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Rest in Peace Jonathan

Hi everyone. I am here to give some very sad news.
Jonathan, aka Someoneoddlyfamiliar passed away this Sunday.
Jonathan was a young person in recovery, a poet, and an advocate.
I only knew him through the poetry he shared with us here, but reading his words always felt like a treat and a joy. I often felt the vulnerability in his poems- the raw emotion and it reflected things that I too have felt but never could express in such ways.
It is truly a statement of Jonathan’s ability to connect with people, that even those of us who knew him online, through his poems, feel a deep sadness in the face of this terrible loss.
To our friends and partners at Advocacy Unlimited, and to Jonathan’s friends and family we extend of deepest gratitude for the words Jonathan shared with us here, and we extend our most sincere love and support to you all.

I would like to share some words that Advocacy Unlimited shared about Jonathan and his life:

A Beautiful Soul Remembered

August 9, 1997 – November 17, 2019
Johnathan M.S. McKenzie

YOU ARE INVITED
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
11AM-2PM

Artists Collective
1200 Albany Avenue
Hartford, CT 06112

ALL ARE WELCOME
Free Parking
Community Donations of Food are Welcome

Johnathan McKenzie joined the Advocacy Unlimited family just over a year ago – yet, it felt like he was a brother for lifetimes.

Beginning at an early age, Johnathan’s interest in neuropsychology, philosophy, and socioeconomics stemmed from his personal journey through New York and Connecticut’s psychiatric inpatient and outpatient systems. Upon discovering some of the fundamental flaws that lead to many of our society’s struggles, Johnathan began his pursuit of advocacy while inpatient at Connecticut Valley Hospital.

Alarmed by the inhumane treatment and the disregard of client rights, he transitioned into the community with the support of Char’Donne and Connecticut Legal Rights Project. With is new found freedom, Johnathan began participating in civil protests, mental health awareness campaigns, and LGBTQ pride events.

This led to a growing commitment to change the conditions of society to ensure all people have the opportunity to achieve their dreams free from institutional and systemic discrimination.

Despite experiencing the harshest of circumstances, Johnathan believed in the goodness of people. He was a leader who inspired all those who witnessed his grace, dignity, and charisma. His devotion and passion for protecting civil and individual rights was seen in so many ways.

Through his leadership, the Danbury NAACP Youth and College Division was founded in 2016. He then transitioned to the role of Community Coordinator with the Waterbury chapter where he was recognized this year in Detroit, Michigan for his outstanding efforts and involvement with the NAACP.

While volunteering, Johnathan became more involved with local efforts to reform the mental health service system. He joined the Connecticut Young Adult Services Statewide Advisory Board, and subsequently joined the Join Rise Be team at Advocacy Unlimited as a Training Coordinator and Young Adult Warmline Operator.

As a member of the JRB team, he collaborated directly with the Department of Mental Health of Addiction Services Young Adult Services division. Working alongside his peers to strengthen the voice of young adults and improve the partnerships between those engaged in YAS programming and the staff that work with them.

What a year it has been for Johnathan – a rising star and an agent of change. Along with receiving the youth award through the NAACP, Johnathan was recognized in Torrington as the 2019 recipient of the Fredrick “Ricky” Lagassie III award this past May and as the recipient of the Emerging Adult Voice Award through Keep the Promise Coalition for his testimony at the Appropriations Committee of the Connecticut Legislature.

Beyond the words that describe his achievements – Johnathan was passionate about running, martial arts, meditation, writing, and music. Johnathan is remembered as a quirky, dancing, improving, bowtie wearing, awesome hat rocking, roller blading, martial art doing, music making, writing, kareoking, advocating, brilliance that lit every space he entered with pure heart and presence.

Johnathan’s presence was an embodiment of love, expression, kindness, freedom, and connection.

Johnathan was love, the rarest and most pure love. His expression of kindness gave permission to all people to simply be free just as they were – nothing more was needed. He was committed to connection – wanting people to feel a sense of belonging.

For those of us lucky enough to have worked with Johnathan will remember him sitting in the office for hours, surrounded by paper placed strategically around him, candles lit and music blasting. He was changing the world each moment and breath he took.

Each letter he wrote and word he spoke was with a conviction that came from his soul. He would spend hours talking about the purpose of life, the purpose of our being, and always asking how we can define happiness. When asked, he would define happy as, “sitting right here doing all the things I love with the people I care about.”

Well, Johnathan, you changed the world for many people. Through your love, expression, kindness, freedom, and connection – those who knew are better people because of your presence.

Despite the pain, you found your way through the darkness and you lit a flame that will forever burn in the hearts of us all. You belonged right here, all along. You will never be forgotten.

To read some of Johnathan’s poetry, please go to www.TurningPointCT.org and to connect with Join Rise Be you can either check out our website www.joinrisebe.org or call the Connecticut Young Adult Warmline 7-days a week from 12-9PM
at 1-855-6HopeNow

If you, or someone you know, is navigating the abyss – you can learn more about Alternatives 2 Suicide by going to https://www.westernmassrlc.org/alternatives-to-suicide.

Mental Health video by young adults!

Guys, check out this awesome video!

“From award-winning documentary filmmaker Arthur Cauty, comes Faces of Mental Health, a short film which challenges stigma and encourages open conversation around mental illness and suicide in young people.

Students in Bristol were offered a space to open up and share their thoughts and personal experiences of mental illness and suicide, with a view to encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds across the country and around the World to step forward and speak out.”

It’s on vimeo, and definitely worth a watch and a share!!

Check out the video here on vimeo

Rest in Peace, Mac Miller

Today the artist Mac Miller passed away. He was 26-years old.
Mac Miller openly suffered from addiction and mental illness- candidly talking about his struggles in interviews and breaking down the walls that create stigma.
He was a talented musician, and impacted many young people with his music and his soul.

The tragedy of another young person, lost to addiction is a heavy weight we must carry as a society.
It seems recently, that we are losing celebrities at an alarming rate.
Through tragedy, a platform is opened- in which we can gather together and speak loudly about these things which have been forbidden.

With addiction, suicide, and mental illness ringing loudly in our ears- we must remember those we have lost. And move forward- not in silence, but in strength- with knowledge gained from their lives and their pain- with lessons to speak up and ask questions.
We must commit to caring for each other- no longer is it possible to look away from mental illness and addiction- we are so clearly surrounded by it- so clearly suffering from it, or not, but know people who are. So now, we must rise together to change the conversation and break the stigma which has silenced us for so long.

As for Mac Miller, I hope deeply that his family feels the love and support they need to get through this time- and I hope they feel comfort knowing they have the support of many others who have gone through similar loss. I hope he is at peace and that he rests in peace.

R.I.P Mac Miller



Rest In Peace, Kate Spade

The fashion designer and creator of the brand Kate Spade, Katherine Brosnahan (aka Kate Spade), was found in her apartment on Tuesday after committing suicide.

She left behind her 13 year old daughter and husband, and many many fans who looked up to her accessible, pretty, and classic handbags, accessories and clothes. Since the 90’s Kate Spades beautiful, simple handbags have been known to almost everyone with even a remote interest in fashion. In middle school, Alexander McQueen (RIP) and W Magazine introduced me into the beautiful, fascinating and almost space-like (very pretty, very far away, and very hard to get to) world of high fashion, modeling, and women’s wear. Since then, my love for fashion grew- I coddled my fashion magazines like they were priceless heirlooms, woke up at 3 am to watch fashion week on my computer, live from various European countries, and maintained my first blog- a tumblr for high fashion and editorial photography- as though it were a full time job. When I was 15, Alexander McQueen committed suicide, and I cried as though he was a close friend.
Now, a young single mother, I have very little time to pursue personal interests and passions (fashion and drawing in particular) however, the news of Kate Spade’s suicide brings me to a place of sadness for many reasons. Though Kate sold her empire years ago, she provided the framework for a brand that would flow through the lives of so many people, and inspire many to love fashion. On a personal level, I am touched by the impact she had on me as a teenager, her handbags and accessories where some of the few designer pieces that brought the sparkling and elevated world of fashion close to my finger-tips. On another level, as a survivor of many very serious suicide attempts, including a attempted hanging when I was 12, I am touched and heartbroken by the silent suffering she endured. I feel so very sad for her that her pain was so immense that suicide seemed a relief to her and her family. I know that feeling well, and I know the feeling of regret, fear and happiness. I wish so much that we could speak more openly about suicide, before tragedy strikes rather than after.

Rest in Peace, Kate.

And to her family and many loved ones, a random girl in Connecticut was touched by Kate for many years, and found peace and happiness in her empire, even throughout her own depression and pain.

Talking to Death

I feel I am one of those few people who do not fear the concept of death and dying. As it stands, I would not be afraid to leave this lifetime at any given moment. Sometimes, I like to picture myself having a conversation with the spectre of Death, asking “what if..” and “how come…” but these, of course, are questions I will never have answers for.

Unless, well, you know–

I believe that death is not a defeat, and death is not a concept people should be scared of. It’s natural, it’s plain and simple and part of our reality. However. Talking to him as often as I do, making up scenarios and lifetimes I don’t often have the chance to come into contact with, it would seem to others I’m not even living at all; I’m fraternizing too fully with dying.

Someone in therapy once told me, “Don’t flirt with death too much, Fallyn. Or you’ll forget to live.”

For a long time I feel I forgot to live. Or even HOW to do so. But after awhile, Death and I just continue to be good friends. I wish to live and thrive, to be unburdened; I don’t want to die. But I don’t fear it either.

Midnight Thoughts

Some of the smartest or most gifted people are the ones who go the soonest.

Why is the world losing such greatness?

…Like that Russian bro of mine
…Like that guy I dated for a hot minute
…Like that parent I love to hate calling my dad

Who knows when my time will come
…Maybe even like me