August 12, 2016

Connect With NAMI And Connect With Others

By Guest Blogger John Freeburg, NAMIWalks Team Captain and NAMI Washington Board Member

I am writing today to share my story with you, and invite you to learn more about the National Alliance on Mental Illness during the True Help® Web event, Claiming Power to Improve Your Relationships, Thursday, Aug. 18, at noon CST.

NAMI, exercise and medication have been my escalator to regaining sanity. But first, let me explain how insane I became. My descent began in 1978. While I was a graduate student in New York City, the first symptoms of schizophrenia appeared. I thought horns were growing out of my head, I was afraid of a brass ornamental lamp and convinced I was Jesus. I lived in constant fear and, for more than 10 years, was plagued by delusions such as these—and worse. I eventually attempted suicide and, within a couple of years after that, I was homeless.

It was in the late 1990s that I first became involved with NAMI. The Connection Recovery Support Group training class helped me to understand and cope with my disease.

At NAMI conferences and conventions people openly learned about and discussed medications and issues I had only previously thought about in private. I entered a new common language, which has enabled me to grow and take charge of my recovery.

Invaluable Resources From A Community Of Support

NAMI has provided me and my family with invaluable resources and a community of support—and has also given me the privilege of leadership.

My experience has grown to include serving as board president of my local affiliate, NAMI Kitsap County, as well as serving two terms on the NAMI Washington state board, and being appointed as the representative to the National NAMI Consumer Council from Washington. I am proud of how far I have come on my journey back into the light, and I am grateful to NAMI for offering programs and opportunities that give new hope every day to people just like me.

Through NAMI we gain sanity—enough to give back. Through NAMI we reclaim power to improve our relationships and make meaningful connections.

NAMI’s Senior Education Program Manager Suzanne Robinson is a featured speaker for the Aug. 18 event, and will share information on NAMI signature programs.

Most family members and consumers benefit greatly from our classes, support groups and community presentation programs such as Family-to-Family, NAMI Basics for Parents, In Our Own Voice, and Connections Recovery Support Group. Others of us enjoy the leadership and advocacy opportunities that offer a chance to make our society stigma free. There is a place for everybody within NAMI.

Editor’s note: Please share the registration link for True Help Claiming Power to Improve Your Relationships, at, on Facebook and Twitter.

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