Home Forums Create Change Articles The Amazing Campaign

This topic contains 12 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  connellyanne 5 days ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #27587

    Cindy
    Moderator
    ⚖️

    The Amazing Campaign is a tribute to Kennedy, a best friend and sister who lost her battle to mental illness in August 2014. It was formed with the hopes that people will find easier ways to talk about mental health, as the founders see it as an incredibly important issue that’s lacking much needed open discussion. Kennedy didn’t realize how AMAZING she was, and we don’t want anyone to feel the same.

    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. The 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.

    Who are we?

    Connelly is Kennedy’s sister. She is currently pursuing her MA in Holistic Clinical Mental Health Counseling, she looks at ways to expand treatments for mental illness beyond medication and hopes to eventually teach others these same strategies as a professor and private practitioner. She currently works at a university within Student Affairs, assisting in student development where one of her main tasks is to lead the efforts and implementation of more and ongoing mental health and wellness programs on campus. She believes college is an instrumental time for students, and is an advocate for providing them with tools and skills to manage their wellness and mental health.

    Jenna is a drug discovery chemist working on chemotherapy development. She developed a passion for mental health awareness following Kennedy’s death, where she then co-found the AMAZING Campaign in order to raise funds and awareness of mental health. Jenna is also a Young Adult Speaker for Minding Your Mind, a position that allows her to share her own story of mental illness with others to educate them. The organization aims to provide prevention based education versus crisis intervention, which is something she fully supports. She hopes that the AMAZING Campaign can do the same thing. Jenna firmly believes that talking about mental health is critical in ending the stigma around it.

    Jacklyn works with special needs preschoolers. Following Kennedy’s death, she learned a lot about mental health and saw the importance in spreading awareness and advocating for those suffering from mental health issues. As a college athlete, Jackie advocates for and helps spread awareness about mental health in college sports, by teaming up with other athletes to provide a platform to share their stories and connect with those who are currently struggling. Jackie believes that the AMAZING Campaign is a unique and powerful way to spread the message about mental health. If just one person can take something away from the campaign it will have been a success.

    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. Additional products have been added to their cache since being founded in 2015. All profits from the sales are currently donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. https://amazingcampaign.ecwid.com/
    We’d love to hear your feedback about The Amazing Campaign.

    #27591

    Angelo Lagdameo
    Keymaster
    🔑

    The AMAZING Campaign is truly inspiring. Thank you for the detailed description of who they are and what they do. I look forward to purchasing some merchandize and supporting this non-profit anyway I can.

    #27592

    Jenna Malley
    Participant

    Jenna here, one of the co-founders. I’m absolutely honored that the AMAZING Campaign was featured here thanks to Connelly – also one of our co-founders and an extraordinary influence on every single person she meets (including myself).

    Fun fact about the campaign: neither myself, Connelly, nor Jackie know how to run something like this – we learned it all just to honor Kennedy and make sure that other people felt comfortable talking about mental health. When we initially launched, it was meant to be a temporary campaign to celebrate Kennedy’s birthday in a positive way. After selling over 200 shirts in 24 hours to people that we’d never met as far as Australia (we’re based on the mid-Atlantic / New England region of the States) we realized this wasn’t just some small idea. Within two months, we’d sold 400 shirts and donated $3,500 to the AFSP in Kennedy’s name. And throughout it all, we heard stories from other people that were suffering from depression and how this campaign spoke to them. It stopped being ‘just a shirt’ and became a conversation. It opened the dialogue on mental illness and really made me think more about why we hide our mental illnesses from other people. We rarely hesitate to tell people about our physical ailments; why does this has to be different? Why should anyone have to suffer in silence?

    We’re stronger together, working towards ending the stigma together, because we need more people to feel comfortable talking about this ‘taboo’ topic. People need other people so they don’t feel alone. And as of now, I feel like the AMAZING Campaign has made small strides towards doing that.

    Thanks everyone for all of your support 🙂

    #27594

    Karu Kirei
    Participant

    Reading your article I wanted to share my personal story, which is from the prism of the suicidal.
    My case is being suicidal due to depression, there are other reasons one can be suicidal, but I will only refer to the depression as a reason in this post, as it was what had me personally suicidal.

    I’ll start by saying, that I WAS suicidal, every moment of my life in that long period of 5 years, I could only think of ways to end my life.

    I was suffering from sever depression, during middle-high school, the cause of that depression was no other than bullying, daily dehumanizing of me by my peers, that led me to believe I was unworthy of living.

    The depression amplified that feeling, my exact thought was: “I need to rid the world of my despicable existence”.
    Thankfully for me, I was too much of a coward to kill myself.

    I use very specific words with this, and they might sound weird, but honestly, it was bravery I lacked, that saved me.
    For those who haven’t been in a suicidal mindset, it is important to understand the following:

    A suicidal person, doesn’t give up when they commit.
    A suicidal person, is not selfish for committing (something I see a lot when suicidal news break)
    A suicidal person, has been fighting every single moment of that period of their lives, and living another day is a win of a battle in a raging war against depression.

    The example I normally use to make that last point clear is this:

    Take a patient of terminal cancer,
    When they battle it, they are heroes, if they win it and live another day, they are survivors, if they lose the battle, we all say “they tried, they fought hard”.

    Depression is a mental health condition that can lead to death (through suicide)
    The suicidal, fights everyday, but if they lose the battle, they are not heroes, if they win the battle they are not survivors, in the eyes of many they are just selfish, and “they didn’t try enough”

    As someone who has been on the suicidal side of this coin, what would help is for people to first and for most, understanding of what is going on in the mind of a depressed/suicidal person.

    The “I’m sorry you feel that way, how can I help.” is a powerful healing tool too, or a simple “what do you need”.

    I had nobody to guide me, because nobody knew what I was going through, I reached bottom, so there was only a way up from there. It was ugly, at that level my armour was completely shattered, and my sword broken in half and dull, while the beast of depression was still throwing its claws at me.

    If you know someone who suffers, keep an eye on them, read the signals, be there for them, be important for them, set goals together.
    What kept me alive, was the thought of how my demise would be yet another emotional burden for my mom, I didn’t want her to be sad, for my sake.

    I don’t know if this is helpful or not, but I wanted to share this because suicide is a very important topic for me.

    #27595

    connellyanne
    Participant

    Thanks so much Angelo!

    #27597

    connellyanne
    Participant

    Thank you so much for helping to share our, Kennedy’s, story. Its truly an honor and so inspiring to be able to participate in a forum like this. Its such a beautiful tribute and I love hearing from those who have been touched by this. I appreciate others sharing their story – its so important! 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.
    With love always,
    connelly anne

    #27598

    connellyanne
    Participant

    Thank you for sharing your story, Karu. I totally agree with your comment about what a powerful healing tool words.Especially when used properly, and with good intention! “I’m sorry you feel that way, how can I help” / “what do you need” immediately tells people you are willing to hold space for them. Holding space for others is such an important concept for human connection in general. Loved reading your post, again thank you!

    #27599

    Cindy
    Moderator
    ⚖️

    Thank you, Karu Kirei, for your very thoughtful post. Your personal experience with suicidal ideation makes you a very powerful advocate, as well as a great educator. Your wise words will help people to better understand this issue, and hopefully make them more understanding and empathetic. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

    #27600

    Karu Kirei
    Participant

    connellyanne and Cindy

    It was a dark time, taught me a lot, and if that knowledge can help in anyway, then I’m glad to share.

    To add something else, that might be helpful
    When I was older and freed from depression, I realized that alcohol could turn me suicidal in a night.
    I was never much of a drinker, and when going out at night I would only ever drink one drink, never got drunk, but even that small portion of alcohol would throw me into a suicidal spiral in the morning. (I haven’t consumed a drop of alcohol ever since, I realized that)
    So if you know anyone who suffers, check on their alcohol consumption, if any, and how they feel after drinking.

    #27601

    r-danvers
    Participant

    Thanks for sharing the story, both in regards to Kennedy and those of you affected by her tragedy. It’s difficult for there to be change, to make a difference that such life has to be lost. That’s when things get done in this world, once tragedy strikes. You’d think it would be the opposite. It shouldn’t take a tragedy, a suicide, for help to begin.

    *****
    Not long ago my dad once told me, “I’m afraid one day you’re going to take your own life,” his exact words. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said the same thing.

    These days you hear about so many young kids taking their own life, I think the youngest I’ve heard about was ten years old, if not younger. I was twelve when suicide seemed like a better option than living. For a kid that young to not want to live speaks volumes. It speaks to the failure that happens around us.

    Growing up my parents, while they were and are amazing, didn’t exactly know how to help me. Being teachers they were around kids like me every day but like most parents they didn’t want to see or accept that something could be wrong with their own kid. I struggled in school (mainly with the mathematics and sciences), I didn’t have a lot of friends so I always felt alone even when I was around others. I basically hated school all together and any time I messed up and people saw my face and ears would heat up, something that happens to me when my anxiety gets too high.

    I resorted the best way I knew how: through self harm. Along with it were the ideas to kill myself. My parents didn’t know what to do or how to help. They knew about my SI but still nothing was done. The SI got worse, the thoughts of suicide got worse. I was drowning, figuratively, and nothing was being done. A kid can’t exactly help themselves, they are vulnerable, suseptible, they are barely figuring out life so how could they know what to do? Some might ask “what can I do, how can I help?” while good questions, how is a kid supposed to know the answer especially when it’s their own mind that is betraying them? I sure couldn’t. I even told my parents once, these exact words, “There is something wrong with my brain.” I was about fourteen and that was the only way I could describe it. There was something wrong with my brain. I wouldn’t learn until much later how right I was once I discovered that basically wires get crossed in the brain that cause mental illness.

    My depression got worse, my anxiety got worse, my SI got worse, as a result the thoughts to continue getting worse. Still no one could help me, or wouldn’t anyways. When I was old enough and my SI reached a new level it was up to me to find help.

    I don’t take self harm or suicide lightly. To this day I struggle with both. I’ve contemplated various plans on how to go about it, I’ve written suicide notes, often changing to fit my “needs” correctly or if things needed to be added or redacted. Sometimes I just don’t see the point. I do however have three points that make me stay alive in this world.

    1.) Death. While everything dies, just the thought of death terrifies me. Everday I wonder of ways I’ll go out, I wonder if this will be the day the world decides it’s had enough of me, as morbid and as disturbing as that may be.

    2.) Family. I’ve read stories on what suicide of a loved one can cause to those still living. I’ve thought about those causes as I’ve had my own suicidal thoughts. Suicide is often thought of as a selfish act. It’s not. However for me, I can’t imagine my family having to deal with my loss. What it would do to them. Whether we are thrown back to the universe or live on past this life I could not imagine putting my family through that. What that would mean for them. How they could live on without me. And not just my family but my friends too. The only good thing to come out of high school (when everything else pretty much sucked) was two friends that I’ve now known for 15 years so we’re basically a family of our own. Those in my life would go on living to be sure but with the pain of knowing what it was that happened.

    3.) Seeing it through. Life may be hard, I’ve certainly had my struggles and with suicide always being in the back of my mind, this is one life I want to see through. I read a lot and that’s how I relate life to. There’s always a next chapter and for me I’m not ready for it to end prematurely or with a cliffhanger of sorts. With every event, with every obsticle, I want to see what happens next. I want to see it through till the end of my book is closed.

    Suicide is difficult for everyone. Most importantly it’s difficult to talk about. Any time you hear on the news of someone with mental illness or someone who has committed suicide it’s talked about for a couple of days and then it’s brushed under the table.

    I’ve always been my own advocate when it comes to mental illness. I’m not ashamed to discuss about my disorders or about my SI. I don’t want it to be hidden in the darkness. These are issues that should be discussed regardless of circumstance or if it’s in the news or not. As a result of my talking openly I’ve had friends talk to me about their own depression, about finding ways to help their own mental stability. One friend even told me of a hobby she picked up and that it has lowered her stress levels and helped calm her mentally. I’ve had friends talk to me about how I went on going about seeing a therapist so they could look into it themselves, the kinds of meds I’ve been on, the kinds of meds they got put on. It’s been benificial to me and to those around me.

    One thing, the very topic at hand, that I still cannot discuss is suicide. That continues to remain hidden in the shadows. Aside from bringing it up on forums or on my Twitter or in therapy, it’s one of those topics I will not discuss with anyone. Unfortunately we still live in a world where if you mention it people start to use the word crazy or that something is seriously wrong with you, which is taken offensively rather than constructive and rather than offering help and support people scoff and roll their eyes.

    It’s as it was mentioned above by Karu: Take a patient of terminal cancer,
    When they battle it, they are heroes, if they win it and live another day, they are survivors, if they lose the battle, we all say “they tried, they fought hard”.

    Depression is a mental health condition that can lead to death (through suicide)
    The suicidal, fights everyday, but if they lose the battle, they are not heroes, if they win the battle they are not survivors, in the eyes of many they are just selfish, and “they didn’t try enough”

    Mental illness and suicide should be treated the same way. Even if a brain isn’t wired wrong, and those thoughts are still there one version does not diminish another. Help and relief are possible. There are resources. Like those with physical illnesses, those of us who have mental disorders or contemplate suicide are just as much of a hero as anyone else. We fight everyday to keep on living. We want to give up. We have the scars just like those with a physical illness. Either our scars are physical from self harm or they are scars that are mental and just as real and should not be dismissed. When we do give up it’s not because they/we were weak or didn’t try hard enough. In the end it just becomes another life that was lost to illness the way someone with cancer might lose that battle too. A loss from suicide should be seen the same way, at least that’s my outlook on it anyways. It’s my own sense of comfort when it’s broken down like that, but maybe that’s just me. It’s not a waste of a life, it’s not that they gave up, it’s simply an illness that overtook them like any other.

    There is help, there are resources, there are organizations, and there are advocacy groups that are willing to be of support. It may not be easy but it’s possible.

    #27602

    Cindy
    Moderator
    ⚖️

    Ronnie, thank you for sharing some of your story with us. We appreciate your courage in speaking up, and we respect your advocacy for those in similar circumstances. As a society, we need to do everything possible to remove the stigma associated with mental illness. It’s just as real and just as legitimate as any physical illness. The more we can all talk about it – without shame and without judgement – the more likely we’ll be able to educate ourselves, and hopefully help people find alternatives to suicide and self-harm. Your last line, “It may not be easy but it’s possible”, speaks volumes. It provides hope. Again, thank you.

    #27603

    Jenna Malley
    Participant

    Angelo – Thank you for offering your help! We’re currently working on some new designs if you have any suggestions for AMAZING merch you’d like to purchase 🙂

    Karu Kirei – Thank you for sharing some of your story with us, and honestly, thank you for still being here with us. It’s so true what you said that we need to check on people and work together with them. It’s been studied, actually, in students graduating high school – those taking gap years are more likely to die by suicide than those going directly into college because in college you have a lot more eyes on you and people keeping track of you.

    Ronnie – It takes a lot of strength to begin to share your story, so first off, thank you! I completely agree with you that we as a society need to do a better job at treating mental illnesses like physical illnesses.

    There’s a comparison that a clinician I work with uses that I love: Imagine a school that has 20% of their students with diarrhea (I use 20% because nearly 20% of people ages 18-25 have attempted suicide). The school would be shut down. It would make the national news. The CDC would probably investigate. It could be 10 years later and you could be wearing a sweatshirt from that school and immediately people would say “Wasn’t THAT the diarrhea school?” But here’s the difference – diarrhea alone is very unlikely to kill you, and you are very likely to seek treatment immediately. Even if it is embarrassing! People that attempt suicide? That’s very likely to kill. And afterwards, very few people are likely to seek treatment assuming they survive.

    #27604

    connellyanne
    Participant

    Ronnie, your story is touching. Thank you for opening up to us about it. As mentioned by Cindy & Jenna as well, the societal stigma we have around it is disheartening – around all mental illness! I believe conversations are a powerful way to educate people and this within itself will help to break the stigma. Part of the problem is that people don’t understand, but its important to be educated about mental illness as well as advocate and know there are resources to share with people. I agree, Suicide is most definitely difficult for everyone, as you mentioned. I believe in my heart that the more open we are to talking about it as a society, the more people will be helped by the open discussion. Thank you again for sharing your story!

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.