This past weekend I had an incredible opportunity to join thousands of people as we walked through the streets of Brooklyn to Manhattan and back to bring suicide and mental illness OUT OF THE DARKNESS. It was amazing to me to be a part of something so much bigger than myself, but it also left my heart heavy and full.
Though I was there to celebrate my own victories in my recovery, my heart was breaking for those who have loved and lost. All around me, I met people who were walking in memory of Mothers & Fathers, Sisters & Brothers, Husbands & Wives, Best friends and Lovers.Every aching part of me wanted to reach out to the hurting and somehow do something to fill that void that their loved one left behind.
But each tragedy does not have to remain as such. Out of the depths of despair, heartache and grief thousands have found a source of hope, for themselves and for those that are struggling. By coming out of the darkness, to speak about these issues we are giving others a chance to speak about their struggles. We gather together to say there is no shame in asking for help. We cry out to say: You are not alone, you don’t deserve to struggle alone, and our hearts are breaking for you.
As I walked these 18 miles, I felt a sadness for the lives that were lost, but the air was filled with the electricity of Hope for the Future. 18 miles may have been taxing on our bodies and minds, but it was all worth it if the money we raised will offer hope to someone in need and prevent them from taking their life. And in turn we could spare families,friends, spouses, and entire communities the heartache of losing someone they love from something completely preventable.
The closing ceremony was surrounded by luminaria. each luminary represented a life. A life that was lost, the life of a person who is struggling, or the life of a person who has overcome and is taking a stand against the stigma of society.
For those who we have lost: we allow their lives to serve as an inspiration to help others.
For those of us who have overcome: Let us never forget the road we have walked, or the way we have felt. Our past shapes us, and has made us stronger. Let us always remember that we are all still here for a reason: to help others.
For those who are struggling:
HOPE is more powerful than heartbreak, more powerful than despair & more powerful than anything you are going through. IT DOES GET BETTER. You just have to hold on. We will continue to walk, to speak and to fight for you. We will never give up on you and we ask that you believe in yourself, and you love yourself enough to reach out for help no matter what. We are fighting for a world that is free of stigma, free of shame and a world that gives you the freedom to become who you are meant to be. Mental illness, is a disease that can be treated. It is not a character flaw and it is NOT a weakness.Give yourself the chance to live the life you were meant to live….and believe that YOU ARE LOVED.