TODAY IS THE DAY.
TONIGHT MORE THAN A THOUSAND PEOPLE WILL WALK THE STREETS OF DALLAS TO BRING SUICIDE AND MENTAL ILLNESS OUT OF THE DARKNESS AND INTO THE LIGHT.
This is my Third Overnight and each year I am so moved by the people and the event as a whole.
What I love about this event is that it gives me an outlet to talk about the things, “we arent supposed to be talking about”. From my cab driver to people I have met in the hotel, each time I am asked what brings me to Dallas, it is an opportunity to share about this cause that is so close to my heart. And with that opportunity, it gives people an invitation to others to share their stories. So many times this week, I have come across people who have experienced a suicide in their lives in one way or another, and it just shows how important the work of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention is.
To break down those stigmas so that people who are hurting can feel free to speak to someone, whether it is family, friends or a complete stranger.
To give hope to those who have lost a loved one, that they are not alone and so many people want to help them.
To give support and strength to those who are struggling. To be a judgment free zone of unconditional support and love no matter what they are facing. Because we believe it can get better.
For me each year this is such a healing experience. No matter what the days, weeks, and months leading up to the event have looked like….it all goes away. All of a sudden I feel the electicity in the air, and a lift in my spirit.
and I believe it is the HOPE that all these amazing people carry in their stories. From across the country to across the world I am impacted by so many people.
and my HOPE is to be able to impact others with what I have found here with AFSP.
These 18 miles before me, are not a challenge… it is a journey of recovery and healing that I am excited to take.
I cannot wait for it to begin.
THE OVERNIGHT 2015
One day I am going to be doing what I love for a living. I will be helping people, pouring out that which has already been poured out onto me. And that is a sobering thought, because for the longest time I did not even believe that was possible for me. I had no idea what my future would hold, or if I would even have a future to look forward to. The pain and the trauma of my life at those stages, took away my ability to believe in the possibility of something positive for me.
At 13 years of age struggling with an eating disorder, depression and self injury. Each day was a trial. Struggling to fit in..and feeling defeated each and every single day. Making decisions, many wrong decisions that would change my life, for the worse not the better, and losing the essence of myself in the process. I was lost in a world that told me I was not “worth it” because I didn’t fit the standards of my peers.
Finally in high school, I found my place..found friends who loved me for me, quirks and all. And for a while the negative thoughts went away and I struggled to stand on my feet, and I did. I stood strong..and happy, and healthy for the first time in many years. It was just what I needed in my life. But, it didn’t last long. Decisions were made, taking me away from the one support system I had ever been able to develop. Away from positive influences and experiences, because of one or two experiences that did not fit the “standards” of my family unit. So in the blink of an eye, my world changed again. Placed in an environment where I could not be myself, where I was judged for everything I said, and did, and wore. I found a few friends in this new school, but it was still not enough to quench the negativity I endured day in and day out. The depression grew deeper and I ran back to old comforts, until they became an addiction I could not shake. Then came hospitals, and therapists, and disappointing my family for not being “strong enough” to face these issues. For years, on the outside, it was under control. To others I was happy and healthy and “whole”, but inside I was empty. Going through the motions.
At 19. I lost hope completely. I gave up. On myself. On my situation. On the possibility of ever getting better. On ever beating the addiction. On never feeling whole.
I gave up on my life. And I made the decision to end it.
That day should have been the end to that tragic tale. Instead, it became Day One. The beginning of a new life. It wasn’t an easy road. There have been many ups and downs along this road.
But I finally found my worth. Pushed past the negative thoughts and emotions. Got the real help I so desperately needed. Stepped away from the addiction that had gripped my life for over a decade. Gave my life over to God, and surrendered completely.
My faith community was the catalyst that allowed me to finally change my life. By turning my thoughts away from my addictions and towards the cross. I finally let myself fall in love with myself and see my worth because I fell in love with Jesus. And even when I stumbled and relapsed, they never once judged me or said I was weak or a failure. They welcomed me with open arms and helped me to get back on my feet again, and lead me back to the cross.
I never thought I would be here.
Happy, Healthy, Stronger than ever.
In love with God,myself and my Life.
I owe it all to Jesus.
He saved me, and rescued me from the miry pit of my life…so that I could use my story to help others.
It is my story and I will never cease to tell it.
I have struggled with depression since I was 13 years old, and it has affected my life in many ways. One of the biggest things it takes away from me, is the ability to live in the moment. To allow myself to be immersed in the beauty around and fully drink in the moments. For me, it means not being able to make memories. You don’t realize how much of impact that can have on your life, until you experience it.
Thank goodness for technology and the ability to capture moments and savor them later. Without photographs or videos I may have missed out on some of the most important events in my life.
Last summer I had the once in the lifetime opportunity to travel out of the country and visit two of my bucket list places: London and Paris. But I was not “in the moment” while I was there. Even though I wasnt experiencing the flown blown symptoms of depression that I had in the past, it took a toll on my trip. I couldnt connect my mind and my body to understand that I was in these magnificent places. I was agitated when I should have been elated. I just wanted to sleep when I should have been wanting to get up at the crack of dawn to take it all in. I didnt want to take pictures because I was being overly critical of my body. On the outside I was smiling and happy and on the inside I felt nothing.
As the months went on the depression got deeper and I started reverting back to old behaviors to cope. Eventually it lead to a break down, and I had to take a step back and take it all in. I went back into therapy and recived the help I needed. It has only been a few months, but I can feel the difference.
A few days ago I travelled to Texas, alone.
I was expecting to feel lonely and isolated, and holed up in my room with my laptop writing.
The opposite has happened and I am blown away, by how much of a difference it has made. I had to CHOOSE to let down my walls, get out of my comfort zone and get out of my own head.
And that was the best choice I have made. I have met some great people, people who don’t even know me, but take me in like I am part of their group. People who are not afraid to share their stories with me and allow me to share a piece of my story with them.
Even in the times when I am alone and exploring the city, the kind smiles from strangers and just allowing my self to be in the moment…every moment.
I may not have many photos, or videos or blogs from this trip. BUT I have memories. And for me thats an important thing.
I feel like I am finally taking my life back.
I feel like I am connecting…with people.
And with this experience.
I will continue to live each day in the moment.
This weekend I will be traveling 1500 miles to participate in my 3rd Overnight Walk for Suicide Prevention. Every year is an emotional journey for so many reasons, but this year in a way its even more emotional for me. This year I have been selected to stand on stage and represent those of us who wear the “green beads”…those who struggle with depression, addiction and other mental disorders. For me this is such an important gesture, because I wholeheartedly believe that mental illness or the things we struggle do not have the power to keep us from our dreams. I am suicide attempt survivor. Someone who battled depression for more than a decade. Someone who struggled with addictions that destroyed my life ,my relationships, my body, and the how I viewed my self.
But I am here, years later getting the training that will allow me to be able to help others in the future. Some days are still hard, but I have the tools and support system that allow me to handle those feelings. I am not defined by a mental illness, or an addiction. Many have done it before me, and I will help other to do the same in their own lives.
I will fight everyday. Because I am stronger than the things that want to destroy me.
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
(Starting right now) I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
I encourage everyone out there to keep fighting. I believe in you.
I REACHED MY GOAL!!!
This is my 3rd Ovenight Walk for Suicide Prevention .
Each time I participate I am blown away by the support from friends old and new, from near and far and the kindness of strangers. Whether only in words or in the amazing donations I have recieved,my heart is so thankful.
Every donation and word of support is a reminder that I am not walking this road alone…not just the Overnight but the road of life. I am reminded that no matter what my story looks like, the good the bad, there are still people who believe in the me, and my ability to make a difference.
I am thankful for all of the people who have never given up on, even when I have felt that I wanted to give up on myself. I am thnakful for all the people who have shown me nothing but love when I was walking through the darker times of life.
I full heartedly support all the efforts of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and by supporting me in this journey you are helping to change the world.
Look at what AFSP can do with the money you raise.
EVERY $10 – Distributes one Depression and Bipolar Awareness educational program (DVD).
EVERY $50 – Provides AFSP educational materials to 25 people. If just one person seeks help after reading these materials, a life could be saved for less than the cost of dinner and a movie.
EVERY $100 – Covers the cost of More Than Sad: Suicide Prevention and Education for Teachers and Other School Personnel (DVD and supporting program).
EVERY $250 – Enables AFSP to recruit and train a volunteer field advocate who can then educate Federal, State and local elected officials about suicide prevention.
EVERY $500 – Trains a new Survivor of Suicide support group facilitator. Each new group assists newly bereaved survivors and helps them see that they are not alone.
EVERY $1,000 – Combined with $1,000 from 7 other walkers, develops an educational product for individuals and families to use as a resource for people who have been suicidal or had a recent suicide attempt
EVERY $2,500 – Funds a year of research into the genetic, biological or behavioral factors that contribute to suicide when added to $2,500 from 17 other walkers. The number of lives potentially saved by this research is incalculable.
EVERY $5,000 – Places AFSP’s groundbreaking Interactive Screening Program (ISP) at a college or university. By proactively engaging those in need, the ISP supports student mental health and helps create a culture that recognizes that stress and depression are common and treatable problems in today’s world. Every dollar you raise will help you save a life.
So once again I want to say thank you to all who have donated and reached out to me in one way or another. Thank you for all your support in my life….it really has made a world of difference. And as you can see…it will make a difference in the lives of so many others.
Together we can create a world without suicide.
This topic Is something that I has been weighing on my mind for such a long time. I guess it will always be a struggle for me to see myself the way those who matter in my life see me. Even in my best days of recovery I have to fight back the feeling that I am not good enough. Not thin enough, not pretty enough, not strong enough, not desirable enough.
That last one really strikes a chord in me. In no way do I define myself or value myself on whether or not I am in a relationship or not. But it is difficult when you open up parts of yourself to another human being and their reaction is to pull back or walk away completely and choose someone else to invest their time and emotions in.
I am ok with my past. I own the dark parts of myself because I am moving past them. But it hurts when someone deems me unworthy because I am not this perfect human being.
Yes I have curves and they may not all be in the right places but that’s ok because I refuse to go back to a place where the number on the scale determines just how beautiful I am.
Yes my wrists are tattooed and scarred. That is my story and yes it may be scary. But it does not make me crazy and in no way does it make me any less worthy of the love that is somewhere out there.
Yes I have struggled with depression. Not everyone’s life is as perfect as they make it seem on instagram. The only difference is that I choose to address it because I have defeated it. And I believe others can too.
I’m not concerned with the image that the world should have of me…flawlessly beautiful with a smile that’s plastered on and mind that’s too small to be able to discuss anything with importance. I am more than what’s on the outside. I am more than the dark parts if my story.
I am not ashamed to be me. The real..raw
Honest to God version of my self. Struggles and scars and all.
Because I am so much more then the things I struggle with. I am more than just the battles I face.
I am a warrior.
I am in love with my life.
And no matter what anyone says…
I am enough
Just the way I am.