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Bandit Spotlight - Jenny Fidler

Hello Bandits! I am so excited for the opportunity to introduce myself and join this community. Promoting mental health awareness has been something I’ve been passionate about for a long time, especially with our youth and LGBTQ communities, so when I heard about Band2Gthr and the Bandits, I knew I wanted to be a part of it!

I am a mother of 3 kids, a school teacher, a competitive runner and beginner mountain goat (climbing up mountains is something I’m learning to love, thanks to Jordan!). I have always found running to be my happy place, or as I call it, “my natural Prozac”. Spending time outside each day has helped me process my thoughts and emotions. I have solved some of the hardest problems of my life by pounding the pavement or dirt trails of Northern and Southern Utah. Running has always given me the courage and strength to be the best version of myself as possible. In high school, I developed a severe eating disorder that landed me in the hospital. At that time, I was also offered a scholarship to run for the University of Utah and I knew I couldn’t be my best and run the way I knew I could without controlling my eating disorder. Running saved my life during that time because it gave me something to live for. With the help of my coach, doctors, therapist and close friends, I was able to be healthy again. Here I am, almost 20 years later, and I’m still running everyday...trying to be the best version of myself that I can be.

Mental health can be scary to talk about, especially when you are a child or a teenager because you are scared of being viewed as “weird” or “strange”. You don’t want to be treated differently during a time of your life when you are trying so hard to fit in. My heart breaks everytime I hear about a teenager who has taken their life because they were scared of what others thought of them or felt like they didn’t fit in. This is especially true in our LGBTQ communities. I am a proud mother of a gay daughter and I want her to know that there is nothing wrong with her. I want her to feel empowered by being her true self. Depression, extreme anxiety, and substance abuse are often the byproducts of adolescents who don’t have the tools to process their anxieties in a healthy way. I believe that giving children these tools at a young age is one of the best ways to promote good mental health. As a teacher, I teach my students about mindfulness, breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation. I encourage open dialogues about our feelings/anxiety/depression. I want to give them as many mental health tools as possible!

One of the hardest moments of my life was on April 21, 2017, when I found out one of my best friends committed suicide. On the outside, she was a happy, outgoing, kind, loving person who people called “the sunshine of their lives”. So many people were shocked to hear that she committed suicide (I think most people are when they hear about someone taking their life). She hid her pain well. She didn’t want people to know about her severe depression. I remember talking to her about her depression a few years before and she expressed how embarrassing it was for her. She didn’t want people to view her as broken. But it broke my heart to hear her want to exclude herself instead of building a community to help herself. She felt alone but she didn’t have to feel that way.

Banding together as family, friends and human beings is essential to who we are! We are creatures of community! The more we can talk about mental health and find support in our day to day struggles and challenges, the easier it is to live our best lives. As a Bandit, I hope I can continue to help give children tools to use as they experience the challenges of life. I hope to encourage everyone around me to talk about how they are doing without fear of being labeled in a negative way. I hope to help build a community that truly empowers and elevates mental health.

Come join me! Let’s Band Together!

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