Each year as I prepare to do the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk, I am blown away by the outpouring of support I receive. This year is the first time I am not walking as a Student (yay for finally graduating ) which meant that my fundraising minimum was $1000. To be honest I was so nervous about meeting my goal. I had even considered not walking, and only volunteering this year. But then the Walk cities were announced: Philadelphia and Dallas. Texas has become one of my favorite places to visit in recent year. Much of that is because of my personal experience 3 years ago in Dallas at the Overnight. I just knew I had to go back this year. I am celebrating 3 years of recovery, and have made so many strides in my personal and professional life. I wanted to celebrate that in the city where it all began.
We are only 37 days away from the Walk, and I have already met my goal and the donations are still pouring in. I don’t even know if I can put into words how grateful I am for all the support. I feel so blessed and grateful. I am so thankful for all the people who have joined me in financially supporting the efforts of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention in working to address Mental Health and Suicide.
Seven years ago, when I signed up for my first I was nervous about the fundraising. I knew that most people would be curious as to why I was interested in an event like this. And honestly, I was worried about sharing my story and being vulnerable. Shame and Stigma had told me for so many years that it was best to be silent about the things I struggled with. Outside of a few people in my inner circle, I had never spoken about my own experiences with depression, self harm and suicide attempts.
Over the years, through these amazing events I have found my voice. And even if it shakes, I find the courage to share my story. Because I truly believe that it can help open the door for others to get the help they need. I have been abundantly blessed to have so many caring people in my tribe who are always looking out for me. I believe my purpose in life is to be able to pay that forward.
As the years have gone by, I have been connected with so many individuals who share similar stories with me. I am thankful that others have found me to be someone they can turn to in a dark time. And I have been able to have open and honest conversations with my friends about living with mental health conditions. Seven years ago, I never envisioned that would be the case. As I strive to break down the stigma in my own life, I can see that trickling down into the lives of those around me. I believe that togeteher as we continue to be open and honest we can truly change the world and its perception of mental health conditions.
So, to each and every person who I have shared my story with, and has still welcomed me with open arms, I thank you. For the friends who are there in the latest hours of the night, in the darkest times of my life, I thank you. For those who constantly reach out to me, to tell me how proud they are of me, and how they believe in me, I thank you. For everyone who has supported me in this journey, I thank you.
Because it is so much more than just this journey of 18 miles. This is my life story. This is my passion. And every single person who sows into me, is fanning the flame within me. With my amazing support system behind me… I know I can do this. I know I can walk through the night, even if I have to fight my body to do so. I know that I can stand up and continue to be brave with my story. I know that I can continue to push forward and reach for my dreams. I know that I can continue to celebrate important milestones of recovery, and they are as important to me as they are to those who love me.
So thank you for being a part of this journey.
Not only for the Overnight.
The Journey of life.
I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you.