It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I am suspending my campaign for Little Rock City Board of Directors. I got into this race because I believe that we owe it to our city and our state to give all of ourselves to create a better, safer and more loving community for every Arkansan. I promised to run a transparent campaign and in keeping with that promise, I want my supporters to know that I’m leaving this race after being admitted to The Bridgeway for intensive mental health treatment after chronic anxiety turned into a major depressive episode and suicidal thoughts. While I was able to receive intensive treatment during my week-long stay at The Bridgeway, I am still in the process of recovery and hope that Little Rock residents will be respectful of my space as I go through this process with the support of friends and family.Her name remains on the ballot. I've already cast an absentee ballot for her and there's no stopping others from making a similar symbolic gesture of support.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults−approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year. That means that we all have a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a teacher, a mentor or an elected official that is living with mental illness. It was our state’s very own President Bill Clinton who said, almost two decades ago, “mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” Even though we have made progress in the acceptance of mental illness as a legitimate disease in need of treatment, I plan to keep speaking out on these issues until mental illness stigma and bias are a distant memory.
Our city, our state, and even our country can not live up to their full potential if millions of Americans are made to cope with their illnesses in the shadows afraid of the judgment and dismissal that they might experience should they come into the light. If more people felt they would be met with love and not fear, maybe we could stem the tragic tide of lives being cut short due to depression and other serious mental illnesses. I hope that by speaking out about my own experience with mental illness, others will be willing to speak out about their struggles and know that they are not alone.
With the suspension of my campaign, any funds raised thus far will be used to pay off existing campaign debt and any remainder will be donated to local non-profits that provide support for individuals struggling with mental illness. If you wish to make a donation directly yourself, I encourage you to visit http://www.namiarkansas.org/ .
In order to have the potential to make a positive change in Little Rock, even if it is just in my own neighborhood, I have to make sure that I am caring for myself and my mental health. I hope that calling attention to this issue will encourage others to share the stories of their struggles and seek treatment for their own mental illnesses.