Six years ago, my friend Beth told me about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s annual Out of the Darkness Walk, which raised money and awareness for mental health counseling and suicide hotlines. We decided it would be a good thing for us to do, having both had a difficult year struggling with our own mental health issues. The premise was simple; we would ask people to sponsor us, and then walk around Delaware Park on a nice day in early fall. What it was, for me, was something more. I had recently lost someone to suicide, and having suffered from depression since childhood, I was heartened to see so many people come together for a cause. For a moment, I didn’t feel crazy. I didn’t feel alone. I felt like every person around me understood the pain depression could cause a person and those they loved. It did my soul good.
I have participated every year since, with my family, my friends, and my husband by my side. The one glitch was two years ago when I was stuck in a hospital bed, but I still raised some money. It’s an important tradition for me that I look forward to every September. Last year I dropped the ball a bit, registering late and coming nowhere near my goal, so this year I registered as soon as I got the email for the walk. (So if you’re following me on social media, get ready to see the link for the next 7 months.) I ask that you please consider donating, or if you’re local, joining us at Delaware Park on September 8th. Every year the event gets bigger and better, and every year I still find that sense of hope I found the first time I walked, with my friend by my side.