This issue is so dear to my heart, nothing will stop me from taking time off from work, traveling to DC from upstate NY, this year I was solo; knowing that when I get there I will be surrounded by people who “get it”. I may know them from facebook or other social media or perhaps we met at the march last year or at lobby day. I attend because, it is a place I feel connected; I feel that I am truly making a difference, making my voice heard. And at the same time we all feel empowered that our children’s lives mattered, that they did not suffered in vain; we will be a catalyst for change. Our hope is that the momentum that we feel at the march will resonate through the halls of the Senate and the Legislature and this injustice of inadequate and inappropriate care will no longer be an issue. There will be no more shame associated with ED, no more stigma associated with mental illness, brain-based illnesses will be treated the same as any other disease of the body; “the brain is part of the body” will be the norm.
As we gather and share our posters, sign the card on the yellow roses, listen to speakers, greet our sisters and brothers brought together by a common struggle, heart ache and sorrow we give each other strength, courage, hope and an overwhelming sense of peace; we will not be silent, we will raise our collective voices to save lives.
There was a moment during the march when a speaker acknowledged those of us who were wearing green shirts and asked that others reach out and give us a hug. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came up to me to give a hug; overwhelmed and moved, a complete sense of shared deep caring and concern; I was embraced by love and understanding. A collective shared loss, very moving and healing.
As the sun set and our candles were lit in remembrance, a sense of purpose, hope and shared commitment filled the lawn and we all dispersed into the night feeling forever changed and forever impacted by the stories, the words of Patrick Kennedy giving us a sense of collective power that an influential colleague cared enough to break the silence of secrecy to say, “NO more”; mental illness is a national issue and it should be treated with the same dignity that all other major health issues are treated. This powerful speech gave us all a sense of sincere understanding and caring about the issues associated with ED and the importance of why we were there. Our purpose and need to have our concerns heard was acknowledged and validated; we all left feeling a sense of accomplishment and inspired for lobbying the next day. There was a common sense of purpose, a reason to come from all across the country to say change must happen, no one should die from ED, not one should suffer for years and years; recovery is the answer.
The MOM March 2015: a powerful and amazing experience that has inspired me to continue to fight for those we have lost and for those who struggle. For me, it is a sense of fighting for my daughter and all the sons and daughters, moms, fathers, sisters and brothers around the world who are impacted by ED and the devastating ripple effect that is left in its wake. Recovery is the only answer. ED is a treatable illness, no one should die.