27 April 2015

Unlocking the Prison Cell: MHA-F Walk for Mental Wellness

The pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne. The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain.
~ William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

In 2015, I’m participating in Jeff Goins’ My 500 Words Challenge: writing at least 500 words a day for a year! (YTD Word Count: 50,750)

In addition, for the next 50 days, I’m participating in the Abbey of the Arts’ Pilgrimage of Resurrection: A Creative Journey through the Easter Season.


I
live in a prison cell. 

The foundation and the walls were built by others, but sadly, I contributed to its design.

Jailers pace outside, hurling insults and criticisms and verbal abuse through the bars, but ultimately, the worst jailer is behind bars with me.  She holds tight to the key that would free us and alternately cringes in a corner or returns verbal fire with even nastier fire. 

But it only eases the pain of confinement and isolation a little.  In the end, me, myself, and I are still trapped. 

I do have one consolation ~ friends who come to visit me here in this dark, sad place. They offer encouragement to me and my cell mate~ encouraging us both to take out that key, put it in the lock, and break free.  We refuse to leave the familiar comfort of our pain; but they don’t leave in disgust ~ they sit with us and love us anyway.

Mental, emotional, and psychological illnesses are debilitating and more often than not, they can feel like a prison.  My coping mechanisms ~ which had provided safety and security from a hurtful childhood and un-diagnosed cyclothymic depression ~ at some point, trapped me in a cycle of habits and though patterns.  Instead of safety and security, I found I couldn’t move on in freedom and compassion.

About four years ago, I found my current psychologist and he was able to pry that rusted old key from my frightened hands and slowly, we’ve been oiling that old cell lock, working on setting me free.  I’m not out yet, but there’s a window open now, and there have been some psychological earth quakes that have weakened the foundation of this prison.

And I’m not the only one here.

In this prison, there are many cells and at least once a day, I hear the hopeless weeping of other prisoners ~ some who have been here longer than I’ve been alive.  Many of them can’t hear the others; they are locked deep in isolation.  

But I hear them. 

And it breaks my heart that they have no friends to sit with and comfort them, and no trusted therapist to help loosen the chains.

Which is why on May 2, I’m walking for them.

It is deplorable that in our “enlightened” society, there is still a stigma attached to mental illness.  No one but an idiot breaks their femur bone and insists on setting it themselves or calls all orthopedists quacks.  

Mental illness is real; it causes physical pain and has far-reaching effects and consequences.  And currently, one in four adults in the United States suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.

Mental Health of America is a non-profit that is passionate about making mental health a critical part of our overall health and wellness.  On May 2, they are sponsoring a 1-3 mile walk to raise awareness of mental health issues specifically affecting teens and seniors citizens.  And yours truly, along with a few friends, will be one of the people walking to help #EndTheStigma.   

I hope you walk with us or donate money to Team Grizzly (seriously, would my team be named anything else?! *wink*) and help raise awareness of the prison of mental illness and stigma.

The cell you unlock might just be your own.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela


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