DARING TO LIVE MY TRUTH
When I was young, my father’s unexpected death altered the course of my life forever.
I was 16 when my dad died suddenly after a struggle with serious depression. Deeply impacted by this tragedy, I focused my grief inward and took years to heal from the devastating loss. During that vulnerable time, I made a conscious decision to move forward, to persevere through adversity and make the most every day of my life.
As time passed, I seemed to do well—academically, in relationships, at work—but I never spoke of my dad or his death. Silenced by stigma, I avoided the topic masterfully.
It took 20 years to find my voice. That’s when I discovered NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), an organization that made me realize how many other families experienced the trauma mine did all those years ago. For the first time, I found the courage to speak openly about my father’s illness and death in a way that honored him and helped others.
I made my career with NAMI. For several years, I worked at NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh. Then one day, someone from the national NAMI office approached me to work directly for them. Now I’m in the unique role of furthering NAMI’s mission across the country as a national manager of NAMIWalks, one of the largest mental health awareness and fundraising events in America.
Through my travels and everyday life, I learn that we all have a story. For some, telling it comes naturally, even effortlessly. For others like me, sharing painful personal memories – even ones that shaped the course my life in such a profound way – feels like a bold and daring adventure. When you reveal the intimate parts of your life, you risk being judged, misunderstood or maybe even ridiculed. What if you lose your composure, your reputation, your friends? But you tell your story anyway because it deserves to be heard—for no other reason than it is your truth.
Sometimes overcoming fear, whatever that means for each one of us, leads to the most daring adventure of all.