March for Mental Health 5K; we’re all broken

“Don’t judge my path if you haven’t walked my journey.”

This year one of the things on my bucket list was walking a 5k. Even though I haven’t been walking consistently lately and haven’t walked a 5k in several years, it was still a goal.

And this Saturday I walked and jogged a 5k, the March for Mental Health, and finished it! I felt so happy and proud of myself!

NAMI
NAMI

 

me before 5k
me before 5k

Created by the volunteer-based, non-profit organization, National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and several sponsors, this 5k walk/run was for the support of:

1) advancing the research and treatment of mental illness;
2) establishing family and peer support groups;
3) suicide prevention;
4) providing support to the health care professionals who treat mental illness, spreading overall mental health awareness.

balloons
balloons

The woman who started this 5k for NAMI, Heidi, was the mom of Adam, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He nearly died after taking 100 morphine pills, but to his doctors’ shock he came back to life. With his mother’s, counselor’s, and others’ support, he started college classes and helped his mom with founding this 5k Walk/Run. With his well-known humor, he suggested they call it, “Runs Like Crazy.”

Although she finally decided on the name, “March for Mental Health,” since Adam was born in March, he used his own name, “Runs Like Crazy,” for his team name.

In the end, Adam gave up the fight and took his own life. Heidi continues this 5k in memory of her precious son and others who have mental health issues. Below is a picture of Heidi speaking at the 5k, thanking all the sponsors and participants and her son Adam, who inspired it. 

Heidi, mom of Adam and the founder of March for Mental Health 5K walk/run
Heidi, mom of Adam and the founder of March for Mental Health 5K walk/run

Before the walk started, I also spoke with a beautiful brunette-haired woman named Annette, who was serving at the NAMI table. Her son, Clayton J. Hugill, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his teens. She said he was such a kind, loving, and funny boy.

He lost the fight to mental illness, too, and tragically, he committed suicide when he was just 22 years old. She said it was two years ago, but understandably, it is still hard for her. Here is the pin and bracelet she gave me at the 5k. My heart aches for her and Heidi.

Pin & bracelet honoring Clayton J. Hugill at 5K
Pin & bracelet honoring Clayton J. Hugill at 5K

A young woman dressed up in a costume as her “alter ego” shared her story about having borderline personality disorder, a disorder that one of our own family members has been diagnosed with recently. This woman said several profound things:

  • “I’m broken because of everything I’ve been through. Why do we run from the broken? We’re all a little broken.”
  • “Just because I’m broken doesn’t mean I can’t be fixed.”
  • “We need to be present for one another.”
woman with borderline disorder
woman with borderline disorder

I so agree with these words. We’re all broken; we all need Jesus. 

This police officer who works in the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) at the Kansas City police department also spoke. I talked with him before the walk, and he explained a little more about CIT training, which helps and prepares police officers for coming into contact with people who have mental illness and to respond appropriately to them. He thanked me for participating in the 5k walk/run. I thanked him for being there and his help.

CIT police officer
CIT police officer

There was a spirit of excitement and joy at the 5k before we began. To my surprise they were playing Christian music, which really encouraged me! One was Chain Breaker by Zach Williams, a song I love.

walkers/runners
walkers/runners

 

woman runner
woman runner

 

young girls runners
young girls runners

This kind black man prayed for everyone before the walk and I thanked him afterward for doing this. He smiled big at me and said, “We can’t forget our God!” and I said, “That’s right!”

man who prayed at 5k walk/run
man who prayed at 5k walk/run

The 5k was in Kansas City by the Missouri River. The area and the day were just beautiful, perfect for the walk! Several people brought their dogs to walk, too.

Missouri River
Missouri River

 

Man with his dogs at 5K
Man with his dogs at 5K

Along the 5k walk/run path, the NAMI staff had created boards with stats on mental health, which I found interesting.

Depression in young adults
Depression in young adults

 

Suicide in young adults
Suicide in young adults

 

teens with mental illness
teens with mental illness

 

coping skills
coping skills

This sounds silly, but I was afraid I’d get lost along the way on the walk, since I wasn’t familiar with the area in Kansas City! Thankfully, they had drawn chalk-colored arrows on the sidewalk to guide and help you.

Whatever you’re facing right now, the Holy Spirit will guide and help you, too.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

arrows
arrows

At the half-way point, the NAMI volunteer staff supplied water to the participants. You could choose to walk or run a shorter route straight ahead, or go back the way you came, which would enable you to complete the full 5k. I opted for the longer 5k route!

“Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” (John 4:13-14, The Message)

water at 5k
water at 5k

I walked and jogged, finishing the 5k. Afterward, I asked one of the staff to take my picture at the finish line. I was so happy and excited!

me after I finished the 5K--so happy & excited!
me after I finished the 5K–so happy & excited!

The staff and the sponsors had fresh fruit like oranges, bananas, granola bars, and water to hand out to the participants. Another table had pumpkin-flavored scones. 

The ready snacks for the walkers and runners are typical at 5k’s, half-marathons, and marathons walks/runs, and is one of the funnest parts–your reward! I grabbed a banana (ate half after the walk for potassium), an orange (ate the next day), a pumpkin scone (ate most of it), and some brochures on mental health, too.

fresh fruit and granola bars
fresh fruit and granola bars

 

pumpkin scone & brochures
pumpkin scone & brochures

Pray for those with mental health issues and the people who try to help them each day. You might even have a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, or someone you know who is struggling and feels all alone.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline if you or someone you love needs help is 1-800-273-8255.

We will never give up hope!

hope
hope

One of the reasons this 5k walk/run was a cause close to my heart is because of my own mental health background, when I was struggling with suicidal depression, nightmares, anger, anxiety/fears, and hopelessness, in a time of a 5-year crisis as a young adult in my 20’s. I was diagnosed with major depressive episode, anxiety disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I attempted suicide three different times during those five years, including an overdose of pills, but God spared my life. Jesus is my Healer and I give Him all the praise and glory for His healing, miraculous power in my life. He sets the captives free and gives us beauty for ashes. 

You can read this amazing story in my memoir at Amazon, Promises In The Dark, One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love, by clicking here

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Stormie O’Martian: How God can bring life out of death

Stormie O'Martian
Stormie O’Martian

I’m reading a pile of books right now (LOVE books for a few cents or dollars on sale at Amazon! You can get mine, too, on prayer for just 99 cents by clicking here.) A great book that I just finished was Stormie O’Martian’s biography, Stormie: A Story of Forgiveness and Healing

Wow, great read! This book is one of amazing hope through faith in Christ, but contains graphic descriptions of childhood abuse. Stormie was raised by a mother, Virginia, who was schizophrenic, but she wasn’t diagnosed until years later when Stormie was grown and had moved out of the house.

No one was sure what caused her mental illness, but it resulted in her targeting Stormie throughout her childhood with cruelty and hatred. Stormie had another younger sister, Suzy, but for some reason, her mother was not abusive toward her as she was Stormie. After Stormie moved out of the house, her anger was targeted toward her husband (Stormie’s dad).

Mental illness

Virginia’s life had been scarred by trauma. When she was 11 years old, her mom died in childbirth just a few hours after she had scolded Virginia, sent her to her room and Virginia wished her mother was dead. She felt responsible, guilty, rejected, and she never recovered from the grief.

In another instance, the father in one of the foster families she stayed with after her mother’s death committed suicide. She believed she was responsible for the deaths of the two most important people in her life. She entered a fantasy world she could deal with and was the center of it, and where she was persecuted unjustly. In her created world, she was blameless.

During her teen years, Virginia contracted scarlet fever and almost died, and family members began noticing her strange behavior more after that. Others, especially her husband, noticed it after she married. She became even more emotionally unstable and moody.

But because she appeared so normal at times, no one realized just how serious her mental illness was. There were no clear-cut answers, whether it was a chemical imbalance she was born with, the traumas in her life had crippled her, her brain had been damaged by scarlet fever, or that no one recognized signs of mental illness in her teens.

She tried to get out of the small town where she lived to attend college for art and music, but there wasn’t enough money and her father strongly opposed it. This frustration added to her growing bitterness and insecurity. She felt her father treated both of her sisters better and she was jealous of them.

Stormie – locked in closets 

In childhood, Virginia was put in the closet for punishment sometimes, which she later did frequently to Stormie for hours for things as simple as asking for a glass of water. Abused children sometimes grow up to abuse their own children, something Stormie was horrified to realize when she married and had her own baby boy.

She would call Stormie obscene names and used corporal punishment as her sole means of discipline, slapping her across the mouth or on the head. These were the only times Stormie was “touched” by her mother.

Virginia wouldn’t clean the filthy house, leaving dishes with food that molded, and if Stormie tried to clean or wash dishes, she’d yell, “This is my house, not yours! If I want it clean, I’ll do it myself!”

Her behavior was consistently inconsistent, and if Stormie tried to do something really wrong like drive the car without a license or set bedroom curtains on fire, Virginia would say nothing.

But when she “necked” with a boy in the church parking lot while there was a youth party  in the fellowship hall and got caught, Virginia told her she was “whoring around” and took her to the pastor. She also read Stormie’s diary, in which Stormie fantasized about boys, and Virginia would call her a “whore” and a “slut” frequently. She forbid her to go to her few friends’ houses after school, accusing her of “whoring around,” leaving Stormie hopeless about having a normal, good, fun life.

“Your mind is very sick!” ~ Stormie’s suicide attempt

One time Virginia hid Stormie’s white skirt in her room, asked where it was, and when Stormie couldn’t find it, she accused her of giving it away to friends, ranting about her negligence. Later Stormie found it in her bedroom closet and her mother said it had probably been there all along, and that she must be going crazy. “Your mind is very sick. I believe you’re mentally ill.”

Incidents like these were common. Stormie began to believe her. She wrote in her diary: “I am going crazy. I’m a misfit. I don’t belong anywhere. I can’t think clearly. I’m lost.” She began to question why she was even alive. When Virginia forbid her to go to her friend’s house across the street anymore or to use the phone, Stormie tried to overdose on Bufferin, sleeping pills, and a couple of prescription drugs. She laid down to go to bed, believing she’d finally be free of her pain.

When she awoke at 1 a.m, she felt weak, dizzy, and sick to her stomach.  What had gone wrong? Why was she still alive? In the middle of the night, her mother had made her drink something to empty her stomach of the pills. Stormie ran to the bathroom when she woke up and saw the empty bottles in the trash can.

Behind her locked door, she heard her mother vacuuming. She did this whenever something horrible happened to cope. I found that so strange! Virginia never mentioned the suicide attempt to her husband or to Stormie again. If Stormie had told her dad, Virginia would’ve said she was lying and he would’ve believed her. So they pretended everything was fine. A dysfunctional family’s response to what is really going on, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or abuse, is most often denial and/or lies.

Schizophrenia: her mother’s hallucinations

Stormie knew something was terribly wrong with her mother. Virginia would often stay awake all night long, talking to imagine people. In her later years, she thought the FBI was shooting laser beams at her head for her having communist secrets and that the Mafia were after her. She started believing people were watching her from the inside of the t.v. or following her when she left the house.

When her husband or Stormie would tell her these things weren’t true, she’d become hysterical. Stormie wrote that the number of people trying to kill her increased – the communists, the Catholics, the blacks the whites, the rich, the poor, Baptists, Armenians, the Kennedys, and on and on until the list became almost everyone the family knew.

One night Stormie had a nightmare and went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. Her mother had a knife upraised in her hand and a sinister smile crossed her face as she looked at Stormie, terrified and backing away in fear. She laughed a wild, howling cackle as Stormie ran to her bed, shaking in fear. For years Stormie was terrified of knives.

A crazy house

Stormie never knew what to expect, but she knew she couldn’t bring friends home – if she made friends at all. “I was often aware that I lived in a crazy house – not like the homes of normal people. There was no laughter, no fun, no peace in our lives, and no hope for it ever being different.”

Stormie’s plan was to finish high school and get out of that house as fast as possible. All her activities were geared toward that goal.

Stormie then takes the reader on her long, compelling journey of:

  • buying a car with $200 with her own hard-earned money to become more independent;
  • going away to college at UCLA, majoring in music;
  • dysfunctional relationships with men with no commitment, especially married men;
  • addiction to pot and drinking alcohol heavily;
  • workaholism and her increasingly successful career in t.v., commercial, acting, singing, and movies, while hiding her battles with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks, self-doubts, and intense fears;
  • becoming involved in the occult – Ouija boards, horoscopes, astral projection, seances, numerology, hypnotism, eastern religions, and Science of Mind;
  • 2 abortions, one of them illegal in an obscure, low-class hotel in Los Vegas with no anesthetic, with Stormie bound to secrecy and blind-folded and with a gag over her mouth. This abortion was the most excruciating pain in Stormie’s life as the doctor scraped and cut the baby out of her. It resulted in a surgery in a hospital later to stop the bleeding that occurred for weeks afterward;
  • her salvation in Christ and her growing in knowledge of God’s agape love for her and unconditional forgiveness for her sins;
  • her marriage to Rick out of fear of being alone, after the terrifying Sharon Tate murder tragedy, and Stormie’s painful divorce;
  • her introduction to Michael O’Martian and their turbulent marriage;
  • realizing after she married and had a baby boy, that she was capable of abusing her child, one night slapping him all over his body and screaming at him to stop crying. She realized she was one step away from throwing him across the room, and got on her knees, begging God to forgive her and take these horrible feelings from her;
  • inner healing and spiritual deliverance from her pastor Jack Hayford and deliverance minister Sarah Ann.
  • forgiveness of not only her mother for abusing her, but also of her father for not protecting her;
  • burying her mother – with there being no unforgiveness, no anger, no resentment, no unsettled scores. God had cleansed Stormie of it all before her death;
  • speaking to inmates at a prison about her story. She was terrified, but God told Stormie, “I’m a Redeemer. I redeem all things. It doesn’t matter what you have done, it doesn’t matter what’s happened to you. I can take all the hurt, the pain, the scars, and I can not only heal them, but I can make them count for something.” She shared her story of pain and redemption and received a standing ovation from the inmates. The Holy Spirit had moved and for 3 days, many in that prison were healed of past hurts in that prison. Truly Jesus sets the captives free.

This was a fascinating book. Stormie’s account of her childhood abuse is heart-wrenching. You can sense how difficult and confusing it was for her to live with a mother with such severe mental illness, and wonder with Stormie that question, “Why, God? Why did this happen?”

But the book also offers refreshing hope about the power of faith in Jesus Christ. God can take a life filled with despair and hopelessness, restore and redeem it for His glory. Stormie’s life is testimony of this. She is now a best-selling author and speaker, sharing her story of hope across the nation. You might recognize her title, The Power of a Praying Wife, which I’m currently reading also.

The book also covers the 3 topics that I’m writing about in my new book, Promises In The Dark, about abuse, abortion, and adultery. (Sign up on my ezine list to be the first to hear about its soon release in 2014!) I read Stormie’s book with eagerness to see how she would delicately handle these emotionally-charged, theologically difficult subjects. She did an amazing job of expressing her emotions and her motives and reasons for many of her sinful behaviors, while at the same time not justifying them.

Stormie did an incredible job, too, sharing about the ministry of inner healing and deliverance for the lay reader, describing her own halting, uncertain, fearful journey from victim to victor in Christ.

I give this book an A+.

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