My Village: Amanda Collier
My village consists of many different people. People who have inspired me and encouraged me to keep fighting. Some people are well aware that they are part of my tribe, others have absolutely no idea of the positive influence they have been in my life or that they are a crucial part of my village. My reason for sharing this information is to remind you that you are not alone. It will take time, but eventually, you will have a support system to fall back on when you feel like you can’t go on. Here are a few of my people:
My husband and daughters. They are my why. It took a long time to realize or even admit to myself that my mental illness was affecting them negatively. Yet they continued to love me despite my shortcomings. They deserved (and still deserve) the best version of me. They gave me patience, unconditional love, forgiveness and most importantly a reason to fight.
Andy Foley, my Canadian big sister. She is always the first one to ask the tough questions. She provided me with an emotional outlet. She never told me that I shouldn’t feel or act a certain way. She just listened. She encouraged me to seek professional help. She set deadlines for me to call my doctor and offered to go with me. She battles mental health issues of her own, and because of that, she helped me understand that sometimes the problem is more than we can or should handle alone.
Shelly Savage, my doctor. Not only did she make time for me, but she also made me a priority. She helped me understand that mental illness should be treated like any other physical illness. She saw me at my lowest point and offered me hope and promise that with time, things would get better. Dr. Savage validated my feelings and took the time to educate me and help me understand my brain.
Dan Reynolds. Yep, the singer from Imagine Dragons. Shortly after my diagnosis, I attended one of his concerts. I found myself sobbing in the crowd, one of the thousands of people listening to him as he spoke of the importance of overcoming the shame and stigma that come with mental illness. I was so impressed as he talked openly about his struggles and told us that it was okay to go to therapy, it was okay to take medication. Never in my life had I felt more connected to or understood by a complete stranger. It was almost as if he had given me the permission I needed to be okay with taking the steps to overcome my depression and anxiety.
Jesus Christ, my Savior. I know not everyone is religious, and that is okay. I have a very personal belief that Jesus Christ understands me more deeply than anyone else. He knows exactly what my suffering feels like, the pain and loneliness that I (and many of you) have felt due to mental illness. His love is unlike any other, I find strength in Him when I feel I cannot go on.
Friends and family. There are too many to name. Mental illness is an isolating experience. A lack of communication and understanding really damaged some of my most meaningful relationships. However, over time I have chosen to let them in, and they are the people who continue to support and love me. They have allowed our relationships to be repaired, and in doing so, have allowed me to heal personally.
Every one of these people has been a positive force in my journey to becoming mentally well. Take a second to think about people that might provide that for you. Make a list of these people if it helps!! I hope you are able to identify the people in your life who are willing to be a part of your village. You might be surprised at how many people are willing and waiting to join you.