‘You have the most beautiful smile I’ve seen all day.’ These were the words spoken to me on the hardest day of my life. And these are the words I spoke to someone dear to me on the last day of theirs.
At 15, my mumma bear couldn’t handle being my mum anymore. Crippled by her own mental health, she got me in the car and dropped me in the middle of a suburb with a letter apologising that she couldn’t be my mother anymore. I found my way to a train station, this wasn’t the first time I had tried to jump off the edge of the world by ending my world. Tears streaming down my face – I didn’t even bother to keep wiping them off, I let them stay there and dry. A train was approaching… a little old lady grabbed me by the arm, pulling me back and looked me in the eyes.
‘I’ve seen you before, You have the most beautiful smile I’ve seen all day.’
These words changed the course of that night. After my own experience of being left on the street by my sole parent, I made it through high school. Just. And moved onto work in a local community centre. I set up a Not-for-profit which focused on helping young people battle with their circumstances and their mental health tipping points to outlast what they knew they could. I am very proud of this initiative and it still runs strong today. It felt like a huge success.
But. You can’t always win. I pulled one of my 15-year old girls aside, who had been struggling with severe bullying within her local high school. It was December 2015. Absent mindedly I approached her and told her how much joy she brings to the community and repeated the words spoken to me so many years ago, ‘You have the most beautiful smile I’ve seen all day.’ The next day, I had the entire year 9 of a local high school in my care. Every student and every parent cried on my shoulder as I welcomed them to grieve in productive ways as a community. My precious girl had ended her life.
My life after this became a cycle of hospital visits, suicide attempts, overwhelming heartache, glimmers of hope and then continued hospital visits and suicide attempts.
While I would be perceived as successful in my given career and life choices, this struggle is the biggest part of my day everyday. From not eating, to not sleeping, to not getting out of bed, to not speaking to anyone, to crying for help. I have not yet found a community to stick by me.
I believe BELIEVE is that community.
Each of us has our fair share of heart break. Each of us entitled to struggle. But I beg you – keep struggling. It’s okay to struggle if you keep struggling. Believe me, what we have in mental health is not like any other disease. If I had a terminal illness, I could not go out and socialise, watch a great movie or relax and cure my terminal illness. However, with my mental health, If I, even for a moment on one of my darkest days, remember something that makes me smile, pat my cat, bake cupcakes, listen to a beautiful song, or spend time being kind to others, I have, for that time, cured my illness.
Above all, keep struggling, and above all, believe in kindness.
Much love to all my sisters in Australia and beyond. Believe WE can struggle together, and we can thrive together. Love Amara.