Picture from D.C. 2A few weeks ago I traveled to Washington, D.C. to educate legislative staff about the Murphy Bill, a mental health bill in which some provisions as drafted would have a detrimental effect on many Texans with mental illness.  I was asked to go since I am chair of the mental health advisory committee for Disability Rights Texas, the protection and advocacy organization for Texans with disabilities.
As a family member of someone with mental illness, and through my friendships with mental health council members, I was able to relate personal stories to the congressional staff that mere statistics could not convey.  Patty Anderson, Deputy Director of Disability Rights Texas, shared stories of real people with mental illness whose lives were helped by the work of DRTx.  The stories were more persuasive to the staffers than legal arguments.
I enjoyed visiting the congressional offices and taking part of the political process, but I also learned two important life lessons:

  1. Use our talents, gifts and positions to make life better for others.  I believe we have an obligation to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves, such as people with mental illness who have no voice in Washington.
  2. Use the hardships and struggles we’ve experienced to benefit of others.  We are able to help others only when we share our story of pain.  “Don’t hog the journey!”
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