The Mighty Logo

My Friend's Act of Kindness While I Was in the Psychiatric Unit That Changed My Life

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

It wasn’t very long ago that I was in rehab for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar I, and the ice breaker for the day was, “What is one random act of kindness you have done and what is one random act of kindness you did for someone else?” It not only stirred our barely present minds, but it also opened the channels for people to reminisce and smile over things that we’ll never forget.

• What is PTSD?

One memory always comes to my mind, but first, you need some background. My mom was murdered in a mass shooting that took place in 2011, when I was a sophomore in high school. It was a freak accident that changed my life forever. Letters poured in from people across the country with their condolences and words of wisdom. I was inspired by how she impacted people around her, both inside and outside of her life as military personnel. Don’t worry, this is a happy story.

The year following her death, I started a tradition to create yellow ribbons and hand them out across all of my educational campuses, high school, college, and then into graduate school on Veterans Day, November 11th. I wanted people around me to remember the vets that died and not let the holiday be brushed under the rug. I love making them, I always start the week of my mother’s death in September. It has been so therapeutic to create such things by hand with hot glue, scissors, and some patriotic music. I was four days from completing my set goal of 1,000 when I became extremely depressed and suicidal. My butt ended up in the psychiatric unit. I wasn’t going to be able to pass out the ribbons or even finish them for the holiday while hospitalized. I was devastated.

I was discharged almost a week after Veterans Day and was doing well but still kind of bummed. I was walking to class on my first day back and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw my yellow ribbon pinned to someone’s backpack. I shrugged it off and almost felt even sadder. I then went to class and a professor was wearing my yellow ribbon on his tie. I was speechless because that was, without a doubt, my ribbon. I went to the next class and the student next to me and the TA across the room both had my yellow ribbon pinned to their backpack. I lost my marbles, as I love to say.

Turns out, my roommate finished making the ribbons and surpassed my goal of 1,000. She then proceeded to hand them out all around campus. She took time out her week to do something she saw as a simple favor, but her act of kindness changed my life forever. I hope to one day change someone else’s life with such a “simple” act of kindness.

Originally published: July 12, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home