According to Mental Health First Aid, “Storytelling is powerful and can provide
mental health benefits like increased positive emotions, empathy, memory retention, and more. Exploring personal stories, reflecting on them, and sharing them with others can also help us process, heal and grow. Many mental health organizations such as Mission 22 have been started by men and women who have been compelled to tell their stories. From that point, sharing their emotional journey, and helping others who have shared the same fate becomes a mission of honor and duty. Michael Sugrue, one of the founders of Mission 22, tells his story poignantly in the video “Stigma of Help.” Michael, like thousands of veterans, suffered in silence too afraid to speak up in fear for his job and in fear for what it would mean to be labeled as having a mental illness. Michael became a police officer after the military so coming forward with his issues did not seem like an option. But, Michael was not the only veteran on the force suffering in silence.
In December 2012, an event would change Michael’s life and his feeling towards the stigma once and for all. His best friend John tried to end his life by suicide. John had also been suffering from PTSD. Michael could not stand by any longer. He had already lost so much; he’d lost his wife, many friends, and now he would not lose a friend this way. Michael and a few veteran friends founded Mission 22, with the goal to help veterans with PTSD or Traumatic Brain injuries and their families by providing support and resources to prevent suicide, aid spouses in regaining individual identity while caring for their veteran, and educating communities about the unique challenges our veterans face. Mission 22 is run by a team of dedicated veterans, spouses of veterans, and family members of veterans all who are dedicated to helping this very special community of people who have a story to tell. Not only veterans need to tell their stories. Many people who have been through the rough road of mental illness either themselves or with a family member, often find empowerment by telling their story too. Power comes from taking control of any disease. Taking control of IT, not letting IT control you. When a person has gone down the road of pain, suffering, and sacrifice to reach the other side there is euphoria, a rush of adrenaline that I can only think would compare to reaching the top of a mountain. I have watched a loved one climb a steep mountain which is a perfect analogy to gaining
back control over one’s mind in the battle of mental disorder. But once the summit has been reached, the steep rocky ledges scaled, the exhilaration of accomplishment, victory, and freedom is overwhelmingly joyous. Telling one’s story is part of giving HOPE to others who may still be standing on their own rocky ledge, too afraid to keep climbing and just frozen in place. It is to encourage others, to say to hey it’s beautiful up here, and peaceful. As humans, I believe it’s in our nature to want others to be happy along with us; to share our joy, our love, and our good fortune with others sets us apart and is called compassion.
If you have a story of your own that you would like to share, how about writing a
blog post? I would love to feature your story in the Blog. Everyone matters and if
you want to shout out from the top of your mountain please reach out and let me
VP APU Active Minds