Woman senses stranger's sorrow, offers note of encouragement

- How we experience the twists and turns of life depends largely on the state of our mental health.

In the past year, awareness of mental health issues has increased after events like school shootings and incidents of celebrities taking their own lives.

During the darkest moments, a light sometimes shines through to remind us all to be kind to one another - and to ourselves. 

In a post on Facebook, a New York woman revealed how the kindness of a stranger lit the darkness at a time when she needed it most.

For Jenna Hammonaco, news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain's suicides hit hard.

LINK: Suicide prevention information: Where to get help

In her post, Jenna explained the past few weeks had been hard.

"The kind of hard where you don’t realize it until it all builds up," she wrote.

Jenna realized she was putting pressure on herself to be successful, thin, reliable, and there for everyone, "no matter how thin I spread myself," she said.

After the deaths of Spade and Bourdain, she began a silent, downward spiral.

"It was a mixture of two people I wish I could emulate. A strong, successful, business women who left a trail of beautiful things she created to make others happy and a free soul who traveled the world with a sense of adventure and open-mindedness to learn and love things that are so unknown to him. And yet they still struggled. That is very scary to me and I know to a lot of you reading this, too."

On Tuesday, Jenna said the weight of her thoughts caught up with her but she managed to get out of the house and go out to start her day.

She sat on the train with her headphones on, listening to music. 

She did not realize she was being watched by a stranger. 

"A woman I don't know handed me this note and got off the train," Jenna wrote. "I assumed it was a prayer or maybe my skirt was tucked into my underpants and I didn't realize it."

When she read the tiny slip of paper, she realized the kind stranger sensed her inner sorrow.

"It's none of my business, but you seem distraught. Whatever it is, you're stronger than it is. Don't give up."

Jenna was taken off-guard but said "It was actually the kindest thing I’ve ever experienced by a stranger."

"I guess all my thinking showed on my face more then I thought. I cried the entire way home after reading this but it gave me an enormous amount of clarity," Jenna wrote.

The note ended, "If you're just deep in thought, I apologize."

The kind stranger was right and her gesture was just what Jenna needed to set her mind back on the right track.

"I will never know who this girl was. But I can’t thank her enough. Let’s all be this person."

-----

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression or thoughts of self-harm, you are not alone. Reach out to one of these resources for help now:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741. Or you can chat with a counselor via Instant Message by clicking here. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.
  • Trevor Lifeline: Call 1-866-488-7386 for the TrevorLifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community. Trained counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also speak with someone over text message or instant message.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to text confidentially with a trained crisis counselor. Counselors are available 24/7. 

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline website offers information about risk factors and warning signs, as well as resources to help those in need.

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