Bowling for Awareness



©Kristen Hook

Thankfully, current research has identified multiple paths to help alleviate two of the most stigmatized mental health issues in our society today — anxiety and depression. Some of these lanes include: healthy social networks, physical activity, purpose, belonging and bowling. Yes, bowling, as it encompasses all of the above and, in this specific case, it’s also for a good cause. Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 16 (registration deadline is Sept. 2) at the Pali Lanes in Kailua, the second annual “Hobo Bowling Tournament” will help increase awareness of these afflictions, which touch many of our lives and can potentially end in tragedy without some form of professional intervention.   

This fundraiser is organized by The Blue Gardenia Foundation, a nonprofit that was founded by Jodi Beaty, who lost her 21-year-old daughter, Amanda, to suicide after years of attempting to shield her struggles with anxiety and depression from her family. When speaking with several of Amanda’s friends, who knew more intimately of her challenges than her family at that time, Beaty asked, “Why didn’t you talk with me or someone about this?” They all replied that they didn’t know what to do or where to turn.

“It was at that moment I knew I had to do something and create a supportive resource,” Beaty says. “That interaction was the birth of The Blue Gardenia Foundation, (so named) as blue was Amanda’s favorite color, gardenia her favorite flower and ‘Hobo’ was the name she gave to herself.”

Beaty’s foundational goals are to decrease the continued lack of knowledge and resources to cope with anxiety and depression; to provide a safe place to explore these issues; and to bring awareness, in a positive way, through advocacy, education, research and community support — especially for children and young adults who are most at risk.

According to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-24 year olds and the 10th among all adults. In 2016, The New York Times reported that the suicide rate had reached a 30-year high. A leading spokeswoman for suicide prevention, Dr. Lena Pearlman encourages friends and family members to reach out immediately and contact mental health professionals and foundations like The Blue Gardenia if someone they know begins to show signs of anxiety, depression or suicidal ideations.

Yet, what are these signs? Ironically, the set of symptoms tends to take two distinct paths but with the same underlying theme: Withdrawal from family, friends and normal activities and/or the turning away and alienation from “self.” These warning signs are more noticeable when a person isolates himself/herself, has dramatic mood swings and talks about personal harm and/or injury. Conversely, the less obvious symptoms are exhibited by a person who is considered the “life of the party” but whose impulse control quickly degenerates and whose boundaries slowly begin to blur. In general, the latter type of behavior occurs when a person experiences a significant loss in his or her life but cannot express it outwardly due to societal or cultural norms and expectations. In other words, the façade of normality remains the same regardless of external circumstances. Depression can be viewed as not caring about anything, and anxiety as caring too much. When combined, a person lives in a perpetual exhaustingly, high-strung nightmare.       

Help is available but we need to get the word out. The “Hobo Bowling Tournament” accomplishes this while also removing archaic stigmas and preventing unnecessary loss of life. It does indeed take a village to increase awareness and decrease the deadly silence surrounding these issues. Sept. 16 is the day to partake in being a member of our village and as Beaty’s life and work implore, “Do something and choose love while doing it.”

 

For more information, email bluegardeniafoundation@gmail.com or visit thebgf.wixsite.com/bowling.

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