On April 25-26 I joined a thousand other people as we walked through the streets of Dallas,TX. We walked to bring suicide and mental illness out of the darkness, to break the stigmas that so many of us face. To say to those who are hurting that there is a community of HOPE out here that is creating change through research, policy and education.
I traveled to Texas by myself, but I was never alone through the 16 miles of this amazing journey. So many times through the night I was moved to tears by the sheer strength and resilency of those around me. As they shared their stories of loss, my heart ached along with them. Stories of mothers and fathers, brothers and sister, best friends and cousins, and children. Each one of those lives lost a reminder of why this journey is so important. For some the loss was so recent that even sharing the name of their loved one, would cause them to break down. But in that moment we just hugged and wept or held hands and knew that we were all in this together.
I also shared with those whose stories looked like mine.. People like myself who use this journey as a way of healing. To open up about the things we have gone through…and survived. Those of us who face the struggles of depression and mental illness. To be brave with outr stories so that we can be helped, and we can help others as well.
After an 8 hour journey, I felt tired and my body felt weary…but at the same time there was an elecricity in the air. The force of HOPE surrounding me and all those who gathered in City Hall Plaza. As I walked I carried the stories of those I love on my heart, and I was empowered to be brave and embrace my own story as I walked those 16 miles.
I am blown away by love and support that I personally recieved on this journey. And it began long before I even arrived in Texas. Social media allowed me to connect with lives that were thousands of miles away, and to share and find strength in each others stories.Once I got to Dallas, and I was standing in City Hall Plaz..I honestly felt like I was home. Not one person made me feel like a stranger. Not one person looked at me like they just couldn’t understand what I have gone through. Not once did I feel ashamed of my life and my story. All through the night people would hug me and thank me for sharing my story, for walking alongside them and for being vocal about changing the perceptions about these issues.
There are people in my life now that I am proud that I am able to call “friend” and it all because of the Overnight. People who I feel I have known my entire life. And I know from this point forward all of us are in it together. Pain brought us together, in way or another, whether we have struggled personally, or we walk for someone who does, or we walk to remember a life that was lost too soon. Together we will transform that pain into a beacon of hope for others.
TOGETHER WE WILL FIGHT THE STIGMA
TOGETHER WE WILL BREAK THE SILENCE
TOGETHER WE WILL SAVE LIVES
WE WILL CREATE A WORLD WITHOUT SUICIDE.