By: Kristen Pettaway, MA Student, Liberty University and Clinical Case Manager Intern, Destination Greatness, PLLC
Saturday, October 7th marked the day of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 5K walk, which raises money to help further the efforts of awareness about mental illness. On this day hundreds of walkers gathered at Grant Park in Atlanta GA to advocate on the behalf of mental illness in the community. At the start of the walk over $108,000.00 dollars had been raised through sponsorships for NAMI walks.
Shanti Das gave her revealing testimony about her personal battle with severe depression, a disease that cost her father and cousin their lives. I spoke to Ashanti briefly and thanked her for sharing her story and congratulated her on her accomplishments. After introducing myself and Destination Greatness’ sponsorship to Silence the Shame I became a part of their walking family of approximately 15 others.
I had a brief conversation with a lady who asked me if Shanti said that “prayer is not enough” to get her through her feeling of depression, to which I had said “Amen” to the statement. The lady was obviously offended. To that, I quoted scripture James 2:20 “faith without works is dead”. She replied, “bring all things to God in prayer”. I then replied to her that God answers prayer by placing therapists to fill the gap fulfilling HIS will here on earth. She agreed and said, “you are right”. She moved from being critical and judgmental to seeing God’s handy work through His vessels of mental health providers. We parted gracefully and the walk began. God can do all things.
Brenda Wood also revealed her struggles with depression before announcing the official start of the walk. The mood was jovial, filled with strength and determination to make a difference.
Along the pathway through Grant Park individuals talked, laughed, cried, made friends and acquaintances but most of all walked for a collective cause. No one was deterred from walking even as the glumly sky loomed overhead made way to mist and drizzle. The event was too important to sway us.