BringChange2Mind

September 2, 2010

Those life changing moments

Filed under: Story, Youth — Tags: , , , , , — Jeremy @ 12:23 pm

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” ~Bill Clinton

First, let me introduce myself.  My name is Jeremy, and I recently started volunteering for BringChange2Mind.  In December I graduated from UConn with a B.A. in Political Science, and immediately started working for a start-up company as the Director of Marketing.  More importantly, I’ve been a mental health advocate since 2003. Here’s my story:

2:00AM, December 2003, Sophomore year of high school.  I remember it like it was yesterday…

One of my bedroom windows was open, allowing a breezy chill sneak through the room.  I was sitting at my computer with two of my closest friends and, as most high schoolers do, we were fooling around on the internet and chatting with friends online.  I was seated at my computer doing the typing as Matt and my other friend were intermittently dictating what I should type.

We were suddenly interrupted by a startling message from one of our close friends – who I’ll call Lauren.

We had always known Lauren had things going on in her life that made it hard for her to be happy.  I can’t go into details, but various forms of abuse and her strive for “perfection” – fueled by her parents – were the obvious sources of her troubles.

As we cautiously, and cluelessly, talked Lauren out of this low point in her life, the three of us realized there was something wrong with this picture.  None of us had ever been trained on what to do if someone was suicidal – who can we call on for help?  Calling 911 seemed like it would be a bad idea because it would create so much raucous around Lauren’s house.  Her parents would be woken up, she would be dragged into an ambulance and taken to the hospital.  Should we call her parents?  No, that would make matters worse – right?  That’s what we thought at the time, since we had never been trained on what to do in these frightening circumstances.

After about 2 hours of talking to Lauren online, we were able to calm her down. After a series of text messages, she was safe and in bed ready to sleep off her exhausting night.

From there, we had many concerns.  We wanted to ensure that no one had to go through what we did – ever again.  Not a single high school student should feel helpless when their friend comes to them in need of help.  So, we e-mailed our Superintendent and Principal to let them know what had happened, and that we wanted to do something about it.

This is how my journey as a mental health advocate began.  I’ve been fortunate to have made numerous connections in the field, and sit on a number of extraordinary committees, state and national advisory boards, as well as grant writing committees.

From hereon out, my posts will focus on a few things – the things I love to do within this field of extraordinary organizations.  I’ll focus on:

  • Collaborations and connections: I love helping organizations find the right groups to connect and collaborate with.  How can we form a tight-knit community within the mental health field?  Should we all work together, or should each organization focus on their own initiatives?
  • Marketing mental health: I feel as if there needs to be some changes in the way we encourage people to seek help.  We need to take a new approach in marketing mental health to society through social media and multi-media campaigns.  Can social media really encourage people seek help?  How can we get companies to be more cautious in their own marketing strategies?
  • Raising awareness: Marketing aside, there are so many ways we can raise awareness about mental health and the numerous resources available.  How can we do this in an appropriate way? Are there certain demographics we should target when we do this?

Also, like Linea and Keith, I love hearing feedback!  I encourage you all to comment on my posts and feel free to let me know what you’d like me to write about!

I’ll leave you all with my favorite saying that I’ve coined throughout the years: we’re all working towards the same goal, so why not work together!

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6 Comments »

  1. I wish I had known kids like you in high school. However we didn’t have cell phones, or internet in the late 80’s yet so that wasn’t an option. My best friend did commit suicide. I repeatedly begged her dr. to stop giving her the medicine I KNEW she was hoarding but to no avail. What is a kid under 18 to do? I had no power even though I was right there watching it like a train wreck. I was supposed to have stopped by her house early but I went to get my check first. By the time I got back her driveway was filled with cops and the meat wagon. I saw them load her body into the back and lost my mind for a few months after that. I was hospitalized only because my therapist at the time knew both of us and knew I wasn’t safe. However, not all kids have that person to talk to … even in my daughter’s school in a relatively rich area (we are NOT rich ) there is still deep deep shame if you are called down to the counseling office. ANY suggestions you post I will gratefully and gladly read and take into consideration.

    Comment by Renee — September 2, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

  2. Hi Jeremy, welcome to BC2M. I thought your blog post raised some points that we all should consider. Resources must be available for those in distress and their families and friends, but those resources must also continue to be present to support people as recovery and wellness come along.

    Raising awareness is the most important means of change in my opinion. If that occurs, then change is the next step. I have seen that in my province, slowly but it is happening. Sometimes, I am sad to say, it takes a crisis to have people react. Thanks, Jermey.

    Keith

    Comment by Keith Anderson — September 2, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

  3. First of all Jeremy, what an AMAZING friend you are. I’ve lost many friends due to my depression because they either didn’t want to deal with it, didn’t know how to deal with nor did they choose to learn what to do. I hope Lauren is doing ok. She is lucky to have you in her life. I’m battling severe depression, bouts of suicidal thoughts and personality disorder. I see both a therapist and psychiatrist, thank goodness. But sometimes that doesn’t seem to help. Anyway, I would love to volunteer as well for BC2M. Any advice? Thanks again for sharing your story.

    Comment by Ms. Shawn — September 2, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

  4. To hear that there are people out there that actually want to be advocates of change is very hopeful and encouraging. I have unfortunately been in that very same situation, and my son’s father unfortunately witnessed his best friend’s death. He couldn’t make it to his house in time to stop him. Ever since then it has haunted not only his dreams but the families and so many more. It absolutely brakes my heart to see so many come to that point in their life and are refused when they beg for help. I for one would love to be part of the change, and learn how to address this kind of situation properly. I agree that their has to be a better way to address this situation other than calling 911. That isnt always the answer, especially when the person who needs the help can’t afford to pay the hospital bills. I would love to be a part of helping get the word across. Anything I can do please dont hesitate to let me know. Thank you for being part of the change instead of part of the problem. Have a blessed day!

    Comment by Alicia — September 2, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

  5. Thank you for writing this. It brings to mind an incident a lady friend told me about. Her daughter was sent to the councellor at school. They called and told her that her daughter appeard ‘suicidal’. When she went to talk to the councelor, the had not a clue what to tell her or whom to tell her to seek help from. I am glad they are becoming more aware of these things in HS, however, the also need to be aware of what kind of help is available in their communities.

    Again, Thanks for sharing this!

    Comment by Cindee Ostrander Goodspeed — September 2, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

  6. Please email me – I am active as an educator and advocate for individuals groups and families in San Antonio and the State of TX and the country. Two books that would interest you if you have not read them are Crazy by Peter Early and Mad in America.There are many more. Check out http://www.ClarityCGC.org. I have some great political connections for you in TX and D.C.
    warm regards
    Carrie Matson

    Comment by Carrie Matson — September 3, 2010 @ 6:43 am


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