KEPPOCH MOUNTAIN: The mother of Jordon Myles says don’t hide, we all struggle – let’s support one another.
When Jodi Myles first lost her son in February 2016 what she found out was that a lot of people who came to her had a hard time speaking about it, they had a hard time even addressing it with her, and then came the whispers about those who had lost their battle against mental health.
“I had a friend that I have known for 25-years and I did not know she lost her brother, because they never spoke of it after he took his life,” Jodi said as she started to become emotional. “And so that shame made me very sad.”
Jodi hates that she lost her youngest son, as he was much more than his death, but said she wasn’t going to be ashamed of it and have him whispered about.
“If you want to talk about him – then let’s talk.”
The Jordon Myles Foundation hosted their third annual Warr;or (spelled that way becaue the semi-colon is the universal symbol for suicide prevention) Walk at Keppoch Mountain on September 30 to remember the people lost to mental illness.
“We all want to do something, and most of us, myself included, don’t know what to do,” Jodi said addressing a group of around 100 people. “I’ve surrounded myself with a group of incredible people and together we do a few things, we do one particular little thing, over and over and over again – the ‘You Matter Bags.’”
Jodi’s son Jordon had a particularly difficult entrance into the mental health system against his own will. After spending nine hours in the emergency room, Jordon was finally admitted to St. Martha’s Regional Hospital and Jodi rushed out and filled a bag of things she thought he may need or want as he couldn’t take anything with him.
“Food and water, he hadn’t had either in 10-plus hours, a book he’d been reading, some art he’d been working on, clean socks, pjs, underwear, and hygiene products,” Jodi said. “I was back within the hour and I found him being observed in an observation room, an empty room with a mattress on the floor – they’re ugly but necessary.”
She entered the room and sat near her son, not knowing how he would react.
“That was only for me, I cannot imagine what it had been like for him.”
When Jodi handed her son the bag, he immediately began to eat as he searched through the bag.
“I’ll never forget the smile on his face after that bag.”
From Jordon’s experience with mental illness, Jodi said advice was to always get outside, but noted that can be really hard to do when you’re severely depressed. Jodi thought she could get a group of people together, outside at a beautiful place like the Keppoch.
“We weren’t even the [Jordan Myles Foundation] at the first Warr;or Walk,” she said. “It was literally about more than anything, me being so hurt that he was quickly becoming a whisper and I wouldn’t have it.”
Ten families joined Jodi on the inaugural walk, which raised $3,000, and left Jodi feeling immense responsibility because she had an envelope full of money just sitting there. Jodi ended up going to the bank, getting some advice and opening a non-profit account.
When Jodi was experiencing very deep grief, leading up to that first Christmas was quite unimaginable. To combat her grief, Jodi returned to what brought her son such a memorable smile during his unfortunate experience with mental health, and the Jordon Myles Foundation’s “You Matter Bags” were born.
The inaugural Warr;or Walk funded the first several batches of the “You Matter Bags.”
After experiencing a few hiccups, on December 19, 2016, the Jordon Myles Foundation donated their first set of 25 “You Matter Bags” to St. Martha Regional Hospital in Antigonish.
“We actually hand-made those bags because we had no idea what we were doing,” Jodi laughed reminiscing about the first batch of bags. “We just had this money and we were going to make sure that people that were inpatients over the holidays had what they needed.”
The “You Matter Bags” supplied by the Jordon Myles Foundation ensures every single person seeking mental health services feels that someone cares about them.
Each bag includes a snack, water, tea and/or hot chocolate, a supportive note to fight against isolation, clean socks or slippers, a blanket, hygiene products, and whatever else they may have, lip balm, a journal, colouring book, a light novel, or maybe a deck of cards.
“It may [just] be a little light in a very dark room maybe, but sometimes a little light is all you need to see things a little more clearly.”
Fundraising over $4,600 this year for the Jordon Myles Foundation Jodi said this was their largest total to date and since their inception have risen over $11,600.
The Jordon Myles Foundation has donated almost 700 “You Matter Bags” since December 2016 and continues to be a grassroots, non-profit group at this point with a bank account at their local Credit Union.
“I think it’s just given me some purpose, and also reduced isolation, you can feel a lot of isolation when you’re grieving,” Jodi said. “We have big dreams and maybe someday, we’ll grow into a charity and the sky is the limit.”