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  • Roger Chamberlain shared a letter in the Group logo of Mental HealthMental Health group 1 month, 1 week ago

    A thousand words

    Dear Photography,
    I write this today to let you know how grateful I am for you. You helped me find a spark to keep me going when I wasn’t sure I could. I built my skills within your confines in the classic sense of trial and error. I took no classes, hell I didn’t even read the owners manual of my first camera. I took that camera out into the world unprepared for the journey you became to me.

    As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s definitely an understatement. This photo that I took became much more than a thousand words to me. In fact, it probably saved my life. At the moment the shutter closed it was -2 degrees outside, my hands were almost completely numb. I quickly retreated to the warm confines of my car. I removed the memory card and placed it into the adapter to immediately move the image onto my phone. From there some light editing took place and off to Instagram it went. Within moments a symphony of people would tap the heart, liking this photo.

    Little did I know that one of those likes would become much more important. You see, this how a journey started, how a friendship would eventually blossom and how by the minor twist of fate, my life would be saved from the clutches of suicide. This was the day I would first be introduced to the incredible person that is Lauren. Curiosity always abounds when I have people like one of my photos and so I ventured to her profile. I discovered she was a reporter in the Cleveland area. Naturally I began following her on social media.

    Fast forward to a little more than a year later, she was no longer a sports reporter in Cleveland but had taken the steps to follow her passion and she started a business and website called The Unsealed. I was of course anxious to see what would be become of this, still oblivious to the importance of a photo. It was then that a recurring wave of depression would present itself back into my life. I had just celebrated my 35th birthday but was trapped in the despair of knowing the other July event was coming. Twelve years prior my Mother has passed away just a few days after what should be a joyous day. The long term trauma still apparent, I reached a very final decision to a temporary issue.

    Twelve years to the day we laid my Mother to rest, I was ready to end this pain. I drove out to her grave to say my goodbye, knowing that if heaven and hell were real, that I wouldn’t be going where she was. I loaded a single 9mm bullet into the handgun I had shot several thousand times earlier in the day. The transfer from my right to left hand was made through pure muscle memory. It was then I decided to look at my cellphone one final time, so at least I knew the time.

    In a cold chill that seemed to
    leap out from a movie script, I could hear the unmistakable sound of my Mother’s voice upon the wind. It told me in her usual flat demanding tone, to read the email. That tone was the one I knew by heart that meant that she wasn’t messing around. As I read the email and followed the link it contained everything changed. In it was a letter from someone who was dealing with the same kind of circumstance that I was. He however was dealing with this in a much more positive way that I currently was. I felt a very visceral shame and guilt and the story set off a well of tears.

    In that moment my left hand removed that gun from my mouth. I saw again the value in fighting back against the pain I felt. Today I am actively dealing with the grief I feel. I’ve sought out professional help with a counselor who is doing amazing things in helping me understand what I feel and how to deal with it in the same positive way as the man in that letter has.

    A simple photo changed my life, it even saved my life. Along with some great people, great friends like Lauren and so many others.

    @laurenbrill

    @shelleybrill

    Roger Chamberlain

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    • Dear Roger, Your story touched my heart. You were in a very bad place mentally and it pains me to think about how sad you were at this moment.It is amazing how your photography gave you something to live for and so much pleasure and strength. I find any hobby or activity that gives me pleasure really helps with stress and sadness. Whatever that thing is that brings you to a different state of mind helps us all to focus on something positive instead of dwelling on the sadness in our lives. I tend to find some joy in watching sitcoms and romantic comedies. My husband and I watch something funny every night before we got to bed. Laughter helps us by minimizing our anxiety at night. Many people find physical workouts and long walks enjoying nature raises endorphins. Always remember to reach out to friends, relatives, support groups, therapists or clergy for support. My go to people are very important to me. I could not navigate my life without them. Any kind hearted person with an ability to be a good listener and be non- judge-mental would be helpful in troubled times. Always know that you can reach out to me if you need a friend.
      All the best to you,
      Shelley

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    • @oneturbobenz Every time you share this story with me it reminds me why I do what I do. I am so sorry you were hurting and i am so sorry you lost your mother, but I am so glad that The Unsealed has helped you heal and get back on track. And also, I am so glad we’ve been able to build a beautiful friendship. Please keep taking pictures. Keep staying positive. Keep listening to your mother. While I am not a mother, I know any mom would not what to see their child hurting. She would want you to remember her but she wants you to enjoy life, chase your dreams, make friends, leave your comfort zone and lean in to the things that make you happy. Keep her in your heart, but don’t let your mother be the reason you don’t live a full and happy life. That is the very last thing she’d want. Anyways, we will always be here to support and encourage you. And I am beyond touched that our work has had such a large impact on your life.

      Tagging some of you to share Roger’s story and the impact of The Unsealed. Feel free to share some encouraging words.
      @andbrill @bedelman2aol-com @abrill21 @cousin-shelly @yabo_apparel @jthomasdryandbarren-com @okiwa002 @drew-zuhosky @jfritz

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    • For me I didn’t start out intending for it to hurt this long, losing her. It is hard because while my physical appearance is a carbon copy of my Father 28 years younger, my inward attitude and almost all other defining characteristics belong to my Mother. From being left handed to my brown eye, just about everything that lies below the surface is her. She was the first person to help no matter what and that is exactly how I am. My life parallels hers so closely that I feel I never truly will be able to detach from losing her. In these past 15 years my life basically became a living memorial to her. I didn’t talk about it because I did not know how honestly. So much of my life when she was alive was through almost a psychic like connection where each of us knew how each other felt without the need to speak. Almost everything I own is on purpose, from the cufflinks I own to the orange dinner plate sitting beside my keyboard at work. The void that opened that day in July in 2007 felt as though it were a black hole, so powerful that not even light could escape it. She was 3 months from her 39th birthday when I was born and she literally defied many odds to even give birth to me. Her doctor had even suggested aborting me due to the serious risk to her health. In spite of all of that, she chose to defy all the odds. In the early days after she passed, it was those things that pressured my mind the most. She had never met her Father and then even more mind numbing was she had lost the first man she loved during the Vietnam War. It was years later that I had begun researching my Family’s background that I finally closed one open book for her when I discovered her Father had died in WWII in the closing months before the Allies reached Berlin. Both sides of my family have ties back to some of the most tepid times in not just American, but World history. All of that comes to head in a often quiet, reserved person. Like so many before me however, I am quick to rise up to advocate for the underserved, underprivileged, and trodden upon. It is there that recent years has seen me contribute the most amount of effort. It is there that I have begun to find and seek the highs of my life, even if they are sometimes marked by the lows. As my Mother taught me, the person sweeping the floor, is just as important, if not more so, than the person who runs the show. I think of myself as the sweeper, picking up those that find themselves on the ground. In doing so, maybe some day I’ll find the top too.

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