Updated: Feb 14
I spent all of last week in a daze as a result of the passing of Cheslie Kryst. I describe the feeling as "disoriented". I knew that I needed to say or do something, but I couldn't get myself together, let alone figure out really what to say or do.
For the past week, I and many of my best girls from my pageant world have consoled one another, checked in constantly, regaled each other with stories - both good and bad- of our competition days, and collectively put our heads together to try to make sense of it all. I am so thankful for the many friends who reached out to me, knowing how fondly I view (even if sometimes from a critical eye) my days as a competitor, coach, and coordinator.
As a former pageant gal and a person generally used to excellence, I saw myself in her story. Although I didn't know her personally, so many of my dearest friends loved her and are affected by her loss in immeasurable ways. I see myself in her success. I see myself in her struggles. I see myself in her ultimate desire to not be here anymore.
When I competed in pageants, my community service platform was mental health awareness; I called my program "Depression in 3D: Detect, Deal, and Destruct." This was almost 20 years ago in the days before "self care" became a buzzword. Before social media. Before it was okay to really talk about mental health without being labeled crazy, selfish, soft, or any other adjectives that suggest that mental health struggles indicate weakness.
Receiving my certification as a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructor really represents a full circle moment for me. I am proud to be here...and glad that I am. My struggles with depression and later anxiety are no secret (Boyyyyy that anxiety thing surprised me when I became an adult. I was like "What is this?!"). I stand ten toes down in my belief that living through mental health challenges was and is for the betterment of someone else besides me. For the betterment of my sisters. For the betterment of my friends...for the betterment of you.
Having said that, I'm ready to do this. I'd like to offer Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training free of charge over the next several weeks.
There is a small fee for your class supplies, but I am working on some grants and donations to cover those costs so that cost is not a barrier for anyone wanting the training. It is roughly 6 hours of life-changing content over 1-2 days that will empower you to identify, understand and respond to someone who might be struggling with a mental health or substance use challenge. I can offer MHFA virtually, in-person, or in a blended format (online pre-work beforehand, in-person seated class with RaSheeda).
Note: I would REALLY like to do a class on Feb. 26. If you have a group of 5 or more who may be interested in training that day, please let me know. It is a commemorative day for me and I'd really like to spend it doing something helpful instead of being sad.
If you're interested in MHFA training, please take the survey on my MHFA page and read more on the MHFA experience there. Dates will be solidified in the week or so, so stay tuned. If you have any questions at all, just ask!