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Hello everyone and Happy Father’s Day!  It’s been a hard week, hasn’t it?  I’m so sorry for everyone’s loss.  It really has been a loss for everyone.  We lost lives.  The US lost citizens, The LGBT community lost brothers and sisters, the families lost their loved ones.  We’re watching the negative political ads, the finger pointing, the attacks across social media.  It’s been really difficult for me to watch.

I am not a gun owner.  I don’t know if I would ever be one.  I do have a permit.  I got it a few years ago.  Why?  Not quite sure.  I’ve been to a shooting range.  I wasn’t very good.  I didn’t feel any more or less powerful nor any more in control of my environment because I had a gun on my person.  I am not sure I understand this fight . . and the motives behind both sides.  I’m not sure what will happen. 

Open For Service is not here to be a political vehicle.  Open For Service stands to be a positive response to whatever life brings us and builds a path to help people no matter what politics are going on.  Of course we want to see LGBTQIA people be protected.  We want women to get paid the same as men, we want people to live in a discrimination-free world. We want everyone to be happy.  While I don’t intend for us to be the hero in any of this, I want to be sure that we are helping in some way.

Which is why I re-launched “We Love You Here”.  Personally, I needed to see messages of support.  I think people wanted to be heard.  I think people needed a way to express their feelings.  I hope that this opportunity helped.  We had hundreds of submissions.  I am still trying to get them together to redistribute for the next few days.  I’m sorry if your submission doesn’t make it online.  Please know that I am reading each one.

To be honest, I had to take a break for the last few days.  A break from social media, CNN, politics, and a break from life.  This past Monday, I could barely get any work done.  I think about all of the “what if’s” and how other people are handling these events.  While I still don’t feel recovered, I feel . . okay.  Okay enough to start answering the 300 emails in my inbox, and checking in on our team to make sure they are okay.

Once thing I will gladly support with Open For Service is a discussion that I am not seeing very much after last week.  And that discussion is mental health. 

I suffer from severe depression and anxiety.  I’ve had it as long as I can remember.  Over there years, it has manifested in different ways.  I’ve almost lost jobs.  I’ve lost friends and relationships.  I’ve missed out on so many opportunities because I lacked the confidence to speak up, or take a chance.  There was a time long ago that I didn’t get out of bed.  For a week.  An entire week.  I can’t remember what finally made me get up and move forward, but something did.  One day, life didn’t feel, “as heavy” as it normally did.  If I had to describe what my depression and anxiety feels like – I would say it feels like I am constantly underwater.  It’s hard to move, to think, to breathe.  There are times where a small negative issue can snowball into a life-ending thought pattern.  It won’t get better.  It’s over.  It’s not reality. 

Something as simple as not getting funding, or getting negative feedback about Open For Service really gets to me.  I fortunately have been able to swallow it down and move on . . butI am lucky. 

Mental health is a significant problem in this world.  ISIS/ISIL, etc. feed on people how are struggling with mental illness and can motivate these people to do terrible things.  We see our soldiers and first responders come home after seeing gruesome things, and how can we protect ourselves and each other from something bad happening that is rooted in a mental health issue?

Now, I am not equating my struggles or a mass murder, or PTSD to a ISIS sympathizer.  What I am saying is that there are many components as to why bad things happen.  We mourn the deaths of our young when they take their lives because of bullying.  Why weren’t we there sooner to help them?  Why do we bully in the first place?  How can we work on this problem?

I don’t have the answer to those questions.  I can say, that I think we need to destigmatize mental health.  You shouldn’t feel guilty that you may have to take a pill to get through the day.  You shouldn’t look down at yourself for spending that hour with a therapist.  You should be proud that you are doing something for yourself, to make sure yourself feel better.  I want Open For Service to help find people better access to resources that they need to work on their mental health. 

I take a daily pill to help with my depression and anxiety.  I’m going to my therapist this week.  I have to. I have to do this for me.  My friends.  My family.  I have a TON of work to do on myself and I cannot do it alone.  And neither should you. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, or any type of mental health issue, please seek treatment through your doctor, health care system, church, friends, family, work, wherever.

Resources to call if you are struggling:

 

The Trevor Project – (866) 488-7386

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255

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