Please feel free to tell your followers something about why I am doing this. As you know, PTSD has been such a struggle for me throughout my life, but in particular in the last few years. For me, part of that struggle has involved intense suicidal thoughts, three attempts, and several near attempts (as you know). I’ve felt worthless, alone, in intense emotional pain, and hopeless that it could ever get any better. I’ve walked through many dark days and nights. What has helped me — in addition to things like therapy and EMDR — is the support and love of my friends and family and even quite a few strangers who have lifted me up in prayer (thanks to you) and have loved me through it. Those hands and voices reaching out to me when I’ve been at my lowest have helped me hold onto life when I didn’t think it was worth continuing. They’ve helped me find the strength to keep fighting even when I felt too weak to breathe, much less stay alive.
These days, I am doing much better, but I still have hard days and my personal (and ongoing) experience is the biggest reason why I am passionate about this cause. I want others to know that help is available and that hope is real and that you can find the strength to fight one more day. I want to help others who are hopeless, like I once was, be able to find hope again. I want to use my voice to help erase the stigma that surrounds mental health conditions and the taboo that keeps people from talking about suicide. I want to be the voice to advocate for those who are struggling to have equal access to mental healthcare and mental health resources. I want to support scientific research that helps us understand more about mental illness and suicide and how we can prevent suicide. That’s why I’m walking in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk to support the good work done by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is my 4th year to walk in The Overnight and every year I participate in it, I find more healing for myself and the money I raise is a part of saving lives and helping others find healing and hope.
Valerie is one of the most courageous and generous people I have ever known. Please consider helping her help others. It’s a fine way to use your Lent.