Letters of Hope
Thank you to everyone who participated and sent us their letters of hope for mental health.
Throughout my life, I have struggled with depression and anxiety. I experienced an especially long episode after being terminated from a job and relocating to Orlando, FL in 2017. I had reached a very low point but went through the days with a pretend smile on my face doing the bare minimum to function as I had a family and college classes to attend.
At some point, my husband encouraged me to look into volunteer opportunities in the area in hopes that getting out of the house once a week would help. I looked into volunteer opportunities with NAMIGO after learning about them in my college courses. I began volunteering with NAMIGO a few weeks after inquiring about volunteer opportunities and found a safe and purposeful space to counter the spiral I was in. By volunteering, I found other people experiencing what I was feeling and support in knowing that it’s ok to not be ok. While I still experience the ebbs and flows that come with depression and anxiety, I’m so grateful for NAMIGO for being a bright spot during a really dark seven months of my life and have hope that together, we can all be a little less alone in our mental health journeys.
My name is Jessica Kinsey, and I am the Community Outreach Coordinator at NAMI Greater Orlando. My mental health journey stemmed from childhood and exhibited in various conditions as I grew through adolescence and into my young adult life. As I existed through life in denial and pain, I reached the first panic attack that led me to reaching out for help. Before asking someone for help, I never understood what ‘hope’ felt like in mental health; I thought it was normal to feel drained, sad, on edge, and worried on a daily basis. But reaching out helped me find hope and the will to live a better life than I did before. As my journey continued, I reached out to different mental health community members by talking to or following them through social media who empower recovery. Seeing others live with their mental health conditions and some even live in full recovery, gave me everlasting hope that not only myself, but for everyone who does live with a mental health condition can have a successful and healthy life in recovery.
My name is Stefanie Gadalean, and I am 16 years old and actively living in recovery of several mental health conditions. I live with PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Symptoms, as well as recovering from Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa. Though my mental illnesses set me back at times, I have come to live a better life with them. I now understand what it means to feel pure joy, and I understand what it means to feel at peace; however, my comprehension of life’s happiness is all due to my support system and therapy. Therapy has helped me become the person I have always wanted to be, as well as drove my passion for becoming a Pediatric Psychiatrist. There is hope, and there is help for everyone out there!
My name is Lauren Zaremski, and there is meaning to my survival. I was officially diagnosed with a mental illness as an adult when I was 22 years old. For most of my adult life following the diagnosis, I lived in denial of it. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and afraid to reach out for help. I hit rock bottom in October of 2017 when I tried to end my life. After passing out for two days, I luckily woke up. In the ER, several Dr.’s there told me I was lucky to be alive. Something kept me here. I am a firm believer that now I am here to help others. I lived it. I cope with it and know I never want to live in the darkness again. There is no shame. I am alive and well and proud to share my story to show others that seeing the light is possible. In addition to professional and medical help I continue to receive, attending support groups, meetings, and participating in events for numerous non-profit organizations like NAMI to help bring awareness to mental health and end the stigma surrounding mental illness has helped me tremendously. Mental illness is an illness like any other one. It can sometimes just be silent. It is a part of me, but it does not run my life. I see a therapist now who I love; enjoy yoga, horseback riding, love beach time again, and so much more. I am not just living, but I am thriving and above all; I see the light also. My name is Lauren Zaremski; a suicide attempt survivor, and I am grateful to be here to share my story. Out of difficulties, miracles do indeed grow. Hope is seeing that light again, and I wish that many others will too as I do.
Hope, a Poem by Peggy Symons
Hope is a journey and it is a destination.
It is a vision of many lights and it dwells in Psalm 40:
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me and He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what He has done and be astounded.
They will put their trust in the Lord.”
Hope is a fragile flame and a bright light.
It is easy to give and even easier to take away.
Once the flame of hope is lit it must be carefully kept and kindled.
When hope burns brightly, there is fire in its feet and the breath of life is on its lips.
There is purity in its purpose, vision in its light, and healing in its truth.
Whether we teach, write, counsel, or mop the halls the hopeless walk, we are all called to be hope givers and keepers of the flame.
Blessed are the hope givers.
Thank you to our sponsors for their support during #MIAW