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May 29, 2024 32 mins
Welcome to week 5 of Mental Health Awareness Month! Today I'm discussing two seemingly unrelated topics: The 1976 Chowchilla kidnappings and the death by suicide of golfer Grayson Murray. In 1976, 26 elementary and middle school kids and their bus driver were kidnapped by 3 armed men, their faces covered with panty hose. They were driven around for 11 hours and eventually forced to climb into a 26' trailer buried underground. After all 27 were in, the kidnappers sealed the opening and buried the remaining portion of the trailer with dirt. They dug themselves out after 16 hours. Their lives were forever changed, and because childhood trauma wasn't understood, their mental health was forever damaged. This past week on Saturday, May 25th, pro-golfer Grayson Murray took his life after a fairly public battle with depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. In an interview last year (Link in show notes at https://www.tamiwest.com/post/chowchilla-to-grayson-murray-mentalhealth), he said: I just thought I was a failure. I always looked at myself as a failure. I thought I had a lot of talent that was just a waste of talent. It was a bad place, but like I said, you have to have courage. You have to have the willingness to keep going. Lo and behold, that’s what I did, and I’m here, and I’m so blessed and I’m thankful. He was in the public eye, and felt like a failure. How are they related? They are related because they both help us to see both how far we have come in treatment, help, and stigma surrounding mental health AND how much more there is to be done. I hope you'll listen to today's episode. The reason it struck me so, in part, was because I WAS the age of those children during the Chowchilla kidnappings. In 1976 I was 12 years-old, the age where my panic attacks were debilitating, but panic attacks weren’t really a thing. I wasn’t understood. So, why did I not go down the path that some of the survivors did, including alcoholism and suicide? And, Grayson Murray was a Christian. I am a Christian. Why did he still battle, and why do I still battle anxiety? I think the bottom line is this: We have amazing treatments for heart disease. People still die. We have new treatments for cancer. People still die. With all the mental health treatments available now and to come, people will still struggle and people will still die. It breaks my hearth. I was thinking deeper about that question, why didn’t I go down a worse path? For me, it was and is so many things: -My relationship with Jesus -My family & friends -Allowing myself to fail and to talk about it. Saying out loud, Oh gosh I messed that one up and realizing I am not perfect! -Continuing to learn and grown -Counseling -Medication for seasons in my life As we end Mental Health Awareness Month, I encourage you on 2 fronts: 1.    NEVER LET ANYONE SHAME YOU INTO NOT GETTING HELP IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING! 2.   Get trained in Mental Health First Aid. It truly changed how I view and interact with those who are struggling. I have 2 virtual classes coming up. Link with dates is in show notes which post by 7 AM CST 5/29/24. If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.
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