I first came across SOS - Survivors of Suicide on Saturday July 5th, 2014. I can even tell you the time, 8:30pm GMT.
I know this, because SOS used to be this villa style building when it was on the old land. In the center, was a courtyard (if memory serves) and around the edge of the courtyard, along the walls there were benches. The villa surrounded the courtyard in an open plan style. In one corner of the build was our original resource library. I walked straight into SOS, grabbed all the Note cards I thought might apply to me and went and sat down on the floor next to one of the benches in a secluded corner and stayed there for about two weeks straight.
I still have those Notecards, and they all have the time and date stamp on them from when I acquired them.
One of the notecards is called "You're not broken". I think that's what I needed to hear at that point. I was going through a major depressive spiral. I felt out of control and like I could barely breathe. I felt so desperate, so alone, so lost and I just needed to know that I wasn't broken. I stayed sat next to that bench, barely leaving that place because I think subconsciously I wanted to know that there were people there, people who knew what I felt. I needed to not feel so isolated and lost.
People came to check on me. I remember Krissy, SOS's founder (an incredible, amazing and strong woman) coming to check on me multiple times. I would just tell her I was fine and just.. wanted to sit for a while. She'd just smile and tell me to stay as long as I needed to. But I didn't talk to anyone, didn't speak in the group - not for a long time. I just wanted to feel that connection. That's how I was.
Eventually, as things eased up a little and the black hole I was in grew a little less black, I started to come out of my shell and talk to other members a little. I got to know some of them pretty well and I started to offer advice based on my own experiences.
As my I worked on my own health in RL and I started to recover from the state I had been in when I entered SOS things moved forward and I resumed what I'd been doing before, but I never forgot SOS and what being there had done for me or what the people there meant to me.
I visited often and was active in the group. I joined other mental health groups too (most of which are now sadly, defunct) and started to try and support others a little.
One day I was in one of these other group chats. There was a girl who was struggling and she had a lot of people offering support and sympathy. It was.. chaotic. So I reached out and gave some very practical advice and she kind of, zoned in on me because I was giving her something she could actually act on.
Seconds after that conversation finished, Krissy IM'd me, asking me to apply to SOS as a mentor. It just felt "right" for me. It's hard to describe but it felt like there was a way to take all the pain and crap from my mental health issues and make them mean something beyond memory pain. Of course, these things have different meanings for different people, but I felt if I could take everything I'd been through and put it to use helping other people who were going through some of the things I'd been through, or similar, then that experience would have value. I could turn very negative dark thoughts and trauma into something positive for someone else.
I officially became a mentor on the 26th June 2015, a little under a year after I walked into SOS feeling so broken and lost. Krissy put me to work training under Sebastien Bouevier which began a (thus far) 6 year friendship. I could not have asked for a kinder, more patient, understanding or better friend, mentor and teacher. I've learned so much from Seb and have gone running to him with more RL and SL crisis than I can count.
From SOS and from being a mentor I have gained friendship, family, community, more stable health, a support system, a safety net and purpose.
That's how I became a mentor and why leading the mentor department now is so important to me. SOS matters because the people in it matter. From those of you who talk all the time and make others feel like they aren't alone when they need it the most, to those of you who just listen because they need to feel some kind of connection or are searching for something. You all matter. You're all incredible.
To our directors, our mentors, our activity guides, our event's team, our amazing members and mostly to Krissy and Sebastien, I thank you for giving me that,
So if you ever feel like contacting a mentor but worry you're "bugging" or "burdening" them, please don't worry. We're here, and we each gain something special from working with you. We all have our own reasons why this matters to us, but the fact is - it does matter to us. You matter to us.
If this story sparks anything in you and you feel like being a mentor might be the right fit for you, you can apply here: https://www.survivorsofsuicidesl.org/jointeam or alternatively, contact Kitten Meridoc, inworld, for an application pack.
Thank you for reading