Updated: Aug 12, 2020
In March of 2017, I wasn’t doing great; April 13th was coming up too quickly — the date would mark the 22nd birthday of my best friend, and her third birthday up in Heaven. Instead of being able to make cupcakes for her and watch her blow out the candles while I off-key sung Happy Birthday, I would be here and she would be there.
The idea was off-putting. I needed a way to distract myself, but a way that honored her — her kindness, the joy she spread, and her very bright soul. I couldn’t really think of much… until the next day, when a close friend of mine messaged me and said that for a moment, she forgot how amazing she was but then she looked in the mirror and remembered.
AMAZING. The word stuck with me. There had been plenty of days where I didn’t feel that way, where I felt worthless and like I didn’t deserve all that was before me. And I thought about how much I hated that feeling, and how it hurts people too much to feel like that.
So, within 24 hours of that thought process, The AMAZING Campaign was born. Myself and my best friend’s would-have-been roommate launched a fundraiser featuring apparel that says AMAZING backwards so that when you look in the mirror, you can actually see how AMAZING you are. Because sometimes just hearing it a thousand times doesn’t ring a bell. You have to believe it for yourself.
In memory of our beloved friend, we donated all proceeds to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We thought that the campaign would be a few weeks and then would end. But we were SO WRONG. Two months later, we’d sold over 400 shirts and raised over $3,500 for the AFSP. And throughout it all, we heard stories from other people that were suffering from depression like we were, and how much this campaign spoke to them. It stopped being just a fundraiser, just a shirt, and it turned into a conversation. It opened the dialogue on mental illness and really made me think more about why we hide our mental illnesses from other people. You tell people when you have a physical disease, so what’s the difference here?
I think what I learned the most from this campaign is that we don’t have to suffer in silence — we don’t need to be alone. There are people out there, people that you maybe didn’t even know, that are silently suffering along with you — but we shouldn’t feel like we have to be silent. We’re stronger together. People need other people.
The AMAZING Campaign changed my life. It changed the way I view myself, it made me believe I was capable of something more, of something bigger — and that I deserve a future. It made me feel less alone; I’ve heard stories from across the country of people’s suffering and how this shirt and the supporters of the campaign made them feel less alone. I learned that ending the stigma is going to take a long, long time — but we will get there. So, even when your days are hard, and even when you wake up and feel like you just can’t do it anymore — that’s okay. Just hang on for the day, because you’re AMAZING. The sun will shine again tomorrow if today it was not. The Earth will keep spinning, the ground will still be here. So stay here.