I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas on behalf of my family to all of yours. I want to sincerely thank everyone for the overwhelming support you all have expressed. Daniel is doing well and (knock on wood) has not had any episodes lately. I have read him many of your special messages to him and he cannot believe how many of you are affected by mental illness like he is. Just like many of you, he truly thought he was the only one on this wild roller coaster ride from hell. He felt comfort with your stories of struggles just like you felt comfort with his.
I want to thank Bob Carolla of NAMI National. He was the first one to initiate this story by connecting me with Wayne Drash. Thank you for your wonderful efforts to helping those with mental illness.
Wayne Drash, the moment you and I spoke we had an instant connection about our own struggles with our boys and the stigma we have both dealt with. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for graciously taking our story and writing the best piece ever. You are a talented writer and without your brilliance we wouldn't have been able to reach thousands of those struggling in secret. You have changed and inspired many people to open up and reach out for help. I don't know how I could ever repay you for what you have done for our family. Starts with family and ends with family... :)
Evelio Contreras, you are the most humble man I have ever met. Thank you for treating Daniel the way you did. I appreciate your talent and how you told his story beautifully with the video. Thank you for spending time with our family. It was a pleasure getting to know you and I hope we can continue to stay in contact. I know your mom is looking over you with so much pride. Thank you!
To CNN, thank you all for an amazing experience. You have some wonderful people working for you. Thank you very much for being protective of my son's identity and protecting him from the negative comments. I know mental illness isn't a topic too many want to discuss but thank you for bringing awareness to the public. I know that a few shrugged their shoulders to our story and some didn't have faith that it would do much for anyone (stigma). Never let an opportunity to change the world slip away. You never know what good you may have done or been a part of. Our story definitely touched many lives and I would like to think that it helped many people like me out there...never underestimate the power of a true writer at heart or that of video journalist that seeks the truth and portrays it as it should be. Thanks again to those who wholeheartedly participated and made this all possible.
Last but definitely not least, to the one person who has stood by me for the last couple of years. Jose, thank you for stepping in when we had no one. You saved me and you continue to help me save Daniel. Your support and love mean everything to me and my children. Thank you for opening your heart and treating Daniel like he was your own son. I love you with all my heart and appreciate you more than you will ever know.
Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope 2014 will be a prosperous year full of change for everyone and especially for those in the mental health community.
I'm a mother with an agenda to save her son from the grips of his mental illness and stop stigma so that those who suffer in silence can seek help without fearing the worse. Join me on this roller coaster ride..you're no longer alone.