I know I have a lot of followers and other bloggers on here who suffer from something. Whether we deal with anxiety, eating disorders, depression, or any other mental “problem”, we know what it feels like to be too much in our own heads, too much controlled by them at times.
I have never in my life been so aware and outspoken about anxiety as I have been recently. I still don’t go screaming my problems from the rooftops, but I definitely have had my fair share of moments where my mouth just runs and words come out that wouldn’t have a few years ago. I am starting to realize even more that we are much more the same than we believe. I may not have anxiety as bad as some, others may have it better off than me, but I know everyone has had the basic feeling of anxiety at some point in their lives.
What I didn’t realize (until yesterday) was that I know more people than I think who suffer from depression and thoughts of suicide. I know that’s not something everyone wants to talk about don’t get me wrong, but I just never realized how close to home it would hit for me.
Over the past few years as a teacher, I have watched many kids who feel so depressed because of their performance in school, something going on with their family, etc. It has always broken my heart piece by piece to watch these students struggle with very little assistance given to them. Let’s face it; while I care, there’s only so much that I can do from a professional standpoint. Even worse, I don’t have the technical training to be able to truly give them advice that I would feel comfortable using. I know our brains are a complicated thing, and I’d hate for anything I said to make a negative difference to a kid who is already struggling.
One year I even had someone who was so depressed, they started dropping suicidal hints left and right. Based on the student’s personality, others thought they were joking. I took it seriously from the start just because mental issues hit so close to home for me. Thank God I did. While I cannot take full credit by any means, my awareness and notification to the proper people may have helped that kid in the long run. Yet every day I felt so fearful that I would never see that child again, that they would do something one evening or weekend that would cause me to lose them from my professional life forever. And that would have killed me.
So recently my sister-in-law started posting about how she wanted to do this Out of the Darkness Walk towards the end of October. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosts these walks all over the country to help raise money for their cause. They work on research, advertisement, and raising awareness for those mental issues that lead many people to thoughts of suicide. Their goal is to decrease the suicide rate by 20% by the year 2025.
While I’ve never done anything like this before, I decided I was going to walk with her. The organization gives you the option of simply walking to raise awareness or to walk because you are trying to earn some funds for their cause. While I don’t have a lot of money to spare, I do plan to donate something of my own. Yet, I thought it would be such a waste to try not to raise any money at all.
Which is how I ended up spending quite a bit of time last night sharing information about my cause to my friends via Facebook. I asked that even if they could not donate themselves, that they share with their friends who may be able to. It was through these Facebook chats that I found out that there are even more people close to me who suffer so severely with depression. I did my fair share of feeling depressed and saddened last night. There was a moment where I almost cried. And I did a lot of praying, praying that those who really need this help find some way to get it before it is too late. I also prayed that anyone suffering from this issue never goes so far as to act out their thoughts.
Almost instantly (at least within less than an hour), this cause has become SO important to me that I am having trouble putting all of this into words. So for that reason, I’m just going to shut up now.
What I am going to do is to say that I am just one small, individual, meaningless person in this whole big world. In the long run, the best thing I do to make a positive difference is teach. But I feel like that’s not enough. So I’m going to do this walk, even if no one else walks with us. I’m going to do this walk whether my one single presence at this event makes a difference or not. I am going to walk even if I show up that day with only my meager donation in my hand and no one else’s. I am going to walk because this is important to me. I am going to walk for my kids and my friends and my family. Because I care.
If you are so inclined, feel free to read more about why I walk at my AFSP webpage here. There is a donation button and the option to share my page as well. Again, I know not everyone can give, but anyone who shares or donates even a few dollars will become even more near and dear to my heart!
Hopefully one day we will be able to kill that suicide rate!