The following is written by News 8 Reporter Kyle Dimke:
Today is my last day here at WKBT. It is also one of the last days of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.
I've been a reporter at News 8 for more than two years. I have to say, I've covered some pretty cool stories.
But, on the other side, I've had to cover some really tough stories too.
It's during those tragic stories that a person in my position kind of learns to "talk the talk" so to speak-- we learn to distance ourselves from the situation. It's not that we are heartless or soulless people -- of course we feel for the family who just lost a loved one to gun violence or a family displaced by a fire. We're human. But you have to remember that in those emotional moments, we have a job to do, so we have to separate ourselves from the situation to remain as neutral as possible.
So in essence, I've learned to "talk the talk," but unfortunately for me, ever since my brother died, I've been forced to also "walk the walk."
Brittany Schmidt: "Tell me about your brother Joey."
Kyle Dimke: "Joey was a great kid, is a great kid. He always had a smile on his face, is super witty, really funny."
The Dimke family of Lino Lakes, Minnesota is your typical suburban family. Five kids who were always active and two loving parents who always went above and beyond for their children.
But like most families, mental illness wasn't something we talked about around the dinner table.
Kyle: "It wasn't something that we really publicized,"
My brother Joey, was in high school when he was diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety.
Kyle: "I have struggled with the fact that we didn't talk about it."
In all honesty, I had no idea what those illnesses were or how to handle his diagnosis.
Kyle: "I can remember a time where he had come to visit me and I said, "Hey Joe, how are you doing?" he said, "I'm doing well. How are you doing?" I said, "No, how are you doing?" I couldn't say it. I couldn't say, "How is your depression?" I couldn't say, "How are you doing with your bipolar disorder? How is your anxiety?" I couldn't do it.
Brittany: "Why couldn't you say mental illness? Why couldn't you say those words?"
Kyle: "I have no idea."
Kyle: "For the last year and a half that has eaten me alive inside. Absolutely eaten me alive inside. It hurts me every day. Not a day goes by where I don't think about it. Not one single day"
On March 28th, 2015 Joey died.
Kyle: "He hung himself in tree in the front yard of our home."
Brittany: "When you heard Joey committed suicide what went through your mind?"
Kyle: "I don't think anything went through my mind. I think I felt the color leave my face, I think I felt my heart drop into my stomach."
I never would have thought Joey would have taken his own life.
Brittany: "Are you mad at him?"
Kyle: "No, I'm not."
What I am mad at though is that fact that I couldn't talk about mental illness with my own brother.
Kyle: "I don't think that had we talked about and been more open about it things would have changed, but I think it could have helped."
There is a stigma attached to mental illness and that needs to change.
Kyle: "I feel like in some way I kind of let him down by not being able to talk about it and so that's why I want to do this, I want share with the world how I screwed up so that they don't make those same mistakes that I did."
"I like to think that we can make some sort of difference, we can prevent someone from taking their own life if everyone just talks, just asks the question. It's not something easy to talk about, but if we do talk about it I think we're going to save a lot of lives."
Brittany: "What would you say to him right now?"
Kyle: "If I saw Joey right now? I'd probably punch him in the face for doing this to our family, I'd give him a big hug, I'd tell him that I love him and I would just say, "How is your depression? How is your anxiety? How are you dealing with your bipolar disorder?" That's what I would say to him. First thing out of my mouth. After I punched him in the face."
I want to thank one of my best friends in the world, Brittany Schmidt, for helping me with this story.
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