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Why I Started 'Jogging 4 Journals'

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How can a little bit of money go a long way in helping someone in the hospital with mental illness? I found out last year when I began my project called Jogging 4 Journals. J4J provides free journals to patients with mental illness so they can start their healing process through writing and drawing.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Jogging 4 Journals began in 2016, with me jogging a race a month and asking for donations in honor of that. I ran for five months, then had a mental health crisis and stopped for a while. Now, I am feeling better and want to resurrect J4J.

This year, I am doing things a little differently. I will be jogging three races throughout the year (April, June and October), and am asking people to donate in honor of my races, and all year long. Like usual, with the donations, I will buy journals (marble composition notebooks for 50 cents each at Target) and labels ($13 for 150). I use the labels to write out a loving message on and stick one on the first page of every journal. I give out 45 every other week to my local hospital’s (Franklin Square Hospital) Mental Health Unit.

I created Jogging 4 Journals because I live with bipolar disorder and anxiety. I have made great strides in my recovery, but I still struggle sometimes. I also care about all people who are struggling with brain illnesses, especially those in the hospital. Mental illness is so stigmatized, and I want to help combat that by showing patients with mental illness they are loved and they are not alone. I have been in the hospital more times than I can count, and so I get what  they’re going through, just trying to say yes to another day of life. Journaling is also a wonderful, helpful coping skill. I also chose a journal because I want the patients to feel that the journals they are given are something that is all their own in their recovery.

And the best news is that the journals are helping the patients! The other day I gave them out, and one of the nurses said that the patients love them and are always asking for them. They like that the journals I give out are much bigger than the ones given to them on the unit. They have ample room to write, draw or write out song lyrics they have come up with (like one patient did). They often take them to groups and take notes about the topics of the groups (like coping skills).

For this cause, I am partnering with a non-profit organization called NoStigmas. NoStigmas is based in Chicago, but does many things online. NoStigmas “empowers a global mental health community through education, support and action. It’s mental health our way, created for peers, by peers.” Among so many other things, NoStigmas has a Facebook Peer Group of which I am a part. The group is a place to gain encouragement and insight into our illnesses. By partnering with NoStigmas, we are going to split the donations half and half. They are a wonderful organization!

If you want to help me to brighten these patients days just a little, please consider donating to my project. The donation link is here. Your donation will go a long way! Even $5 will allow me to help eight to 10 patients! Thank you so much!  (You can find out more about Jogging 4 Journals on my Facebook page called You Are Loved.)

Thinkstock photo via lzf

Originally published: April 13, 2017
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