She Fought the Good Fight

It’s been roughly 24 hours since I found out that my dear friend, my mentor, a visionary to this world, lost her battle with depression. I’ve tried to make sense of it. I’ve read over our last conversation that took place just a few days before she died a hundred times trying to find something, some clue, anything that would help me make sense of this. And each time I’m left with more questions than answers.

I’ve searched for words for myself and for the people who have reached out to me. I’ve searched for words that I could say to Amy, for the words I wished I would have said sooner. But y’all, I’ll be honest, this is hard. And it hurts like hell.

I’ve said goodbye to two beautiful souls that this ugly illness has consumed in the past two months. And both of these have impacted me on such a deep level.

I get those ugly thoughts. How intrusive they are, how much they can suck the life out of you. I also know what it’s like to have an incredible support system that I know I could call on in a moments notice and they would be there for me. I know this because they’ve done it.

I wish that Amy knew how many people were there for her. That would have fought through hell for her. 

Amy, I could never fully express how much you impacted my life. The laughs that we were able to share, the adventures in Chicago, the honest and transparent conversations we had meant more to me than you will ever know. I’m thankful that God brought us together when he did. You took a chance on a girl who only wrote as a hobby and as an outlet. And before I knew it, people from all over the world were reading the words that God had laid on my heart.

You were a fierce dreamer. You believed in people who had stopped believing in themselves. You believed in a world where suicide would no longer be an option for people. You fought for a world where suicide would no longer be an option for people. And it breaks my heart that you were unable to believe those same words for yourself.

You can rest easy now though. Those of us that are still here will continue to fight for the stories of those around us. We will be bold and walk into the most broken places with people who are hurting and need the love of Jesus. 

You taught me so much in the short time we had together. And on the days that seem impossible, I’ll keep your words near my heart. I love you so much my dear friend. And I will see you again one day. 

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NSPW15 Preview

if I claim to be a follower of Jesus and strive to be like him, then where is my compassion for others at if not in the hopes of them continuing their stories.

As I’m working on this, I have about a dozen side projects going on simultaneously. One of the biggest ones I’m working on is our upcoming push for National Suicide Prevention Week which falls in the middle of Suicide Awareness Month. Working for a nonprofit that exists to help raise awareness for these issues, I know first hand the importance of these weeks.

People don’t talk about these issues because they make people uncomfortable. They make people uncomfortable because we’ve spent so long avoiding it that we don’t know how to talk about it. So we assume that the only solution is to continue to not talk about it.

I’m here to say that’s a load of bull. Lives are going to continue to end as long we keep deciding that suicide and mental illness is too uncomfortable to talk about.
I mean, let’s look at this logically. Are we so wrapped up in our own need to be comfortable that we’re completely okay with stories continuing to be cut tragically short? Have we really become that selfish of a society?

If you have a broken bone or the flu, do you just ignore it and not let your body heal properly? Of course not! Why? Because that’s completely ridiculous. I’ve broken my fair share of bones in my life, and every time I did, I went to the doctor for treatment. So why do we shove mental health under the rug and pretend that it doesn’t exist? Not only in our own lives, but in the lives of others.

Why is it that the only time people feel the need to talk about mental health is when something tragic happens? Why can’t these conversations exist all the time? Are they uncomfortable to have at times? Yes. But I would much rather be temporarily uncomfortable and get the help I need or the help for someone else in need than continue to ignore it until something happens.

That’s why the month of September is so important. People need to know that they aren’t alone in their struggles and that their story matters. Until people realize that placing a period in their story is no longer an option, I will continue to fight for their semicolons. Not just because I have struggled with these issues personally, but because if I claim to be a follower of Jesus and strive to be like him, then where is my compassion for others at if not in the hopes of them continuing their stories.

Project Semicolon will be using #HopeIsAlive15 for the entire month of September. We encourage you to join the conversation with us. Whether you struggle personally or have loved ones that do, you can make a difference. You can help break the stigma behind mental illness and suicide.

Your story is sacred. And it is so far from being finished. So please stay. If you’re having trouble fighting on your own, please know that you aren’t alone.

Six Words: Revised

Those of you that have followed this blog for any length of time, may recall a blog that I wrote last summer called Six Words about my last suicide attempt and the subsequent conversation that I would later have with Murr in the days following. That attempt was one year ago today and it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I was so close to ending my life. Looking back on this past year and the incredible people that have become such a big part of my life, I am constantly amazed at God’s faithfulness.

So today I wanted to revise my blog from last year and share the six words that are now my daily reminder.

He’s not finished with me yet.

Those six words sit in my chest in the same way my heart does; beating rhythmically. Slow and steady at times. Pounding at others. But essential to my very being.

I remember everything about that night. Every detail and every tear that I cried.
I didn’t want to do it. God knows I didn’t want to do it.
But it had become impossible for me to see anything else.
So God made sure that others knew, whether I wanted them to or not.

I am not alone in this.

Those words were spoken over me last summer and it took so long for me to take ownership of them.
It was easy to hear people speak them to me, but something else entirely to own them.

Most of the time I wouldn’t open up to someone unless they asked me first.
Now the moment I feel uneasy or feel those thoughts and struggles coming back to me, I pick up the phone and text those closest to me.
The ones that I know can handle these moments and are willing to handle those moments with me.
The ones that have willingly come alongside me and made my journey a part of theirs.
The ones that have seen the really ugly and really broken parts of me and have held me and helped put me back together.

Those are the people that have become family to me. And my chosen family is one that I will eternally cherish.

My story is far from finished.

Last summer I could barely even speak those words, let alone own them.

But every broken piece, every scar, and every tear that I have cried have not only been picked up by my Creator, but picked up by myself.
I have allowed myself to grieve over the losses I have experienced.
I have allowed myself to become transparent and vulnerable.
I have allowed myself to feel these things and to pick them back up and willingly hand them over to my Father.

This is a story that at one point I didn’t know if there would be future chapters written for. A story that I thought I so desperately wanted to end last summer. But this is also a story that I learned to fight for and it’s a story that I am still fighting for.

To every person that has helped write this story on the days that I couldn’t, I don’t think you will ever know how much you mean to me and how much it has meant to me that you have taken the time to be such an important part of my life.

This story is still being written, but the words have gotten lighter. There are still days that they are heavy. But there is a beautiful balance between heavy and light. And those are the days I’m most thankful for.

The Story Continues

Today I am in awe. As I keep refreshing my Twitter feed and try to keep up with the notifications from our Facebook page, I am simply blown away. Two years ago today, a simple idea was born. It was born out of love and out of honor.

Today it has become a movement.

Project Semicolon is celebrating it’s second anniversary today. Two years of stories being continued. Two years of hope and redemption being on display. Two years of victory.

I am so honored to be a part of so many wonderful stories. Stories that at one point, weren’t sure if they would continue or not. But they have.

Thank you to the incredible people that have made this movement what it is. You guys really are the bees knees.

I encourage you today, whether you are someone that currently struggles with these issues, struggled in the past with them, or maybe you have a loved one that has, draw a semicolon on your wrist and share it with us using #ProjectSemicolon

You are why we exist. We are honored to be a part of your continuing story. And until people realize that putting a period in their story isn’t the only option, we will continue to fight for those semicolons.

Thanks for a great two years. I look forward to the many more to come.