Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walk & Roll Into The Light 2015

This Saturday, September 26th is the 2015 Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk Event put on by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and if our health holds out, George and I will be walking and rolling (wheelchair) again this year!

The 2014 Out of Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk (#OODCCW) Event couldn't have been more different than any other walk I'd been a part of  (i.e. diseases) in a great way. The OODCCW is not just a walk, it is an event with speakers and a variety of tents and a memory wall and places to connect with others. The group atmosphere is one of feeling Loved and Worthy and Cared for no matter how mental illness/suicide has affected the life of the person who is attending. 

Check out our Out of the Darkness Event pages Kelly HERE & George HERE where you can donate to support the AFSP. (We'd love it if you'd support us in this cause we are passionate about.Even $10 makes a difference. However, if you cannot, please consider doing something of your choosing to support those with mental health conditions.)
The colored beads represent how suicide has affected you. The Chicagoland Out of Darkness Walk shares love and care.
No one walks alone.  September 2014  #OOTDCCW 
These young girls' lives have already been affected by suicide. Their connection was just one example of the connection I saw during the whole event: embracing, cheering each other on, talking to strangers, silently walking next to each other, supporting each other emotionally... During this walk, teams (people who sign up to walk together) often wear t-shirts remembering/celebrating the person in their lives that they have lost to suicide: from children to senior citizens. I took hundreds of photos of hundreds of different shirts; here are a handful:

One cannot help but feel the support of the community while at the walk event. So much loss has brought so many together. At least a few hundred people walked in Chicagoland alone last year so that not one more person would die by suicide. We raised money for prevention for the AFSP that goes toward suicide prevention research, outreach & educational programs and more. Check out NowMattersNow.org created by AFSP that has "research-based ways to handle the most painful moments of life.".
2014 Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk Teams listening to speakers in the event tent.
Those struggling with depression, those who have attempted, those who support people who have a mental illness and/or have attempted suicide and those who have survived the loss of someone to suicide all walked together for every person who has ever been affected by mental illness and/or suicidal thoughts. If you have mental illness, depression and/or suicidal thoughts/history, look at the amount of people that showed up for you on that day last year! Each person kept taking a step forward. You can too: one step at a time..
Just a few of the thousands that walked 3.1 miles along Lake Michigan in September 20, 2014.
We do not have to take the steps alone: consider  participating in a community walk, look to a loved one or a professional for support, spend time on AFSP.org, and/or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). Take five minutes to create a safety plan HERE so that if you ever feel down, hopeless, helpless, worthless, you will already have a plan of where to turn. Although I had already seen how a suicide attempt affected George and our families, the 2014 walk was overwhelming in the magnitude of how many people who attended the walk event who were affected by suicide in some way. George and I were both shocked.
2014 Out of the Darkness Walk Chicago

You may not think you know someone who has had /is having suicidal thoughts or has dealt with/is dealing with a mental illness such as depression, but you do. Read the shirt below.
September 20, 2014 Out of the Darkness Walk Chicagoland
IN the last year since George and I walked in the Chicagoland Out of Darkness Community Walk Event for the American Foundation for Suicide prevention in September 2014, I personally, I have had two friends lose family members to suicide: one a sister and another an uncle. I am walking (rolling via wheelchair) in memory of Brenda and Ernie and to show love and support to their families, Suicide Survivors (label used for those who have lost someone to suicide), who painfully feel loss in a way I could never understand or put into words.

George pushing me in the wheelchair
2014 Out of the Darkness Walk Chicago
Additionally, I'm walking (rolling) in support/honor/memory of those who are chronically ill and struggling with depression/mental illness, for a friend who struggles with suicidal thoughts, for Melissa Dwyer, a beautiful young woman who had severe chronic intractable Migraines and died by suicide in June 2013 and many others...  And of course I walk for my husband , George, a suicide attempt survivor, who bravely and courageously continues to fight the battle of depression and gets up every morning putting one foot in front of the other even though he continues to struggle to do so.

I've tried to get this blog out for a while now but was too ill and so I wrote it very slowly. I'm just happened to finish three years ago to the days George was in a coma on life support in ICU ect. Each year I use these days to celebrate George's life and I am so thankful he is here to participate in this walk with me because as the doctors say, it is a miracle he survived the suicide attempt brought on by severe undiagnosed depression.

A couple months ago, my husband George and I shared a little about our experience at the 2014 Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk Event in the short video below; George shares an epiphany he had while attending the event. Video content is different from the above written blog content (Video contains captions.)

9/20/14 Out of the Darkness Walk
Please consider supporting/donating to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as you can seeit is something George and I are passionate about. Even $10 makes a difference! However, if you cannot, please consider doing something to support those with mental health conditions. Please check out Donation Walk Pages: Kelly HERE & George HERE.
Feel free to pass this along to anyone interested.

Hold Onto Hope!
Micah 6:8

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