suicide loss

It's Okay

When I was a senior in college I thought about killing myself. It wasn’t the last time.

I've struggled with depression for much of my adult life. The confident, extroverted, commanding persona you see onstage is the very opposite of what I feel when depression takes the wheel.

Things could have gotten much worse for me if I hadn’t learned to embrace my sadness. I was trying to live with a false sense of happiness; a fabricated joy that fit me like a loose glove. 

I had to understand that it was okay not to be okay.

I channeled my sadness into art and music and exercise and travel and photography and more. I tried to find myself in my work and poured every ounce of my energy into helping others. If I couldn’t be happy, at least I could make other people feel good.

I’m not claiming that depression shouldn’t be treated or that mental health is overtly simple. Treatment is necessary and mental health is a complicated problem to solve. My daily thoughts are confusing and complex, as I’m sure yours are as well. But learning to be okay with my thoughts helped me get through a really low point in my life.

The recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain hit me hard, as news of any suicide does. After losing one of my best friends to suicide two years ago, I’ve become deeply affected whenever I hear of someone taking their own life.

As a result, I’ve become an advocate and an activist for suicide prevention. I’ve taken part in numerous volunteer opportunities for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention over the past two years, including turning my own show into a fundraiser earlier this year (with all proceeds going to the AFSP).

This fall I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon on Team AFSP. My goal is to raise $500 for the organization, which will help with their efforts to #StopSuicide across the country.

I’ve never asked for help. Any opportunity I’ve gotten thus far in my career has been a result of hard work and persistence. Any success I’ve had is a result of my own time and energy, and not the charity of others. So, it is not an easy task for me to ask you to donate.

But that’s what I’m asking.

If you enjoy my blog or my show or my videos or my photos, I’m asking you for a small donation. If I’ve been able to bring a smile to your face with a mind reading show or you’ve thought “That is SO true!” when reading one of my essays, I’m asking you for your help. 

Just $5 to $10 is enough. You’ll be giving to a wonderful cause that helps people in need, sponsors research, and changes lives.

This fall, when I cross the finish line after running 26.2 miles, I’ll be so grateful to you for your help.

In the meantime, I’ll keep doing shows, writing these essays, and working tirelessly on my career all by myself. I don’t want your help on that. I’d rather you give your money to a good cause, which could use it way more than I could.

If you struggle from suicidal thoughts, please know that it’s okay not to be okay. If you need someone to talk to, send me an email. Or, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Someone is standing by to listen and help.

A Big Announcement

A year and a half ago one of my best friends took his own life. It broke my heart and I haven’t been the same since. It was so important that I wrote a monologue for my show that night and dedicated it to him.

That day was a turning point for me. I stopped taking things for granted and started making each day count.

The next week I started volunteering with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as an advocate, writer, and speaker. The AFSP gave me a network of suicide-loss survivors who had been through similar experiences. Plus, they are constantly raising awareness about suicide prevention. They are an incredible organization.

I’ve never been one to sit quietly by when something needs to be done. Some may say I’m a little too pushy or a little too outspoken, but I can’t help myself. When a protest happens in Chicago I’m on the front lines, when women march downtown I’ll be there in support, and I will continue working with the AFSP in honor of my friend Jacob and other suicide victims around the world.

When I first got involved with AFSP I quietly mentioned to the director of the organization that I would be happy to do a show for them if we could work something out. I wasn’t sure if we could find a date that would work but I wanted to find a way to give back.

Well, flash-forward eighteen months and it’s finally happening!

On Thursday, February 8th I will be presenting my full show at The Greenhouse Theater in Lincoln Park. All proceeds will go directly to the AFSP.

Doors will open at 7pm for pizza and a cash bar, with the show following at 8 pm. Tickets are $20.

For more information, please call (312) 890-2377 or visit their website to buy tickets.

Please come and let me entertain you in support of a wonderful organization. And if you or any one you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

I’m glad to be back writing Thursday Thoughts again. I have many exciting projects planned in 2018 and can’t wait to share them with you.