Once my daughter passed away, many people have asked the same question over and over again, “How have I been able to go forward with my life without her?” The answer is I just do. When I think of her, one can only imagine the array of feelings I have. They range from happy, sad, and angry, but most of all, I mostly just miss her. I miss her smile. I miss hearing her voice. I miss her being at family events with me. I miss sending her a text message with my outdated phone and her telling me I really should upgrade. I see tv shows she liked and think of her. I see a little black girl at church with a bunch of ponytails in her hair and it reminds me of her as a child. Its time for a lot of college students to go back to school, I think of how she would be starting her sophomore year. Everyday, I still cy and its been a little over six months since I lost her. Each day does get better. My goal is to think about her and have happy crys if I’m still going to cry. My goal is to think of her and smile and think of all the times I was a good mom to her. My goal is to only think of her happy times like winning writing contests and making her high school cheerleading squad. My goal is to make people more aware of mental illness. My goal is to keep going and working on myself getting better. I’m a work in progress.
Since my daughter suffered and passed away from a mental illness, I am much more aware of the disease. Every time I pick up a magazine, read an article on the internet, or watch a movie that has mental health issues as a subject, I get even more information. A recurring theme is always the stigma. As a young child, I remember learning about Vincent van Gogh being a famous artist and how he cut off his own ear. Recently, I watched the movie, Lust for Life that starred Kirk Douglas. It painted an entirely different picture of him from what I thought as a child and an adult. He worked on his art while suffering with bouts of depression and hallucinations. A lot of his paintings were expressive of his feelings and moods. He longed to have “normal thoughts” and “regular mental health.” Although he painted over two thousand artworks during his lifetime, he did not have success while he was alive. By the mid 20th century Van Gogh was seen as one of the greatest and most recognizable painters in history. He was misunderstood then and mental illness is still misunderstood today. Mental illness is a mainstream disease that needs to be studied just as any other disease that people loose their life from is studied. It is real and not just for the person who has the disease!