On June 3rd, 2014, I lost one of my best friends. Timmy died by suicide, and the following few months was the hardest of my life as I worked through the immense grief that many of Tim's family and friends shared. I'll never, ever be the same, but I'm a better person for knowing Tim.
Tim was an incredibly generous person. He was generous with humor and laughter (including the best "We broke Timmy" wheeze-laugh I've ever heard). He was generous with love for his friends, and we became his family. He was always thinking of others - giving the most thoughtful gifts, planning big get-togethers months in advance and absolutely beaming with happiness when we were all together once again. As a group of friends, we can still feel his presence when we're gathered together - he loved just spending time with people he cares about. [If you would like to see the video I made telling my story for the first walk, you can watch it here.]
Four years later, I can't say that the loss hurts any less or the survivor's guilt isn't something I deal with often, but, with time and with lots of love and support, coming to terms with losing Tim has become a process that's a little easier to stomach each day.
This year will be our fifth Out of the Darkness walk with the AFSP. The first year's walk was an amazing, emotional experience. To meet and grieve with others that have suffered a similar kind of loss to you without ever meeting them before... You start out with an emotional connection and you see how truly awesome organizations like the AFSP are. They bring people together. They help survivors keep surviving. They help people when they need it the most. The second year's walk was harder, because I saw so many new faces... so many new people that needed the support that I so desprately needed the year before. Someday, I hope to walk into that registration tent and see far fewer new faces and more advocates and supporters of the cause.
I have struggled with clinical depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. When I finally reached out for help in my freshman year of college, it was like someone had turned on the lights and I could see again - see through the fog of my own mind's chemical imbalances and thought patterns I had learned and reinforced for many years.
Today I can say, after 10 years of that help that reached out and saved me from the darkness, that I have a whole bunch of really awesome tools for dealing with depression and anxiety. It's not something that just goes away, but it's something you can influence in a positive way by taking action and asking for help.
The loss of Tim awoke a fire in me to inspire others to seek help like I did and to help those who don't understand that depression see that it is a real problem: one that we can come together to help address. Organizations like the AFSP and many other fantastic nonprofits across the world help to raise awareness of mental health and help those who need it most - the people that need somewhere to ask for help.
Like last year, this walk has two goals: to remember Tim and to prevent others from losing their best friends like I lost one of mine. The AFSP is one of the leading foundations in the world to provide support and information to those who are struggling with depression, mental illness or suicidal thoughts, and I want to raise money to help them.
I love you Timmy. I love you, friends. Donate if you can, but if you can't - say a little prayer or wish for Timmy and send us all the good vibes you can on walk day. That, in itself, is perfect.
Join Me in Supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
I'm walking in the Out of the Darkness Twin Cities Walk to fight suicide and support AFSP's bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025.
Please help me reach my goal by clicking the "Donate" button on this page. All donations are 100% tax deductible and benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), funding research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in our latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.