Meet: Across All Lines


The part of my story I am sharing with you is about my experience with being the daughter of a mom who suffered with extreme mental illness and addictions.

I remember thinking I could fix her.  And, I thought if I got her Cascade dishwasher soap that promised the dishes would be sparkling clean, she would smile as big as the ladies on the commercials. But, we didn’t even have a dishwasher.  I was six years old and just knew I wanted her to be happy.

Heather as a baby with her mother

When I was in college and had some of my own money, I kept trying. I bought her a cherry yellow comforter thinking if I could brighten up her space, her mood would brighten as well.

It didn’t work. It was stained with cigarette holes and her depression didn’t lift.

After I got a full time job, I bought her flowers and a stuffed animal and left it in her car as a surprise.  But, she accused me of a being part of a conspiracy and threw it all away. This was about the time I realized I could not fix her.

Nothing I could buy, nothing I could do, nothing I could become would “fix” her.

Her mental illness and addictions were bigger than all my want to make her better. What I learned is that I could still be there for her while she battled. That part of me didn’t have to die, just because I couldn’t help her.  I tried to let her know she was not alone. I tried to help her see the light, when she couldn’t find it.  And I tried to gently share resources I thought may help.

But I could not take ownership of her hurts and her decisions. I could only own my stuff  while giving her grace and forgiveness – even if she didn’t ask for it.

She passed away in April of 2015.  After she passed away, I thought about how we could remember her and honor her struggle after she was gone. It started with the thought of my family to walk in Gahanna where she lived and I grew up and now teach.

But then the thought occurred to me “why walk alone?”

Heather & Her family today

I know there are so many people who struggle with the challenges of life – sometimes with mental illness, sometimes as the person who loves someone with mental illness, sometimes grieving, sometimes struggling with addiction – there isn’t a person who isn’t in some way touched by these challenges and struggles of life.

From these thoughts, the grassroots, local Across All Lines organization was formed.  “Across All Lines,” because these issues go across all lines – gender, socioeconomic status, age, race, culture, etc.

Last year we had our first annual walk to kick off mental health awareness month and children’s mental health awareness week on May 1st. And, the community support and turnout was inspiring.  So, this year we will walk again on Sunday, May 7th at 1:00 in Gahanna.
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