On June 6, 2018, my daughter – my hero, Michelle, affectionately known as Mickey – ended her life by suicide. She was an incredibly beautiful, courageous and determined woman who suffered daily with endless pain because of her psychological challenges. Over her lifetime, she was diligent in seeking and trying the right course of treatments. Coupled with her tenacious spirit and determination, Michelle worked to beat this insidious disease so she could live a life without the constant battle of psychological challenges that robbed her of that peace. In her final fight—and she fought hard every hour of every day— she was still seeking relief from the ravages of her illness, which resulted in her untimely death. Michelle was never afraid to speak up about her psychological challenges and encouraged those facing difficulties to take them seriously and get help.

Michelle was active with NAMI and other local mental health organizations, and we had planned to walk together at the 30th Walk for Hope in October 2018. But she didn’t make it to that fall. After her death, Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic sponsored a team and participated in the Walk for Hope in Michelle’s memory, as well as two friends of the clinic, and I walked with them. Last year, I branched out on my own and formed “Team Mickey” to honor her legacy.

Michelle would want each of us to help our loved ones and our friends to get effective help by talking to our doctors, connecting with other individuals and families, and learning about psychological challenges and how we can all be a part of the solution. NAMI Wake County’s vision sums up what Michelle would want for all who are suffering and struggling to lead productive lives—“A community where mental health is valued and quality resources are accessible to individuals affected by mental health challenges.”

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