When I was 7-years-old my parents divorced and my mom, brother, and I moved to live with my grandmother. I began third grade in a new school, having to make all new friends and to this day, I still remember my first day at McKinley Elementary School.
Krystle was my first friend in my new school.
While everyone else already had their friends that they made in kindergarten, Krystle welcomed me in and made me feel like I belonged in my new unfamiliar surroundings.
Over 20 years later, I've gotten to watch Krystle grow from child to woman to mother and while our paths may have taken us to different places, I never forgot about our friendship and how much it meant to my 7-year-old self to have her.
When I first started brainstorming for the #dontcallmecrazy project, Krystle was one of the first people I reached out to to see if she would be interested. From the start, she's been nothing but open, supportive, and willing to help in whatever ways she could. Initially my idea was to have people write testimonies but Krystle had a different idea - what about a video?
Last month we sat down to shoot this video (and catch up since the last time I saw her at our high school graduation!) and I knew some of her mental health journey from what I would see on her social media but I was no where close to prepared for what I heard that day.
Krystle's story has changed my life.
Her sheer resilience in her battle is incredibly inspiring and it has motivated me beyond words to keep progressing with this project, in my own journey, and in my passion to help others.
I watch this video and I can't help but see 3rd grade Krystle, with that infectious laugh and bright smile that helped me learn how to write in cursive because I was behind. But I also see bravery, strength, determination, acceptance, and understanding and I cannot be more proud to be her friend and to share her story.