Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The best $5 you'll ever spend
First of all, thanks so much to Claire, Lynn and Green Tea for donating to the cause I am about to shamelessly plug. And thanks to Darth, who is going to hopefully be there in person.
As some of you know, I work for a mental health advocacy organization and I am in charge of fundraising events.
You might not know, however, that people with mental illness live 25 years less, on average, than the rest of the population.
You might not know that 1 in 10 children has a mental illness, and 1 in 4 adults.
Most of you definitely don't know my story.
I believe that if we are to eliminate discrimination, we must take after another civil rights movement and "out" ourselves.
Since the age of six, I have had anxiety. Beginning when I was a teenager, I had severe depression. It moved on to cutting myself, binge drinking, an eating disorder, you name it. Anything to mask the pain. Anything to distract myself.
But in my life, I have been extremely lucky. I have been blessed with supportive friends and family. I've also been lucky to have resources. Even luckier: I found a good therapist and a medication that staves off most of the dark days.
For those reasons, I'm a productive person. I graduated from college, work a full-time job, and have a wonderful, loving partner who holds my hand through the occasional difficult days.
I'm not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me - I'm trying to help shatter a stereotype. Many people think of individuals who are hospitalized or on the streets as the "ones" who have mental illness, but statistically, it affects someone you know. Your coworker, your family member, your friend.
As I'm sure you're well aware, many people are not so lucky as I have been. They might have relatives who tell them to "just snap out of it." They might not be able to afford medication. They might not find a medication that works without horrible side effects.
They might die 25 years earlier than the rest of the population, on average, because of inadequate access to basic health care.
This happened to my dear friend Ward in 2003. I still have moments where I think, "Hey, I should call Ward and tell him..." Maybe I always will.
Why do I work where I work? Because this is outrageous - and because it can be changed.
Please take a moment to learn a little more about our organization and if you can afford a $5 or $10 donation, we would be very grateful. If you can't afford to donate, just wish me luck!
Thanks for reading.