‘My biggest achievement so far’

This week’s post comes from the UK. Rhiannon Stuart is 28 and describes herself as follows: “Oldest child of four girls, happily engaged to the girl of my dreams. We have two cats & cannot wait until we have a family of our own.” Her past no longer defines her, she says. She’s come too far to go back:

I remember waking up, not knowing where I was. I saw a clock on the wall. It was about 12:30. That’s all I remember before I fell asleep once again. The next time I awoke, the clock said 2:45. I have no idea if only two hours had passed, or 14. I couldn’t move my hands, and something was irritating my nose. I still had no idea where I was. The next time I woke up, I couldn’t see the clock. (more…)

‘My passion runs more deeply’

This week’s post features excerpts from an interview with Kimberly O’Brien, a professor at Simmons School of Social Work and Harvard Medical School who is using her personal experience to inform her work. The SocialWork@Simmons blog published the full interview last month and invited us to share it, “to help contextualize how talking about suicide and sharing stories makes a significant impact.” Kimberly also uses the chance to promote the recently released report “The Way Forward,” a federally funded project by a national attempt survivor task force that demands sweeping change. (She even made a video to support it.)

Here are excerpts from her interview: (more…)

‘Laughter … is my way of coping’

This week’s post comes from the UK, by Kit Johnson, author of the memoir “Dodging Suicide.” His website lays it out well: “I’d been fired more times than a cannon, and with 15 houses, three wives, umpteen messed-up relationships, 37 cars and Lord knows what other ‘if only I had this’ purchases, I came to the conclusion my life was bizarre! – and that the best thing for me was to step back, stop worrying and laugh at its absurdity.” (more…)

‘In my work as a peer …’

This week’s post is by Rafeal Newport, a counselor with the recently launched peer-run warmline of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco. It’s available weekdays from noon to 8 p.m. at 855-845-7415 and online for chat. A directory of warmlines and an introduction to what they do can be found here.

Before I talk about my story of being a suicide attempt survivor, I want to talk a little about who I am. I am a proud Bay Area native, a loud and proud queer and a fierce woman of color. I love to read, hike, hang out at the beach, nerd out on foodie activities and laugh — oh, how I love to laugh. I have been an LGBTQI and women’s activist since I was 16 years old and have worked as a doula, non-profit worker and health educator. (more…)

‘The upside of openness’

Julie Headshot relaxed

This week’s post is by Julie Hersh, the president of the Texas-based Hersh Foundation. Her memoir about her experience is being published this month in Spanish as “Decidi Vivir.” She shares her personal top 10 list of ways to stay well here.

One rarely hears “mental illness” without the word “stigma” in close proximity. We read about tragic stories of lives lost because people failed to seek treatment because of fears they might be ostracized, lose jobs or friends. Although the possibility of rejection does lurk with each naked statement about mental illness, my experience has been that my openness has accumulated a handful of bad encounters and thousands of good ones. (more…)