health

"I screamed a blood-curdling scream": At 22 years old, Hayleigh's brother went out and never came home.

Two years ago tomorrow, I lost my 22-year old-brother to suicide. Closely after that, I started the ‘It’s okay, not to be okay’ Facebook page and started a not-for-profit. After the short time of two years, we have nearly 200k people following us and sharing their struggles.

It was an ordinary Sunday night. Ben and I were home alone, hungover and laid out on the couches. Ben asked me if I wanted to watch two movies with him. I agreed, but on the condition that my choice was the first one we watched and his choice was the following. He agreed to this BUT only if he picked eight movies that we could make our choices from.

We watched The Equalizer with Denzel Washington and then Ben said he felt tired and was going to bed. Ben got up about 10 minutes later and said he was going to go to his mate Nick’s house for a chat. That’s nothing out of the ordinary and I asked him if there was anything I could do for him. He said there wasn’t and he reached for his keys. As he was heading to the door, I said ‘I love you’ and he said he loved me too.

What followed from that was phone calls, texts, driving, panic and arriving blurry-eyed into a sea of emergency service lights. I screamed and screamed and screamed. That blood-curdling scream that you hear in the movies.

My screaming fell hopelessly around us on empty paddocks. I don’t remember doing anything else but screaming. Being wrapped in an ambulance blanket and just continuously screaming.

My beautiful brother Ben. The life of the party, the over sharer, the loyal brother, the boy who was never afraid to cry or bare his feelings, the proud father of a beautiful girl, the boy who worked three jobs getting ready to secure a future for his little family, the instigator of all of our family get togethers, the boy who the previous year had planned a big family holiday with a voucher he’d received for his 21st birthday, had chosen that life was all too much and too hard for his sensitive soul.

Hayleigh Hocking
Ben Hocking and his daughter. Image: Supplied.
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I share my story because I really feel if someone like my brother and all his honest and amazing qualities can do something like his, then anyone can.

I will never ever be angry at Ben for his decision. I just hope he wasn't scared and that deep down he knew how much we all loved him. Or that he knows now that in a heartbeat I would give my life to have him back here. They say grief is the price we pay for love, and I'll tell you what, we pay and feel it every second of every day.

My memory is now broken up into two time frames, before and after Ben. My brain is now a plate of scrambled eggs as opposed to a well-shaped omelette.

I work three days a week and that absolutely wrecks me. I take antidepressants and I regularly see a counsellor.

Every Sunday I replay the whole night back, like a nightmare that never goes away. I re-read his texts and continuously look at photos I have of him. And I also sleep. I sleep for massive periods of time, get up for a snack and then sleep some more. The loss of Ben has rocked our family to the core and we are just shells of the people that we used to be.

So if you see me out of the house, please let me be clear it's taken a fuck load of effort to get me out. I may also look like I'm homeless because it's been a whole week since I have washed or even brushed my hair.

This morning on the day that feels like the one year anniversary (it's tomorrow), I sat opposite a canvas of Ben and ate pancakes and spoke to him like he was there. I sat and ate a whole breakfast, speaking to a piece of canvas with Ben's image of it and I'm telling you now if that's what I feel like doing, that's what I'm fucking going to do.

"I sat opposite a canvas of Ben and ate pancakes and spoke to him like he was there." Image: Supplied.
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Please never be afraid to ask me about Ben, there's nothing I love more than talking about him, I'll never let him be forgotten. He was too special to let that happen.

A big shout out to my friends and family who have sat through tears, doctors appointments, who took me Pokémon hunting, who planned play dates with Annabella, who wrote beautiful cards, who bought me books, who sat with me while I howled, fed me, who let me bunk at their places, let me sleep through things and not be mad that I did and who just didn't give up on me when all I wanted to do was give up on myself.

My world is now overcast without you Ben and I can honestly say I don't think there will be a time when I am 100 per cent happy again. But I am okay with that, your little girl shines the way for me. I see you in her every day and the greatest privilege I've ever had was given by you to be her Godmother.

I'll end on this; hug your loved ones tight when you can because forever is never as long as it seems.

And if this rambling kind of seems all over the shop and it's not flowing very well, give yourself a clap cause you've just got yourself a front row ticket to how my brain now works (kind of).

I hope wherever Ben and Mum are they are watching us and being proud of us all, even if it's just for breathing some days.

Forever Team Hocking.

Yogi misses Boo Boo.

#itsokaynottobeokay. You can visit the It's okay, not to be okay Facebook page here. 

If you, or a young person you know, is struggling with symptoms of mental illness please contact your local headspace centre here or chat to them online, here. If you are over the age of 25 and suffering from symptoms of mental illness please contact your local GP for a Mental Health Assessment Plan or call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14

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