GRIT: unsaid, Unseen, Unsung
Grit, a follow-up book of poetry and photography, is scheduled for release through Amazon.com September 8, 2016.
The greatest lesson I’ve ever learned in life is the need for balance. Balance of the mind and balance of the heart, or to take it a step further, trust and belief. I think trust is something that happens in our minds. Its measurable, it’s predictable, it’s scientific. We trust in the things in which we can rightly determine the outcome of. But belief? Belief is different. Belief happens in our hearts. Belief is immeasurable, it’s unpredictable. In fact it’s nearly impossible to describe. Belief is more like an emotion. We feel belief. Maintaining the balance of these two critical aspects of me has proven to be the most difficult thing I have ever done.
I lived most of my life in a sever state of imbalance. I was eight years old the first time I considered suicide. I struggled with mental health issues from my earliest memories. I was molested for several years of my childhood. I grew up in a broken home, I was bullied at school. My mind was overrun with anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and a constant state of overwhelming fear. I was taught from the start that life hurts. I could not trust in it.
But for everything my mind struggled with, my heart did not. I believed that there was purpose for all things. I believed that there was meaning, and reason, and significance to our life’s events. And I believed, with my whole heart, that no matter how hard it got, life was worth living. But despite this belief life continued to worsen, and I slowly began to lose faith that things would improve. My mind had always lacked trust. But it wasn’t until my heart gave up on belief that I lost my fight.
At twenty years old I attempted suicide.
In waking from my attempt I made a commitment to myself to continue this life despite any challenge I may face. I worked to mend a mind that for so long had never allowed me to trust in life. And I worked to fill my heart with a belief that there is meaning in even the darkest of our life’s events.
Grit is a collection of writings and photographs I have created over the years. It documents my struggles with mental health issues, God, love, passion, and the inner battle I have always fought to continue on. Grit is unfiltered. There are poems that read like suicide notes, riddled with fear, anger and resentment. There are images that are dark and chaotic. But ultimately there are writings and photographs filled with hope. Grit is my journey through art. It is raw, painful, thought provoking and beautiful. It is where the belief that there is meaning and reason for all things in life balances with the trust that those reasons are simply to teach us something about ourselves and the lives we live. Grit is my heart and mind working together to achieve the greatest lesson I’ve ever leaned in life: the need for balance.
- The Boston Globe featured a very well written story on the front page. The article, 'Suicide attempt survivors go public in hope of aiding many at risk,' discusses the attempt survivor movement in the suicide prevention community and highlights the work that me and many others are doing. Read it here.
#WayForward A compilation video of those with lived experience talking about what we would like to see in the suicide prevention field. Follow the link and check out all the videos from not only people with lived experience but from many others who support the #WayForward. Also follow the hashtag #WayForward on Twitter and Facebook.
I am honored to have another one of my photos and stories featured on Broken Light: A Photograph Collective. Broken Light is a site founded and run by Danielle Hark and a group of volunteers.
From their website: "Broken Light’s main goal is to create a safe and accepting environment where photographers of all levels who are affected by mental health issues can display their work, as well as inspire one another to keep going and keep creating, despite the dark or scary places in which they may find themselves."
I personally support this cause wholeheartedly and believe deeply in the healing power of creativity. You can read the story behind this photo here.
Leadership Recognition Award
On March 28, 2013 I was honored to receive a Leadership Recognition Award in Suicide Prevention by the Bristol County Suicide Prevention Coalition. The ceremony took place at a Legislative Breakfast and award was presented to me by Dr. Phil Rodgers, Vice President of Design, Development, and Evaluation at LivingWorks.
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