Just under a week until I participate in the Northwest NAMIWalk!
I first posted about this walk about a month ago, and in that short time I have been amazed at the outpouring of generosity that I've received. I set an original fundraising goal of $100, feeling fairly confident that I could raise that much over the course of a month without too much trouble.
Within two days I had more than doubled it.
What this tells me, aside from the fact that I am blessed to know some very generous souls, is that fighting the stigma of mental illness is something that is important to more people than I first realized.
It's important to me, as I said before, because I have a close family member who is fighting a valiant battle against mental illness. And, in fact, this person is not the only member of my extended family fighting this battle.
I'm willing to bet that every single person reading this blog right now knows someone who is battling mental illness in some way, shape, or form. It's far more common that we'd like to think. And it's easy to feel helpless when it comes to something like this. I know I have. I live too far from this family member to be able to offer any physical support, and so for four years I've wondered what I can do, aside from continual prayers and constant reminders of how much I love them.
But by giving up just a few hours this coming Sunday (and getting some exercise in return!), I will be contributing nearly $300 to NAMI, a wonderful education, support, and advocacy organization that serves all those whose lives are touched by mental illness. It's not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it's a lot to me.
Most importantly, I'm helping to raise awareness. Mental illness SHOULD NOT be stigmafied. For a long time, we didn't understand enough about it, but that isn't true any longer. Medicine has come a long way, and we now have the capability to treat illnesses of the mind with the same regard as illnesses of the body. I feel like more is being done lately to help fight the stigma (like this moment on Glee, which made me cry), but we still have a long way to go.
If you are able to contribute even a little toward my walk, I encourage you to do so by visiting my walker web page. If you are not, and I understand that not everyone is in a position to do so, I encourage you to think about what you can do to help raise awareness and improve the lives of those dealing with mental illness. If a brisk walk appeals to you, consider joining me on Sunday, so I don't have to walk alone! (And if you're not local to the Portland Metro area but are interested in walking, check here for a Walk in your state - Utah's is on Saturday, Sept. 24 and I know several members of my family who will be walking then.)
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to those who have donated. I wish I had a better way to express how grateful I am, and how much it means to me personally, but this will have to suffice.
And to my family member, if you read this (you know who you are!): I love you. I don't care whether you've made mistakes, or how badly you think life sucks right now - and it pretty much does suck right now for you. All that will go away, but you will always be a part of my family, and I will always love you - no conditions, no strings attached. None at all. I'm doing this for you, and I just want you to know that.