emotions as I write this and remember. 
They say death is a hard pill to swallow and it is. 
When I lost my only brother my whole life came crashing down into little pieces all around me and there was nothing I could do. I felt helpless, vulnerable, numb and alone. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that this person that meant everything to me was gone forever. When you lose somebody that means a great deal to you whether you are 16, 23 or 83 the pain is still the same. From my experience, when my brother died everything happened so quickly. The wake, the funeral, the end. For me, it wasn’t until after everything had died down that I was truly alone in my own head and with my own thoughts and it was horrific. I could not sleep. Days began to merge into one another and I didn’t want to leave my house. All I wanted to do was die myself. My heart would hurt like its never hurt before. I didn’t eat much and when I did it didn’t taste like anything. I hated going out into the world because suddenly everybody started to look at me differently and I hated that. I could feel that the world around me continued but I was stuck in this hellish nightmare and that is exactly what it felt like, like a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. I prayed every night hoping that I would not wake up the following morning just so I didn’t have to feel this pain any longer. It felt like my whole heart was ripped out and I was just a shell of a person, a zombie barely surviving.
I have always been a very private person emotionally and I did not know how to express my feelings. I would usually shove them in deep down and get on with it. I tried to do the same thing after Alex passed and it really blew up in my face. I played this game “Pretend”where I would act like I was okay but that lead to me having severe panic attacks. These panic attacks were always triggered by talking about Alex for longer than 5 minutes. At times they would get so bad they could last a half an hour of me crying, shaking, screaming and gasping for air. If I was out in public I would run and look for somewhere quiet to go and have my panic attack. My usual onset symptoms are my mouth would dry up and my heart would begin beating really fast, my palms would be sweating and I would start to feel dizzy. Many times I would be taking to someone and I would just have to take off and run somewhere quiet with tears streaming down my face because I knew what was coming. 
I realized that this was happening to me due to the fact that I never talked about my brother. As somebody that has always been strong I had finally broken. I had to find a way of dealing with this or else I’m certain I would not be here to write this article. I know exactly how difficult and terrifying it is to try and express yourself, to put word behind these dark emotions that you feel. I am still grieving and I am not here to tell you it will get easier, it won’t. It will just manifest itself into something that you live with daily. What I am here to tell you though is that I know your pain. I understand each and every emotion you are feeling and that I am here to help you in any way that I can because for me I prefer talking to somebody that can relate to my pain, understands what I am going through, it helps me deal with slowly coming to terms with the fact that Alex is no longer here. I have a very long journey ahead of me and it will be the most difficult thing I face but most of all know that I am here, just like you, trying to make sense of this loss and this grief, trying to readjust and restart. I am here and we do not have to do this journey alone.”
You can follow Nicole’s journey on her facebook page:
You can also read her blog, which is beautiful, honest, heart-wrenching and full of love and loss here:

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