Sam’s Journey

On August 14, this world almost saw one of its brightest stars fade away forever.

Anyone who knows Sam will tell you that she is one of those people you notice the minute she enters a room.

Her energy is contagious, and her presence is genuine.

Years ago her life was torn apart by abuse, addiction, mental health struggles, violence, and loss of self. She felt hopeless and ultimately consumed by her depression.

Anyone who knows Sam will also tell you that she is a fighter.

Equipped with a strong support system, and through her own courage, vulnerability, sheer grit, and strength, she rebuilt her world, found her worth, and attained long-term recovery.

In turn, the same strength, love, and compassion she used to heal herself, she used to help heal others. She used her experiences as a means to give back to those in need, and help empower those who were enduring struggles similar to her own.

Sam is a Phoenix Sober Coach, a speaker in the community, and an advocate for the abused and the powerless. She is a mother, a daughter, a partner, and a friend to many.

Although Sam had put the energy and the work into healing herself and mending her past, depression is a chronic disease. Chronic illnesses are never completely cured, and at the end of the day, Sam is still human, and she is still vulnerable. This year has been a tough one for her.

Circumstances outside of her control created a downward spiral, and she began to fall deeper into depression again. The familiar pain, despair, and hopelessness she had experienced before and fought so hard to beat began to seep back in.

This was not unfamiliar territory for Sam, and she felt like she had the knowledge and resources to cope with what she was experiencing.

She invested her energy into healthy connections, communications, and networks of support. The discouraging part was what felt like had been the solution before, was not helping her now. Sam was fighting, but she still felt like she was losing.

On August 14th, the pain became too great, and Sam attempted to take her own life…

Fortunately, Sam is still with us.

In her own words, she miraculously managed to avoid significant long term consequences. Things could have obviously been much worse, but she is still here, and she recognizes she has a significant uphill battle that she is ready to fight.

Thankfully she is still here to love, to shine, and to ultimately change the world.

In order for Sam’s fight to be successful, she needs another layer of support, tools, and strength that only treatment may provide.

Providing financial support will allow Sam to get the help she needs to prepare herself to grow in ways that will help her in the future. To that end, we respectfully and humbly ask for you to please support Sam with a financial contribution. No amount is too small.

CLICK THE IMAGE TO MAKE A DONATION

A MESSAGE FROM SAM:

Recovery works…until you stop working on it. It is not only about not drinking or getting high; recovery is an umbrella for you as a whole person, mind, body, and soul. Recovery is a very delicate balance, and if the scales tip too far in one direction, you are going to stumble… you may just fall. I know this to be true because although I was taking care of my body with healthy eating habits and regular exercise, and spending time connecting with my own higher power, I had been taking my mind for granted. I just assumed that seeing my therapist every week as scheduled to process as needed was enough.  What I did not allow myself to acknowledge or accept, was that I was lacking real purpose and fulfillment in my life, probably for a lot longer than I care to admit.

What I mean by a lack of purpose and fulfillment is this- 9 months ago I was on top of the world. I was traveling for Spartan events and just kicking off my 2020 OCR extravaganza with plans to really do it big this year. I was mentoring other women that were brand new to recovery through a community running program that I helped create and have been a part of for 3+ years. I was running local 5k’s and 10k’s with smaller, hometown race companies that I have also been volunteering with for years. I had weekly CrossFit classes with my Phoenix crew to look forward to and I was making big summer plans with my husband and our daughters. I was happy through and through. 

Then COVID hit in March, and it turned my world upside down. The world went into quarantine, and every single thing that I had that was bigger than myself, that gave me a purpose, that was my drive behind everything else that I did in my life was gone. Race events were cancelled for months; each new email notifying me of a cancellation chipped away at my will to keep up with my fitness and took away more support people. I told myself far too often, “Well, looks like I have another month before I have to get serious about my training again…” and, so I slacked off. I could no longer be there to mentor the women that I was working with because the facility they were in was not allowing visitors of any kind. In person Phoenix events were all suspended, for members’ safety, and while The Phoenix soon started offering virtual class options, it was not the same. I needed connection. I longed for it. I craved it. I went back to the misery that had been so comfortable for me in the past. 

A little bit of Sam history: I have struggled with my mental health for most of my adult life. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression after my oldest daughter was born and have had a very back and forth relationship with depression since. I struggled with my depression severely when I was super active in my addiction to drugs, but admitted that I needed the help of medications again when I finally got serious about being sober.  That was over 4 years ago. In July of 2019, I began neurofeedback therapy which improved how I felt overall.  In October of 2019, I was able to taper off and then stop taking my meds altogether for the first time in over a decade. 

Looking back, something that I should have been more aware of when COVID changed my lifestyle so drastically, was getting back on meds. What a lot of people don’t understand about antidepressants is that they aren’t just a band-aid; people don’t take them and instantly feel like sunshine and rainbows. They aid your brain in the chemical production that, for whatever reason, your brain is not able to do on its own. You can better cope when your world is shaken up like a snow globe. Bad days do not seem so insurmountable.

I know what my warning signs for depression are, and I chose to ignore them… because after a few months, the world started to open again, and I saw hope for the first time in a while. With the help of my husband and a very close friend, I was able to get back into a gym and work with our regular CrossFit trainer that knew all of the right ways to push me past my limits and even further. My training was getting back on track. I soon had Phoenix events to look forward to every week and seeing my crew. I made new commitments to run twice a week on top of that, and I was feeling good again, for a little while. Those things that I was so excited to have back started to seem more like chores. I was showing up because I made the commitment to others, not for myself. I continued to ignore the warning signs, finding new abstract things to blame my mood on. I grew more and more bitter, regardless of how well I seemed to be taking care of myself. It was harder and harder to find a shred of gratitude in my day, though I have plenty to be grateful for. I could not find any joy in the things I did.  I felt like I was on autopilot most days. 

On August 14th, the last piece of thread that was holding my mental health together finally broke, and I tried to take my own life. Something inside of me was absolutely convinced that I had nothing and no one, and I had let my mental health slip for so long that depression finally won out. There are a lot of things that I don’t understand about what happened that night, and a lot of questions, but the answers will take time. I am learning to accept that that is ok right now. 

From here, I am choosing to focus on myself and on healing the broken parts of me. Before my suicide attempt, I knew that I was loved and supported, and I knew that I had people in my life that cared deeply for me. What I didn’t really know before, was just how far that support really stretched. What I am seeing now, with more clarity than I have ever had, is that the woman that I am has impressed, inspired, motivated and touched so many lives and made more of a difference in this world than I gave myself credit for. Even through the post-crisis aftermath of my suicide attempt, not one person is looking down on me with disdain or disappointment, but rather with gratitude and relief that I am ok, that I am alive and that I will continue to make a difference for years to come. The plan from here is to go into a long-term inpatient treatment program, where I will continue working on my recovery, mind, body, and soul. I am going to find that purpose again and develop the ability to adapt better to the ever-changing conditions of the world. 

What I am choosing to do with this experience is share it, in hopes others will hear my story, and they won’t wait until it’s too late to admit that they need help. The struggle with mental health is real.  The signs that someone is struggling or suicidal are not always as neon and flashy as Las Vegas. We need to normalize talking about mental health, educate about mental health, and help people receive the treatment that they need for their mental health. Suicide and suicide attempts are preventable if we as a community, as a human race, can come together to raise awareness and show each other support.

OTHER WAYS TO HELP:

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SEPTEMBER IS SUICIDE PREVENTION, AWARENESS, AND RECOVERY MONTH

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