When I was seven years old, I remember sneaking downstairs when my parents were gone to watch the news because I was sure that World War III was coming. I was truly in fear for my safety and that of my family.
Around the same time I was also hypersensitive to all sirens - police, ambulances, fire trucks - always sure that something had happened to someone that I cared for. These beliefs and the behaviors that accompanied them were ways that a young, frightened girl could make sense out of the anxiety that plagued her night and day. My family had no idea what I was going through; although they would have been ill-equipped to take on the issue of mental illness. My parents firmly believed that we all must face life and get through stuff on our own.
Now, in my forties, I focus mostly on the needs of my children - both of whom have trauma histories and subsequent mental health struggles. NAMI Maine has been our family's connection to breaking down the stigma that goes along with these struggles that affect many of us. Last year, my daughter went to the walk with me. She has anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. When asked why she walked, her answer was perfect: "Me. I walk for me."
Director of Prevention & Youth Services