What if in 2015… you did something? I mean really DID SOMETHING. Something that challenged you. Something that had its highs and lows. Something positive. Something you believed in. Something alongside others. Something that changed the world or your community or yourself. Those “somethings” can be hard to do and in truth there is some relief in not doing them. My favorite comedian John Mulaney says it like this, “It is so much easier not to do things than to do them that you would do anything is totally remarkable. Percentage wise, it is 100% easier not to do things than to do them, and so much fun not to do them -- especially when you were supposed to do them. In terms of instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin.” It’s true. There is a high of sorts to canceling things (and at times we need to bow out of stuff for own well being), but once we wiggle ourselves out of too many things we can find ourselves stuck, friendless, penniless, and even hopeless. I have an outgoing personality and a unique creative drive once I’m fully in a situation, but a small and loud part of me will do anything to avoid new experiences. At this time last year Live Again was a idea, a dream, and a thought. It would soon become a vision, a calling, and a mission. In truth it would have been easier to not act on those initial thoughts, to leave our home in Arizona and move to a place where we knew no one (Portland, Oregon), or take the necessary steps to make Live Again a real thing. I am serious. It would have been much easier. Besides the hard work and wage-less hours it would have also have saved us heartache, upset families, bummed friends, and the emotional/mental/spiritual/relational breakdowns that were to come.
In truth and all exposing honesty part of me wishes Live Again had just been something I wanted to do and didn’t commit to like the guitar I never learned or the record label I never started or the film degree I never finished. There had been plenty of things I thought I’d be good at or enjoy, but rarely did I do much to pursue it. Part of this is laziness of course, but what often stopped me or slowed me down was my own personal struggles with crushing self doubt, excessive worrying, clinical anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, and the debilitation that comes so wonderfully with each. I don’t struggle with these things every moment and usually they don’t all come at the same time, but I can often feel them lurking there just under the surface. Through therapy, sometimes medication, faith, and most importantly the loving support of others I also pulled through. However in January of this year something in me was breaking down in a whole new way. I was feeling secure in so many ways. I am in a loving marriage. I had a job that I liked and was good at. However, something big was coming and I could feel it. I believe now that if I had shoved it down like I had done in the past that it would have probably morphed into some sort of destructive depression or anxiety. Instead I turned to those I could trust.
Through conversations with my wife, desperate sometimes pissy prayers, and conversations with people I love the mission of Live Again was born. The central vision from the beginning was (and still is) to create opportunities and resources for healthy conversations about issues surrounding mental health both online and offline in areas or within people groups that it may have never been spoken about before. In turn this would lead to stronger more connected communities and greatly decreased suicides. It was a beautiful vision and one that I believed in strongly. Having previously volunteered for hotlines and served with other suicide prevention organizations I knew that it was an issue in need of attention from multiple angles and that our specific approach was needed and not being met. Therefore in January of this year the decisions to act sat squarely on my shoulders. It was a calling of course, but in the end it was a calling that required action.
So, we acted. I say we because I am absolutely certain that nothing would have happened without the loving support and hard work of my wife and co-executive director of Live Again, Courtney. Within the first few months of 2014 we would have our house on the market, be scouting out housing in Portland (a part of the calling and city with a suicide rate 25% higher than the national rate), having hard conversations with family and friends, and leaving jobs and security behind. It has been one heck of a year filled with navigating the unknown. And in all honesty the downs of the year have been low-downs including money struggles, uncharacteristic arguments between Courtney and I, feelings of stupidity for having done this all at once, extreme loneliness, and a return of many of my mental and emotional struggles that I needed to turn to immediate help for. At times this year after spending all day creating things to help people who are struggling and talking with people who were near the edge I would close out the night with a good ole’ fashion panic attack with a side of hopelessness or depression.
However, I am learning quickly that what many people would call my weakness are becoming my strengths. It has given me the ability to relate to others in a unique way and a reason to seek the help from others and professionals that we are encouraging others to do. It is giving a purpose to the pain. And as low as the lows have been the highs couldn’t be higher. We have met so many people and as we mention what we are doing almost everyone has a story of personal struggle, a loss they have suffered, or someone they are concerned about. We were able to work with fellow organization American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at multiple events. We held our first community training and met a varied group of individuals wanting to serve their communities. We received the 501(c)3 status meaning donations are completely tax deductible. And most of all we have loved hearing stories of life saving conversations taking place using early resources we have lightly released; including a story of group conversation that gave a young woman that planned to end her life that night a chance to be heard and get help. On a personal level, Courtney and I have actually grown stronger through the struggles both in the business and our marriage. We are falling in love with new elements of each other and supporting each through honesty and care. We have both grown spiritually having to rely fully on something bigger than ourselves in a season of such newness and limited resources. We have made some great friends and are loving our new city.
What is the something you could do? We would love to have you “do something” with us in the coming year. As Live Again begins to grow in its first full year it is the perfect time to get involved. And in all honestly, we need you. Live Again needs you. Your community needs you. So what are some things you can do? It can be one thing or everything, but we’d love to get to know you. You could connect with us on social media (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram) and share about it on your feed, you could donate and know that every dollar counts (give by Dec. 31 to have it reflected on this year’s taxes), or you could let us know you are interested in serving, sharing your story, signing up for the mailing list, or helping in some way. We are a small organization with limited people so please understand it may take a while to hear back, but also know your voice matters and we want to hear it.
In 2015 we are going to actually have fun because WE ARE DOING SOMETHING, reaching out to those that are hurting, building stronger communities, fueling life saving conversations, and changing the statistics on suicide. However, we need you. Together we can create joy, breakdown stigmas, inspire change, bring communities together, and start conversations. We believe a conversation can provide hope, purpose, and for those on the edge... a reason to take a step back and see just how very much they are needed and loved. We want to wish everyone the happiest of New Years filled with peace and joy and if you don’t do anything else do this… Reach out to someone you care about that had a hard 2014 and let them know that you hope they have a great New Year and that you are there for them and would love to chat or do something together. And if you are going through a hard time yourself please don’t remain silent, do something and ask for help from someone you trust. You are worth it.