On Sunday August 26th, Green Ribbon Club (GRC) held its Second Annual Silent Auction at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel. GRC raised over $15,000 that will directly advance our mission to destigmatizing mental health, rallying schools and communities toward resources, advocacy, and conversation, and ultimately decreasing rates of suicide. Looking back at last year’s auction, which raised $9,200, GRC is ecstatic to be growing in such a fast timeline.
Last year, 70 people attended the event with a total of 67 auction items, raising $9,200. This year, attendees had the opportunity to bid on 104 auction items donated by over 150 companies. The auction bidding area was buzzing with energy. Attendees could bid on a range of unique excursions and outings (from theme park tickets to museum admissions), restaurant certificates, pet services, artisan food baskets, jewelry, massages, and more! Some of the most exciting items at the auction included an Angels dugout suite, park hopper tickets to Disneyland, a Malibu wine safari and tasting, sports memorabilia, Wynonna Earp gift baskets with autographed posters, and private acting lessons from Modern Family’s Christian Barillas. The highest bidding item went for $1500 during the live auction for the Wynonna Earp Kat Barrell & Bernie Original Art Handprint Painted Canvas.
Aside from the fundraising, guests participated in the social media contest to win a Disneyland park hopper ticket, drew positive self-care messages at the arts and crafts table, indulged in the delicious desserts and refreshments, learned more about GRC’s mission at the information table, and listened to impactful speeches from GRC Board Members Nikki Daurio and Alexis D’Epagnier. For a transcript of Nikki's speech, please visit the bottom of this article.
A major highlight of the event was Wynonna Earp actress Kat Barrell who gave an honest and inspiring speech on her experience with anxiety. For a transcript of this speech, please visit the bottom of this article.
(Guest Speaker Kat Barrell delivers a powerfully honest speech)
(GRC CEO Brian McInerney, Guest Speaker Kat Barrell, GRC CCO Nikki Daurio)
(Attendees check out an auction prize.)
(Attendees check out auction prizes and place bids.)
(Lemonade, iced tea, and cucumber-infused water were a great hit on a hot summer's day.)
(Attendees participate in a self-care arts & crafts station.)
(GRC's Nikki Daurio poses with Guest Speaker Kat Barrell.)
*Photos Courtesy of Two Eight Photo and Jean Suppa
Green Ribbon Club is so thankful for everyone who came to this event to support our mission. We’re excited to see the contributions directly help us stop the stigma against mental health.
Nikki's Speech Transcript:
Hi! Thank you all for coming ☺ As some of you may know, as Chief Communications Officer of Green Ribbon Club, I’ve gone around to high schools and colleges to give speeches about GRC. I always start with my mental health story. But, since I literally never shut up talking about it on social media and when I meet people, like seriously, I am pretty much an open book and tell everyone I meet. Some of you I’ve actually met because I was talking about my story. So yeah..
I’m sure that I’ve told some of you numerous times about my quick downfall from happy-go-lucky-thinking-about-puppies-and-rainbows-student-athlete to young-adult-admitted-to-a-psychiatric-hospital-after-planning-her-own-suicide. If you haven’t heard this story yet, please feel free to talk to me after. I love telling it, because the more I talk about it, the more people understand that even the happiest people struggle, therefore, stopping the stigma. But since a lot of you already know it, I’ve decided today to talk about something else. Something that makes Green Ribbon Club so relevant and needed.
Now, before I begin my speech of why we’re all here, I want to give a couple disclaimers. I’m about to speak from the heart about my own experiences, and it will get dark and serious, but I’m doing this because it’s so so important to recognize and it needs to be talked about. I did, however, tone down the language a little bit. You’re welcome, Dad. If at any point during this time, you feel as if this is too much and you need some air, please feel free to step outside. We have wonderful Green Ribbon Club members, Brian and Will, standing outside to help and direct you to resources if needed. I also hope you all know that this is a safe space, and I hope you show that respect to each other as well as to me.
What many people struggle to understand is that mental health recovery is a never-ending process. Just because I’m not visibly distraught anymore, doesn’t mean that I’m not constantly battling depressive thoughts in my head. Of course, the therapy and medication, family, friends and coping skills all help immensely. But. Sometimes, it doesn’t stop the bad thoughts. I still have days where I have to skip class and stay in my room, crying for hours, trying to sleep, and reminding myself why life is worth living. I’m recovered. But that just basically means that I am, and always will be, recovering. Now, because of treatment, I know how to get out of these depressive episodes. But it doesn’t stop them from sneaking up on me from time to time.
So, in the spirit of stopping the stigma surrounding mental health recovery, I’d like to share a stream of consciousness that I wrote in my journal in April of this year, 2 years after I planned to kill myself. 2 years into my recovery. Even though some of what I read right now might seem destructive, overwhelming, and show that I’m clearly distraught, this is actually a coping skill. Writing out all of my bad thoughts so they stop cycling through in my head. This is what it’s like in my head.
Wanna know what the scariest part of all of this is? Not knowing if the depression is gonna win this time. Every time you feel it creeping up on you, affecting the way you view the world, your friendships, your food, yourself. Is this gonna be the time I do it? Am I gonna be scared of the consequences? Do I have any more reasons left? Are they going to miss me?
Screw you. Screw this stupid thing called anxiety. That shithead took my formal away from me. It made me doubt my friends’ intentions. It’s stupid, irrational ways make it so I can’t work out anymore. Can I do anything anymore? Chest. Tightening. Breath. Quickening. Head. Pounding. Palms. Sweating. Vision. Tunneling. Sounds. Echoing.
Doing anything to avoid feeling pain. Have to distract myself. Have to make myself feel numb. Anything to avoid the itching temptation of scratching away at my skin, tearing it, drawing blood, focusing on the pain rather than on the incessant, negative, destroying thoughts racing through my head. I want to feel that pain. I don’t want to feel that pain. I want to feel nothing. Promises made long ago will not be broken.
“You remember how to be happy.” “You’re okay now. Recovered.” “Use your coping skills.” “Practice what you preach.” “Dude, you literally help others in the same position as you.” “Why can’t you do the simple tasks you learned in therapy?” “Are you really so useless that you know what to do in this situation, but you’re refusing to do it?” “What kind of idiot can’t make themselves feel better?” “What kind of idiot can’t even be depressed the right way?” “Screw you.” “No wonder you can’t help yourself.”
Crack your knuckles. Put pressure on your fingertips. Flex your muscles. Bite your nails. Check your phone. Squeeze the tennis ball. Scratch the nonexistent itch. Eat too many calories. Take your Xanax. Rub your eyes. Go to sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Just don’t do it. Do anything to avoid it.
Haunted by the memories of it. Currently terrorized by what’s in the planner. It’s not just finals. It’s not just the end of the semester. It’s not just the commitments. It’s not just the incessant headaches. It’s not just the deadlines. It’s not just the messages on unread. It’s not just the impeding doom. It’s the monster in the dark. The one that hides in the back of my mind. Waiting for the weaknesses to emerge. It feeds on them. It’s hopelessness.
Is it worth it?
Depression, you are a lying bastard. That’s the thing. I know you’re lying to me. Playing tricks on me. Messing with my perception of reality. Manipulating my thoughts. I will stop you. Because I’m Nikki freaking Daurio. Monster-slayer. Destroyer of beasts inside the mind. You can’t stand in my way. It’s just one obstacle after another. I know how to beat you. Just get through this one thing. Then the next. Then the next. Then it’s over. Stop getting distracted. Enjoy your distractions. Don’t let them make you feel guilty. You are strong, stronger than you know. Put your headphones in. Play some music. Write that paper (literally stream of consciousness). It doesn’t need to be good; it just needs to be done. I am fine. I will ALWAYS get through this.
Everyone, lets make sure to talk about it. Thank you.
(Pause for applause)
And that’s why I joined Brian, our CEO, to create Green Ribbon Club. I want to make sure that there is a future where people don’t have do go through what I’ve gone through. Thanks to all of you for being here to support that mission.
Kat's Speech Transcript:
Nikki: I’d like to welcome a very special guest. She plays the beloved character of Nicole Haught on screen & SYFY’s series Wynonna Earp. However, outside of her job as an actor, she is also an insightful, passionate and intelligent woman. I am so happy that she is using her voice to make a difference in the mental health community and to support Green Ribbon Club. I look forward to hearing what she has to say today. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Katherine Barrell.
Kat: (kicking the step aside) That’s better. Hi guys, lots of familiar faces here, which is, which is really nice to see. Um, cause right now I’m a bit nervous. Um, I’m not nervous to speak, but I’m nervous about what you guys might think of me when I share my story with all of you. I’m worried that I maybe don’t have the expertise to speak about mental health in a room full of people who also know about it. I worry may say something wrong, I may say something triggering or something that will lead someone else down a path that doesn’t work for them.
When I sat down to write this speech of what I was going to say to you all today, I battled with this desire to be honest, with the desire to remain professional as if admitting that I had struggled with mental illness and part of my life and it would make me seem unstable or un-hireable in my professional world, but ultimately I guess that’s kinda why we are all here. Because we want to prove that it doesn’t. We want to prove that talking about it, learning coping strategies and building communities is the only way that the one in five Americans, I couldn’t believe it when I looked at that stat, are also experiencing mental illness and are ultimately going to heal.
So my story is that for five years, I used sleeping pills to cope with an anxiety disorder that I didn’t know I had and that I’m here today because I didn’t know I had it. I want to talk to you guys because I didn’t know. I knew the physical symptoms very very well: I knew the metallic taste in my mouth, I knew the racing pulse seemingly out of nowhere at unjustified parts of the day, the vice grip tightening that was around my chest and throat. And I knew this completely unjustified feeling of terror at completely random points each day.
I explained all of these things away to myself as “normal college stress.” I was in college at this time, as many of you all are. All of the time, I just thought that was real stress felt like and those sleeping pills made me feel calm and peaceful. They slowed my racing mind, they helped me sleep, which I couldn’t’ do without them and they made me feel like myself at my truest essence, they made me feel balanced. And I loved them for that.
It wasn’t until well a few years out of college that my depression came to its darkest and most painful for me and a friend of mine actually sat me down and discussed with me the fact that this might not be normal everyday stress. She knew this, because she too struggled, she told me I felt the same things, you can feel better again, and I know what you're going through.
It was in that moment that I really realized that all those years back what I needed to hear most were those words; I needed to hear “I know what you're going through.” And you know for someone to tell me that what I was experiencing was REAL, that this constant battle of terror wasn’t some figment of my imagination and that there were many people who struggled the same way that I did. There was science behind it, there were studies, there were specialists, there was medication and there was a name to this disorder that I didn’t know that I had.
The day I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, I switched my sleeping pills for an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and that was the day I think my real healing began. That medication allowed me to kind of come down to a place where Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Meditation and physical self-care could finally break through this kind of constant “fight of flight” mode that I was living in that I had almost accepted as my adult reality
And the more I dove into the resources available on my recovery path, honestly, the angrier I got. I just remember thinking why didn’t I know? Why don’t we just learn more about mental health in high school? How much pain could I have saved myself all those years ago if I just had someone to talk to, why don’t we talk about this more?
And I think that’s why this the Green Ribbon Club so important, because I know that there are many people just like me out there who need someone to validate experience. Who need someone to march beside them while they fight their own inner demons.
And I know my anxiety demon very well, and I know, like Nikki said earlier, that she’ll always be there lurking in my darkest corners. But I remember this thought, this thought used to cause me so much distress, but now I actually find it comforting. Because I know if I can keep her in my distant but constant view, I can make sure she never gets closer. I can manage it because now I have the tools to keep her at bay.
It’s now been years since I’ve taken my medication but I know it’s always available if I need it again. I still use my meditation technique and check in with my counselor when I need someone to talk to, but, I don’t have to wait for life to come crashing down around me – I am able to see the signs a lot earlier and I’m able to put the fires out before they get out of control.
Yeah I know its work and a lot of you guys struggle. Some days it felts like this one extra thing I have to do that others don’t. But I think that’s ok because it’s just this part of me that I’m not afraid of anymore and I am really proud that I have the perspective and knowledge of it.
Today I stand from a place of perspective, of knowledge, and of pride for how hard I had to fight to find my happy again. On my toughest days I remember thinking not an hour could go by without my anxiety ruling my thoughts – now days pass where I completely forget anxiety was ever a part of my life.
SO today I decided I was going to face all those nerves that I told you guys all about when I first walked up here, so that I can say to anyone out there who may need to hear it like I did: “I’ve felt the same things. You can feel better again and I know what you’re going through.”