Within a month of completing training for In Our Own Voice and having been a presenter several times, a fairly recent acquaintance of mine shared with me that she had been diagnosed three years ago with Bipolar II disorder. Well, it was more like whispering it to me. Kathy (not her real name) admitted that she had not really accepted her own diagnosis, didn’t like the way her meds left her feeling and had dismissed therapy as a treatment and coping tool. Although Kathy knew I had a mental health diagnosis, I hadn’t known of her challenges and difficulties until now.
I could feel Kathy’s pain when I looked into her eyes as she shared with me. When I mentioned NAMI and the In Our Own Voice program to Kathy, she quickly said that she wanted to attend a presentation. I was so happy that I could describe the program to her--she was receptive-- and refer her to our program scheduler. Kathy looked relieved when I told her that her diagnosis was not her fault.
I am amazed, despite all the great work that NAMI does and the national, state and local reaches of the organization, many have not heard of NAMI. It’s exciting and an honor to help educate people about NAMI and all the wonderful things it does and offers, spreading the message of hope for recovery from a serious mental illness.
I’ve just begun my journey with the In Our Own Voice program, and I feel confident that by sharing my story, I can help spread NAMI’s mission and message and offer hope to others living with a serious mental illness as well as to their families, friends, maybe even employers. Opening as many minds as possible is vital to stamping out the stigma ascribed to mental illness.
Just for today, especially because of my training and participation in In Our Own Voice, I was able to offer hope and open one mind. I am looking so forward to being able to do so much more for others who may yet be in the shadows of stigma. For me, In Our Own Voice is truly about offering hope and opening minds.
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