I just want to share the incredible experience that was Community Conversations tonight.
Bailey shared her story the journey of losing her identical twin and then walking that dark road from self-destruction, self-medicating to self-awareness and opening up – healing is found in conversations with people that are really LISTENING, not to find words to make it better but to hear the pain and loss. She shared the impact that BEautiful ME had on her, allowing her to smile, dance and shine for the first time since the loss of her sister.
Bailey expressed the missing in the supports and aftercare of someone that has lost a sibling to suicide and the unwillingness of the “professionals” to even provide an understanding about what suicide means, what happened to her sister! She shared the “what would make a difference” in the school systems about how to have those awkward and scary conversations, and also how to validate that this young person is really dealing with something, they are not a faceless, nameless problem – a thing to be swept away. A curriculum on mental health, bullying, suicide, is needed to start the conversations at a level where there is real daily struggles, comparisons and not fitting anywhere issues.
She answered questions from the guests and shared how anxious she was, always checking in with her greatest supports her mom Natasha and her dad Greg, it is clear that they have all come on this journey together and they make it possible each day to survive their loss as a family. And even more incredible to share the reality and the pain so that their commitment to change things for youth can be heard and acknowledged!
Jeremy Cummins was real and honest and authentically shared what circumstances lead up to a mental break down. He witnessed the aftermath of war while abroad helping to build a school in Africa, then when he came home he was on scene at not one but two fatal car accidents — he didn’t realize at the time what this would do to him emotionally!
Jeremy was able to share what he saw as available in the community as a resource for him when he was struggling with his mental health and how he went from walking on the high-level bridge to end his life to a 4-week stay in the hospital. He shared that initial point of contact with a nurse that set aside the task of intake and really got connected to him and what he was going through, was the first bit of maybe there is hope!
Jeremy shared the hospital stay and how so much of the work they did helped connect him to sides of himself he was unaware of; the mindfulness programs opened up a creativity and the connection to talking to others in the hospital that shared such similar stories, and the real concrete exit plan that the caregivers provided made Jeremy believe he had a story to share that through conversations real healing can happen. Jeremy created YEG talks for this purpose.
Both speakers wanted everyone to really get the biggest support a community can provide is TALK – GET Plugged IN to those around you that are struggling, don’t shy away from asking “Hey, How are you doing?, REALLY doing?” and be ready to really listen, show people they matter and that they can count on YOU.
– Sheila Chrisholm