Suzana Harris

Monuments of Hope - A personal narrative of mental distress, healing and recovery

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It is with incredible joy and gratitude that I celebrate reaching my $3000 goal and set a new stretch goal of $8000!

I never imagined meeting my minimum target goal within 24hrs and would like to thank every single individual that has donated for their love and support.

With still a month left of my campaign I have set a new goal of reaching $8000 to include the costs of extra advertising and materials. It also includes the DREAM of a group mental health art exhibition in 2020 that will keep building on this message of hope, not just hope within myself, but hope within others too.

Your generosity, empathy and hope has and will continue to get us there. 

Thank you for giving me this gift, it is days like this I never dreamed possible. 

Love Suzie 


Monuments of Hope is a dream I have carried for many years. A dream that was born in the Wellington Hospital Psychiatric Unit of Te Whare o Matairangi in 2012 at the age of 22.

I had been struggling with deep anxiety, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, self-harm and suicidal ideation from the age of 13 and had finally reached the limits of my strength. I was tired, so tired. Most days even breathing felt tiring.

While in hospital I was struck by the deep hopelessness within myself and the people around me. People trapped in a revolving door of appointments, medication, meetings and sighs. Some of these friends died from suicide, people just like me who once had dreams, passions and goals. People who had lost their way and tragically not found their way home.

It was a regular day when I first dreamt of an exhibition. In an effort to prevent single-use waste, I started saving the polystyrene cups which were brought to me to take my medication. On this particular day, when I had collected a large supply, I began to notice the depth of meaning the cups held for me. To the general eye, these were common items, but for me they became precious mementos that seemed to represent the passage of time and struggle I felt and saw in the people around me. I started imagining ways I could restore the cups, ways that I could put hope back in them, even while I still feared to hold hope for myself.

The collection of artefacts grew larger after 5 years in and out of hospital. By the end of my last admission, I had a large supply of cups, medication pots, bandages, gowns, blankets and notes. I have spent the last few years working with them, creating artwork and messages of hope to speak to those in distress:

hope for those that have struggled through this day with their mental health,

hope for the families and friends that fear they will lose the ones they love,

hope for the people working in the sector feeling disillusioned and discouraged.

It is a message for all of us here in New Zealand, that hope is here, present and alive in us all.

On Mental Health Awareness Week from 23rd - 29th September 2019 in Wellington, I will be finally exhibiting Monuments of Hope.

Along with my creative practice, running has also played a key part in my recovery and is important for me to include in my exhibition. For this reason, I have spent the last 6 months training for the WUU2k, a 62km Ultra Marathon which is happening in a few weeks on July 13th! The run will be exhausting yet barely compares to my hardest days struggling with my mental health. The finish line for the marathon is in the same place I took my last overdose 6 years ago, an embodiment of this exhibition and redemption of those darkest days.

The money raised for this exhibition will cover necessary costs such as venue hire, framing and displaying the artwork, food and drink for opening night, entry for the marathon and equipment, advertising costs, printing, which I have budgeted at $3000. Any extra money raised will allow me to spread my message further and create further artwork to support my cause.

If you would like to hear more about my exhibition and story, please have a listen to this podcast I recorded with spoken word poet Joel McKerrow in March 2019.

Donations for this exhibition through Boosted are eligible to be claimed as donation tax credits through IRD which is super cool. If I unfortunately do not meet the $3000 minimum then I will receive none of the donations.

Thank you for your time.
Thank you for believing in me.

Suzie <3

UPDATES

  • I ran 62km for mental health awareness!

    3 DAYS AGO

    Last Saturday on 13th July, I ran the Wellington Urban 62km Ultramarathon!

    It took me 10hrs 46mins and was one of the hardest runs I have ever done in my life. The experience was one filled with pain, joy and heartache; particularly because the run happened on the same day 7 years ago when I made my final suicide attempt. 

    If you would like to know more, Newshub did an article in the lead up to the day with a video made by my good friend John Setter. Click here to read and watch it.

    Many thanks continue to go out to the many incredible people that are donating, sharing and supporting my campaign. With only 4 days to go, I feel deeply grateful for every single individual that has donated money and shared this with friends.

    I'm nearly at 200% of my original goal and dream that the extra money to give other people the opportunity to run and exhibit in 2020.

    If you would like to find out more about the run, exhibition and my story you can find out more on my Monuments of Hope Facebook Page <3

    Many thanks for your belief in me.
    Hope always,
    Suz x

    I ran 62km for mental health awareness!
  • New stretch goal of $8000!

    4 WEEKS AGO

    𝐖𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐈𝐒 𝐈𝐓 𝐓𝐎 𝐁𝐄 𝐑𝐈𝐃𝐈𝐂𝐔𝐋𝐎𝐔𝐒 𝐖𝐈𝐓𝐇 𝐇𝐎𝐏𝐄?
    What is it to set a new stretch goal that feels as unachievable, unlikely and foolish as the idea of recovery?

    𝐓𝐎 𝐒𝐄𝐓 𝐀 𝐆𝐎𝐀𝐋 𝐎𝐅 $𝟖𝟎𝟎𝟎.
    __________________________________

    This morning I woke in complete awe and shock to see that in less than 24hrs I have reached my minimum target goal of $3000 and still have 1 month left of my campaign.

    So I started dreaming about Monuments of Hope, of my deep hope-filled desire for this exhibition to be a platform for other people to share their stories through creativity and find the hope within themselves. A way for those people waking up today in the Wellington Hospital Psychiatric Unit to be given an overwhelming generous gift and opportunity of their own.

    I have been doing some maths.
    If I set a goal of $4000 (to include Phantom Billsticker advertising and extra materials), then minus the Boosted admin fee of 10%, I will be left with $3600.

    If I want to do this exhibition again next year for other people, then I would need to double that figure. $7200 + 10% boosted fee = $8000

    It is foolish, I feel painfully out of my depth and my urge is to play it safe. But recovery isn't safe, recovery isn't about staying with what we know but RISKING it all for hope. For a life that feels and seems foolishly out of depth with our current circumstances.

    This is a photo I took when I was an inpatient in Wellington Psychiatric Unit where I first had the dream of Monuments of Hope. There are people in this ward today that need this opportunity and I do not mind looking foolish by risking it. Surely this is what Monuments of Hope is all about.

    𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐍𝐊 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐍𝐊 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐍𝐊 𝐘𝐎𝐔 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐘𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐇𝐀𝐒 𝐁𝐄𝐄𝐍 𝐒𝐎 𝐆𝐄𝐍𝐄𝐑𝐎𝐔𝐒, 𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐎𝐔𝐑𝐀𝐆𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐒𝐔𝐏𝐏𝐎𝐑𝐓𝐈𝐕𝐄 𝐖𝐈𝐓𝐇 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐋𝐎𝐕𝐄.

    Let's keep this going, please keep sharing my campaign and spreading hope.
    We have work to do and New Zealand needs it.

    Love Suz x

    New stretch goal of $8000!
  • Over 100% in less than 24 hours!!!!!

    4 WEEKS AGO

    I just feel stunned. I honestly have no words. 

    Lols, I've got still a month of campaigning!!!! :D

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for such overwhelming generosity and support.
    Thank you every person that has donated money and/or shared this campaign.

    I did a minimum budget for this exhibition of $3000ish dollars which would cover a logo and poster designer, a videographer for the day of the run, entry into the ultramarathon, hireage of Thistle Hall, a week-long advertising for the exhibition, some food and drink for opening night, and then any left over would go towards framing and printing. I honestly never imagined this going over or meeting the target so soon!

    Which means any extra money I raise over the $3000 would be an absolute dream as it will cover...

    1) The boosted admin 10% fee
    2) A three week run of promotion and advertising with Phantom0800 Billboards in Wellington City
    3) Materials to make and display more artwork (photography, pottery, sculpture..etc)

    Anything substantially over my goal will go towards a dream of a new group exhibition next year giving other people with experiences of mental distress the opportunity to create and exhibit work. It would have been a gift that would have profoundly changed my recovery and an immense gift for someone that needs a more holistic approach to wellbeing. 

    The dream of Monuments of Hope has always been as a platform to empower and encourage others to share their stories. Extra money for this campaign will make this happen.

    Together I know we can tell a different story of mental distress in this country.

    Hope always,
    Suzie x

    Over 100% in less than 24 hours!!!!!