EVENT DATE: Apr 17, 2016
On April 17th I'll be running my first marathon (and possibly the last; I'll see if I'm still walking by the end of it)! It's something that I've always wanted to do and I knew that I wanted to run not just for myself, but for an important cause. In all honesty that has delayed me in creating the fundraising page because every time I've thought about a cause and a charity my mind has filled with the endless number of other causes that beg for our attention and support.
First and foremost I am training and running the marathon in remembrance of my cousin Matthew Winkfein, who will always be loved and never forgotten. Last year Matt ended his life. It was a horrendous shock for his family and friends. However, I think my Aunt and Uncle would agree that the support, kindness and love that has ensued is an important indication of what an amazing person Matt was. Matt suffered from ADHD and in the most recent years of his life he developed a drug addiction that he was likely more prone to because of his mental state. As a result, he battled with depression and the mental and emotional distress of trying to fight the addiction and live with his disorder.
Secondly, I want to take this opportunity to spread awareness, compassion and understanding about the breadth and depth of mental illnesses in our daily lives. If you have never been effected or don't know anyone who has ever been effected by a mental disorder, then you are one of the very rare individuals. Mental illnesses can be as minute as what some people see as emotional stress and they can be as serious as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The severeness of such illnesses varies from one end of the spectrum to the other. Eating disorders, emotional disorders, ageing mental health issues and addictions are only some of the illnesses that come to mind. The list goes on and on. The point is, that mental illnesses effect 1 in 4 people and although our perception is gradually changing, we still do not talk about it enough and most do not receive sufficient support. Part of the problem is that the mind is such a complex thing and we haven't really begun to understand enough about it. In the developing world there is greater support, but we still have major gaps in both how to improve the lives of those with mental distress as well as prevention and education on the subject. I would guess that the majority of people who do suffer from a mental illness would rather not talk about it with friends or family because of the shame, guilt and feeling of being made a victim that is associated with it. Those of us who don't come from third world countries can not imagine the hardships of those who are beaten and shunned because of mental illnesses.
Although there are many causes I'd like to support, this is one this I hold close to my heart. The money that I raise will be donated in half to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. 100% of the proceeds go directly towards a grant supporting research in the field of mental disorders. The more we understand the workings of the brain, the better chance we have of prevention and treatment. The other half will be donated to the World Federation for Mental Health. This organisation aims to respond to global mental health issues through education and policy advocacy. It connects health workers, citizens and organisations alike with the aim of promoting mental health support.
If you don't feel this is a cause you'd like to donate money for than please do me this small favour. In your everyday life be aware of the sufferings that people around you may have but aren't able to talk about. Have compassion and empathy for the people you encounter and know how important it is to that person that you see them as a person, and not as their mental illness. Let's talk more about these problems because let's face it, we're all in it together if we choose to be. People who suffer through any kind of illness does not make them weak. They are stronger because they battle everyday and we need to recognise and celebrate that strength.