The Buried Life is a group of four friends on a mission to complete ‘100 Things to do Before You Die’ and to help and encourage others to go after their own lists. For everything they cross off on their list, they help a stranger cross something off his or her list.
The episode to screened (“Accept a Dare”), which received a commendation at the 2011 Prism Award, has Buried Life member Ben Nemtin traveling to Rochester, Minnesota where he meets a student named Lexie who suffers from depression and cutting herself. She wants a forum to let young adults speak openly about the struggles of depression/anxiety and try to find hope within each other. Her career goal is to become a mental health counselor, but she cannot afford the tuition. Ben visits Lexie in Minnesota and explains how he too has suffered from depression and it is something that definitely warrants more awareness. Ben talks about his own history with depression when he was in his transition from high school to college stating in the episode, “I started feeling really depressed and you get into a state where you just want to feel something. Eventually, it was my friends that came and literally dragged me out of my house and I realized they were going through the same things whether it would be anxiety, or confidence issues, or whatever. You know, [with] depression, if people don’t have friends like that or that support network, then they really can get lost.” He manages to get Rochester University on board for the forum with the support of the Dean. To Lexie’s surprise, she gets a packed house at the forum and when she takes the stage she lets the audience know that “it doesn’t matter where you came from, it doesn’t matter if you have struggled with self-injury like I have, or depression, or anxiety or whatever it may be. I want you to know that you are loved and that we’re here to support you.” She is then presented with a special gift by the Dean of Rochester University–scholarships for two semesters. Lexie also discovers the website To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement whose vision is ‘dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.’
Watch the full episode below:
Lexie was in contact with our center and had been kind enough to share more of her story and write an update since the show aired last fall:
When Ben and I talked about how I wanted to cross off my list item my main focus was on making it okay to talk about the tough subjects like depression and more specifically cutting. We decided the best way to do so was to have an intimate setting filled with music (Mat Kearney) and stories (myself, Ben and To Write Love on Her Arms founder Jamie Tworkowski) and to make sure to bring in resources to find help, with a focus on my community (Rochester). The night started with music and then Jamie shared the story behind To Write Love On Her Arms and Ben shared his struggle with depression during his first year at University, and finally I shared my struggles with depression, cutting and how my life came crashing down in college and the years that followed. I felt that sugar coating what I had gone through would be counterproductive so I was, and continue to be, very open with my struggles. After the event, I hung out along with the other speakers and was able to talk more one on one with anyone who wanted to share. I was beyond humbled when the line took about half an hour or so to go through and I must admit my expectations were blown clear out of the water. I had, with the help of many others, been able to create an environment where people felt safe to share their deepest feelings and more importantly find hope, even if only for a few hours.
Since the episode aired I have been so overwhelmed with the reponses I have gotten from people. I know everyone always says that (fill in the blank) has the best fans but I would challenge that The Buried Life truly does. They have been so kind and supportive of me and in all honestly some of my best friends I met through the show. There are a lot of different ways to go about sharing this kind of story and The Buried Life was always my long shot, but I would not have done it anyother way. The integrity of not only Ben and what he and the other boys have created and their crew as well, proved ever so clearly that I was in good hands.
On a personal update note I have been clean from cutting for over a year and I am currently in my first semester at Rochester Community and Technichal College. I work very closely with NAMI and am a part of their Speakers Buerau and share my story in many different places, teach a class, and run a support group as well. I always like to make it very clear that while I am so blessed and have such an amazing support group, being on TV did not “heal” or “fix” me. Recovery is a continuous journey and just like anyone else there have been times that I have wanted to give up, or struggled with my urges to cut. I have found my strength in many things and with the help of many people. But the biggest lesson I have learned and still to this day need to be reminded of is this “Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but instead a sign of great courage and bravery.”