NAMI MEMBERS CORNER
The NAMI Philadelphia Member's Corner is the place to find the latest news, announcements, features, and user submitted content.
As such, we're always looking for content from our members. This could mean quotes, short stories about recovery, memes, pictures and illustrations, anything of relevance to NAMI Philadelphia that you wish to share with others.
If you are a member and wish to submit content, please email Amy Federer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A True Tale of Strength
From NAMI's Speak Up Saturday, 9/14/2019
My name is Michael, and like so many others, I am a survivor of trauma.
For years, I viewed life through doleful, frightened eyes. My parents were both viced in the grip of addiction. My father was an angry drunk, born in an age where as a man, you had better to learn to keep yourself sick with a straight face. My mother was the victim of reprehensible domestic and familial abuse; a prisoner to her own warring inner trauma and the looming spectre of costly, deleterious choices that rendered her care for us an impossibility. I am the youngest of three brothers. The eldest ran away from home at 15, unable to take it any longer. My middle sibling and I were sent to the system, where we were subjected to all forms of household despotism; an abuse of a nature that was emotional, physical, sexual and psychological. For four years, we endured a purgatory of wickedness that far too many in this world bear as a result of pitiful oversight.
We were eventually adopted by a wonderful man, but Life was not through welding my Crucible, and making me strong. I was incredibly close with my brothers. They both committed suicide, just shy of or shortly after their 21st birthdays. One in 1998, the other in 2009. Victimized by their own insufferable pain, they traded all their potentiality to assuage the anguish of darker days of yore.
It is important to mention that the younger of the two took his life years after we were adopted. One of the most erroneous conjectures in regards to trauma is that we simply find ways to "get over it," when in all actuality we never do. It is an imperative, of a grand order, that we do DAILY work to learn to WALK with it.. and eventually, give through it.
The ignorance of the callous austerity that stigmatizes people who struggle with suicidality enrages me. The notion that they are selfish people is a repugnant and myopic view. More times than not, it is not martyrdom; it is a sad fact that those who take their own lives truly believe that they burden others with what they deem as irreparable. At the core of their pain, they believe their exodus is a world service - that life is truly better without them in it.
I sat with the demon myself, rope in hand in a dingy hotel room, ready to end the legacy of three sons no one really seemed to want. But somewhere from within, I knew that I had seconds to make a call... And I am so, so glad I did. Something clicked... As an introverted soul, I finally understood... That this sickness is maladaptive. It grows while we remain silent. It was time to get wholly uncomfortable.
Men, please talk about it. Please. I wish my brothers would've as I have. Extol your pain. It takes a man to feel. It takes strength to cry, and if you only utter the solemnity in your heart, you'll be matched doubly with sincere and LIFE SAVING solidarity. Following my hotel room awakening, I went to a Crisis Center, and subsequently into a Men's Trauma program. I owe my life to these services, there isn't a shadow of a doubt in my mind.
Suicide is very rarely formulaic, or planned. When we die without cause, it is usually in the wake of five or ten peaked, intolerable minutes where we cannot calm ourselves down, or conversely, return to a place where we feel properly, if at all - the empty cavern is as deadly as the flood.
As I sit today, I am grateful for my pain, for as I work through it, I am rendered irreplaceable support, love and commiseration. I give to others through the beautiful medium of solidarity, and have found within me something I can only call a soul. I lean into joy without foreboding, and cling to the SMALL, SIMPLE things in life that make it worth living. It all started with me raising my voice.
They say the good die young. Seemingly, they uniquely touch our world before they do.
How Bipolar Support Groups Helped Change My Life
by Laura Riordan
Read Laura's recovery diary at OC87recoverydiaries.org
About Laura Riordan
After many years of riding the bipolar roller coaster, Laura is finally "living well" by working daily to tame the bipolar beast. She is an Account Executive for a tech staffing company and lives in the Philly suburbs with her significant other and their modern blended Brady Bunch family of 6 kids. She has facilitated meetings and participated on the board of a local DBSA support group for over 10 years. Check out dbsalliance.org to find out more and to look for one in your area! She also interacts online regularly in Gabe Howard's engaging and supportive Facebook group, Positive Depression and Bipolar Happy Place.
The Stigma of Mental Illness
First of all, what is the definition of the word stigma? A stigma means a " mark of disgrace, or infamy" The word infamy is defined as a " evil reputation, public reproach, or strong condemnation as a result of a shameful, criminal, or outrageous act." One might conclude from these definitions, that mental illness, in most cases, should not have a stigma. But nevertheless, it does. I hope this article sheds a beam of light, knowledge and hope for everyone who has dealt with the mental illness stigma.
I have lived with an anxiety disorder since young adulthood, but I have gotten better over time. I have obsessive compulsive disorder. I knew my behavior and thoughts were disordered,i.e checking to make sure a door was locked over and over again, and a fear of germs, so I cleaned something that really didn't need to be cleaned. I also had obsessive thoughts, and a very difficult time making simple decisions. However, after reading and hearing psychiatrists, and psychologists, I began to know the difference between a severe neurosis, and a psychosis. At the onset of a psychosis- schizophrenia, depressive psychosis, etc.- people lose their grip on reality. They can be withdrawn, and exhibit bizarre, and sometimes delusional behavior and also intellectual and emotional deterioration. But here is the good news, modern medicine can greatly reduce these symptoms, and the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, among other mental illnesses. It was discovered many years ago that there was a biological explanation for these behaviors, the brain itself was diseased, and not functioning like a relatively healthy brain. After people took psychiatric medications, they began to experience a great decrease in their symptoms, and even at times total improvement. Medicines for the treatment of mental disorders have improved considerably. A person who even had a psychosis, can begin to think normally. I have written these things to let everyone know they do not have to be fearful with respect to their mental illness. I had a severe neurosis, an anxiety disorder, and when I felt better I had no fear of meeting people and talking to them about myself, or any other subject. I would even tell them that I suffered from a mental illness. And the most important thing is probably not to talk with someone right away about your mental illness. You should get to know them first, and they you. When you are friends, and when the right chance comes, then you can talk about how you suffered from a mental disorder, but be absolutely sure you describe the mental illness exactly how you experienced it, and they will know you are and never did lose touch with reality. Show people you are loving and caring, and they may even talk to you about some of their own difficulties in life.
You have to understand, and accept that you know more than others do! So therefore be confident because you're the teacher, and not them. If I said it before, I'll say it again, mental illness is more prevalent than you may think. Besides most people suffer at different times with some level of anxiety and/or depression. You can help them know that they are not alone, and they may even feel better, knowing they could be worse. Most importantly, of course, the stigma of mental illness will decrease, all for the good! You and other people will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!
Sincerely, and wholeheartedly,
William F. Eliason, BS