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