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I did NAMI and this is how it went…

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Krista Bailey

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September 24th, 2017 was the 15th annual NAMI Walk. NAMI stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness. For those who do not know NAMI was created in 1977, by two moms who shared similar experiences. They both had sons with schizophrenia. NAMI’s mission is to “support, educate, and advocate” for people in Maine who are affected by mental illness. Going into it I was not too sure what to expect, but everyone there was extremely friendly. After you registered, you got a sign you could write on and pin to yourself. Some read: “I walk for…”

“To end stigma”
“Awareness”
“My cousin”
“Everyone”
“Mom and Dad”
Others had some people’s names on it.
Another thing that was set up was another sign that said “NAMI Maine supported me when…”:
“I’d lost faith in my ability to move forward…”
“Giving me a voice”
“Understanding my experience”
“Showing compassion and support for our families and patients 😊 Thank You NAMI”
“Supporting my patients!”
“Education me on what could help”
“My son becoming sick”
“I was feeling alone”
“Connecting with wonderful people”
“Knowing we are not alone”
“I was at my limit”

 

These are just a few ways NAMI has helped people, these signs were all hung up for everyone to see. There were also posters of people with a summary of their story of how they were changed due to mental health.

One story that stood out to me:

“Some of my earliest memories as a child were telling myself, ‘I won’t be crazy like my mom, I won’t be crazy like my mom.’ I loved her, she was a great nurse, but her struggles with bipolar and substance use helped shape my childhood. I was too ashamed and embarrassed to ask for help. I’ve lived my entire life in a sad, dark place believing I’d never be good enough. My depression started very young and has had a profound impact on many of the decisions I’ve made in my life. It was only after getting help that I realized I could feel differently. Living with major depressive disorder doesn’t make me any less of a man, in fact getting the help I needed to start my journey toward feeling better is one of the bravest things I have done in my 25 years in law-enforcement.”

This is just one story of many that has been impacted by mental illness. Soon after that the walk started, about half way, there were signs that people had made.

Some of them said:

“The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”
“No matter how bad it gets you always have hope love dreams and a chance!!!”

One of my friends had created a team “Christopher Rosa” who lost his life to suicide about three years ago. We walked to honor his memory and against the stigma of mental illness. Together our team raised $630. This was my first walk and it certainly will not be my last.

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