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Olympic Swimmer, Amanda Beard, Speaks to Reduce Stigma

We recently had the opportunity to hear American swimmer Amanda Beard, a seven-time Olympic medalist, speak in Omaha on behalf of Community Alliance at their annual “Breaking the Silence” event.  Her visit called attention to health issues caused by mood disorders and emotional challenges, including the resulting devastation upon people’s lives when these challenges are neither recognized nor addressed.

Amanda reflected on the years of emotional turmoil with which she coped, or didn’t cope, and how her personal life continued to spiral downward because of poor self-image, lack of opportunities to talk openly and share her emotional challenges, and the pressures of being a teenage media personality.  Severe depression, anorexia, bulimia, and self -injury through cutting became her coping tools.

When she finally received help and learned more appropriate, effective life-coping skills, Amanda realized that she needed to speak out against the stigma that prevents people from seeking help for mental health concerns in the first place.  She urges families to keep open the lines of communication and practice patience and understanding, because stigma hurts.

Much like message of The Kim Foundation’s Not Alone radio program, Amanda reminded the audience that we are Not Alone in our life journey. We all have flaws, but she generally believes all people are good.   We are Not Alone in our bad relationships and we are Not Alone when we make bad decisions.  However, we do need to learn consistency in using individual recovery tools and coping mechanisms.

It is my hope that Amanda’s story will help others find the help, the hope, and the healing that is available through some of the quality services and agencies in Nebraska, such as Community Alliance.  Carole Boye, the CEO of Community Alliance, said that the organization serves over 2000 people per year, as they each find their own very unique journey of recovery.