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Dartford resident Amy reaches out to those suffering with mental health with gift giving project

PUBLISHED: 10:33 27 June 2018

Amy has set up an gift giving project to reach out to anyone suffering. Picture: Amy Jordan

Amy has set up an gift giving project to reach out to anyone suffering. Picture: Amy Jordan

Archant

After losing a friend to suicide and battling depression herself, former Gravesend Grammar School for Girls student Amy has set up a project trying to improve mental health by connecting people through anonymous gift giving, to show anyone struggling that they are not alone.

Once a month everyone signed up receives a name from a list of participants and they then send a gift or home made card. Picture: Amy JordanOnce a month everyone signed up receives a name from a list of participants and they then send a gift or home made card. Picture: Amy Jordan

Amy Jordan, from Darent, endured a tumultuous start to 2018 battling her mental health illnesses and spending weeks in a hospital.

She said: “I normally love life – in the last seven years I have motivated myself through 15 marathons, three ultra-marathons and two ironman triathlons.

“I ran Beachy Head marathon in October last year and yet by December I was unable to motivate myself to get out of bed, let alone have a shower, get dressed or function as a normal human being.”

Amy described the extent that depression can affect someone’s life.

Amy wants to spread the message that people suffering are not alone. Picture: Amy JordanAmy wants to spread the message that people suffering are not alone. Picture: Amy Jordan

“It blows a huge crater-sized hole in your life and makes you feel that you will never be happy or worth anything ever again,” she added.

“It is near impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced that total blackness what it feels like.

“I am usually grateful every day for every single second that I am alive. I love the outdoors, sunshine, nature, friends, family, dogs and anything covered in chocolate, I make the most of every moment.

“Yet suddenly I was waking up in the morning wishing I hadn’t, I couldn’t find the point in anything, all positive thought had disappeared and even the things I loved most felt dull and empty.”

Amy was lucky enough to be around the support and kindness of her friends and family.

She said: “This kindness was an anchor for me when I was completely lost in the darkness and I am so grateful for the support which made my life worth living when nothing else made sense.”

As Amy slowly recovered from her depressive episode, she lost a friend to suicide a couple of months later.

She said: “He was one of my favourite people on the planet and his passing has shaken me to my very core.

“In a world which is becoming increasingly virtual I realised our friendship had become less personal over the last few years and I spent hours scouring his social media accounts looking for clues that I might have missed showing how much he was struggling.

“There were none and to all appearances he looked to be happy. I hadn’t wanted to burden my friends when I was struggling. I wish I’d had one more conversation with him, discussed our troubles and allowed each other the space to share each other’s pain.”

It was the loss of her friend that became Amy’s driving force in trying to show people they weren’t alone.

She explained that the idea of sending gifts to strangers came from her own experiences of receiving kindness while she was unwell: “But I am one of the lucky ones, I am blessed to be surrounded by such love.

“I wanted to find a way that I could spread this to people who aren’t as lucky to have those meaningful connections of their own, often because mental illness has deprived them of it.”

Amy set up a project doing just that. Share-Smiles is aimed at improving mental health by connecting people through anonymous gift giving.

Once a month everyone signed up receives a name from a list of participants at random and they then send a little gift or home made card.

The gifts are sent through a central address where they are checked by volunteers and sent on to their recipients.

Amy added: “Although my wish is for Share-Smiles to provide some hope and connection to those lost in mental illness it’s not just people going through a hard time who can benefit from the project.

“I believe we all benefit from acts of kindness and feeling connected to one another will help anyone.”

To see Amy’s crowdfunder campaign link visit https:www.crowdfunder.co.ukshare-smiles

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