Several years ago I was in the depths of despair. I did not know I was sick, my marriage was on the rocks and I had lost my sister. I felt angry, rejected, abandoned, helpless and worthless. I was spending too much time alone having crying spells or sleeping too much. I had racing thoughts and was aggressive towards others and he was suicidal that’s when his former partner convinced him to get some help. I was admitted to Holly Hill Hospital where I was treated for two months before being transferred to Dorothea Dix Hospital. When I got there I had lost 58 pounds and was so weak I was in a wheelchair.
At the hospital is where I learned about and gained hope for the possibility of recovery...
I credit the dedicated respectful staff there with helping me get the right therapy and treatment. At the hospital is where I learned about and gained hope for the possibility of recovery from my mental illness. In spite of my diagnosis one of my most fervent quests has been trying to keep Dorothea Dix open. They worked very hard with patients and I know they really turned my life around. If it were not for them I would not be here today.
With that for motivation I wrote letters, made calls, sent emails and made speeches to try to convince politicians to keep Dix open. Unfortunately, not even my monumental efforts could stop the political process and the last patients were moved from the Dix campus this year. I have not let my illness keep me down and I am a staunch self-advocate and advocate for others with mental illnesses people who can’t understand how terrible something is until they experience it themselves.
Many of us changed the way we feel about those with mental illness after we experienced it ourselves.
Many of us changed the way we feel about those with mental illness after we experienced it ourselves. So I ask that you change the way you feel about us without having to face the agony of being diagnosed. Consider that you are just one accident or life tragedy away from a mental health diagnosis yourself. I have taken this message out to the community delivering my story to churches, groups patient groups, students and community groups hundreds of times through NAMI’s In Our Own Voice program. Because of it, many people in our community now have a better understanding of mental illness and the potential to live full and happy lives. One of my latest advocacy efforts is trying to ensure that North Carolina law makers understand the importance of fixing legislation that has threatened the survivability of group. I tell them how important it is to keep group homes open. I am an example of how effective they can be. NAMI Wake County has said that I have demonstrated steadfast courage in the face of mental illness and for that reason NAMI Wake County named me their 2012 person of courage, for which I am honored. Please let your own counties, cities and states know how important group homes are.
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