Every year during the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk, walkers and volunteers wear what we call honor beads. The different colors represent the different losses, and reasons why we walk. Each year I wear Green, Teal and Blue Beads.
I wear Teal Beads for two very important people in my life who live with mental health conditions. Both have lived experience of a suicide attempt. I am honored to be a part of their lives and stories. My life would not be the same without them as a part of it. As I walk these 16 miles through the night I carry their stories with me, one friend by my side and another at home cheering me on. We are connected by our experiences, this organization, and most of all our strength to fight for our tomorrow.
The Green Beads I wear signify my personal struggle with depression. For many years I carried that part of myself with shame and silence. I went through each day only surviving, I did not know what it meant to really Live. Depression lead to self harm, and eventually suicidal ideation. And still in silence I trudged on. But through AFSP I found my voice, and the ability to share my story without judgement. I found help, and over time I found healing. And now, I am living a life I am in love with. I am living well and thriving with a mental health condition.
And every year I wear Blue Beads which represent my support for the cause. And this year those beads mean so much more to me. This year as I drape these beads over my neck they represent the work I do each and every day. As a Mental Health Counselor, I sit with my clients as they express their pain and hopelessness. And I am there to support them through their dark days, and watch as the HOPE comes back into their eyes. These beads are the representation of paying forward that which has been done for me to other souls in need. These beads signify what I have always known deep down inside: I was born for this, there was purpose in my own pain.
No matter what our connection to the cause is, on May 20th in San Diego I will join hundreds of others who are joining the fight against suicide. Who are walking to break down stigma and shame. Who will walk through the night to bring these topics Out of Darkness and into the Light?
What is your connection to the cause? What color would you wear?
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