I don’t know if any mental illnesses run in my family, but I was told that my grandmother on my dad’s side suffered from some difficulty that caused very rough times for her children. Back then, I don’t know if they even put a name to an issue with mental illness.
My daughter Betsy suffered from depression. For her it was a dark, lonely time, and for the family it was a constant worry and trying to stay on top of increasingly risky behaviors. Her brothers worked hard to outsmart her next move; I slept at her door; we rescued her from numerous dangerous escapades; and then finally we had to reach out for help in a two-year rehab facility and school. We all were involved in family counseling and family discussions of self-awareness and how to best handle the stress.
The Walk for Hope was there for me as I asked questions about who could observe her and help me with a plan. I ended up at UNC Adolescent Behavioral Unit, and Betsy was thoroughly evaluated, a plan was made and she headed to a rehab facility in Georgia for two years. Without the Walk for Hope’s intervention, I would not have found a solution to the constant behavior challenges exhibited by Betsy as she fought the depression, and she would have gone down a very dangerous, life-threatening path.
Today Betsy is a contributing member of society, a wonderful, gentle soul, a joy to be around and an inquisitive, intelligent young woman with many plans for a happy future. We all have a better understanding of how mental health challenges affect all parts of our lives and a sincere appreciation for the research and devotion displayed by the doctors receiving the Walk for Hope funding. The special Walk for Hope Board members, staff and volunteers are the real catalysts for change and their continual efforts year in and year out are to be saluted!
I receive calls from time to time from people going through challenging times with adolescents, and I feel empowered to be able to share my story and how the Walk for Hope raises money for research into mental health issues as well as how they helped my family. I have the support of family in NC and Rhode Island as well as generous friends who know how much the Walk for Hope means to me and contribute yearly!