When I look back over the past 4 months of 2022 I really have trouble remembering life before the Marshall Fire, an event that occurred on December 30, 2021 and forever changed the literal and figurative landscape of my beloved community a few miles outside of Boulder. Then again, I am having trouble remembering life before COVID and a political climate that is frightening, to say the least, but I'm trying to remain as positive as possible for a brighter future for us all.
With that said, I am still so concerned about how everyone is coping with everything that life has thrown at us in the past few years and as we enter #mentalhealthawarenessmonth I am prepared to do my part yet again this year to help advocate on behalf of those that suffer from any degree of mental illness whether it is temporary or permanent. I mean, I spend every day desperately trying to help clients that are so overwhelmed by their "stuff" but during the month of May especially I am obsessed with promoting awareness and working to end the stigma we, as a society, still attach to anyone struggling with something that is truly not anything they can control...for the most part.
Did you know that, according to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health), there are over 51 million Americans suffering from some degree of mental illness?
Let me repeat that stat...51 MILLION PEOPLE!
And yet we continue to disparage anyone with this disease that affects between 15-20% of the US population on any given day?
Seriously, stop it America!!!
COVID should have been the ultimate event in our lives at how unstable we can all become in the blink of an eye and how we need to provide better resources to alleviate some of the difficulties anyone with mental health issues faces. But here we are, 2 years later with even more events affecting our stability and even more people demonstrating a blatant lack of sympathy or support.
I actually lose sleep over what I see when I walk into so many homes these days...utter chaos. And as someone who averages 3-4 hours of sleep a night I really can't afford to let this happen on a regular but it is what it is and I am who I am.
And who I am is, most importantly, someone that does not judge anyone for just trying to get through life one day at a time.
I am, simply put, the extra set of eyes, ears, and hands many of my clients desperately need.
Well, that's not entirely true because it isn't so simple.
In fact, it is really hard to get to that point of clarity for many clients, but at the same time, nothing feeds my soul more than when we do get to the calming light at the end of the chaotic tunnel.
Mental illness, as I always say, is not something anyone ever wants any more than cancer, diabetes, or any other debilitating disease because mental illness can be just that...debilitating, paralyzing, and unbelievably frightening to face on a daily basis.
If you know me at all, you know my story. I was married to a man who had a son with schizoaffective disorder and had to walk away from that relationship as a result of my stepson's mental illness after years of helping manage his care. And while so many people are amazed that I would want to be a champion for something that ultimately caused a divorce and a lot of heartache, not to mention a significant amount of debt that took 6 years to pay off, I still believe everything happens for a reason.
So here I am, a compassionate human who will always fight this fight on behalf of those that don't have the fight in them to do it themselves or have very much control over how it ultimately affects their lives. I mean, we can try to live a healthy life and hope we never see the look on a doctor's face that you know is not going to end well for you, but realistically there is no way any of us can predict our future 100%, especially with regard to our health.
I am fully aware that the vast majority of people still consider what I do a luxury service but I challenge each and every one of you to spend even one day with me and #TeamIJS . I promise you will have a completely different perspective on what we do and the clients we serve. I get at least a dozen inquiries a week from potential clients who truly cannot wrap their heads around maintaining their homes and lives in general under the best of circumstances.
Around my community, though, for the past several months it has been anything but the best of times.
Don't get me wrong... we are #80027strong...and the entire Greater Boulder and Denver areas have truly "showed up" for everyone affected, but primarily for the basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter. The number of people that have reached out to me for help with maintaining and containing all of their stuff, whether new or "remediated", has been incredible, all stemming from the same very tragic event. But every fire victim really does have their own unique story and I am continuing to do whatever I can to help make their story less and less tragic with each passing day.
Last year I spent the entire month of May promoting mental health awareness and participated in countless panel discussions, but most importantly spearheaded an opportunity for anyone who couldn't afford our services to enter a giveaway for 10 hours of decluttering help.
This year I decided to have another giveaway but specifically for Marshall Fire victims. Whether you were affected directly or know someone you would like to nominate, please fill out the entry form by clicking HERE before 11:59 pm Friday, May, 28th. The winners will be announced on Sunday, May 29th via this blog as well as on social media and all 5 transformations will eventually be shared online as well.
What more can I possibly say on this matter?
But I think I've made my point and hope that we can all work really hard at becoming stigma-free. I spend a lot of time putting together these monthly blogs and while I have no expectations that any of them will ever go viral, I do always hope that even if any given blog only resonates with one person that is one person who will know someone out in the universe cares about their specific situation and maybe, just maybe, seek whatever help he or she may need.
For more information about Mental Health Awareness Month and to find the appropriate resources for you or someone you know dealing with mental illness check out the following organizations...
NAMI (National Alliance On Mental Health)
AHA (American Hospital Association)
ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)
If you are looking for ways to be engaged in Mental Health Awareness Month check out the list created by GoodGoodGood.com
And for any Marshall Fire victims still seeking mental health counseling please contact any of the Mental Health Partners offices. They have been an incredible resource for all of Boulder Valley over the past few years but especially through last year's King Sooper shooting and, of course, the more recent Marshall Fire.
Be well, be safe...and, please, be kind always,
Chief of Chaos To Calm