Stephanie O'Brien

12,673-1 NAMIWalks New Jersey

Welcome to my personal NAMIWalks page. I have created this fundraising page because NAMI, and the work they do, is very important to me. NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans impacted by mental illness.

Donating to me through this page is easy, fast and secure. Your donation will make a difference in the lives of the 43.8 million adults who experience mental illness in a given year.

My oldest brother, James, put this team together as a way to keep our brother, Cory's, memory alive.  On December 22, 2017, our brother Cory succumbed to the demons inside him that tortured him for over half of his life. Anyone close to me knows he was mentally unwell - he abused drugs and alcohol and struggled with addiction for nearly two decades. But this was merely a byproduct of his underlying mental illness - methods he used to self-soothe. In the last two years of his life, he appeared sober, but still not right. He was different and unwell. He suffered with depression and I suspect, from the life of manic ups and downs in his behavior, could have been bipolar. In the end, he decided to take his own life. His death is the final nightmare that we, as those who loved him but could not help him, could possibly imagine.

But for every dark side of someone, there is light. Cory brought humor to our lives. He danced, sang, and told ridiculous stories that were stand-up comedy worthy. After the fire in my apartment years ago, he showed up on-site with his truck and helped carry out my belongings, without being asked. He had a brilliant mind. He excelled at his Otis job, and loved his Otis family. He recently took to posting his gratitude online. He had his own way of showing his love and care for his family, which came through more so in the last year or two.

Cory lived for 12,674 days: his record was 12,673-1.  He fought hard in the last couple of years to live a sober life.  The toxicology report after his death indicated that no drugs or alcohol were found in his system.  Therefore, it was truly the depression and mental illness alone that killed him.  

I will be walking on May 19, 2018 in his memory and to help share his story.  No one with mental illness should be suffering alone or feel ashamed.  Mental illness does not necessarily manifest itself with physical symptoms as cancer or heart disease.  However, just because you cannot see it, does not mean it does not exist.  I hope to continue the conversation and help decrease the stigma associated with such diseases.

In the meantime, Rest In Peace, brother. Miss you love you.

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