We all need a team of friends and family. In addition to raising money for NAMI and BC2M we walked with a team who “get it”. We walked with new friends and old who have been to the edge of hell with mental illnesses. Some have experienced great success, stability and recovery and some are living with unbearable heartbreak.
This past weekend our BC2M team took part in the Milwaukee NAMI walk for the 4 year in a row. It’s been a great experience, I love the Milwaukee NAMI staff members and the other walk teams; we’ve developed some great friendships and connections over the years. I’d like to share how these experiences have influenced my perspectives and strengthened my commitment to NAMI, BC2M and to supporting my family and all families affected by mental illness.
In case you haven’t heard, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While I’m a believer that we should be doing something all year long to raise awareness of mental health, illness, and treatment options, now is a great opportunity to use this month-long occasion to start a dialogue of your own. Even the briefest conversation can make a difference in someone’s perception of what mental health is all about.
One of the contributing factors to the stigma of mental illness is that it’s often not readily visible. Whether we’ll admit it or not, we are a society that likes to see it to believe it. When was the last time you heard “but she doesn’t LOOK sick”? Or the converse “she looks SO depressed”.
There is hope and there is recovery in this journey with mental illness. There is strength in numbers and friends are made when people face adversity together. Join your local NAMI-BC2M Walk and find your team. It might be a sunny day but there are no guarantees. If not we will finish our walk anyway and we will finish it together.
Why is it that in the 21st century, despite some very important and (reasonably) successful battles for equality, we still have painful inequalities and double standards? You’d think by now we’d be past this, but when it comes to illnesses, there is a huge chasm that needs to be closed.
Since I began speaking openly about depression and anxiety, one of the greatest rewards has been the feedback from friends—and strangers—who’ve thanked me for helping them know they’re not alone with their struggles. When I hear that I’ve given them the words, vocabulary and confidence to talk about their own personal struggles, even those they’ve never shared before, I feel a sense of purpose I never knew existed.