Two years ago, if you had shown me this picture of our family laughing and hugging each other in front of the giant sunflower patch in our yard, I would have burst into tears. Then, I didn't know if my daughter would make it.
In 2021, she was suffering from the onset of a severe mental illness that came close to claiming her life. Our understanding of mental health and the latest development of how to treat these illnesses is always evolving. Which means that there are a lot of misunderstandings. I didn't know how people would react to her very public crisis as we sought help. Eventually, we found residential treatment, and she made a full recovery.
To prepare for her arrival back home, I made plans to sell our house and leave Arvada. I grew up on military bases in the 80's. In those times and places, when people learn someone was suffering from mental illness, the best thing to do was for that person to leave. Start over. Afresh start where no one knew how you couldn't just "tough it out."
But my daughter rebuffed this idea. "I can go back to school mom, it'll be fine," she said with confidence. And she was right. Her friends, our neighbors, teachers, and social service workers all embraced her return to Arvada. Her re-entry wasn't without speed bumps, but it's been beyond my wildest dreams to experience how our community rallied around our family, accepted my child, and welcomed her home with open arms.
While she was in treatment, I spent time planting wildflowers, hoping they'd bloom by the time she got back, and impress whoever bought the house from us. But we are able to stay home and enjoy the flowers planted, and have our family photos taken in front of this beautiful landscape because of this community's support.
Arvada gives so much to my family, through the hard times and the good, and I'm running for office to benefit Arvada the way our community has benefited my family - the way it can benefit all of our families - with understanding, inclusivity, care, grace, and an eye towards aprosperous future.
If you or a loved one struggle with mental illness, reach out. Get immediate, confidential help here: https://www.jcmh.org/emergency-crisis-services/