April Simpkins, Cheslie Kryst’s Mom, Preserves Her Daughter’s Memory as a Mental Health Advocate
To keep her daughter’s memory alive, April Simpkins now participates in streams and talks as a mental health advocate.
How does a parent move on after losing their child to suicide? When Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst died due to suicide in 2022, April Simpkins found herself “forever changed” by her daughter’s death. Heartbroken and driven by the loss, today, the mom works hard to become a mental health advocate. Recently, April appeared on a live stream with Psych2Go where she shared her experiences, insights, and truths about suicide and high-functioning depression which she discovered through Cheslie.
How a Mom Transformed Her Grief into Passion
Mental health today still suffers from the stigma of invisibility. Because it’s not often seen, many people don’t take it seriously. What many see in the end is the aftermath, leaving much to speculation — unfortunately, both good and bad. But that’s what Cheslie Kryst’s death gave to her mom; as a former company owner herself, April Simpkins then became a speaker about mental health for both corporate environments and beyond. The struggle, however, still remains, according to April.
“It’s still difficult to talk about her [Cheslie Kryst] in the past tense,” April admits. “There are still times that I talk about her in the present tense because she is always with me.”
For those who knew Cheslie, she was a brilliant and “bubbly” woman. Academically driven, even graduating with a Juris Doctor, she began practicing law while helping women walk the talk with her fashion blog White Collar Glam. It was why her death was such a shock which is where April points out that those are the things that make depression so “difficult to detect”.
“It’s extremely difficult to detect something like that — high-functioning depression,” she explains. “There are some nuances around that word because there are so many people battling depression but still show up for events, for their lives. But the difference is that it’s persistent.”
Depression is not something that happens one time, big time. There are those that slowly chip away until we find ourselves hanging onto our last threads. We then start comparing our days to our best days, no longer having the energy to do things we usually do. But April Simpkins, who has gone through that herself when her daughter passed away, offers advice that at some point, we will stop doing that.
“Once we find that ebb and flow, we will stop comparing every day to our best day,” she shares. “Because it’s just not attainable. There’s just so many life factors.”
April Simpkins, as a Mental Health Advocate, Cements Her Daughter’s Legacy
Usually, we hear stories of how a daughter does everything to preserve her mother’s legacy. But in April Simpkin’s case, it’s one in reverse: her daughter, Cheslie Kryst, who was also a philanthropist in practice, was the one who created a legacy. She is proof that although grief can cripple, it can also birth something new. It can birth a new kind of love; a love that makes sure that high-functioning depression doesn’t take more lives.
If you want to see the whole talk, check out the video below!