Turning Pain Into Passion – JoyforJan
We all have at least one day – a day that changes our lives. For some, it solely consists of fun, laughter and happiness – weddings, births, graduations, promotions, etc. I hope those are the only life-changers for everyone I meet.
Unfortunately, for others such as me, we carry additional painful days from unexpected, tragic loss that seems to stop time, leaving you wishing you had just one more day with your loved one.
For me, it was November 23rd – a day that I will never forget. My boyfriend and I, along wth our newborn, just got on the road to head to New Jersey to visit family for Thanksgiving.
My sister called my boyfriend’s phone – he left it in the car with Kenz and I while he went inside to get snacks. We were just ready to hit the road when I picked up, thinking it was just another “When will you get to NJ?” call. I could barely make out her voice through the crying and wailing, but I managed to hear the words “Mom shot herself. Krystle, Mom is dead.”
I remember saying, “no, no, no, no” but apparently I screamed so loud that my boyfriend and several men from inside the store heard me.
We had just eaten dinner with my family a few days before. I remember kissing and hugging my mother after dinner, telling her the baby and I would go out to eat and shop with her when we got back that weekend.
I was in shock, disbelief and horror. Was this a bad nightmare? I hadn’t slept for a couple of nights since our baby was up every couple hours, and I worked every day that week. I kept crying and asking if this was a bad dream. I went through a roller-coaster of emotions, but somehow survival for my daughter kicked in - I knew I had to calm down enough to get my baby to her grandparents so we could rush to our Dad.
I ran McKenzie into her grandparents, and fell to the floor shouting to Ed’s mother, telling her what had happened. I remember her hugging me so tight while screaming and crying with me, that I had bruises from her fingertips where she held me.
The rest of the night, I remember parts in a time warp blur – with both my sisters being three hours away, I was the fastest one to get to our father. That night played out like a horrible scene from a crime scene movie, and it is something I do not wish on anyone.
Our mother had always battled depression, from as early on as her 20s. She educated herself with self-help books, doctors, medicine, exercise, eating organic, having sun & salt lamps, and being in nature. She could be the life of the party or get in a sad funk, but she always bounced back. Something was wrong at Thanksgiving – but she promised she was going to see a psychologist. And she did – the night before she had just had a session.
She didn’t believe in suicide. One of my best friends committed suicide when I left for college – she immediately made sure I sought counselling, and always made me talk about it, even when I didn’t want to. She advocated that there was always something and someone to live for, and that we always needed to stay positive. It is still surreal that she took her own life. What was it that made her snap into this dark fog where she not only considered this but acted on it?
The last eight months have been a roller-coaster of emotions. Not only does loss and grief, especially from suicide, leave you feeling lost, angry, sad, or just empty, but it also brings about awkward conversation or harsh judgements from co-workers, friends and even more alarming, strangers. There is such a negative stigma surrounding those who take their own lives, or for people with mental illness or depression. People make assumptions and can be cruel, without even realizing it.
This is how JoyforJan was born – my sister, Melanie Daniels, decided we needed to turn our pain into passion by sharing short videos through social media. We wanted people to not feel so alone and cast off. We wanted to build a global community of compassion and positive support for those struggling with mental illness, or for those grieving from tragic losses. Mental health is so vitally important for each and every person – each submission shares a point of view to help reach others who can relate.
So far, we have had people from Australia, Europe, Africa and the US – local and strangers – submit videos. My sister received a message about how our site randomly popped up on a stranger’s page, and it is the reason she decided to fight that day – for her children. I had a co-worker write me a heartfelt thank you note for talking about depression and how people need to be kind and understanding – and that this project and our positivity to try to help people, stopped her from ending her life just last night.
If this is all this project ever accomplishes – these two stories alone of reaching someone at the right time, then it is worth bearing our scars and talking about the mental battles we face.
By talking and connecting with people from all over the world, it affirms that you are not alone.
Krystle Loomis lives in Montrose, PA and works as an AP Representative and Plexus Ambassador. Melanie Loomis-Daniels lives in Philadelphia, PA and works in Sales.
Both sisters cofounded #JoyforJan in hopes of helping those grieving from tragic loss, and also to inspire anyone contemplating suicide to fight and live another day alongside a community of love and compassion.