According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition of warrior” is defined as person engaged or experienced in warfare; or “broadly: a person engaged in some struggle or conflict.”
The other day a friend called me her warrior. I’ve never really thought of myself as a warrior. But when I look at this definition, I see that I fit more in this definition than I realized. A warrior is anyone who is engaged in some struggle or conflict. Most of my life I have lived with the realities of being the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness.
I kept so much of that story locked deep in the depths of my heart. I saw the stigma associated with mom’s illness so I didn’t tell anyone until I was eighteen years old. In finally unlocking this piece of my story, a sense of peace and freedom finally came over me.
There are days I wonder why this has been our journey. There are other days I wish that I could fix it all. And there are yet other days that I find myself powering through and doing my best to share our story.
Just last week at the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza, I led two workshops “Living as a Daughter: What I have Learned from our Mental Health Journey.” I have told my; our story many times. But this time was different. I don’t know if it was because I was sharing our story with colleagues and friends. I even said, “Who am I to say?” To which another friend reminded me, “Who are you not to say? You don’t know everything but you know a lot more than most.”
Those words were words I needed to hear. In a lot of ways, I am that warrior that my friend called me. It takes a gentle strength to overcome the stigma and to tell our mental health story. It takes courage to find the words to help others eventually tell their stories. And in doing so, I find my inner warrior.
I am Sandy’s daughter. I am a warrior…called to share her story and help stop the stigma of mental illness.