I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. (Markus Zusak, The Book Thief)

It is a word.
But we are afraid to speak of it.
It is whispered in the shadows, spoken in hushed tones, lest someone hear.
Mental Illness.
Two words.
They speak to suffering, to struggle and to unimaginable strength.
And yet, they are surrounded by stigma.
Secrets & shame follow them.
When will we stop giving these words so much power?
How can we honor health of body, without health of spirit?
How can we honor our physical selves, without honoring our emotional selves?
Depression took my father.
There, I said it.
Anxiety took my father.
There, I said it.
My father died by suicide.
There, I said it.
I am empowered & emboldened to speak his truth; even through my tears.
I will not be relegated to the shadows.
He suffered enough in shame & silence.
I will not.
When will we shed light on those who are living with mental illness?
When will we say their suffering matters, that it is real?
When will we offer help instead of judgement?
When will we say these precious souls matter?
How many more have to die rather than live with these two words-
Mental Illness. How many more will have to die because the word hope eludes them?
When will we say there is help? We are here. We will listen. You are not alone. It is okay. You are okay, just as you are. In your pain and in your suffering, you are okay, just as you are.
Words can only hold the power that we give them.
I will use my words to speak for life.
That is how I will honor my father’s death.