Recently I came across this project through some blogging connections, and immediately I was intrigued. After reading the purpose of the project, and the personal stories of those who came up with this idea, I wanted to help in any way I could.
The Endorphin Project is an organization that’s striving to make others aware of the affects of mental illness, the outlets that offer assistance, and the ways in which fitness can serve as one of these outlets. The Endorphin Project’s mission is to encourage those who have struggled in any way with mental, or even physical illness, to speak out about their struggles, and where they are on the path to good health. Their goal is to spread awareness about mental illness, but also to spread acceptance.
I have not personally suffered or overcome mental illness. My first experience with mental illness was a very close friend of mine who went to Afghanistan in 2010-2011 with the 11 Bravo Company of the U.S. Army. I had known him since I was 7, and he would light up any room with his laughter, jokes, smiles. He was the goofy best friend of my older brother, making him a brother to me. But something changed in him when he was over there; something that none of us could fix.
In 2011 he was riding in a convoy when bullets rained in from above, hitting the dust around them. He was 2 months away from coming home from a year long deployment, and in those moments, he prayed. He prayed that everyone would be okay. But war isn’t fair.
When he came home, he was manic. He would get extremely angry, like I’d never seen, then sad to the point of tears. He would yell that he didn’t want help, and that he didn’t want to talk about the things he saw. But his face was practically begging for someone to listen. Those close to our family knew about him and his struggle, but it’s not something I often talk about, even with my closest friends. To watch him struggle the way he did changed my life. It changed who I am today, and left me with a heartache that I can’t repair.
PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a mental illness that affects hundreds of thousands of people, many of them being military personnel. It’s life changing for those who suffer from it, and those that love them. When Kyle first joined the Army, my biggest worry was that someday he would suffer from this illness, and he would slowly become a person I no longer recognized. It was the scariest fate I could imagine for him, and I’m grateful that he is happy and healthy, every day.
For many who suffer from PTSD and other mental illnesses, fitness and nutrition has become an outlet for their recovery. Mental illness is not always permanent, and through exercise and healthy focuses, there’s a light at the end of an otherwise dark fate. The Endorphin Project gives me hope that others will educate themselves on mental illness, and the ways in which we can help others to overcome this struggle. They give me hope that we will all start seeing mental illness differently: not as something that hinders us and controls us, but something that we can defeat. Something that will no longer be the deciding fate that changes so many lives.
So take a second, read their stories and the ways that mental illness has changed their path in life. Read their purpose. And if you’re able, donate to their quest to hike Mount Kilimanjaro in February in an effort to raise money and awareness to mental illness. Also, check out their blog to stay up to date on their progress and read more about their message.
Thank you for taking the time to read about this wonderful organization! And thank you to Sarah for allowing me to post about it, and share my own story.