Jordyn Dunlap is a living testimony.
When I first heard Jordyn’s story I was moved to tears. Her suicide attempt in 2016 wasn’t just the ultimate wake up call, but it gave her a new will to live. As we try to break down the stigmas of mental health in the black community, iLive The Movement is a platform where she not only shares her struggle with depression but also the stories of others.
Read as Jordyn and I discuss how the movement has grown, where she sees it going and how she’s changing the conversation on mental health.
Saturday School: When did you start iLIVE The Movement?
Jordyn Dunlap: iLive The Movement began in May of 2016.
SS: What encouraged you to turn your setback into a comeback?
JD: Long story short, I attempted suicide due to a toxic breakup after 6 years. The Valentines Day after the breakup, it was my first holiday I had spent alone in 6 years and I was so depressed and overwhelmed. I went on Instagram and wrote a post about self love and basically expressed what I had done (suicide attempt). A few months later was when iLIVE The Movement was birthed. What encouraged me to really turn my challenge into a comeback was the Lord. It’s literally by the grace of God I am getting through this every single day and he gave me a vision that I was going to use my testimony to win souls for his kingdom. I was obedient and began to pray and ask God to show me where to begin and how to get started and he did just that.
SS: You’ve been very candid about your testimony, were you ever hesitant about sharing it?
JD: To be honest with you, yes! For a long time I felt very heavy with embarrassment and shame.
SS: I commend you for sharing your story despite your initial hesitations. Suicide is a topic that is sometimes talked around, how do you help people to open up about it?
JD: What I’ve found is that many are struggling with a mental illness but because it’s a sensitive subject not many will discuss it. I help people open up simply by sharing my truth. By being so transparent about every aspect of my life, it allows others to look at me and say “Wow...if she can get through that so can I.” That’s the end goal for me is for others to see that they can overcome their battle with mental illness and to show them the love of God through that.
SS: I love how you’ve incorporated your love for journalism with your passion project, what made you decide to do this? And why do you feel like this is the best medium to reach people?
JD: Incorporating both is essential for me. I feel as though I’ve always struggled with balancing my love for journalism as well as my social life/ purpose. I feel that when you have a career and a passion that sort of collide, that’s a blessing.
SS: What do you do full-time and how has your job helped the iLIVE Movement?
JD: I am a full-time student and part time news anchor and reporter. I have classes 3 days a week and the other 4 days I anchor and report the news. My job as a reporter has really just allowed me to better my stage presence and enhance my story telling skills. I’d say reporting has helped iLIVE The Movement simply by teaching me how to get my brand more organized and secure grants for my business.
SS: You say that you have a “passion for all things journalism” who are some journalists that have inspired you throughout your career?
JD: Good question! Some journalists that have inspired me throughout my journey have been of course Oprah, Robin Roberts, Robin Meade, Walter Cronkite and many more. I believe their way of delivering quality news coverage has been very inspiring to me and many other aspiring journalist. Even reading the bio’s of these journalist just makes me respect them even more.
SS: Yeah I totally agree with that. It’s so important to read the story of people you look up to just to see where they’ve come from. How has your support system helped you throughout this process?
JD: If it wasn’t for the Lord and the help of my amazing support system, I honestly probably would’ve died when I overdosed. My family and close friends don’t just support my business but they love me without limits. They give their entire lives to helping me progress and reassure me why I’m alive. My support system means the world to me. They’ve walked this journey with me and continue to be here through every learning curve life throws my way.
SS: How do you think the conversation or lack of conversation could improve? Especially within the black community?
JD: I believe if we simply had a more open discussion pertaining to mental illness, things would improve. Mental illness is “tabo” across several races but especially in the African-American community. Therapy is also looked at as “extreme” in our community when it should be see as the “norm.” I believe we as African-Americans need to do a better job of being honest and sharing our truths to help save others.
SS: As young adults growing up within the social media age, people are constantly comparing their journey and progress to other people. Do you think that has played a big part in the deterioration of people’s mental health? And how do you believe we can fix that?
JD: ABSOLUTELY! I can talk all day about the pros and cons of social media. I believe social media has changed the way many young women view themselves. Many spend so much time being envious of the way people live through social media, they forget it’s a false reality. On social media, we see what people want us to see. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have warped our minds and caused many to believe their not beautiful or successful if they don’t have thousands of Instagram followers, or hundreds of likes on photographs and that’s a problem. Many have the perception that social media is what dictates friendships, the standard of beauty, success and status and that’s not accurate.
SS: I agree with that 100%. It’s sad that we’re so wrapped in our phones (myself included) that sometimes we forget how great our own lives already are. But back to the movement, I’ve noticed that you travel and speak to groups about your testimony, what has the response been after hearing your story?
JD: Often times, people take one look at me and assume I’m just this pretty girl with a perfect life. Once I begin to speak and share my story, people gravitate to me more. I get such an outpouring of love and support everytime I travel and share my testimony. Countless people reach out to me for advice, to pray with them, to be featured for iLIVE The Movement, and sometimes just to be a listening ear for them.
SS: I think it’s super important that you not only have shared your story but you feature the stories of others with your “Survivor Sundays”. How did you find these people and get them to open up to you?
JD: When iLIVE The Movement first began, I’d reach out to people via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. However, the larger my platform has gotten, people reach out daily to be featured with us and that’s a blessing. Right now, I have Survivor Sunday stories lined up for the next 7 months. I have a “Survivor Sunday” template that I email to them, we Facetime so they can really get a feel for my heart behind this, they send me back their story, I check it for errors, send it back to them to okay it and then it’s posted.
SS: Throughout your growing and healing process, what has been your most fulfilling moment?
JD: Honestly, everyday is a fulfilling moment. The healing process isn’t something that I’ve overcome it’s still a stage I’m going through. I feel that people often times think it’s something that happens overnight but it doesn’t happen that way. I still hurt, I still cry, I still have rough days but putting my life solely in God’s hands has allowed the process to get easier day by day. Sometimes, I wake up crying and overwhelmed by my previous relationship ending, but I quickly remember that the Lord has made me brave, he’s healing me and that no fear can hinder me at this point. Seeing myself take those strides and steps to healing everyday is what fulfills me.
SS: How can people get involved with the iLIVE Movement?
JD: Head over to weareilivethemovement.com and click on “Contact us”.
SS: Where do you see the iLIVE Movement going next?
JD: We have a lot in store for iLIVE The Movement in 2018. It’s only January and we have 8 speaking engagements, a luncheon, 2 panel discussions at 2 different universities and a testimonies and tea engagement lined up thus far. We just established our team this month, so going forward we’ll be much more organized as I’ve been struggling to do everything myself for the past year. I created the logo, the website, the mission, I do all of the feature recruitment, the interviews, the writing, the editing, etc. I do it all.
SS: That’s awesome! Last question, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give to high school you?
JD: I would say, “Jordyn...you are such much more than your outward beauty. Don’t awaken love before it’s time. Guys will always be there. If you don’t get to know yourself and love yourself before you love a man, that relationship will destroy you. You have such a bright future ahead of you, don’t allow love to distract you from executing your goals. Dream bigger, pray bigger, believe God with your whole heart and don’t look back. Be who you are and embrace what makes you different. I love you and I’m always rooting for you!”