GIVE 2018: My Why

 You matter. Reach out. Never give up.

You matter. Reach out. Never give up.

My goals for this year are to share my heart and to fill my year with meaning. I was lucky to be able to combine these two intentions through my First annual GIVE event. The foundation that I chose to support this year is the Samuel Myers foundation. It is so important to me to lift other people up through from my life experience.  Kathi & Brandon Myers are doing that and so much more. The Myers family experienced the loss of their son & brother Sam through suicide in December 2016. He had suffered from bipolar disorder since he was an adolescent and no longer could carry the weight of it.  They are taking their pain and making it their life's mission to remove the stigma from mental illness.  This will remove the shame so many people feel when then are struggling and empower them to get the help they need. 

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I am no stranger to mental illness. I’ve had severe bouts of it 3 different times of my life. At 21 I left the University of Illinois because I had anxiety & panic so bad that I couldn’t go to class. When I was around 23 it repeated itself. And after giving birth to Lucy I suffered from post partum anxiety for almost one-and-a-half years. My anxiety was mentally taxing. It didn’t give me a break from the awfulness that lived in my head. I experienced unspeakable dark thoughts, that were cyclical. I’d have a thought, then I’d judge the thought, and then I’d determine I was an awful person, and then the cycle would start again.  I couldn’t get a break from it. It felt like I was drowning. It felt as my soul was being pulled out of my body and I was being dragged into a black hole.  At my breaking point, and through the grace of God, I very luckily realized that this seemed to be worse during ovulation & around my period.  I  reached out to my doctor and soon learned that my anxiety was caused by a hormonal imbalance.  Things were so bad that I'd gotten to a point where I didn’t believe I could endure another month like this, and I had considered suicide.  PMDD, severe pms, didn't come close to describing how horrible this was. It would be like comparing a stomach ache and labor pains. I remember feeling… I can’t connect. It was the most awful feeling I've ever endured. It was the absence of everything.  I felt completely isolated from anything that mattered to me. I felt completely alone and like no one would ever be able to get what was going on. I felt like if I talked about it, people would just condemn me. The craziest thing, and the scariest thing for me to process is that on the outside, I probably just looked tired. No one would have any idea what was going on inside of me. 

 But on the inside...  I didn’t know who I was anymore. The thoughts were that convincing. And when people asked me how I was, the pain I was experiencing was so deep and so personal, it just hurt too much to tell them… If they blew me off, or said.. wow!? It would have been like standing naked and being laughed at...  I couldn’t handle that…  So I didn’t share. I felt that it would inconvenience people to tell them. I also was so tired of feeling crazy and out of control, that I just wanted to appear strong. Even if it was just pretending... because all I can remember from that time, was that I was just trying to hold the walls up.. I visualized myself just trying not to collapse into a heap on the floor. I did not feel strong. 

You just never know what’s going on in a person’s life. It does not matter how much they're blessed with. What's going on inside does not necessarily mirror that.  Mental illness is so painful, but can be invisible. So be kind. And when you see a person and are unsure of how they’re doing. Don’t make small talk. Implore. It is not being nosy. It is showing you care.   Reach out. Ask. Tons of questions. Check in.

 I'm not perfect, but who cares! What matters to me is finding my way through struggle, and helping others along the way.

I'm not perfect, but who cares! What matters to me is finding my way through struggle, and helping others along the way.

Anyone reading this … You matter. … Your thoughts matter, Your words matter, Your ideas matter. The fact that you’re here matters… Your favorite color, Your favorite meal, all matter… If you weren’t here. It would matter…

My experience with Anxiety & depression have shaped my soul. They’ve taken me to the brink and made me dig deep for reserves that I didn’t know existed. I could go on about this. For me the pain I’ve endured… I needed it to mean something. So I talk about my experience openly, because I’m not embarrassed, and because when I was struggling and I heard someone else doing so, it lifted a weight. For so much of what I do, jewelry, photography, journaling, making books, .... is about letting people know they matter, because you just never know when people need to hear it. 

My hope for this event is that through the support we send, that many more people will not feel alone and learn to ask for help when they need it. There is no shame in mental illness.  

Thank you for taking the time to read this! It means so much to me!

I hope you can make it to my event! I will be launching my spring collection and featuring some new pieces from my GIVE collection. $10.00 from each piece sold that evening will go towards supporting the Samuel R Myers foundation.

Mandy