Saturday, October 02, 2010

Still not walking alone

For the last three years, I have captained a team in the annual fundraiser walk for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Rhode Island. The team is called Paul's Pals in honor of my brother Paul, who has suffered with a severe mental illness since he was 19. (His current diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type.)

I wrote a very similar post to this last year, but I want to say this again: so often, I feel very isolated as the one person really intentionally involved in my brother's life. Although I have great friends who are always willing to step up and help me out, there is something overwhelmingly wonderful about the feeling of this day. I was surrounded by a bunch of friends--mostly colleagues from work and their families, with some overlap with and some additions from church and neighborhood friends, about 35 people total sporting our purple "Paul's Pals" shirts.

In addition to that, though, I had about 40 other people donate to sponsor me in the walk. I went online this morning to write down all the team members' totals, and I took a moment to look over the list of my own donors. Most of them are my Facebook friends who responded to an invitation to donate (okay, to my begging them to donate). No one could see quite what I see without my explaining it, but I can go down the list and it includes current colleagues, friends from different periods of my life (elementary school, high school, college, grad school), people I was quite close to but have drifted, people that I was never quite that close to, and a few who will always be close. Some have their own reasons to donate--a friend or family member affected by mental illness--and others are basically just doing it for me. But the point is, it buoys me to feel this support. It helps me feel that I am not Paul's only support.

So, thanks to everyone who walked and to everyone who donated. And, if you want to add your name to the list, donations are still being accepted here.