My name is Jessica Langston and I am 29 years old.
I was born in Mayfield, KY and have always lived in this general area. I am a first generation college student with a bachelor’s degree in Youth and Nonprofit Leadership with a minor in professional writing from Murray State University. I am a graduate student in the Nonprofit Leadership Studies program with emphasis in Human Development and Leadership. I am also a Certified Nonprofit Leader which is a credential from MSU.
My experience with suicide and self-harm originated from my experiences in school where other students teased and bullied me mercilessly about my height, weight, and socioeconomic status. I am the oldest of three children in a low-income family. My parents gave everything they had to support the family and we never went hungry but we did not have the nicer clothes that our peers could afford. Taunted by other kids for my hand-me-down clothes as most of my clothes came from second-hand stores or were hand-me-downs down from my mother. In elementary school, one of my teachers publicly embarrassed me in front of my peers because she did not like the boots that I was wearing. Mortified, I did not want to go back to school the next day, which, if you know me, is very odd because I loved school and learning but there were people who sought to make me miserable. My self-worth and self-esteem were low but I managed to just keep my nose in my beloved books and move on with life.
High school was not much better; however, people ignored and ostracized instead of bullying me. I had a few friends but I still felt very alone. I had not made serious suicide attempts although the thoughts of worthlessness had made it cross my mind. I self-harmed in the form of scratches and cuts on my body where they could not be seen.
I met my high school sweetheart in my sophomore year and I was over the moon. After graduation, we married and began living together. In the first few years of our marriage, he became verbally abusive and I suffered many days of marital rape, which I have only disclosed to a few people. I eventually found the courage to leave and filed for divorce.
I married once more a few years later but that marriage also failed, leaving me reeling with nothing and nowhere to go. I hit rock bottom and seriously contemplated suicide but was afraid of the effect that it would have on my parents. I spent many years trying to heal my mental state through both medication and therapy.
I am now happily engaged to my best friend and he has lifted me through the darkness and is my motivation for getting out of bed every day. He has to remind me to take my medication and eat some days when I slip but he has been in my place before and understands how to help.
I plan to use my experiences and knowledge to get funding for By Chaney’s Hands through grants and possibly donor recruitment and retention. I am honored that they are allowing me to be part of the growth of this nonprofit with them and possibly change or save the lives of those at risk, which is my passion.