Walk A Mile In My Shoes!

More than 1,500 advocates flooded the state Capitol May 11 for the sixth annual “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” rally promoting mental health and developmental disability awareness. Among these were over 25 people representing the Northern Lakes CMH area, including people who use community mental health services, people who work in the CMH system and other advocates. (Check out the rally photos at: http://northernlakesphotos.shutterfly.com.)

Representatives and flag bearers from each county addressed the group from the capitol steps. The statements made from our counties were:

Crawford – In Crawford County we are very afraid about more budget cuts. We are afraid that there will be longer waiting lists for mental health services in Michigan. We are afraid people won’t be able to recover and get their lives back. We are afraid more people will end up in the emergency room or on the streets instead of getting treatment. We are valuable people – and treatment and support should be a right, not a privilege.

Grand Traverse – I have a mental illness and my recovery was to take my medications and it changed my life. I started to go to clubhouse and they helped me a lot with my illness. I want to keep going to clubhouse and continue to see my doctor. I thank the CMH people for helping me with my illness.

Leelanau – Last year we lost our day program for senior citizens. We are afraid we will lose more if the budget keeps getting cut. We are afraid that some of us may not be able to recover as a result. Mental health matters!

Missaukee – In Missaukee County, we feel that Advance Directives are very important. Where would we be without caring individuals, friends, and family? Without my sister where would I be today?

Roscommon – I’m afraid to meet people or be around groups of people because of my mental illness. It’s bad when someone like me is even afraid to see my regular doctor because they know I have a mental illness and automatically start to stigmatize me and the problems I have, saying it’s because of my mental illness.

Wexford – I have a 7-year-old daughter who is not with me because the judge says I have a mental illness and supposedly not capable to raise her. I also lost my fiancé the first of this year which is still very traumatic for me. I look at life this way – God won’t give you what you can’t handle. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Many thanks go out to all who braved the weather and attended the event. Despite near-freezing temperatures and relentless rain, everyone’s dedication and commitment to advocate on behalf of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities and ensure they have a voice is priceless.