Once we were officially approved to do this slightly risky yet thoroughly exciting project, Carly and I got together to write the mission statement for the campaign, which was originally called the “From Ashes to Beauty” campaign. Here’s part of what it said…
The From Ashes to Beauty Campaign aims to raise awareness about the depression, suicide, and self-injury that affect our generation. The goal is to use creative mediums as a means for outreach and awareness to bring a face to the nameless and countless thousands who have struggled with depression or thoughts of suicide, so that it is neither misunderstood nor greeted with scorn…This project, rooted in hope, encourages people to meet one another where they are at so that love may spring up everywhere.
Though this project has grown and changed drastically since these words were written, its core principles and goals have not. Much like the tree in our logo, we may no longer look like the seed we were when we first started; but our heart is the same.
That being said, I wanted to share with you all a bit of writing by a man named Clifford Beers, who was hospitalized for insanity in the early 1900s and later wrote this autobiography, titled "A Mind That Found Itself," of his time spent in an insane asylum. This moving work ends with some of the most powerful words about hope and unity that I’ve ever read regarding mental illness. As I read through this work for our Madness in American Literature class, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see the same soul and vision in this man’s words from a century ago as I see in our campaign today. Be inspired!
By this time two paramount questions have no doubt arisen in the mind of the reader: First, is there in the problem of managing and treating the insane an inherent difficulty which will forever prevent the correction of such abuses and deficiencies as have been discussed in this book?...An emphatic answer to [this] question may be given. No inherent difficulty stands in the way of the universal correction of all abuses and deficiencies of treatment complained of in this book—unless it be the inherent apathy of a public which for centuries has failed to do its duty by the insane…For bringing about the reforms which, of necessity, must precede any such correction of century-old abuses, the interest of every right-thinking person in this country must be enlisted. Few, indeed, are endowed with great riches. Few are able to convert their best impulses into an acceptable medium of exchange. But every man and woman can lend a hand, or at least speak a word. Our subject has for generations been neglected. It is the discussion of it that will create and mold Public Opinion, and Public Opinion, vigorously expressed, will, more than any other factor, tend to correct the evils I have denounced. Has my story utterly failed of its purpose? If it has stirred your sympathy it is your duty to give expression to this aroused interest, not to me, but to everybody within your sphere of influence. Continual and sincere expression will wear away that rock of indifference against which the distressed souls and abused bodies of the mentally ill have been bruised for centuries. Has my story—not as the story of my life, but as representing the experiences of thousands of others still living and of thousands whose terrible secrets died with them—has this story, I say, aroused within you the healthy desire to contribute at least your influence to the corrective and overwhelming force of Public Opinion? If so, your duty is plain.
And what duty would that be? I think Beers states it perfectly: Every man and woman can lend a hand, or at least speak a word, and it is the discussion of these issues that will create and mold public opinion. Continual and sincere expression will wear away at that rock of indifference and apathy against which the distressed souls and abused bodies of the mentally ill have been bruised for centuries. The Love Out Loud campaign aims to do just that: to a lend a hand to those who have fallen, a shoulder to those who are crying, a smile to those who are sorrowful, an encouraging word to those who are hurting. We are, I believe, continuing the fight that Beers started a little over a century ago, and will keep fighting until all of our energy and love is expended. These are the things that define a generation; these are the moments we—and our children, even—can look back on and be proud of. So now the only question is: Will you, too, love out loud?