Out of the Darkness Overnight


I plan to write about it soon. Right now, I'm just a wee bit tired (okay, a lot tired. Tonsillectomies and walking 20 miles in the same month don't go together).

If you're interested, here's (basically) what I said. I know I changed a few things, but I was just... speaking. I don't really remember all that I said.

My name is Brenda Adkins. I'm from Panama City Beach, Florida, and I am a Survivor of Suicide. I have buried both of my children and several friends to this illness.

This is my third Overnight Walk. My first was in Chicago, 3 years after my oldest child ended his life. When I first thought about it, it seemed insurmountable. I didn't know how to ask people for money. I didn't know how to walk 20 miles. But I did it anyway. And, by asking, I've raised a little over $16,000. My team, POS/FFOS, has raised more than $75,000.00. Finding the courage to ask people for money to help others not live my lifemare has taught me a lot.

It taught me that suicide, mental illness and mood disorders has had an impact on the life of every single person I've spoken to. Every. Single. One. A physician, a close personal friend, told me that he had attempted suicide. So did a newspaper editor and a news reporter. Why, then, are we so afraid to speak of an illness that can be treated? Why do we want to put it away and hide it, when a person with a mental illness no more "asks for it" than the person with cancer does? Why do we want to pretend that it doesn't exist? I've never been quiet about the way my two children died. I am not ashamed of my sons, their lives, or their deaths. I'm from the South. I have to tell, you, we do NOT talk about mental heath issues, or mood disorders, or suicide, where I come from. It's time to change that. There is a perceived stigma of weakness attached to mental illness. Well, I've learned that the biggest sign of strength is the willingness to ask for help. It's our job to make people understand that this IS an illness, and it CAN be treated.

I placed a Memorial in my local paper for my sons' birthday one year. A couple of days later, a friend came up to me at work and asked me, "How long are you going to do this?" I was confused, so I asked her, "This what?". She looked at me, this person who had known me and my children for 20 years, and said, "This suicide stuff. When are you going to stop? When will you let it go?".

I will tell you what I told her. I will be quiet on the day that people can ask for help and not be turned away, because they don't have the financial resources for help. I'll be quiet the day that there is parity in mental health care, and I can get help for my aching soul as easily as I can for my aching back. The day that there are no more suicides, I will be quiet. The day that no other parent, aunt, uncle, friend, lover lives my lifemare, I will be quiet. Until then? My sons told me at a very young age that they were going to make a difference in this world. Their voices have been silenced by mental illness and suicide. Mine has not, and will not, be silenced. As long as there is breath in my body, I will fight for those who need help. I will be the listening ear, the shoulder to cry on, the person to yell at, whatever it takes. Because suicide is NOT an option. The world needs all of us. No one else can speak with our voice, say our piece or shine our light. I refuse to let people pass by in the darkness because I wasn't there to show them the way. That is why we're here. To show them the way.

Jason and Rick, this is for you. Run with the wind Little Loves. I love you.

Maximum respect,
Brenda Adkins, always Red's & Red Man's Mom

This walk took place June 7, 2008