In August 2016, I attended the BlogHer Conference in Los Angeles. I heard a lot of inspiring things there, but it was Mayim Bialik — the actress, neuroscientist, and GrokNation founder — who left the biggest impression on me. Not for any one thing she said, but for the forthright way she said everything.
It was in following Mayim on social media that I learned she was heading up a team for NAMIWalks Los Angeles County on Saturday, October 1, 2016. Inspired by her activism (and just her overall awesomeness) I registered to walk with the GrokNation Team, a great way to support a cause at the root of who I am and what I do.
In January 2016, I launched Plenty Woman, a website for women ready to believe we are everything anxiety says we’re not: Beautiful. Lovable. Powerful. Important. Smart.
I write a lot about the self-doubt that can feed anxiety in all of us. And I write about what it’s like living with anxiety disorders, which women are diagnosed with at twice the rate of men.
I’ve been living with anxiety for as long as I can remember.
For years, I self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. But I got sober nearly 7 years ago and, shortly thereafter, saw my first therapist. That’s when I learned that the anxiety I’d been living with had a name — Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
As defined by NAMI, “GAD produces chronic, exaggerated worrying about everyday life. This can consume hours each day, making it hard to concentrate or finish routine daily tasks. A person with GAD may be become exhausted by worry and experience headaches, tension, or nausea.”
I’ve since developed a number of tools to manage my GAD, but find myself still terribly challenged by anxiety, especially in social situations.
Telling the truth
In writing for Plenty Woman, I’ve come to realize how important it is to talk about mental health.
It was embarrassing at first (and still is a lot of the time), sharing the truth of what it’s like living with an anxiety disorder. But it’s been healing for me and eye-opening to family and friends who had little idea of what I’ve been going through all these years.
I understand it’s been helpful for my readers, too, who tell me they can relate.
Let’s help NAMI end the stigma of mental illness. It is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it is something to accept and talk about.
About the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Since 1979, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has been doing all sorts of wonderful things to educate and advocate on behalf of people with mental health conditions — from anxiety disorders and depression, to biopolar disorder and schizophrenia.
They do a lot of wonderful things, but here are some of my favorites:
1) NAMI Air app, an anonymous social network for people with mental health conditions and their families/caregivers
2) Toll-free number you can call for information and support: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
3) Classes, presentations, support groups, and online discussion groups
4) Partnership with law enforcement on Crisis Intervention Teams aimed at training officers in how to sensitively handle someone with a mental illness (they have 2,700 of these teams nationwide)
5) NAMI on Campus clubs – student-run organizations aimed at supporting one another and raising mental health awareness among their peers
Will you support NAMIWalks Los Angeles County?
My goal is to raise $250 for NAMI by the time we do the 5K walk on October 1st. If you would like to help, you can make a donation on my NAMIWalks page. Spreading the word helps, too.
I would be honored to have your support.
UPDATE: I’m thrilled to share that family and friends helped me go above and beyond my goal, raising a whopping $600 for NAMIWalks Los Angeles County. Thank you!
Go to the NAMIWalks website to search for the next event to participate in or support.