I’ve been wearing this necklace to death lately and have gotten a lot of compliments on it. Sometimes I’ll just say “Oh it’s a Link of Hearts necklace” and they’ll nod and smile. Sometimes I’ll tell them more. Truth is, it might just look like a nice gold strand, but there’s a story behind it.
According to NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. In fact, an estimated 16 million adults and 2.2 million adolescents had at least one depressive episode in 2012. The number of patients diagnosed with depression increases by approximately 20% per year. An estimated 121 million people around the world currently suffer from some form of depression.
This statistic is something I learned when I came across the Link of Hearts website. I know I’ve had my own experience with depression, but didn’t know just how widespread it was.
For me, it began when I was old enough to be self aware of what was going around and young enough for it to have a detrimental effect on my outlook of life. Negative self talk, hopelessness, insomnia, worthlessness, numbness, you name it, I’ve felt it… and I know I’m not alone.
Whenever I was overwhelmed with this tornado of feelings, doubts, fears and triggers I always wished I had hope. A reminder. A reminder that I can get through it. That I am enough. That I mattered.
I’m 24 now and when I look back on it, it was definitely a very long 12 year long journey. Sometimes I have moments of weakness where my mind will sink back to how it was before, but moments like that happen rarely now. I’ve trained myself to identify what triggers it and how to cope in a positive and proactive manner. If there’s one thing I wish I did have when I was younger, it’s something like Link of Hearts.
When I came across Link of Hearts, the founder’s story and mission resonated with me so much. As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety, knowing full well the kind of stigma it carries in society, I wanted to learn more about it. Emotional and mental health is one of the things I am continually learning about and something I want to help others with.
So I met and spoke with the founder and we had a deeply personal conversation about depression and our own experiences. Here’s an excerpt:
Where did you get the idea for Link of Hearts?
I remember there was this one bracelet that I bought during college that said “wisdom, courage, strength.” That bracelet was like someone reminding me and I wore it everyday until I broke off. I’ve always been drawn to things with words and inspirational quotes (hey, me too!). So I said, what if I make that? Not for anything else but just to make it. I had no idea where to begin, had no idea what hand-stamping was but I have always been crafty and I have always wanted to do jewelry so I convinced myself I could learn the basics of jewelry. The idea was really to keep it simple and focus on the words that would represent the design. Then I started to think, how can I make this something purposeful for Mental Illness? I’m a big fan of Tom shoes so for me it served as an inspiration. One option was to give money but then that wouldn’t be staying true to myself. It goes to charity and research but having gone through what I’ve gone through I knew I wanted to be more involved so what if I sell one and I give one to someone battling depression?
Everything on the site is hand made? Hand-poured and hand-stamped?
So it’s literally made with love. I love that.
Yea and it’s what I want. I wouldn’t want to outsource it. I’d want to do it in house and do the design in-house. Again, it’s all very simple designs. It’s really all about the hand stamping. For me this is an art and so meaningful. The goal is to be a recognized brand, raising awareness for mental illnes and having that one-for-one business model, partnering up with treatement centers and non-profits so that we can donate, help and inspire. Link of Hearts will be partnering with a few organizations at the end of this year to continue that initiative. We’re donating about 200 in December. We’re just going to have this big giving day and help out.
You mentioned you went through a deep dark period in your life, how do you handle it in a healthy way now?
I surround myself with books, aromatherapy and essential oils. It makes me more aware and learn more about myself. If I know myself then I can’t lose myself again. With such an illness you lose yourself and question everything. We’re always going to go through challenges and we’re always going to need hope. To read Elizabeth’s full story read her blog post
What’s something you wish you knew when you were my age?
My self-worth. I wish I knew that. I remember being around 25 going through struggles but still believing in life and inspiration.
Never stop reading, or start reading. Audiobooks! There are so many books out there that give you a perspective when you’re figuring out what you want to do, at a crossroads, personal relationships. If you’re open to it, there’s nothing but possibility in what you read.
Surround yourself with positive people. There was a lot of time wasted with me and drama. I didnt have the self-confidence (I was a people pleaser) and I tolerated drama longer than I should have but then again if I didn’t have that experience I wouldn’t know what I know now. Whatever you’re going through right now is going to be the next step to what you need to go to next.
What do you think makes a woman beautiful?
Someone who feels good about herself. Someone who feels confident. Someone who can be fearful but daring, anxious but continues to live and love life. It’s normal to be fearful but use that to become a woman living life and living with a kind heart, looking out for others. Beauty is in being bold. Being brave. Being yourself.
What do you hope Link of Hearts will do for people?
It’s as simple as hoping that the piece will bring someone inspiration. The necklaces are designed long so that you can look at it and hold it. It will take time for people to get this, but the goal is to help one person at a time.
So yes, it’s a pretty necklace. It comes in a simple box with gold foil font. The pouch is cute. It’s beautifully packaged. There’s even a polishing cloth.
But that’s not why I’ve been wearing this necklace everyday since I got it. To me it’s a positive reminder. Of who I used to be, who I am now, and who I can become. Getting a necklace like mine won’t cure you instantly or help you overnight… but the commitment of everyday is very powerful. Knowing you’re not alone is important.
The words on my bar are: Hope, Strength, Courage and Faith. I usually have the Hope side showing.
You can get your own Bar of Goodness here.
Some of my other favorites you can check out on the site:
P.s. They also ship internationally.
Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your story with me and for creating something for the greater good out of what is easily a very dark and unwelcoming subject.
Here’s to owning our pasts, and carving out a bright future.
Follow me on instagram for more of my adventures. 2016 is going to be great!