The Walk A Mile In My Shoes Rally had such a memorable movement in my life. The Rally started with the ringing of the Mental Health America bell. There was a gentleman there who told the story of a bell and how that wonderful bell originated. Many years ago, people with mental illness were chained to beds, chairs and gurneys. They were chained from their ankles and their wrists. Mental Health America issued a call to hospitals around the country for their old chains and shackles, which they melted down and made into a 300-pound bell as a symbol of hope.
As he was telling this story, I found myself beginning to choke up, my body beginning to tremble, tears coming to my eyes. I found it difficult to breathe, my mind racing – and then it happened. There I was, a fifteen-year-old girl, thinking about my first suicide attempt and how I ended up at Eloise Hospital in Wayne, Michigan. Chained To A Bed, Locked In A Cell, Listening to Patients Screaming, Cussing, Crying. Wondering if they were all chained to beds too. Thinking, Oh, God, What Have I Done!
All of my life I have had a strange fascination with chains and butterflies. Just recently I had a beautiful tattoo of a monarch butterfly held together by two chains. Long before I knew the story about the chains I had a small chain tattooed around my ankle. I have had many different kinds of chains in my life that have held me down from living the life I should have. Drug addictions, alcohol addictions, failed marriages, and many more.
I have had 41 years of therapy and today I can honestly say YES, that bell is a part of my life and so are those chains. Today, by the Grace of God and my family, friends, and Community Mental Health, I am free of those chains.
Today, I work at Northern Lakes Community Mental Health as a Peer Support Specialist, helping others to achieve their hopes, dreams and goals, and together we can work on our recovery journey. Working on my recovery I found takes time and daily work. With the coping skills I have learned and the tools I have obtained, those chains are no longer a burden.
Whenever I get the blues I turn on some music and get on my motorcycle and RIDE!