I always burn out after a big event. Sometimes I think of it as a hangover, but this year its definite burnout. So its taken me several days to write this.
After months of fundraising and planning, last weekend was the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Overnight Walk, bringing suicide out of the darkness. This year was a 17-1/2 mile journey from dusk till dawn through the streets of my lovely Seattle.
I raised over $2,150 this year, and I have to give a big shout out to all of you who donated and bought t-shirts and generally supported me. I truly felt the love and once again saw how important this cause is to me and to so many of you. I walked in honor of these 41 beautiful souls, many of whom are your friends and family members.
It was also a HUGE challenge for me this year, and its taken me several days to recover emotionally and physically. I’m still working on that in fact.
Four days before the event, I found out that I had a virus (Hand, Foot & Mouth) thank you Ronin and Ellie, that affected my feet with a painful rash. My doctor actually told me not to walk, but that wasn’t an option for me, and I must say I truly underestimated the effect that damn virus had on my feet.
Last year it became painful about the last 2-3 miles, but this time around, the last 6-7 miles was utter agony. I wish it was’t so painful because it definitely affected my enjoyment of the walk. I certainly look happy in these photos but I have to admit that the happy smile you see is because we had made it another mile, and we were closer to finishing.
My friend Jenni and I pushed each other the whole way, and it was pure force of will (not body) that kept us from flagging down the pick-up van. At about 15 or 16 miles, I jokingly said “Do you think its possible to die from foot pain? Like my feet explode or burst into flames?” We were so slap happy by then that I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.
I just wish I had been less focused on my physical pain and more able to talk to people and connect with them about the cause of suicide. It was one of the great things about last year, being surrounded by those passionate about mental health and suicide prevention.
At the beginning, we thankfully were able to connect with others. Around mile 3 we met a woman named Angel who had recently lost her son. It was clear that this event would be cathartic for her. Not only was she finally able to “do something” active with her grief, but she could also talk openly about her son without fear of shame. She mentioned that her family continues to encourage her to “get over it” and not talk about it, which can be so common in families struggling with suicide loss. But I must say, that does nothing to help one heal and it just increases the stigma of suicide.
We have to talk about it.
Talking about our losses can be painful–yet healing–and “doing something” like a big walk can also really help.
For me, my volunteer work in suicide prevention has been a huge part of my healing, but it can also be exhausting mentally (and sometimes physically.) I have to remind myself that its all about balance, even with the things that are important to me….or else spontaneous combustion may result.
And I really don’t want to burst into flames again.
Slow and steady wins the race.