Ashley K

What Brings Me HOPE: Life and Lovethe-wound

“I’ll see you later, mom.”
Those were the last words 10 year old me said to my mother. She gave up her ghost in the early hours of the morning on July 4th after she lost her short lived battle with stage 4 lung cancer. I swam in a daze that summer, trying to find myself from a tender age, after I had lost a part of me from the moment I threw roses on my mother’s casket – my childhood. I could paint that part of my life in a beautiful way, but just like the stars in the night sky, you need the darkness to see the light. That was the beginning of my journey, my own battle. The pain my mother felt in her tired lungs has echoed for almost 5 years in the form of depression for me. Even if the theme of my adolescence seems like one of melancholy, it’s not. It is one of setting the pain I’ve held onto for so long on fire, it is rising out of the ashes of grief. I haven’t risen fully yet, but I am not doing it alone. And neither does anyone else who struggles. I pride myself in my resiliency but I have learned that it is okay to be fragile. It is okay to not be okay. I have learned that the fear, the anxiety, the sadness that lives in the night sky all dies and fades away into the morning light. Just like the sun, we all can rise. Sometimes it’s as little as being kind to yourself. Treating yourself to a cup of tea. Reading that novel or playing that video game you love. But we can’t stay in that state forever. Depression becomes comfortable, so it’s easy to fall into that pattern with other things too. What is really bold, what is so daring, is to stare down your demons and say “No! Not today.” But we are all allowed to have bad days. Nights in with Netflix. I do know, though, that pacifying depression isn’t as simple as watching old Friends episodes or having a nice hot drink. We all start somewhere, though. Do what you know will help you. Sometimes we have to let go or break away from what won’t. Depression might always be there, in some way, but our life will not be! It is s! o short and despite everything, it is beautiful. The fact that so many people could leave this world but stay here, living, breathing, existing – makes me so proud of them, and I don’t even know them. I have learned that being happiness starts with “Just be.” No words attached. You and you alone create your path in this world. Happiness is NOT the flick of a switch, but you can forge your way, whether it’s through a field of flowers or through a thick, foreboding forest. You will survive. You will come out alive, and you will live. You will be able to say that you did it. It won’t be easy, but is anything in life, really? Depression is a scary journey, and even if it might seem like a solitary one, it isn’t. Help is as easy as one message, one smile, one hand reaching out – away.

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About Kathryn

Kathryn Goetzke has over 30 years of experience in marketing, branding, and strategy. She was recently appointed to be a representative at the United Nations for the World Federation for Mental Health. Kathryn is the Founder of iFred, the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression, through which she created Hopeful Minds and Hopeful Cities, two programs dedicated to sharing the “how-to” of hope with children, parents, and communities globally. Kathryn presented at Harvard University, the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Never Alone Summit. Hopeful Minds was featured in a documentary by the BBC, and her products and projects have been featured in global media.

Kathryn is a Partner at Innovative Analysis, LLC, where she consults businesses on activating hope in the workplace, and created a college program Hopeful Mindsets, a marketing strategy and course for college students to activate hope on campus. She is the author of the Biggest Little Book About Hope and host of The Hope Matrix Podcast. In her role as Chief Mood Officer at The Mood Factory, she created the first nationwide cause marketing campaign for mental health through her brand Mood-lites, which achieved over 35M in retail sales. Ms. Goetzke serves on advisory boards for FundaMentalSDG, Y Mental Health, Women’s Brain Project, and the Global Mental Health Movement.

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