Five years ago, September 2012, my life was forever impacted when my father lost his battle with anxiety and depression and died from suicide. I buried my feelings, felt alone and ashamed and was stuck in a downward spiral of grief and depression. It took years until I worked up the courage to open up to others who were brave enough to say “me too” and share their stories and experiences with mental illness.
It has been through allowing myself to be vulnerable and open up that I have realized we all share similar struggles and that the simple words “me too” can not only change a life, but can save a life.
My experience has made me wonder, how might my dad’s story have changed if he heard “me too” earlier in his life?
How might other people be positively impacted if they hear “me too?”
How might people heal and grow through their challenges if barriers that prevent access to resources, education, and treatment were removed?
What if those suffering from mental health issues could come out of isolation and ask for help without shame and fear?
I believe this world can exist and it is my mission to make this world a reality.
In an effort to work through my grief, I turned to running and it completely transformed my life. It provided a foundation to keep me moving through my grief as well as my own depression and anxiety. The physical act of moving forward one step at a time has helped me focus on making progress in all areas of my life – one step at a time – no matter how big or small. The community that I have met through running has helped me break through my own roadblocks and barriers and witness other people also achieving extraordinary things.
To honor my dad and the people in my life who have helped me, I have started the Live Extraordinary Foundation with the mission to remove three main barriers to mental health that I have observed through my experience and volunteer work:
Isolation: Support efforts to remove stigma through education and awareness that all people are impacted by mental illness and help provide a language to talk about it as a larger community.
Access to education about treatments and resources: Connect individuals who are encountering mental illness with resources to help them heal. Connect their families and friends with resources so THEY can be a positive part of treatment and have their mental health needs supported.
Financial Resources: Connect individuals with funding and resources to pay for treatments, transportation, and basic needs, so they can focus on healing.
I am running the Twin Cities marathon this fall, five years after my father’s death, to kick off the Live Extraordinary Foundation through sharing my story and mission to remove barriers to mental health. 100% of all money raised will be distributed to organizations and clinics to support initiatives to remove the barriers of Isolation, Education, and Financial Resources.
I have selected Canvas Health, a local organization in Minnesota, as the first beneficiary of the Live Extraordinary Foundation. Canvas Health has several crisis counseling and crisis support services to help people in crisis get to a state of emotional and physical safety and then make a plan to get longer-term support. Programs include: Crisis Connection, a crisis clinic, Mobile Crisis Response, Abuse Response Services and TXT4Life.
It is my mission to remove barriers and enable people to share their stories and make a difference in their own and other people’s lives.
You never know what impact your words and actions will have. You may make someone’s day, you may help them through a difficult time, or you may even save a life.
What will your impact be?
If you are interested in fundraising or training for a running event and fundraising, I can help! Please leave a message and I will get in touch with you!
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