There's a lot of wisdom to keeping your personal life separate from your business life, but in truth, it's something I've never been overly good at. You see, my personal life - in its best moments, and in its worst - is the very fuel that drives our business, and a long time ago I had to become very comfortable with turning those pieces of myself into succinct, honest phrases that we shared with the world via the front of cards and art prints. You may not know me, but if you've seen our work, then you're already relatively intimate with the emotions my life has spurred. They're not all pretty, but they are honest, and they are mine. And I know many of them are yours, too.
There are factors of my life, however, that I have always been too ashamed to share. That felt too stuffed into the black hole that is shame to ever let out. That because I did not want them to define me, I did not talk about them. But there's something about marrying a strong man that allowed me to face my weaknesses. There's something about entrusting my heart to a good therapist that allowed me to face my demons. And there's something about becoming a mother that has allowed me the courage, and the deep need, to share all of myself. It's critically important to me that my son understands not only my history, but that no flaws are fatal and that every mistake brings a new day with it. And there's no better way to do that than to live my truth out loud.
My name is Melissa, and I am a suicide attempt survivor. I was 20 years old. I was a sophomore at college, living an excellent, well supported life. If you had seen me that day, you wouldn't have thought I was depressed. You wouldn't have believed that just 24 hours later, doctors would diagnose me with bipolar disease and that I'd be locked away in a mental institution for seven days, two hours from my family, beginning my first few hours with a new life label - a suicide attempt survivor.
If you had looked a little closer, you might have seen a stressed out college sophomore, ready to take her final exams, contemplating yet another major change, and giving up her dreams of being a city gal. At least, that's what the school health worker wrote me up as after I finally found the courage to make an appointment for what I thought might be depression. The lack of diagnosis and the disbelief of what I knew to be true only added fuel to my depressed fire, and several hours later, after googling how many tylenol capsules it would take to shut down a 142 pound body, with my then-boyfriend sleeping on the couch in my dorm room, right outside my bedroom door, I took those pills one by one. Sip by sip. I laid down on my bed, wondering what was next, and when I would feel the mental relief that I was looking for. Moments later, I bolted out of bed, promptly woke my boyfriend up, and demanded he call 911. I still don't understand why I bolted out of bed, suddenly understanding the fatal consequences of my actions, but I am thankful every moment of every day for that intervention.
It's been a long journey since that moment, one that I have relived and re-walked more times than I can count. I am immensely proud of where my life has gone since that day, minute, second that I made that final decision. And while I know it to be true, there are many moments I cannot believe that it is a part of my history. But it is. And I am in no way alone.
This is why we talk about suicide and suicide prevention. And we think you should talk about it, too.
Nick and I are deeply, deeply proud to announce our new initiative, the Listen in Love campaign. We'll be donating 2% of every Print Therapy sale to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, to help the AFSP create a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develop suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provide support for those affected by suicide. That feels pretty important to us. We hope it feels important to you, too.
Learn more about our Listen in Love campaign here.
Keep talking, but more importantly keep listening. And always do it in love.