Last Saturday I finally took the plunge, walked out of my comfort zone, and attended my FIRST Junior League meeting.
I have been in Sarasota for 4 years, and in those 4 years it has been a very long and trying process trying to make good and loyal friends. I have made met multiple friends who I love very much, but one of them lives an hour away and we don't see each other very often, and my other best friend is prepping to welcome her first baby and has a very busy work schedule.
To say it has been tough to adjust from a life of growing up with the same best friends from 6 years old to moving to a city where you don't know anyone and making friends isn't the easiest thing in the world.
I have been throwing the idea of Junior League back and forth for a long time, but I am going to be very honest when I say that Sarasota is a socialite town, and imagining myself walking in to a room full of 25 girls who have no idea who I am, scares the crap out of me. Let's be real, we all know how some women can be... thinking about it spiked my anxiety and made me feel like I might be throwing myself in to the lion's den, which scared thee crap out of me.
(cue the crazy)
So when Robin stated that she was thinking of joining Junior League too, we decided we would face our fears together...and we did!
After the brunch I kind of wanted to kick myself in the butt for being such a worry wart. The women were nice, funny, real, and really showed interest in one another. To say I took a giant fresh air after downing my first mimosa is an understatement.
Trying new things, can lead you to see that the world isn't always as scary as we make it out to be, and you might just make a new friend, or 25.
I could NEVER top this post by Ty over at Arkansassy, but she did inspire me to share my experience and my thoughts with this all to quiet and stigmatized topic.
As the world is deeply saddened over the loss of such an amazing life; it's no secret that there is a much bigger topic that should addressed while we mourn and remember his genuineness.
It has been no secret in the recent press releases that Mr. Williams suffered from depression which is placed in the category of "Mental Illness"; two words that are so widely misunderstood and highly stigmatized.
I don't know if I have ever explained what it is that I do in my daily life outside of this blog, but my 9-5 is filled with caring for adults who suffer from those two words above, Mental Illness.
The more you say those words , the more it starts to flow off your tongue, and the further sinks in to your stomach.
I will admit that on my interview 3 years ago when those 2 words exited my soon to be bosses mouth as he explained the population I was so eager to work with, I immediately froze. I started to question if this was the place for me. I didn't know if I was the "type" to work with mentally ill adults. I was quiet, and I was timid. I imagined the clients screaming at the top of their lungs, mangled hair, white robes, as they all paced the unit back and forth awaiting their medication, just as they psych movies such as "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and "Girl, Interrupted" portrayed.
I tried to come up with an excuse to exit myself from that interview and move on to the next prospect in my job search, but as I sat and pondered the right way to decline the job, my soon to be boss invited me on a tour of the facility...
As I walked through those doors there were my future clients. They were well groomed, quiet, full of smiles, laughter, and each one held out their hand to introduce themselves to me and politely ask me my name. I don't think I had EVER been more welcomed in to a place in my entire life, and in that moment I knew that I was completely wrong, and my work heart had found it's home.
I have been with my company for 3 years now. Our mission is to help homeless/low income adults who suffer from a mental illness, and really have no where else to go.
It is no secret that the words mental illness are HIGHLY stigmatized, and for that reason when these adults are unable to work due to words such as SCHIZOPHRENIA, unable to keep relationships due to BI-POLOR disorder, and even unable to get out of bed due to chronic DEPRESSION, they have no where else to turn, and they usually lose everything.
Due to the lack of resources, medical services, and disability funding unfortunately these situations commonly lead to suicide attempts, and sometimes those desperate measures end in a loss of a beautiful life, such as the one we all are mourning as we speak.
I am here to tell you first hand that mental illness does not have a common face, it does not have a stereotypical style, it does not prey on the weak or the poor, and it has no mercy. It is manageable with medications, but it is not curable. If you had a chance to read one of the most WELL written blog posts I have ever read by Arkansassy you will remember this perfect sentence " It is not a choice, it cannot be prevented, and no one brings it on themselves."
If you ever have a chance to meet someone suffering from this illness I hope that you realize that you are lucky.
You are lucky to know such an amazing person.
My clients are some of the strongest, smartest, hilarious, and happiest people I have EVER met. Even when their life is a consistent struggle, they work everyday to make it out alive, and most of them do it with a smile on their face.
Don't be scared of Mental Illness, be educated, be supportive, and let them know they are NEVER alone.