Baylin Hoskins' Story
This is a short story. Only 18 years in fact.
Baylin was born the eldest of twin boys on 31st May 1997. He was always the easy child, the one that just fit in with life. In fact through his whole life until about 15, I would tell everyone "Oh I don't have to worry about Ba. He knows where he's going and how to get there." Always had it together. Was never any drama. How wrong I was. At 16 he came to me and told me he was bi-sexual. But said don't worry mum I will still get married and have kids. Like that bothered me. We were absolutely ok with his revelation. I was however a little concerned, as I know it's not an easy life, especially in a small town. And more than anything we just want our children to be happy and safe. And sometimes that's a hard ask when you don't follow the regular path.
Once he came out he lost a lot of friends from his school. Most especially the boys, as all of a sudden he must have been hitting on them or something. Such ignorance in these times is truly astounding. And honestly quiet disgusting.
This began, I think, his descent into severe depression.
He struggled terribly with his identity. He was not comfortable with who he was. He carried with him a lot of shame. This had a lot to do with how others saw him. I know there were a few boys at his school that made his life miserable. He had no self confidence. Felt very unworthy. Very isolated. Very different. He simply wanted to fit in and be liked.
He was now well into his depression. He struggled to go to school. We were very concerned at this point as he had changed dramatically with us at home. He barely ever spoke. He had been seeing a Psychologist for quite a while and was on medications for his illness, but seemed to be just getting worse.
The day before his 17th birthday he woke to finding out that his Uncle had taken his own life. Leaving a wife and 4 devastated children. This sent him spiraling downwards. He did not cope with this loss and I have since found out that he blamed himself for not visiting with him when his Uncle would ask. It was only a couple of weeks later that he would be hospitalised in Lismore as he could not promise us that he would stay safe. He was in such a world of pain. As his mother I was terrified for this boy that I didn't recognise. One who had simply shut the world out.
At this point he was in Year 11, and his grades went downhill. His love of learning dulled and panic attacks arrived. I truly believe that his head was so filled with his illness at this point that everything he read was unable to be retained. The future that he had idealised in his mind for the last 4 years was slipping away.
Year 12 proved to be the defining moment for Baylin. He really understood, he believed, that his life would be unfulfilled and everything that he'd worked so hard for his whole academic career would not come to fruition. So 3 months out from the HSC, the boy who studied til 3 every morning, who prided himself on his schoolwork, who had an absolute vision and direction for his future, closed his school books and never opened them again. I never understood why, until after he left us. But that was the moment that he knew where his life was going to take him.
The rest of Year 12 was spent going to parties, drinking, hanging out with people that were not his friends before. He dressed differently, made sure he looked awesome at all times and generally became a whole different person. I was concerned, but was happy that he stopped putting all the pressure on himself to do well at school. And he did seem more relaxed about his life. Again how wrong I was.
When it came time to head off to University, he struggled. We had a farewell party that he drank his way through, same as every day really, and was leaving the next day. I couldn't get him up to go. He hadn't packed a single thing. Nothing. A kid who had dreamed of going to University since he was 12. This was the beginning of the rest of his life. And he hadn't organised anything.
I truly believe he knew he would never survive this. That this was the end of him. I watched him pack his bag . He sat on the floor with tears streaming down his face. I'd never seen such desolation on his face. But he'd dreamed of this since he was little. He couldn't have not gone. Because that would have meant he'd failed. And that was not an option in his mind. I simply thought that he was sad because he was leaving his family and friends. Again I got it wrong.
The pressure once he got to Newcastle overwhelmed him. The Centrelink chaos, don't get me started on that, for 3 months, the assignments, the new things they were expected to do and had not been taught how to do at High School, all contributed.
The couple of times that he came home were a series of parties with friends, lots of drinking, so much so that I even sat Baylin down on his last visit and told him I was really worried about it. He just rolled his eyes at me "oh mum". He physically couldn't leave the house without first having a couple of drinks. The only people he would see without putting on his mask first were the only two people in the world that knew HIM. And you know who you are. This last visit we barely saw him. I know now he was saying goodbye to all his friends. I don't think he spent anytime with us because he just couldn't face us knowing what he was going to do. Could not look at our faces in case he couldn't get it out of his head. At this visit his dog died. They slept together for many years. He couldn't even look at him, or say goodbye.
There were just so many signs that I look back on now. How could I not have known he was back in that dark place that he was in before.
That was the last time we were to see our boy. It would be less than 3 weeks later, less than 3 weeks to his 19th birthday that the Police would come knocking on my door. And the day that our world will forever be changed. And the day that we became different people, a different family. An incomplete family.
This Foundation was started almost immediately. Simply because we cannot let him go. We cannot believe that this is the end. That there is no more of Baylin Hoskins.
I did not think I'd ever be here. I can say that honestly. I don't think any of us can say they imagined being at this point.That is why we must begin the Foundation.
Gender or sexual identification, depression, anxiety are all things that are not going away. They must be addressed. They must be talked about. They must be normalised. So that our children grow up with acceptance of themselves. And acceptance of others.
It's really a very simple concept.
- Hayley Hoskins