Two years ago, I didn’t know what a “social media influencer” was. I didn’t know a thing about Twitter and I despised hashtags. (I still do!)
Then, an “influencer” used my pain, my blog, my voice, and my influence, for personal financial gain and professional profit. Although I expressed my concern many times, I ignored my heart because I was advocating for suicide prevention and hungry for exposure.
For thirty-four days, I tweeted, blogged, and learned web design and social media hacks, around the clock. After the Twitter influencer launched her campaign on Valentine’s Day, she dropped me and my team. She did it through email but forgot I could read any previous correspondence attached to the forwarded letter she sent me while she tried to pretend it wasn’t her call.
She expressed her concern to her main partner in Australia. She wrote about being upset that I figured out how to link a donation button to the children’s platform I was building, even though it was not officially active. She sounded so greedy as she said,
I don’t think she has any intention to share the profit!
Profit never even crossed my mind. They referred to me as if I were a b*tch on a power trip who needed to “heel” and learn “where I belong.” I wasn’t on a power trip. I was on a trip to empower. They were on a mission to sell things on Amazon.
But I was so lost in feeling like maybe I finally had a purpose; so consumed with trying to make use of the pain in my life that I missed the cries of one of my dearest friends, whom I affectionately call my sister. You would think that would have made me stop. But I couldn’t. I still can’t. Every tweet became about her because I was. still. fighting. for. the. same. cause.
Everything on social media became intentional. That includes the bad moments. It includes allowing the world to see real pain, anger, fear, doubt, and emotion. The gloves came off. I took every social media rule and I broke it. I took the personal and professional filters and ripped them off.
I lashed out. I spoke out. I cried out. I pushed people away. I believed I was to blame. I did what I had to do to survive, and along the way, I grew to become among the top one percent of social media influencers online. But my loss impacted the lives of everyone around me, especially the girls who stuck by my side. Healing was harder than I ever expected. It remains the hardest thing in my life.
Healing was harder than I ever expected. It remains the hardest thing in my life.
When three more family members died by suicide, the road to healing became harder. I definitely hadn’t gotten there yet when I watched 13 Reasons Why. After thirty-three minutes, I turned it off at this line:
If you’re listening to this, you are one of the reasons why.
Two days later, the guilt was so overwhelming, I felt like I wanted to die. I realized I had been talking about suicide nonstop on Facebook for the entire time my sister had been home following a successful nine-month stint at rehab.
Everything I was shouting was what I feel like failed to do in her life. When I first got the call, I verbally blamed her sister. Her sister blamed me. Her mom verbally blamed a mutual friend of ours. Two of us thought about taking our lives because the weight of the guilt and the blame was so hard. It still is. So is the fight for life.
I wish I could tell Nicole I’m sorry. I wish I could tell her sister that it isn’t her fault. I wish, oh I wish, I could change things. I wish that with all of my heart. But I can’t. I can’t go back and reverse my losses. However, I can fight to save the next grieving heart.
I want you to know where my fight comes from. I know I talk, post, and rant, a lot. Maybe it feels dreadful to you and annoying. Maybe you don’t understand why. This is the reason.
I am a survivor of suicide loss, but I am not the reason.