Out of the Darkness, Again

Today was my third time doing the AFSP’s Out of the Darkness walk in Chicago. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention works to end suicide and mental illness stigma and has yearly walks all around the country to raise money. In Chicago there’s an opening program and then a 3.5-mile walk along the lakefront. The first two times I did the walk, I went alone. This year I got a team together and from now on I don’t want to do it any other way. I realized that going by myself was a lonely experience that made me feel alone in being sick and struggling. Today felt a lot different, walking with a bunch of friends and having people to talk to. I cried a lot during the opening program because I always do, but the whole day was a reminder that I have people to support me. Being sick has been very isolating for me, but I’m starting to understand that it doesn’t need to be. Some people don’t know what to say and are uncomfortable, and that’s okay, but I do have a core group of people who get me to at least some degree and are there to listen, and I’m so grateful for them. I was also proud of me today…doing things like this makes me feel like I’m showing up for myself and acknowledging what a year of struggle this has been, with two hospitalizations in six months and a bipolar II diagnosis. Jesus, it’s been a rough one. And I’ve started to learn that instead of always keeping a stiff upper lip and just dragging myself along, it’s important to acknowledge what a shitshow it’s been and how much it’s sucked, because there’s no shame in that and I also get to be proud of my own resilience – I can be as open about that as I am when I’m hurting. This year has kicked my ass, but I’m still here and I promise I’ll fight like hell to stay for a good long time. I don’t want anyone who loves me doing that walk  in my memory.

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