No one likes to think of suicide or that this might affect kids in any direct or indirect way.
Yet it does happen more often than we’d like to admit and this is why I’ve decided to feature Out of the Darkness Into The Light by Kerri Gardner. This is a memoir that deals with surviving suicide, gaining strength and living with love.
The True Confessions of a Suicide Survivor
Fighting seven years of crippling depression and living in a chaotic dysfunctional family, Kerri can’t imagine living another day without hope. She decides to end it all by killing herself.
After her failed suicide attempt, she is imprisoned for a month in a terrifying Mental Health Hospital. When she is released, her life changes. Now, she has to follow 5 rules or she will be imprisoned once again. Kerri’s loneliness increases in a community who all know what she has done. After all, who wants to talk to a freak?
In order to unite the family once again, her parents take her to sunny Florida for an amazing Disney World experience. Whilst there, she meets Trevor, the boy of her dreams, only to discover that he lives an ocean apart from her.
They quickly fall in love and a long distance friendship begins. In a time when email and texting does not exist can Kerri and Trevor keep their relationship going? Can Kerri re-build her life and get back to a new normal?
Out of the Darkness Into the Light is Kerri’s shocking, heartbreaking and sometimes funny true story of self-discovery, acceptance, strength and the most unbelievable love story that will leave no reader unmoved.
AMM: Welcome Kerri.
KG: I’m so happy to be here with you today, Ann Marie.
AMM: What was your inspiration for writing this book?
KG: I was inspired to write my book for years really, mostly about our love story (my husband’s and mine). Whenever someone told me, “what an amazing story you both have of how you met”, I always felt I should write about that part of my life only as I was very ashamed of my suicide attempt, even though I wouldn’t have met Trevor if it didn’t happen. However, the catalyst that inspired/angered and made me very determined to write “all” of my story was Mary. Mary was the 13-year old school friend of our daughter, Sky. In 2012 Mary, whom we never met but did hear of now and again, took her life in 7thgrade at the age of 13.
The email sent from Sky’s school informing us about what had happened over the weekend and what the school was going to implement with psychiatrists, police and other staff in order to help the students deal with Mary’s suicide, was for me like “re-living” my past; except this time the girl died. I had survived. I kept thinking, what if I’d known? What if I’d seen her pain, spoken to her and found out how she was feeling so that I could help her get past those feelings and thoughts? What if I could have inspired her not to take her life? What if I could have saved her?
I had also been through a bad year with my kids, Sky and Luke, because they were being bullied from students in their grades. Then Mary’s suicide happened. I had had enough and I wasn’t going to sit there and not do anything about it. I knew my story had to come out, that I had to stop being ashamed of what I had done 29 years earlier. I knew I had to use my story as a way to help school age children, college students and kids of any age who were suffering from bullying, depression and/or suicidal thoughts.
AMM: Kerri, it takes strength and courage to go through what you have and come out on top. Is there a message you would you like people to take away from your book?
KG: There are several messages I’d like everyone who reads my book to understand. The first message is ‘we are not alone’. We are surrounded by many people who love us and who want the best for us. Also, all those who are in pain and who feel they are alone must realize that they are not alone and that they have many options to help themselves. Moreover, they must realize that these feelings are normal. We all go through depression, and bad thoughts at times.
Speaking to a trusted friend, family member, teacher etc. is the first step to relieving that pain and finding support. Part of that message is to understand that going through depression/suicidal thoughts is a stage in our lives and we NEVER need to take a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
The second message I’d like all who read my book to take away with them is the constant theme of “NEVER GIVING UP”. I went through so much as a child and teenager, but I ended up figuring out I was the only person who could make myself happy and the only person who could truly change my life. I needed to change my mindset to focus on what I wanted to achieve and create in my life. I never gave up on my dreams and I encourage everyone to find out what their passion/dream is and pursue it. Once I did that, my life became what I wanted and not what I always feared. We all have this power. We truly create our daily lives and I believe that with constant positive, daily action toward your dreams you’ll find you can accomplish anything and be happy.
AMM: I love it!!! And now tell me, what is something that most people don’t know about you?
KG: Not many people know that my husband, Trevor, and I left England in Oct. 1997 and immigrated back to the United States on a cruise ship. We took a Mediterranean/Caribbean 30-day cruise and saw Rome, Italy, Barcelona, Madeira, Gibraltar and many Caribbean islands. During that very amazing/adventurous cruise we saved a Frenchman whose boat had capsized during a severe storm during a boat race.
We won the blackjack jackpot or rather, Trevor did, and had the best time enjoying life as we sailed the Atlantic on our way to the Dominican Republic before we flew into Boston, Mass. People on board thought we were on our honeymoon but it was our way of enjoying a very difficult move from England to America. We had the most amazing/unforgettable time.
AMM: And now I definitely can’t wait to read your book. The reviews on amazon so far have been outstanding. Kudos! Finally, what is one fun thing about you?
KG: It’s hard to just think of one fun thing so I’ll give two. I used to play the drums for several years. I told Trevor when we first got together how much I’ve loved the drums and always wished I could play. He surprised me while I was 6 months pregnant with Luke. It was fun being pregnant and learning how to play the drums at home and while taking lessons. What was cool is that I could tell Luke enjoyed it as well as he’d listen by calming down inside my belly while I played.
The second fun thing is that I am an avid fitness enthusiast. I have been working out since I was 16 and just a month ago started kickboxing again and I am happy that I did. I get up early and put myself first so I can be in the best mindset to start my day which also helps me get through a busy time of homeschooling, marketing my book, taking my speaking course and running the Gardner’s lives…
About Kerri Gardner
Kerri Gardner is a wife, mother, author, blogger, motivational speaker and suicide survivor. She lives with her husband Trevor and their three children in Raleigh, North Carolina. After receiving devastating news about her daughter’s school friend, Kerri realized she could use her personal story to help others dealing with depression, bullying, and suicidal thoughts. She is an optimist, a true leader, and a believer that we all can have our ‘BEST LIVES NOW”, regardless of the pain from the past or current circumstances. Kerri believes we live in an abundant world full of exciting new opportunities. She feels that with positive and consistent action toward your dreams, you can produce a happier, more fulfilling life by your own design.