Entry Title: "Keep Holding On"
Name: April Vidal , United States
Category and Expertise: Deeper Perspective, Student


Entry Description: Four years ago, I lost my brother to a heroin overdose. Since his death, I have tried to be supportive of others suffering from this horrific disease. It took me a long time to realize there wasn’t much I could do while I was still suffering from PTSD. At first, I wanted people to see my project and realize that addicts are just like normal people, but what’s normal? Addiction can consume anyone, turning them into someone we don’t even know. It takes a strong heart and a lot of faith to see past someone’s addiction and remember who they really are. In my case, he was my brother, my best friend.

Story: Four years ago, I lost my brother to a heroin overdose. Since his death, I have tried to be supportive of others suffering from this horrific disease. It took me a long time to realize there wasn’t much I could do while I was still suffering from PTSD. The first time I photographed someone shooting dope, I didn’t know what to expect. The ride to meet with the drug dealer had my head spinning. I was praying I wouldn’t get pulled over with heroin in my car. Once I started shooting, I was so consumed in my curiosity that I forgot to be scared and just turned into a photographer, photographing something important to me for the first time. On my way home, I was sick to my stomach thinking how wrong I was for photographing that. The second time I photographed someone using, it was my cousin. I felt like I was doing something wrong again, this time, more than the last. I kept thinking I should just bring her to the hospital. Instead, I took her to her parent’s house and watched from a distance, her fathering shutting the door on her; telling her she wasn’t welcome home until she got help. This project has had an impact on me both mentally and physically, but it has helped me overcome my grief in the process. By hurdling my own line between right and wrong, I came to the realization that I can’t picture my brother shooting heroin into his veins, nor can I picture him enjoying it. The memories my loved ones have left me with are more powerful than any drug, even heroin. At first, I wanted people to see my project and realize that addicts are just like normal people, but what’s normal? Addiction can consume anyone, turning them into someone we don’t even know. It takes a strong heart and a lot of faith to see past someone’s addiction and remember who they really are. In my case, he was my brother, my best friend.

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