From the Speakers Bureau: What I Learned in the Yellow Jacket Nest

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meg blog pictureLast summer, while hiking with my sister and our three dogs, we stumbled into a nest of yellow jackets. They swarmed us, covering our bodies, stinging repeatedly as we hollered and fled down the mountain.

Safely back at the car, we shook the rest of them out of our pant legs. We loaded up on Benadryl. Everyone else seemed okay, but I felt like someone was stepping on my lungs. My mood dropped precipitously. I reassured my sister I was okay. I drove a few miles to our mom’s house.

My mom was getting ready to leave as I arrived. I lay down on the couch. “I’m fine,” I said. “I just need to lie down for a little while. You don’t need to stay.” I closed my eyes and waited. I felt like I might be dying but told myself that was ridiculous. Hadn’t I been stung often as a kid? I could handle this. I shouldn’t make anyone worry.

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Meg Hutchinson Debuts Mental Health Documentary

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PuYS_Poster-FINAL_qrtr-1Meg Hutchinson is a singer/songwriter and a member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau. Bring Meg to your campus to speak about mental health. 

When I was 9 years old my parents gave me a pink Walkman for Christmas and a cassette tape of Richard and Mimi Farina. There was a song on that tape called “Pack Up Your Sorrows.”

“But if somehow you could pack up your sorrows and give them all to me/You would lose them, I know how to use them/Give them all to me”

I piled into the car with my two sisters and our parents drove us to Darien, CT to our grandparent’s house for the holiday weekend.

When we arrived we began to notice the grownups whispering about something and looking anxiously at the neighbor’s house. That evening I finally asked my mom what they were all talking about. My mom said that the neighbor had died by suicide that week. I had never heard of suicide. It had never occurred to me that that could ever happen.

For the rest of that weekend I listened to that song over and over and stared out the window at the neighbor’s house. I wished that I could have taken her sadness away. Listening to the song made me feel comforted. I decided that I wanted to be a singer when I grew up.

That’s exactly what I became. What I didn’t know, however, was that I would also grow up to have bipolar disorder. What I didn’t know is that I would struggle privately for nine years before having a breakdown and finally being properly diagnosed. What I didn’t know is that 28 years after that weekend in CT I would release a film about my journey and call it “Pack Up Your Sorrows.

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Suicide Prevention Month: Abandoning Agendas

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Welcome to the Suicide Prevention Month blog series. During this awareness month, we’ll be sharing stories from suicide survivors, suicide attempt survivors and mental health advocates. Today’s post comes from Meg Hutchinson, an award-winning singer-songwriter and poet and member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau.

464085_10151660791199612_1740082740_oSometimes, in order to truly be there for someone, we have to abandon our agenda for their recovery. They aren’t going to get better on our timeline. And recovery looks different for each person.

I remember one night after I got out of the hospital when I was still going through the worst of it. I walked out to a large field with my sister and just sat next to her on a big rock under the stars. I told her I didn’t think my brain would ever start working again. She said “I know it feels that way. That must be terrifying.” Continue Reading

Suicide Prevention Month: Insights on the Journey 3

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Meg Hutchinson is an award-winning songwriter, poet and recording artist. As a result of her personal experiences living with bipolar disorder she has become a leading mental health advocate and speaks about recovery at conferences, schools and teaching hospitals around the country.

I’ve spent the last seven years learning how to live with bipolar disorder. I’ve found that in order to truly heal myself on a deeper level I’ve had to allow myself to be vulnerable. To let people in. To see openness as a sign of strength.

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Suicide Prevention Month: Insights on the Journey 2

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Meg Hutchinson is an award-winning songwriter, poet and recording artist. As a result of her personal experiences living with bipolar disorder she has become a leading mental health advocate and speaks about recovery at conferences, schools and teaching hospitals around the country.

I have seen the effects of suicide from many sides. I’ve lost a cousin. I’ve sung at the funeral of an Iraq war veteran. I love someone who lost two brothers to suicide and I see how that grief has informed his entire life. Continue Reading

Suicide Prevention Month: Insights on the Journey 1

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Lotus-Flower-Pictures16_optMeg Hutchinson is an award-winning songwriter, poet and recording artist. As a result of her personal experiences living with bipolar disorder she has become a leading mental health advocate and speaks about recovery at conferences, schools and teaching hospitals around the country.

I spent a lot of my early life trying to be perfect. My response to adversity was to ratchet things up a notch, just make a better To Do list, just work a little harder. While this was a healthy reaction to many things in my life, as I began to wrestle with depression in my late teens I just clamped down and tried to be more perfect.

I guess deep down I only thought I was lovable if I was perfect. Continue Reading