Author and speaker Jeff Emmerson is on a mission to reach millions with his message of support and his inspirational story of overcoming decades of battles within himself and in society.
Sharing My Story To Show Others You Aren’t Alone!
I’m doing this purely out of love. The love for my dead brother Ryan, for myself (the damaged inner child within who desperately screamed for healing, acceptance and support) and for any one of you going through struggles in life. I see you. No matter how young or old you are, no matter your race, religion, gender or location, you’re human just like me. I always bring it back to that – we’re both human. We face struggles, we all know pain in our own way.
After my journey into the mental health system began after a vicious panic attack in mid-2010, I was driven toward speaking publicly online. In fact, it began way before that, as far back as high school. I knew I wanted to do “big things” that would inspire others to keep going toward their own goals and dreams in life. That has always been in my DNA. I had no idea it would get this personal and this heavy, however. The most horrible experiences lit a fire within me the second I decided not to press my neck into the home gym cable in my basement in 2011. I was completely lost, but something deep within wouldn’t let me go all the way and hang myself like Ryan had three years earlier.
Then To Now: Lessons That Changed Everything
Along the winding road of therapy, self-doubt and loathing, medication after medication (9 of them over three years, followed by a mini-stroke shortly after going off of them for good) and job after job, I signed a book deal in 2016 for Beyond ADHD, my first of several books to come. Sitting here today, I’ve built a community of over half a million followers in social media as a global voice for empowerment when it comes to mental health and personal development. I have much to share with all of you – explaining how I completely turned my life around in a relatively short period of time, though it’s been a wild ride over the last few years.
Life will always throw challenges our way – some that rattle us to our very core, taking our knees out from under us (as Ryan’s suicide did to me) and others that might not be so severe. I have learned that no matter what you and I are facing, the number one rule is to be gentle on ourselves and keep going, even when we feel like we’re done with life (especially then, in fact!). No matter how hard life might get, there ARE people, tools, social media accounts, articles, support telephone lines, hospitals and volunteer organizations that we can reach out to for help. The scary part? When I was suicidal, it crept up on me suddenly, “boxing me in” emotionally and lying to me, saying I would never be able to get through, so why even try?!
I stubbornly rushed myself in for help ANYWAY. I told those feelings to go fuc$ themselves, that I was empty, but if it was the last thing I’d ever do, I would keep getting help until God decided to take me once and for all. I became a monster in the face of severe depression and suicidal thinking even though I did it in a very exhausted state. I got help, asking others to step in as I sat in the hospital emergency room in 2011. I did it again in January of 2013 when I signed the papers to have myself committed (with my wife standing beside me in tears).
My Message To You, Whoever You Are, Wherever You Are Right Now:
Do NOT give in – no matter what your brain and heart seems to be screaming to you – you are NOT meant to give up! We ALL need help at times, no matter how tough and strong we are. Let no one (and I mean NO ONE) ever f-ing tell you that asking for help is “weak.” Anyone who says that needs help themselves, I promise you.
No matter your challenges, no matter your struggles, I feel your pain – whatever form it takes! Shame, guilt, fear, rejection, feeling like you don’t belong, mental health challenges – whatever it is, you are not alone. Do I need to scream it to you for you to believe it, with veins sticking out of my forehead, tears rolling down my eyes and my muscles flexed as I show you just how fiercely I mean it?
Ryan did NOT die in vain. Keep going! Don’t allow yourself to give up. Help IS around you – you just need to have the courage to reach out for it. Thank God I did. Otherwise, my life would have turned out completely different.