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Show us Your Budget and You Show Us What You Value

Today I both threw up and cried in public. Not from a virus or because I ate something that didn’t agree with me. Because I am heartbroken and disgusted with the decided lack of adequate support for people who are hurting and for all of our friends we have lost unnecessarily. What we value becomes our fate. What we value is expressed in our actions. And our actions write our legacy. What seems clear is that the promise of leaving a legacy for our children where people are supported and valued by our state is simply a mirage. That is, if you look at the current version of the proposed state budget. And that is why I was sick.

“According to the legislature’s Fiscal Research Division’s breakdown of federal spending in the budget, there is $283 million left to allocate from the federal government for coronavirus relief under the American Rescue Plan.” (NC News & Observer)

There were no new programs in SUD or behavioral health. No acknowledgment of the sacrifices our behavioral health workforce that work- day in and out- during the pandemic to try to keep their patients and peers alive. The stories we hear from all of you of the anguish and emotional toll this work takes on folks is just heart breaking.

For those of you who know me, I’m not known for being soft, cuddly or overly emotional. I am not known for social media presence and loving the spotlight. But I am known for being able to focus on what matters and not being afraid to fight for what I value. What I value is you. It is our collective story. It is the power of our connections to heal each other. It is our insight that we have gained through the pain and struggle of losing loved ones. Of not being able to get help when it should be there. And in our ability for compassion with each other even during the most difficult times. This is how we heal.

Our shared stories and collective struggles are of value. We are of value. All of the tears, rage, heartache, helpless feelings, dismissals and stigma we receive matters. Even if our state leaders are not willing to value them. I do, and I know you do too. So, let’s tell our story. Let’s weave the fabric of where we are and where we have been. Let’s rely on ourselves and our connection to heal where our leaders are failing us. Let’s build our own legacy for our children.

For the little girl hiding in a closet right now because she is trying to keep herself safe. For the woman who was denied a job when the employer found out she had a history of substance us in her past. For her son, who sees her struggle every day to overcome the barriers to staying in recovery, and for fulfilling the vision of how he sees her strength and beauty in the fight. For the mom, who has been to hell and back trying to get her daughter the right treatment. For the young person who has been victimized and is now acting out their pain in ways that are self-destructive. For the social worker or human service worker who is carrying the emotional load and trauma of everyone they work with every day- who likely still struggling to make ends meet financially. For the person who feels guilty for being the “lucky” one to have been able to access help and get well when they see their friends who can’t. For the one who left the helping profession because the load is too hard, and you can make more money mowing lawns, so now you help in your free time. For the memory of everyone we have lost. For all of us.

Your pain is our pain. Your struggle is our struggle. Your strength is our strength. Your fight is our fight.

We are starting a blog and place for storytelling on social media platforms. This is our collective journal. APNC will continue to make meaningful connections, as we have been throughout the pandemic. We will post a blog once a week over the next two months and follow it up with social media conversation. But this is all of us. It is our story. It is our values that determine our legacy- not our state leaders. That much is clear. Please JOIN IN and share by following THIS LINK. 


-Sarah Potter
APNC Executive Director