NAMI Presentation:In Our Own Voices

nami presentation 2                     On Tuesday, October 12, 2010, 66 Honors College students had the opportunity to listen to “In Our Own Voices,” a presentation by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.  During the presentation, two speakers shared their stories about their challenging pasts dealing with bi-polar disorder.  Students also had the opportunity to watch short video clips of others who have suffered with mental illness.  We heard about their darkest days, coming to terms with illness, treatments, and coping strategies. 

                 One of the speakers had been hospitalized over fifty times in the past twenty years. She related to us a story from her past that she now chooses to laugh at in order to stay strong and not break down.  After an ex-boyfriend had put a restraining order against her, she showed up at his house wearing a wedding dress, dancing around his front yard.  She was then arrested and spent time in jail.  She shares this story because she realizes how her behavior proves that an unstable person’s thoughts or actions can be ridiculous when bi-polar disorder is left untreated. Now she understands the importance of taking her medicine and going to therapy regularly. She has come a long way since her “dark days” and was excited to share her success story with us. 

                 The other speaker had been dealing with this illness for several years as well. Suffering through three very dark periods during the succession of her illness, this featured speaker eventually attempted suicide when her daughter was fifteen.  After a full year of recovery, she today is doing much better and living a fulfilling life.

                 This informative program was eye-opening and made students realize these illnesses are common and treatable.  The speakers were average people, similar to us, who developed their illness at around our age. We are now more aware and educated to pick up the warning signs of mental instability.  The best way to help a mentally ill person is to detect the problem early on and then try to stabilize the patient.  “In Our Own Voices” taught us these lessons with inspiration and humor.