Birthday’s are hard when you’re hardly in a celebratory mood. I’m not much of a “big day” person anyway. I’m a bit uncomfortable when people make a fuss over me. It feels undeserving. I’m never quite sure how to react. Is a simple thank you enough for the well wishes and presents? It never quite seems so. So then I’m left unsure.

People who love to help others are often the worst at allowing themselves to be helped. I certainly fit that bill.

Thank you. Hundreds of thank you’s to the to the hundreds of little wings that have been providing us lift and supporting us through this. If you sent a note on Twitter or Facebook or email or did something concrete over the past week or so, this includes you. Even those who just thought about it and help us in their hearts and minds for a second. Thank you. I am humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, sympathy, and support we’ve received through this.

One of the most surprising things about sharing this ordeal with others is the many people who have come forward with some form of a “me too” story. Whether is was a “crazy uncle” or a sibling or a parent or themselves. It seems everyone has been touched in some way by mental illness at some point in their lives — large or small. It certainly has helped me feel less alone, less ashamed, and given me more peace and comfort than I thought would be possible in a time like this.

But, it also tells me we have a health crisis. Just as everyone I know has been touched in some way by cancer, mental illness is equally pervasive and worthy of our fucks.

The best way I can think of for folks to help, especially those not local to me, is to give money, volunteer, and support local mental health organizations in your area. Especially those who lobby and advocate directly at the state legislative level. Locally, Mental Health Association of Minnesota is a great choice. There are others, too. And I’m sure there’s a few where you are. Find them, donate, volunteer, etc.

Mental health resources and care are extremely lacking in this country and all over the world. I can say with confidence and knowledge that my son would not be where he is if he’d gotten the help he so desperately needed and that we begged the system for. Our goal and hope now is that this leads to Maxim getting some semblance of the help he needs. I don’t know that I have enough faith in our system to rest on that hope but we will certainly do all that we can to try. Part of that, is doing what we can to fix the system. Maybe if we all did our part we can prevent more suffering and death.

We’ll get through this — because in life what alternative is there? One is either dying to live or living to die so the only reasonable choice is to survive and thrive. Your support is very much appreciated.