We are all affected by mental health and mental illness(es), one way or another. Either you know someone that suffers, or suffered, from a mental illness, or you yourself have experienced, or are experiencing, the trials and tribulations associated with a mental illness.
Despite this, there is still a stigma attached to mental illnesses and mental health as a whole, which is surprising – to say the least – considering the following statistics. 18.57% of Americans (roughly 45 million) are experiencing a mental illness, according to Mental Health for America. Depression affects upwards of 25% of Americans aged 18 years or older, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Suicide is one of the ten leading causes of death in the United States as 123 Americans commit suicide every day, according to the CDC.
As someone that has struggled with mental illnesses in the past, I always felt ashamed of that and kept those feelings bottled up, which I came to realize is an unhealthy practice. A very unhealthy practice, in fact, because bottling up those feelings added fuel to my mental illness fires. To put it bluntly, I felt miserable. I can’t change my past, though — no one can, no matter how much we want to — but I will not let my past define me.
So, what changed for me specifically? There were a lot of factors, and it will continue to be an evolving process to ensure I become the best version of myself. Reading about mental health and mental illnesses has certainly helped, such as Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. Seeing a therapist helped as well, in addition to meditating on a consistent basis.
Above all, though, my perspective changed. That is, life is a precious gift that should not be taken for granted. Ever. We are only given one life, so we must make the most of it with the cards we are dealt. No matter how bad your circumstances are, or how bad you perceive them to be, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
Thus, I want to play a part in ultimately ending the stigma, which is why I organized the following fundraiser.
Rex’s Run For Right Thoughts: A Mental Health Initiative will consist of my balding head and skinny legs running 200 miles from June 1 through August 31 (barring any unforeseen injury) to raise awareness and support for mental health programs, research, education, and the like. While I have trained for and ran a half-marathon and 10k before, I have never run more than 200 miles over a three-month period in my entire life. This will be a challenge, no doubt, just as much of a challenge as living with a mental illness, but it is a challenge worth undertaking to ultimately end the stigma.
I am respectfully soliciting donations to Rogers Behavioral Health Foundation. I know times are tough, given the global pandemic, but a donation of any amount would mean a lot to me and would truly help people in need.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration, and please feel free to reach out with any questions. Together, we will begin to end the stigma.