It’s one of those things that’s never going to happen to you. It’s the kind of thing that you hear stories about, or you know someone, who knows someone that it happened to. It’s the kind of thing you see in movies or read in a book. It’s never going to happen to you though. Rarely will people talk about it. It’s weird to bring it up. It goes un-discussed.
My sister died by suicide in August 2015, and it absolutely shattered my life. I lost everything I knew, I lost who I was, and I couldn’t fathom the fact that I would never again see her, or hear her voice, or laugh with her. I was crushed by the thought I’d have to walk through life without her. Who was going to be my maid of honor on my wedding someday? Who was going to be the godmother to my children – they would never have that fun crazy aunt that says yes to all the things I may say no to. What was going to happen with my family? Worst of all, how was I going to explain this to people. I was crushed.
To this day I struggle to understand it. However, suicide awareness and prevention, as well as mental health advocacy, play an incredible role in who I am today. I want to talk about it, I want to share my story and help others. I want to make a difference in the lives of those I am close to, in those whose path I may only cross once, and in all the encounters in between.
I want to work with college aged students (emerging adults) to help reassure them it is OK not to have all the answers; it is OK to struggle; it is OK to feel lost, and provide them with the knowledge that they will get through it. I remember telling my sister “it’s OK” and to “relax” and her response was she didn’t know how to. I didn’t understand. None of this was ever explained to me – why? I believe it needs to be explained. We need to shift our words from “it’s okay, just relax” to “I’m sorry you feel that way, how can I help.” We need to provide support, encouragement, and love – we all need these things, whoever we are and whatever we are going through. In yoga, we use the word “Svaha” – it means to offer it up, so be it, allow for the universe to take it from here.
We need to offer it up every chance we get! It’s almost as if I have been taught to run away from these things. This feels backwards to me. I feel the pull to go towards, to help…and not for the thank you, but because I feel incredibly good when I do. To know that I choose to engage with another human being to help them feel appreciated, supported, capable, helps me feel whole. I believe this is what the mind, body, and spirit connection is all about – feeling whole. I want to share my story to help others. I want to honor my sister, Kennedy, by living my life to the fullest – something she was unable to do – and help others. I am a wounded healer.
One way I honor my sister is through the AMAZING Campaign. It was formed by myself and Kennedy’s two best friends, Jenna and Jackie, with the hopes that people will find easier ways to talk about topics revolving around mental health, as we see it as incredibly important and lacking the needed open discussion. Kennedy didn’t realize how AMAZING she was, and we don’t want anyone to feel the same.
The AMAZING Campaign hopes to become a non-profit in the future. It currently sells clothing and accessories with the word “AMAZING” written backward across them, so when people wear the items they can see the word in the mirror or in selfies. All profits from the sales are currently donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
There’s no denying that there’s a stigma around mental health – but that’s not going away if we keep our mouths shut. The AMAZING campaign wants to help spread the word that it’s okay to not be okay, it’s okay to ask for help, and that it’s always okay to be you – mental illness and all. Our goal is to help people realize how absolutely AMAZING they are, because everyone deserves all the happiness, beauty, and love that this life has to offer.
For Further Reading: amazingcampaign.ecwid.com