I have been on a journey toward my recovery for five years now. Within those five years, I have come across many challenges and hard times. Throughout it all, I was able to get through it because of the amazing people that have been placed into my life. One of which consists of two twin sisters who started a non-profit organization called the Lou Ruspi Jr. Foundation.
The Lou Ruspi Jr. Foundation was started by Teressa Stann and Karla Farina in effort to spread awareness after losing their brother Lou to suicide. They started this organization over five years ago and since then have grown into an incredible army of dedicated supporters and team leaders. They are opening the barrier of conversation about taboo topics dealing with mental health and forcing people to face the facts that mental health problems exist and aren’t going to go away by simply ignoring the problem.
When I was in my first year of college, I had to show up to a mental health fair to receive extra credit in the class. You had to show up and sign a piece of paper after meeting the teacher. In hindsight, I could have walked in, signed the paper and walked out. What stopped me was my mother, who had a stand that was next to Karla and Teressa. She had spoken to them about why they were there and mentioned how I was interested in mental health. She asked me to meet them and after talking to them for a few minutes, I decided to look around and participate in some of the booths handing out information about mental health.
During this time, I had still been struggling within my mental illnesses and had a few more months before I would start my recovery. I walked up to a booth that asked you to fill out a questionnaire consisting of twenty questions. I looked through the questions and decided to answer them honestly. At the end of the questionnaire, I had found out that I have a great chance of being depressed and suicidal.
Time went on and I attended the first Lou Ruspi Jr. Foundation breakfast of hope. While I was there, I noticed a younger girl sitting at my table. I felt this strange connection to her although I never met her. She happened to be honored at the breakfast for being a suicide survivor and spreading awareness within the community for mental health. After she told her story, I could feel myself ready to burst into tears. At this time, I was in recovery for a little bit but I was still dealing with the “detox” stage. (Detox stage- I consider this the phase when you have stopped harming yourself physically or acting on your urges but are still trying to be okay within the mental aspects of dealing with a mental illness).
I knew all too well the emotions she was experiencing and feeling because I was currently going through them at the time. The Lou Ruspi Jr. Foundation came into my life by fate. I wasn’t going to go that day to the fair because I had something going on but something was pulling me there. Now I know what that reason was. This organization and the people within it, have changed my life in the best way. Today was the fifth breakfast of hope and a few months ago was my fifth year in recovery. We have grown together and they have been on this journey with me from the beginning.
When I was younger and my mental illnesses began, I didn’t have something like The Lou Ruspi Jr. Foundation come into my school and help spread awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. Maybe if I had, I wouldn’t have struggled for so many years. The issues I struggled with were considered taboo topics and people would rather ignore the problems than learn how to deal with something they might not fully understand. This organization is providing free education on suicide prevention, mental health and breaking down the barrier that is mental health.
I am so honored to have been able to be a part of this organization for the past five years and to see how far they have come. I want to thank Karla and Teressa for letting me into their lives and letting me be a part of something that has become something truly amazing. Because of people like you and your team, people are getting educated on mental health. You are forcing parents to have an open conversation with their children and making sure they are physically and mentally okay as well. You are making it possible to talk about topics that scare society and by doing so, you are helping so many people.
It takes a lot of courage to open up and ask for help but through your organization, you are making it easier for people to feel accepted and in return they are seeking help. I didn’t personally get the honor of knowing your brother Lou but I did get the honor of being able to see him leave his fingerprint on the world within mental health. You are reaching so many people and because of you, mental health is slowly becoming a regular topic of conversation throughout schools to households. Awareness is being spread and mental health is slowly shedding its taboo exterior.
If you would like support or learn more about this amazing non-profit organization visit:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/LrjFoundation/
Lou Ruspi Website: https://www.lrjfoundation.com/
Mental health is a huge problem in today’s society. We need to break down existing barriers and get a conversation started. Through organizations like The Lou Ruspi Jr. Foundation, those barriers are slowly being diminished and more and more people are asking for help. It is possible to get help but now we can feel safe in asking for it. If you know someone who is struggling with a mental illness, don’t hesitate to get them help.
Here are some numbers that can help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264