I’m writing to ask your support for my walking with the National Alliance on Mental illness (NAMI). (To donate go here): https://www.namiwalks.org/participant/AshleyGrill
Mental health is something I must work for every day. In addition to medical care, I’ve found helpful coping and grounding techniques like self care, social support, and writing. I attribute a significant portion of my well-being to people in my life like you, who support me in little and big ways like picking up the phone when I email, call, or text and listening when things aren’t always easy. Having people in my life who I trust allows me insight when I have been unwell. Another strategy that helps when I can’t talk on the phone is writing. Many of you know I wrote a book, All in Her Head #amazon https://www.amazon.com/All-Her-Head-Sunny-Mera/dp/1631528181
What I learned sharing my story is that in many ways others could relate to my struggle. We all feel a little broken at times and learning to function our best despite our broken bits is a growth experience. Sometimes when I reflected on my struggle, I felt punished. As I’ve grown stronger, I see my pain and struggle as an opportunity to develop. If you believe in God or a higher power, you may agree, I’ve been blessed to be so challenged.
I’m grateful for the people in my life whose kindness and love gave me hope for my future when I struggled. I learned to manage my chronic condition that has been labeled over time different things including: anxiety, depression, postpartum depression, postpartum delusional disorder, intermittent psychosis, delusional disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder, but I don’t identify by these labels, because when I’m well, I’m able to function. Every time I’ve been taken off medication or had a medication change, I’ve relapsed. Thankfully, medication works for me, and I’ve always had a loving and supportive network which has been my guiding light. My friends and family tell me I have too much talent to give up work, although ability and illness are not always compatible. If I had one wish it would be that our community would understand and have compassion for those who can’t recover from symptoms of severe mental illness.
This year my family will be walking with NAMI Johnson County in memory of my sister, Julie, who lost her battle with mental illness on June 18, 2018. Perceptions of stigma stopped Julie from getting the care when she needed it. Growing up, we didn’t know then what we know today about mental illness. Back then we excused her behavior as “normal teenage behavior”. If we knew enough to have identified the symptoms of borderline personality disorder in her youth, things may be different.
For me, I’ve always shared my story about my personal life and experience with people I know. This helped me get to where I am. Today, I can share my story if I want to, but I no longer feel compelled to share seeking validations. I learned the hard way, through years of sharing that it’s not about me, it’s about you.
People only understand if their life story prepared them to listen. Are you prepared to listen and have a conversation about mental illness? With one in five people experiencing mental illness, it’s time to join the conversation. #MentalHealthMatters
please consider making a donation to the 2019 NAMIWalks. Even if you don’t choose to contribute,
please take some time to read about NAMI and its work http://www.namijoco.org