Most are familiar with the excellence of TED and TEDx talks. I’m honored to share that I was selected from an extensive list of quality candidates, to give a compelling talk and idea worth sharing. More than 500 attendees are expected to turn out for this, one-day only event. It is my goal to share a meaningful and memorable message that speaks to your heart while offering an innovative approach to suicide prevention. I’ve been told, my life is a testament to the strength within the human spirit. Please join us and you be the judge.
The first time I shared my story publicly, I announced to a room of more than 150 strangers that I had the knowledge to build a marijuana gravity bong at the age of nine. What the heck was I thinking? That wasn’t even a planned part of my message, but there it was; I was exposed and a familiar fear settled in like an old companion.
After a successful career as a business owner, leader, and public speaker, I had a great deal to learn about true, raw, unadulterated exposure; especially if the subject at hand had anything to do with mental health, suicide, failure, or the like. Any amount of ego I walked onto that first stage, where the topic of my message revealed the many broken pieces of me has slowly, and in some cases, painfully been shed since that day in August of 2014, but the lessons learned along the way have transformed my life, and the lives of countless others. I am grateful for the journey and the opportunity to connect with you.
Having led marketing, sales, and cultural improvements within the business sector has proven helpful in acquiring the skills to deliver an impactful message that not only entertains but inspires changed perspectives, beliefs, and actions. Mine is a story of hidden secrets, shame, cycles of severe anxiety, bi-polar 2, and PTSD. My life journey spared me from a near fatal suicide attempt, a 13 year lie, and an unexpected twist toward acceptance, healing, and hope for others.
With a documented history of mental instability, denial became my key to survival. I became the master of, “fake it till you make it.” Outward appearances gave a reflection of confidence, self-control, and service to others but the cracks I worked desperately to conceal, began to crumble around me. I was twenty-seven and the mother of two beautiful children when I came to hopelessly believe that the only gift I had left to give the world was to remove myself from it. In January of 2001, just four days after surviving a life-threatening suicide attempt, I wrote, “When you start the New Year the way I have, there seems to be nowhere to go but up. Never would I have imagined finding myself at this juncture. I’m without an answer to one question; at what point did I begin to lose touch with myself in such a way that I could consider death a suitable solution?”
More than thirteen years later, my story of recovery would, by most measures, be considered a success. With a fulfilling home life and respected business, my most closely guarded secret (the attempt to end my life) was skillfully hidden from friends, family, and business relationships. Through talk therapy and years of trial and error to accept my dual diagnosis of mental illness, the facade of sustained wellness kept the topic of suicide from playing an active role in my life. Or did it?
In June, 2014, I found myself facing the topic of suicide once again with the loss of a well-respected business colleague and friend to this silent killer. While navigating through the shame, guilt, and grieving process, I was left with many questions and too few answers. How could someone so kind, talented, and full of life as himself, now be gone? What had been the root cause for my own, life-threatening suicide attempt? And, what might have been different had I not hidden the truth from his inquiry about the physical scars that remained from my own attempt? It was only then that I set into motion a quest for answers and for the first time came to fully understand how little I knew about the topics of suicide, resilience, and the necessary journey for the head, heart, and gut to align.
It is through my own life journey that my story connects with audience in highly personal and inspiring ways. Mine is a tribute to the gift of adversity, the power to rise above it, and the ability to share a message of hope, healing, and sustainable wellness for individuals and organizations alike.