Each ride-day the Light the Trail team will #Ride4 a victim of suicide to honor and celebrate their life, and to further healthy conversation about this important topic. If there’s someone you’d like us to #Ride4, please visit the #Ride4 page.

September 9, 2017: #Ride4 Rachel Elizabeth Virden Hulscher (by Lee Virden Dubose)

Tell us about them…

My sister was the bravest, strongest, most determined person I knew. She lived with her mental diseases for all of her adult life, and yet, she had a greater capacity for feeling pure joy than most people. I think she saw beauty more keenly, felt wonder more completely, and loved more entirely.

How has your perspective of depression and suicide shifted over time?

I struggle with answering this question. I have major depression but have never been suicidal. Rachel attempted suicide numerous times before succeeding. I once asked her what it was like to be suicidal. She answered,

“It’s like being in the deepest trench in the deepest ocean in the world. There is no light. There is no oxygen. There is no yesterday or tomorrow. There is only darkness and pressure and pain and now.”

Given that Rachel lived a great deal of her life in that darkness, I cannot blame her for killing herself.

I guess Rachel’s death has made me less tolerant of the stigma surrounding mental diseases, more willIng to tell people that I have a mental disease so that they stop judging. They are diseases, not moral judgements. They are not shameful.

This is the twenty-first century! And yet, in many ways, our attitude toward mental diseases is firmly stuck in the early part of last century. We no longer whisper “cancer,” but mental illnesses remains taboo.

Goodness. I seem to have gotten up on my soapbox. I apologize. I just get so very frustrated. And I miss my sister. Every damn day.

A small special way we can celebrate them on the road?

Rachel was a wetlands biologist. Enjoy your ride. See the beauty all around you. Appreciate nature.