By DANTE MURRY
Your Voice Contributor
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dante Murry. Iâ€™m a former U.S. Army combat engineer. I have an associateâ€™s degree from Jefferson Community & Technical College, a bachelorâ€™s degree from the University of Louisville and a dual masterâ€™s degree from Webster University. I have three wonderful children. I work as a computer specialist at Seven Counties Services. And I have battled mental illness for the past decade.
I had my first psychotic episode in 2004. I wasnâ€™t sleeping, I was hearing voices and I knew something was terribly wrong. I was in the grip of mental illness and my life was no longer my own. Mental illness is like a tyrant that never gives you rest.
I was surrounded by darkness and saw no way out. There were no cracks of light and no hope. I lost my job, my home, my car and I was in danger of losing my family.
Itâ€™s very humbling to have the education that I had worked so many years for and then to be diagnosed with a mental illness. This wasnâ€™t supposed to happen to me. This was not part of my plan. Mental illness became my worst nightmare, threatening all of my dreams.
It seems as if mental illness is still the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. We have to start the conversation.
Iâ€™m not a betting man, but I would bet that you know somebody affected by mental illness. Mental illness affects one in four Americans every year. When it comes to mental illness, why are we not having the same frank discussions that we have regarding other health issues? We canâ€™t afford not to.
I know recovery is possible because I was lucky enough to find my support network, a guiding light in the darkness. My familyâ€™s insistence and a doctorâ€™s persistence started me on the road to recovery.
I wonâ€™t ever be cured. Mental illness is not curable, but it is treatable. I know that taking my medicine, settings goals and being active must be part of my daily existence.
I feel very fortunate to work as a peer support specialist at Seven Counties Services and to serve as a board member for NAMI Louisville, the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I share my darkest and my brightest hours and hope others learn from my experience.
If you need a reason to Step Forward for Mental Health, let my story be that reason. I could be anyone you know. Mental illness can happen to a mother, brother, friend or colleague. It can happen to you. Join us Saturday, Aug. 16 at Harbor Lawn at Waterfront Park to show that this community cares about mental health and supporting families affected by mental illness.
Dante Murry is a peer support specialist at Seven Counties Services and a NAMI Louisville board member.
Step Forward for Mental Health
Who: NAMI Louisville, local affiliate of National Alliance on Mental Health
What: Step Forward for Mental Health Walk
When: Saturday, August 16, 9 a.m.
Where: Harbor Lawn at Waterfront Park
Additional: Wear your favorite footwear, a visual reminder that mental health affects all walks of life
To register and find more information go toÂ www.namilouisville.org.