I am not big on posting on social media, however today would have been Kelsey Behrens’s 27th birthday. It has been almost 5 and a half years since she has passed, 5 and a half years without my youngest sister and my best friend. As many of you know I don’t talk much about it, it’s still painful for me to share with people who knew her, people who knew of her, and now people who know nothing of her. I have always wanted to try and turn this scenario into something that could raise awareness and benefit others. Each year at this time I spend the weeks leading up to this date thinking about what I could do, but I never had the emotional strength to follow through. 5 years later, I’m holding myself to it.
Kelsey was a beautiful person inside and out, she had a presence that made everyone turn their head when she walked into a room and a laugh that made everyone want to laugh along with her. She wanted the best for everyone, however she also was always fighting an internal battle that most could not see from the outside. She was never happy enough, she was never good enough, she had a darkness inside that she was never able to escape. She found an outlet in drinking, and then in drugs. She tried therapy, different rehabs, reaching out to family and friends, but she always fell back to her old ways.
When I think of Kelsey I focus on our positive memories, our stupid jokes, us making up songs and dances together, hugging her when she was sad and laughing with her when she was happy. Those are the type of memories that I hope everyone has of her and can hold at the forefront of their memory. However I also want to bring awareness through her struggle with addiction. Research shows that the stigma of addiction keeps people from getting the treatment they need. Overdose is now the #1 cause of accidental death in the United States, recently surpassing car accidents.
My goal is to find a way each year on December 8th to honor Kelsey and to help others, whether it is something I do on my own or something that involves others. This year I chose to set up a donation page for the Shatterproof Organization.
Donations go towards ensuring every American with a substance abuse issue has access to quality, evidence-based treatment. Shatterproof takes on federal and state advocacy battles, mobilizing families affected by addiction and providing them with a platform to make their voices heard. Advocacy support has helped 15 states pass life-saving legislation. To shatter the deadly stigma of addiction, they’ve built a Community Alliance Program with nearly 500 local ambassadors, providing education and supporting advocacy efforts. Their website also contains evidence-based resources on prevention, treatment, and recovery.
Please take a minute and check out the site, and should you decide it is a worthy cause, please donate whatever it is you are comfortable with in honor of Kelsey.