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Ben Hocking

My name is Hayleigh.
I am 28 years old.
I am from Melbourne, Australia.
I am now also, forever broken.

On Sunday May 15th 2016, part of me died along with my brother, Ben. On that Sunday, my world was turned upside down forever. We had only just lost Mum, 19 months earlier. What else did life think we could possibly handle?

Who would be so lucky to watch a movie with their brother before he passed?
Who would be so lucky that their final words to their brother were ‘I love you’?

Ben left the house that night and seemed totally normal. He told me he was going around to his best mate Nicks house for a chat. About 20 minutes later I received a call from his partner (they were having some troubles at the time and Ben had been living at home for the past 3 weeks) saying did I know where Ben went? He had called her and said he’s goodbyes but didn’t elaborate as to where he was. Only saying that he was in ‘the middle of nowhere’. I rang around to my siblings and Dad to get the word out quickly.

Another 5 minutes passed and we found his phone on Find my Phone app. Ben’s partner, her younger brother, Georgia (sister one), her partner Grant, Maddi (sister two), her partner Brodie. Dad, his partner Lara and myself all fly to where the app had picked up his phone. All of us coming from our respective areas.

We all expected to find Ben crying in his car. Honestly, we did because that’s the kind of sensitive soul Ben was. Ben had made a tragic and sudden decision that night to take his own life. Very close to the farm us children had grown up on. Ben was killed instantly. Getting out of the car the lights of the ambulance were blinding. I was held by Grant and I was screaming, exactly like you see in the movies. I felt my body collapse as Grant held me and I kept asking him if there was anything the ambo’s could do. Surely they could do something?

The warm, innocent caring boy that helped bind us all together was suddenly gone.

Ben was 22 years old.
Ben was employed full time.
Ben loved his boss and job.
Ben was a third year apprentice plumber.
Ben had three loving sisters.
Ben’s family were all very close.
Ben had enough savings for a house deposit.
Ben had a beautiful daughter who is 19 months old.
Ben was waiting for his brand new ute to arrive.
Ben only drank occasionally.
Ben wasn’t involved in drugs.
Ben was always happy.

Or so it seemed.

There were no signs.
No warnings.
No note.

Last week I got my Semi Colon tattoo because everyday it would be easy for me to chose to go and be with my Brother and Mother. But I choose not to. I choose to now help break the stigma of mental illness. If I help one person in this world, then that is enough, and I’ve done my job. So their family won’t have to wake up each morning to the living, breathing hell that my family and I have to face.

Choosing to try and help people understand that it’s okay, not to be okay.

Do you know how brave it is to admit that you’re not feeling great? Or you’ve been having these dark thoughts, or that social situations make you so anxious you could be sick, by opening up and baring your story, you are in turn empowering others to do the same.

The problem is that everyone is comparing their own inside story to everyone else’s highlight real. You know, the side that we show the world to make it look like we’ve really got our shit together.

When in fact if you think about it.

Aren’t we all in need of some help in some way?
Aren’t we we all struggling?
Aren’t we all carrying around a story with us?
The lady with the most expensive jacket in the place may be using it to cover domestic violence injuries. The quiet man in the corner may be enjoying a meal on his own to remember the loss of he’s daughter. The girl who’s requested to only see a female doctor because someone took away her innocence when she was younger. You never ever know the story within others.

If you can help someone in anyway, big or small you should do it. Because we are all in this together and that may be the only positive thing that happens to that person today.

After Ben our family made a promise to each other that, this was it no more pain for us, we’d been through enough. If we can help one person in this world, then that is enough, and We have done our job. So their family won’t have to wake up each morning to the living, breathing hell that my family and I have to face.

I know I’ll meet them both again when it’s my time to go to heaven but not yet, not yet.