September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and being a suicide survivor myself, I try to share this story any opportunity I get (without being too repetitive!). I know I have some new followers here, so it’s a great way to share the story to new readers! Plus, if there is someone out there that could read this and feel a glimmer of hope, then I’ve done my job! :) I know saying ‘suicide survivor’ is a harsh term, but let’s be honest, I almost did it — I was right there, it was a simple act away from following through with my plan, and I’m owning it because if I hide that fact from myself, it won’t help ANYONE. I am proud that I’ve changed, I’m so thankful for a renewed life and for finding God, that I can’t just NOT call it that! So, I’m a suicide survivor, and damn proud of it!
I’m lucky the only things that were around in my town were ecstacy and cocaine. I’ve tried everything under the sun — yes I even tried the big C, but if what was available in Stafford now (heroin and prescription meds) I’d be dead. It certainly would have been a nice way to kill myself, as I was trying to figure out which way I wanted to do it! Some people ask at what point it changed. I think it was maturing, and my body changing — hormones settled when I hit 20, and I no longer had a desire to party since I because proud of the grades I was getting in school since I had a fresh start. I had a renewed hope when I went to alternative school. Some people would take that as a rock bottom or something (although, there are worse stories out there!). But the teachers there UNDERSTOOD how to handle kids with depression, social issues, family problems. I had a perfect family, I just struggled with depression. I got perfect grades there, from the Ds and Fs I had in high school. I then graduated EARLY, went to community college and got straight As and made the Dean’s List. I felt hopeful that I COULD find my place in the world. I then started thinking about my future and applied to JMU and got accepted to their art program! After that I just never had depression ever again. I think my depression started as hormones, and just snowballed from lack of confidence. But, the little changes have brought me to a place where I’m now 30 years old and hoping to reach others, and hoping to give hope that it CAN change. I once was an atheist and thought I would be dead by 20, but life is SO much different. I’m 30, have a wonderful husband and child, own my own creative business, and now teach classes to new or hopeful floral designers. I am very blessed, blessed beyond what I ever imagined. I never had hope, I never thought I could find my place in the world. And I did!
A dear friend of mine shared my story with her friend at the local newspaper. Back in 2011 it made the front page of the local newspaper, then again they wrote a follow up in 2013 that again made the front page! How awesome is that? Not for MYSELF, but for all the teenagers struggling with thoughts of suicide out there! God gets all the glory here! The story is copy/pasted below!
——- (From 2013 FREE LANCE STAR ARTICLE) ——
Amanda Veronee spent most of her teenage years with her real emotions closed off to the world, so she’s gone in the opposite direction as a young adult.
“Now, I’m such an open book, I’ll tell anybody anything,” she said. “I just have a strong passion for helping people find whatever works for them.”
She also wants to inspire them, which was the last thing on her mind when she was a student at North Stafford High School. There, she purposely said or did whatever would offend, insult or shock the adults who tried to get into her business. With that attitude, along with the drug use and depression that threatened to envelope her, she seemed headed down the path of self-destruction.“It was bad,” she said. “I’m surprised I didn’t off myself.” Veronee, whose maiden name was Apple, got expelled and ended up in an alternative program—where every kid in class was as bad as she had been. She started focusing on her work instead of her attitude. After she finished high school, she earned degrees from Germanna Community College and James Madison University. With help from her parents, she opened a flower store in North Stafford and channeled her energies—and artistic talent—into making people happy.
The headline of a March 2011 story in The Free Lance–Star captured her turnaround. It read: “She went from bad Apple to good.” Now 28, Veronee hopes her story can help other teens going through adolescent depression or adults who feel there’s no way out of the darkness. “I just want to be able to tell them, ‘It’s OK, there is hope,’ ” she said recently. “There were times when I felt I was never gonna feel happy; I might as well kill myself. “But now that I’ve gotten through it, I just wanna say, ‘If you can hold on a little bit longer, it’ll be OK.’ ”
FINDING WHAT CLICKS
Veronee believes her troubles were triggered by hormonal changes, which threw her into deep depression. She still has moments of doubt and unhappiness, but controls them because she recognizes hormones as the cause.
It was a different story when she was a teenager, and the hormones ran rampant. The more she got teased about her dark moods, the more she stayed away from school. The more she skipped, the more she heard from students—and an administrator—that she wouldn’t amount to anything. “You hear that enough, and you start to believe it,” she said in 2011. She credits North Stafford High School counselor Sandy Stout and teacher Fred Donohoe for seeing her potential in the midst of her problems. They helped her focus on her interests, and she’s grateful she got the chance to find what made her click.
In her case, it was art. Her degree in interior design helped her launch a career arranging flowers.
At first, she offered bouquets for any occasion at her store, Anthomanic, in Garrisonville. Then in 2012, two years after she opened, she narrowed her focus to weddings.
Veronee doesn’t offer garden-variety arrangements. She makes one-of-a-kind special orders for brides who want a vintage or rustic, country or shabby chic theme. The minimum cost of each order she creates is about $3,000, and clients from Northern Virginia and Washington are ready to pay her price. She hasn’t spent the first cent on advertising, except for business cards, and said sales doubled from last year. “To me, that is shocking,” she said. “I thought we were still in a recession.”
‘KNOW HOW THEY FEEL’
The florist arranged her own wedding two years ago to Robby Veronee, her best friend since the dark years of high school. He repairs diesel motors. Now that she has gotten her life in order, Amanda Veronee has set her eyes on helping someone else. She got a few calls from middle school principals after the 2011 story and talked to some troubled teens. She’s not sure speaking to a classroom of girls, who were rolling their eyes the same way she used to do, was the best platform. But she’d like to share her story with anyone who might be helped by hearing it. She’s posted details from her past on Facebook, when groups are promoting suicide prevention or depression awareness. She’s amazed at the people who “come out of the woodwork” and share similar experiences. “I’m hoping to be able to inspire anyone who feels hopeless about life,” she said. “I know how they feel.”
Author: Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
If you struggle with depression or thoughts of suicide, please call a professional! Although I’m happy to lend an ear, I am NOT A PROFESSIONAL. When I’ve shared this story before, I’ve gotten various private messages about people dealing with depression, I am not trained to help you! I can give a virtual hug, but that is the extent of my abilities! :) Please call The National Suicide Life Line: 1 (800) 273-8255 or a friend or family member that you trust.