On the 9th of November 2013, my best friend of 36 years tragically lost her 16 year old daughter Emily to suicide.
Emily was bright, funny and kind. She came from a supportive home, had a mum that loved her to the moon and back and also had a strong network of like minded friends who adored her.
So why then did she feel that suicide was the only viable solution to the pain she hid so well?
While I don't know the answer to that question, I know that her pain and her worries must have been so very big and so very strong for them to be capable of stealing her away from us.
Not long before her death Emily had been diagnosed with clinical depression. She was seeking help and she had many people checking in on her on a regular basis.
Sadly though, Emily had also become very skilled at hiding her pain from others and unfortunately just didn't have that ability to talk about her feelings in the honest and open way that she needed to.
I believe in my heart that Emily desperately wanted to be OK and I believe that she tried her very best to convince everyone, including herself, that she was. Unfortunately though the only thing she managed to actually convince herself of was a lie; the belief that she would somehow be letting everyone down if she actually told them the truth.
We tend to place an immense importance on bravery, courage and strength and while these characteristics are certainly vital to a happy and resilient life, I also believe that it is equally important to recognise that none of us are all of these things all of the time.
We need to normalise talking about mental health and we need to empower future generations with the capacity and vocabulary needed to not only know when to ask for help, but also how.
Imagine a world in which no problem ever seems too big to solve, a world in which no one ever feels bad asking for help or ever feels ashamed of the fact that they don’t look, feel or act like everybody else.
This is the heart of Project Emily and the dream from which Emily and the VERY big Feeling was born.
My hope is that the beautiful imagery in the book will make the thought of disclosing a worry or a BIG feeling a little less scary and will help children realise that the love that surrounds them is not dependent on them needing to be brave and strong but is a love that shines brighter than the moon and the stars, a love that surrounds them no matter what they are made of.
Celeste Cannell – Author, Emily and the VERY big Feeling.
In honour of Emily Claire Brady
10% of every book sold will be donated to the RUOK? Foundation.
Ask – Listen – Encourage – Check in.