I’ve never done one of those run for diabetes or breast cancer, MS, leukemia, ear infections or gingivitis. I hate asking people to pay me for how many miles I run. I like running. I like charity runs but I don’t like “being sponsored” to participate in something that sounds like a grueling competition and is more like a hobby.
My first obnoxious observation – now that we have breast cancer runs, or “booby runs”, when will have “testes” runs? I’m all for it. I would like to see men running in just jock straps or speedos to raise money for prostate cancer. Also I’m sure I’m not the first to notice that a little more skin and less tee shirt would raise lots more money for breast cancer. You hate me already? Read on.
There is no team in training for schizophrenia or serious mental illness. We have a walk in colon display here in Anchorage to help normalize colon cancer but ask the average person what schizophrenia is and I believe unless they have it themselves or know someone who has it quite well they will immediately go to a bad place involving weapons. The odds are that one in every hundred people have schizophrenia. That means in my high school class of a hundred some odd people there might be more than one person with that particular disease but guess what? No serial killers! Also there are lots of types of mental health issues that are serious and disruptive to living but as treatable as breast cancer, diabetes or heart disease. Mental health/ Mental illness, they’re part of life. Get used to it.
So even though I don’t like these silly runs, which are usually walks by the way, where people wear purple and pink, ribbons and hearts, I wish there was one for mental health. NAMI used to sponsor a walk but it wasn’t a big mainstream event. In contrast, The Anchorage Heart Run is one of the biggest runs each year. People with mental illness die earlier than people who don’t have these diseases because on the whole they wind up being poorer than people who have heart attacks or cancer. The medicines used to treat mental health are in their infancy, making cognition somewhat clearer but they can cause side effects which endanger physical health.
I guess I have to admit that the 12 step model of drug and alcohol recovery, the work and support being done by people in recovery is the only one that is going to work for us. I don’t go to events sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. I did a few times to give them the benefit of the doubt. I can save you the trip. The fancy food tastes like it was prepared by the devil. This may be my counter transference having been the unborn recipient of the drug DES which changed the reproductive systems of many young women in the 1960’s without any kind of apology from these same companies.
I do take medications. I’m no fool as I know that I can only run so many miles, journal so many pages, paint so many pictures to deal with depression before I have to have another ankle surgery or I render my arm useless again from overuse. I try so hard to feel okay, I hurt myself, not unlike an alcoholic. Lucky for me, all my meds are generic so I don’t feel beholden to any particular drug company for their assistance!
I don’t want to start some big race where we have tons of volunteers and support trucks, bright water bottles and spandex. What I might like though is some guerrilla theatre buddies to infiltrate the next road race and perhaps many more. We could make team in training mental health tee shirts with logos and give out information on mental health. What would it be like to say “I’m running for myself/my friend/sister as I’m/ they’re in recovery from mental illness and in memory of my uncle/ husband/cousin/fill in the blank who died from it? It’s a free intervention for the illness of stigma. It’s fun to disrupt the norm and the corporate concept of giving because what we’re giving is not money. It’s information, more than most people want to know! Join me, join a friend – Team in training -Mental Health.