Draper is… Stopping the Stigma

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Draper is… Stopping the Stigma

Mar 13, 2022

Something we didn’t talk about when I was growing up was mental health. The good, the bad, the ugly, or the ways to reach out and find help. Losing my father at a young age and then my sister this past July, both to suicide, has certainly made mental health a topic I advocate for and speak out about in my adult life.

I would say I was 15 years old at PCHS when I found my first counselor. I didn’t know how much I would benefit from those quick trips for a few minutes a week. I didn’t even understand what I needed help for. I just knew things for me personally weren’t how they were (or appeared to be) for my peers around me.

Fast forward to my early twenties and a particularly difficult time in my life, I was diagnosed with manic depression and panic disorder. Hearing these words was kind of scary for the first time because what did they mean? I didn’t know. I also didn’t know these mental disorders were common. After working to find the right medicines and an excellent therapist, I finally found a balance that made the really, really hard days a little more bearable.

The mood swings come in waves. My motivation is up, then it is down. Some days I don’t even want to get out of bed or take a shower. But, I am finally okay with knowing all of this is normal and not being ok, is in fact – ok.

I personally have experienced a lot of grief and internal trauma from absence of knowledge on mental health awareness and something I feel compelled to do is speak up.

I am currently 27 working for Thee Draper Village. I work in marketing and sales, and it is a great place for me. Working for a small business surrounded by amazing women leaders, I feel I have really found a place to be long term that means a lot to me, personally. In November of 2021, I went to a conference with Debbie Gardner, the owner of Thee Draper Village. She asked me where I saw myself in five or ten years. I responded by saying I want to be right where I am because I feel I am apart of something more. She then asked if I could be doing anything what that looked like to me. I expressed to her since I was in college I have had a lot of interest in advocating for mental health and suicide awareness, especially amongst the youth.

With that, Debbie told me to find ways to wrap it into the village because that is something that is important to her as well. This upcoming May we will be hosting the first annual Stopping the Stigma 5K in Thee Draper Village. We are donating money to a local non-profit that will go directly into providing financial support and resources for mental health. We will be opening up registration for the race soon and I hope to have a good turnout. It is means so much to me to be able to have the amazing support from Debbie and our team in Draper, but also to be able to bring something to Southwest Virginia that simply isn’t being talked about enough.

The only way to #StopTheStigma is to take action and start talking. My hopes are to have a lot of local resources set up available for race attendees to find any kind of support or resources they may be looking for. I hope by bringing people together for a cause that is much bigger than we often realize, people will see they are not alone.

I hope to see some of you readers out and I am so very grateful to be able to share this with you. Follow along on our event page on Facebook, and stay updated by following the link below.

Stopping the Stigma 5K

Written By: Megan Dean

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