Sunday was the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)/BringChange2Mind (BC2M) walk to reduce the stigma of mental illness and raise funds for research and support for people with mental health conditions. This walk was particlarly poignant for many reasons and one was because of Emily. Exactly four years ago on May 15th, daughter Linea was released from the psychiatric unit at Harborview Hospital. She had been there for a month and for part of that time she was on a 24-hour watch, a suicide watch. Someone was watching her every move, night and day, minute by minute. The hospital assistants (lovingly referred to as the H.A.s) perched beside her bed, by the bathroom door and anywhere else close at hand in the locked-down psych unit. It was often painful for us to talk with our daughter and often emotional conversations. Adding to the discomfort was a stranger two feet away, pretending to read, but whether they wanted to or not, intimately involved in our painful lives. Emily was one of Linea's H.A.s. She was not much older than Linea and attending a nursing program while working at the hospital. She treated Linea with care and respect and she made us feel "normal" in a very frightening world. (Wow, tears are falling on my keyboard thinking about this...Emily, you were our anchor and didn't even know it.) She not only gave our family the message that this was not the worst thing in the world but that there was hope and treatment and recovery. Emily was young and certainly could relate to a young woman who's life had fallen apart yet she didn't flinch. After Linea was released, still reeling from her treatment and into a very shaky recovery, many of her friends deserted her. Not because they didn't care but because they didn't know what to do. About a month after she was home from the hospital, Emily invited her to a dance. Linea went and, once again, felt "normal". They hadn't seen each more than a couple of times over the last four years but connected through Linea's advocacy and the NAMI/BC2M walk. Four years later....Emily walked with us on Saturday and life once again comes full circle! Linea was the team captain, leading us to raise more than $5,500.00. Emily is now married to a wonderful man and has a darling baby girl soon to be one year old. She finished her nursing program and continues to touch peoples' lives in ways that she will never completely know. Linea, her dad, her sister Jordan and I were so touched to have her walk with us. I would never have imagined this four years ago. Treatment, recovery, stability, advocacy, voice, power, family and love. Emily was part of Linea's treatment, not just by keeping her from harming herself but by believing in her and us. Thank you, Emily! You are loved!
My book, Perfect Chaos, co-authored with my daughter, was released May 2012 (St. Martin's Press). I am a professor in special education. I love new experiences and learning new things. I don't know if anyone is out there reading this except my family!