Those of you who have been reading my blog, and those of you who know me personally know I’m good at sharing important, gruesome, sad, exciting, powerful pieces of my life so others’ lives may be impacted positively. You have seen that I use my voice to make a difference. You’ve witnessed as I have raised thousands of dollars for the Arthritis Foundation, as I’ve shared my story openly on my blog and in local and national news stories about healthcare. Those of you who know me best know that I love hosting potlucks – what you may not know is that I love hosting potlucks so much because I love bringing people together who would not otherwise meet. I love creating community, introducing strangers, being a nucleus to a gathering.
It’s my turn to ask for help now from all the communities I’ve created around me. I’m not so good at sharing the most internally terrifying pieces of my life, the pieces that I am embarrassed about and that are impacting my survival a great deal. I am not good at asking for help. I come across as a strong, independent person. The reality is that for months now I’ve lived in fear of becoming homeless. For almost a year now I’ve lived with extreme depression and anxiety that has left me unable to work full-time and almost unable to work part-time. I have panic attacks, I have difficulty carrying on conversations with people I don’t know (and with many people I DO know), I have insomnia and nightmares and extreme mental anguish that compounds the physical struggles I have. I feel stuck.
So now, I come out as someone who has decided to seek Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). It’s a difficult, extremely terrifying decision that affects the rest of my life. Friends, I’m good at sharing my story, but this part I couldn’t share on my own. When my dear friend, Cyd, offered to start a crowdfunding campaign to help me survive until an answer comes along (SSDI or some other solution) I was frightened and relieved – frightened that my life has gotten to this point and relieved there was a friend willing to gather a community of friends together to help support me. Please read Cyd’s beautiful witness to my struggle and consider helping me during this hardest part of my young life. These are the pieces of my story that are the most painful. I’ve been through too much…and I’m finally, vulnerably, asking for people – strangers, even – to help me.
I hope you’ve read my post about the meaning of my name, Charis. If not, all you need to know is that one of the meanings of Charis is ‘gift.’ Right now, during this excruciating time, I seek gifts. I am asking you to be Charis with me, and give. Help me by being Charis.
Click this link to read about my current struggle and donate, if so moved. *Post edited on 1.14.2015: This fundraiser has expired but the description is still live and accurate. I am still struggling. If you feel compelled to help, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As an end note, Ankylosing Spondylitis will not win. Neither will mental illness.