This morning I had the privilege of attending the Power of 1 breakfast to benefit the Volunteers of America Mid-States. My dear friend Cate (who I am also pretty sure is secretly SuperWoman) invited me, and per usual VOA did not disappoint.
Every single time I interact with VOA, I learn something new they do. They have birthday parties for homeless kids, serve our veterans, offer addiction help, help with housing.. the list seems endless.
I will admit, I've found myself in a total funk since the Vegas shootings. It seems like this summer has been a barrage of nonstop horribleness, both in my personal life and in the macro sense. This morning was the antidote.
VOA chose the theme "Carry Each Other" from the U2 song One. I listened to the very talented Matt Smith perform the song this morning and something inside me woke up. The president of VOA spoke on the chosen theme, and I sat there, before any of the incredible stories, blinking back tears and hoping no one noticed.
Carry each other. The message was so simple: sometimes people just need a little help to carry their load. This doesn't make them bad or unworthy, it makes them human. I've felt like such a burden to my friends and family this summer with my melancholy and here was the perfect message - it is okay to need help and let others lighten your load.
The stories this morning shared from veterans suffering from PTSD that lost their homes, lost their children, succumbed to addiction, spent time in prison... I don't pretend my load is the same or as heavy. But their message was simple and powerful: they asked for help and VOA came through - lightening their load to allow them to resurface from their personal demons. VOA got them through the haze of PTSD, drug addiction, depression - by simply listening and finding a way to help.
I am sharing this the day after Mental Health Awareness Day because truthfully, it took me some time to process and figure out the words I wanted. After a horrific tragedy like Vegas, so many times the mental health discussion gets re-opened for a bit. Yesterday, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Day, I read so many social media posts from big hearted friends speaking about mental health. After the VOA breakfast this morning, I want to say: you are heard and your words are meaningful. The power of 1 is real.
I am a huge advocate of seeking professional help, and I want to share that its okay to ask for that help. I did this summer. My friends and family were lightening my load, giving and giving their time and love and support and I still couldn't get myself out of the fog. I asked for help and found a wonderful counselor. I am so grateful and lucky that my fog was not as dense - I don't have addiction issues. I don't suffer from PTSD. I am an extremely lucky, very grateful human that still needed the love of my friends and family AND a professional to help guide me. I am so thankful for all of you.
I feel like my emotions have been raw from the seemingly constant barrage of terrible news we see constantly. Today's breakfast message is one I plan to carry forever - Carry Each Other. It is so simple, and such a world-brightening message. Thank you all that carried me and lightened my load. If you are struggling, please reach out. I will do my best to lighten your load. Don't be afraid to reach out - to friends, family, and professionals.