Many of you know that I am blessed with two beautiful, talented and high achieving daughters. For many years the walls around my cubicle at work were adorned with their colorful art works. What some of you may not know is that both of them have been diagnosed in their college years with bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive illness), a debilitating brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. This is a serious mental condition with typical onset in young adulthood, episodic in nature. When the episodes strike, the brain chemical imbalance robs them of their ability to regulate their emotions, process their thoughts and relate to others rationally. It is an understatement to say that the world has been turned upside down for them and our family.
Learning to accept and cope with a series of unfortunate events in the last few years because of their illness has been the hardest thing I have dealt with in my life. I am lucky that through all of this, I have had my husband’s shoulder to lean on and I have had my work at Intel to ground and center me. Colleagues and friends have also been understanding and very supportive. I am also extremely grateful to have found NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness), a grass roots non profit organization that has provided the emotional support and educational resources that our family needed through out these last few years. My husband and I attended their parent support groups many times, and their signature 12-week long Family to Family class (at the local Washington County NAMI Affiliate) really helped us learn to understand mental illness and develop new perspectives and skills to help our daughters face these life long challenges. It is with the help of NAMI that I was able to come to realize that we are not alone in this struggle. There are many more like us who struggle with mental illness that can benefit from the programs and community support offered by NAMI.
So here I am, no longer feeling isolated and hopeless. Instead, I want to become an advocate for NAMI, standing together with our daughters, their peers and families like us, to break the silence, fight the stigma and build a better future together.
I am reaching out to you, my friends, colleagues, or neighbors, and asking you to join us at the NAMIWalks Northwest that will take place at beautiful Portland waterfront on May 19 2019 to help support this organization that has been able to sustain me and my family through our toughest times. We are called the Team of Wonder, inspired by Intel co-founder Robert Noyce, "Don’t be encumbered by history. Go off and do something wonderful." You can support NAMI and their free programs for the community by joining us to walk, run, and donate.
I am deeply touched by all the encouragement and support you showered me in your messages and donations! I also clearly underestimated the depth of our collective good will. Because of the tremendous support that has been pouring in, I have raised the bar multiple times within only the first few days: from $1100, to $2250, to $2500, then to $3000, and then $4000, and now at $5000! It's truly a wonder to watch how all of you come together with strong showing of empathy and generosity! This goal of $5000 is pre-matching; so with matching funds from Intel Foundation and other employers, we hope to double the impact to $10000!
I am counting on all of you to join us and help Team of Wonder reach this incredible goal and your contribution means a lot to me, our team, and the 43.8 million Americans who experience mental illness in a given year. One of the donors put it so eloquently, "One day we will find a cure. This is how it happens, starting with us"!
Please click on "Support me" on this page to donate right away!
I would also encourage you to join "Team of Wonder" to show your support even if you may not be able to commit to the walk on May 19 physically. You can still support us by virtually walking with us in spirit. For those of you who can join the walk in person, families, children, strollers, dogs are all welcome! Below is a picture from last year's walk.
Thank you on behalf of Diana, Enya and many others like them.
Did you know that :
NAMI provides support, education, and advocacy to hundreds of thousands of families, individuals, educators, mental health service providers, and law enforcement professionals each year. NAMIWalks helps us continue to provide these programs at no cost to the community.