Mental Health Awareness Week occurred from October 5-11 and on October 11 I participated in one of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s ‘Out of the Darkness Walks’ in Northern California. I was planning to go alone because I had attempted to persuade friends and family to join me, but I got the same response, ‘Susanna that is too depressing for an activity on a weekend’. I thought some of my friends who were in college would want to join me, but they said the same thing, ‘The events at school are too depressing for me, I tend not to attend those events’.
At the last minute my twin sister decided to come join me. We toured around the event, visiting each booth and picking up pamphlets and talking to people. My sister was asking professionals about what she could do to help me more, and I stood next to her just taking it all in, realizing how lucky I was to get the chance to attend an event like it.
After the walk, we sat down to hear a couple of speakers and at one point I looked over at my sister and she was crying. I asked her why, and she said she was going through some things in school and with friends and the feelings that she was so confused about were being shared by the speakers. She had not shared that she was struggling so much with school or with her relationships with certain people, which was weird to me because she had always shared with me. She told me she was ashamed that she was feeling depressed over something that she had gotten through in the past. Now a few days later, my sister is doing really well, and she said she gives it to the Out of the Darkness Walk.
My sister is my sister, she supports me, but I found out that day that she was not just there for my benefit but for hers. She left the event not just being moved by the speakers, but inspired to keep fighting the emotions that she was so ashamed in having. Emotions that were affecting her grades and her mental state! She does not have a mental illness, and she was one that came with me, but only because I was that annoying persuasive person that wanted someone to come to this event with me. My sister shared her experience on Facebook. We do not need to experience mental illness to support the cause such as suicide prevention. We should not feel ashamed that we are taking people to a mental health event because we may be making a person’s life better by opening up their world to a support system that they may need at present or in the future. Everyone is affected by mental illness sometime in their lives and there is hope for persuading everyday people to join our cause to make people see that global mental health is a reality in this world.