Pathway to Awareness Weekend to Increase Knowledge and Understanding of Depression
Feeling blue or sad? Has your ability to work, sleep, eat, study, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities been disrupted?
Everyone occasionally experiences these feelings -- and often they pass within a couple of days. But when these feelings linger and interfere with daily life, it may be depression, a common but serious illness that affects approximately 5 to 8 percent of the adult population each year.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Moore County (NAMI-MC) hopes to raise awareness of depressive illnesses and the medications, psychotherapies, and other methods used to treat people with this disabling disorder during the 4th Annual Pathway to Awareness Weekend, planned for Oct. 3-4.
"NAMI-MC decided to focus on depressive illnesses this year, in part because of the economic events which have devastated so many families," says Marianne Kernan, president of NAMI-MC and co-chair of the Pathway to Awareness Weekend. "We need to educate people about this very common illness and the treatments so that people can move ahead and take back their lives."
Activities will include a special appearance and book-signing by Patricia and John Gallagher, authors of "No More Secrets: A Family Speaks about Depression, Anxiety and Attempted Suicide."
The Gallaghers' seemingly perfect life was shattered when John plunged into despair as his employer threatened layoffs. He could not sleep, did not eat, and became withdrawn.
The family knew something was wrong, but did not know what to do. Things got worse, and John attempted suicide. Embarrassed and struggling to keep up appearances, the Gallaghers covered up what had happened. After years of secrecy, the family recently began to tell their story and as result, they have become a stronger family.
The Gallaghers' presentation, which is free and open to the public, will be held Saturday, Oct. 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Village of Pinehurst Assembly Hall. Seating is limited to 250 people.
The Gallaghers will sign copies of their book Sunday, Oct. 4, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Village of Pinehurst Assembly Hall. Their book, which will be available at the presentation and booksigning for $15, is also available by mailing a $20 check payable to NAMI-MC, P.O. Box 4823, Pinehurst, NC 28374.
The Sandhills Rotary Club will be on hand to serve lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
According to Kernan, Sunday's events will bring the community together in a campaign designed to heighten public awareness of brain illnesses.
"We've planned activities to interest everyone," she says. "This outreach is meant to help all those affected and let them know we understand and are willing to help."
One of the events, the "Ask the Psychiatrists Forum," is designed to increase the public's knowledge of all brain illnesses through interaction with hosts Fernando Cobos, M.D., a psychiatrist with FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital's Outpatient Behavioral Services unit and forensic psychiatrist, Robert Gardella, M.D., of the University of Virginia Health System. They will take questions about any brain illness from the public. This event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at Village of Pinehurst Assembly Hall. Seating is limited to 250 people.
Later in the afternoon, individual walkers are invited to the Pathway to Awareness Walk. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. at the Village of Pinehurst Assembly Hall, and the walk begins at 3:15 p.m., rain or shine.
Walkers will stroll through the Pathway of Awareness, which is dotted with small signs marking the names of famous people who suffer or have suffered from a brain illness. The pathway is located in the Rassie Wicker Park that surrounds Village Hall. Walkers are encouraged to participate at their own comfortable pace, for a distance from one-half mile to two miles.
According to Kernan, many businesses, churches, medical practices, civic groups, and families have contributed to the Pathway to Awareness event. Those individuals interested in sponsoring or donating to this event prior to the event may contact NAMI-MC at 910-295-1053.
At the conclusion of the Pathway to Awareness Walk, the "Candles in the Sky" observance will be held on the grounds of Pinehurst Village Hall. Due to daylight hour, balloons will be substituted for the candlelight vigil that honors loved ones.
Balloons may be purchased prior to the event by contacting NAMI-MC, 295-1053 or onsite. The balloons cost $5 and will carry the name of a loved one or friend with a brain illness. The balloons are biodegradable and harmless to birds and wildlife.
"Everyone is welcome to watch the mass balloon launch, which promises to be a memorable way to conclude the Pathway to Awareness Weekend," says Kernan.
In addition to the weekend's activities, NAMI-MC is also offering an Interfaith Worship Service.
The service, which precedes the Pathway to Awareness Weekend, will be held at the Congregational Church of Pinehurst, 895 Linden Rd., on September 27, at 7:00 p.m.
Angela Oakes, who has struggled with brain illness, will be the featured speaker. She will share how she maintains good physical and mental health, and the public is encouraged to attend this free presentation.
In addition, several area churches will offer a free showing of the movie "Promise," one of the most honored movies in television history.
"Promise," which stars James Garner and James Woods, is a deeply-moving story of family love and loyalty. Bob, who is played by Garner, returns home for his mother's funeral knowing he must fulfill a promise made 30 years earlier to care for his younger brother (Woods), who has schizophrenia. When Bob eventually takes over responsibility for his younger brother's well-being, he embarks upon the most difficult challenge of his life.
This Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, which is free to the public, will be shown at 7 p.m. on the dates and at the locations shown on this page.
A full schedule of Pathway to Awareness activities may be found on this page. Information about the event may also be found at local establishments and businesses.
NAMI Moore County welcomes donations to the Pathway to Awareness Weekend. Make checks payable to NAMI Moore County and mail to P.O. Box 4823, Pinehurst, NC 28374. NAMI Moore County is an all-volunteer organization and is a registered 501 (c) (3) organization and donations are tax deductible.
For more information on NAMI visit www.nami.org.
Claudia Watson is a Pinehurst freelance writer and may be reached at email@example.com.
More like this story