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Your are not alone in this fight

Spread the word! "You are not alone in this fight" when it comes to mental illness.

Our goal is to raise $300,000 by Dec. 31, 2012. Your donations help NAMI provide free education and support programs, publish reports and provide resources for people in need.

This year we're asking you to share your story to inspire hope and break down stigma everywhere.

Submit your Video or Story

Dana's Story

As a person growing up with a bipolar/schizophrenic mother who first tried to commit suicide when I was five, you think that I would have been ready for my bipolar diagnosis. Since it didn't come until I was 47, though, I was thrown completely for a loop. I had been diagnosed with depression for a year. My doctor finally said that the medication wasn't working and that she thought I had bipolar disorder. I literally felt that she had socked me in the stomach. That was the worst day of my life. My mom lived a life of total chaos, sometimes taking her meds and sometimes not. I thought that I was now condemned to that chaos for the rest of my life.

I started seeing a series of psychiatrists. I was very lucky in that my boss was a good friend and could tell that I was working hard to deal with my condition and still do a good job at work. Also, my family was supportive and my two best friends, Becky and Sue, were life-savers.

But that didn't help how I felt inside. I spent two years calling myself a freak and any other names I could think of. I had never had a role model that showed me it was possible to live a "normal" life as someone with bipolar disorder. Slowly I learned that was possible.

In April of 2009 I was laid off. I spent 2 years looking for work, terrified that I would end up in a stressful situation that would trigger my bipolar. And, of course, I couldn't tell them that I had bipolar disorder in the interview. Next. Eventually someone suggested that I apply for permanent disability. I ended up getting a lawyer who went to my church and it took only 4 months for me to receive my permanent disability, which everyone said was a miraculously short amount of time.

Today, I have a good life. It seems strange to me to be "retired" at age 54 but I have made a life. I do some volunteering and I sing at my church for services, weddings and funerals. I have found a wonderful psychiatrist and, though we are once again fiddling with my meds, I trust him completely.

So, even though this was one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through, I have and will continue to make it through.


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