My story is not over.
These images were taken within a day of each other. They showcase the incredible range of my emotionality in recovery. I am not ashamed of my tears. I am not ashamed of my past. And, actually, I would not have it any other way because to feel is to be human and to be seen in my humanity, is the reason I am blessed to be alive.
It is easy to forget that tear soaked tshirts and suicidality used to be my only form of existence. I know it's hard to believe that I was a frequent flyer in psychiatric wards and passed my time slicing my forearm but that is the truth. As I live gratefully in recovery now, the years of cutting, suicidality and hospitalization often seem a lifetime ago. But today, touched by the news of Amy Bleuel's passing, the tragedy of stigma hit close to home. I cannot stay silent any longer. This tragedy of a suicide epidemic needs to stop.
So, I am writing this and I am launching a YouTube channel. It's not earth shattering but it's a start.
1. there is no shame in having a mental health condition. I believe there is only stigmatizing one.
2. a mental health condition is actually a health condition so let's stop differentiating as if mental health is some lesser entity than health. They are one and the same.
3. 1 in 5 humans will experience a mental health condition. Yup, that you know us and we are everywhere. We are your family. We are your friends. Stand up for us. Your voice matters.
4. 1 in 25 humans will experience a serious mental illness that substantially interferes with major life activities. This was me. This is no longer me. Support matters. With help like I received, humans recover. Let's give them that chance.
5. 30,000 humans die each year from mental health conditions through suicide. This is preventable with conversation, treatment and acceptance. Make it known you are an ally.
6. 500,000 humans attempt suicide each year. That means, half a million people try to end their life because they believe there is NO HOPE. It is time to spread hope.
It is time to change this.
It is time to talk about it.
It is time to change the conversation and end the silence.
Today, in Amy's honor and in honor of all my recovery peers whose lives were lost too soon, I am starting a YouTube channel.
I know I am only one person. I know I only have one story. But it is time to share that story with hopes that some tear soaked individual can feel as I once did when Amy launched project semicolon - a brief yet radiant and touching glimmer of hope. Please share my story with hopes it will find someone who needs it.
And, make your support known. Draw a semicolon on your wrist. It is time to CONTINUE the story. Our story is not over.