NAMI
National Alliance on Mental Illness
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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

Renee's Story

It started in high school when I was about 16. I had my first breakdown in high school when school got really stressful and exercising a great deal. I saw hallucinations and delusions and thought the radio was playing my music. I was taken to a doctor where I was told I was having a psychotic break. I was put on a meds and started seeing a child psychiatrist for a while. All I knew is that I wanted to get out of high school, because it was embarrassing as a teenager to go through something like that around the other kids. Senior year I was doing well, but I had to skip so much school that I barely made it out of there. I had a friend that wasn’t the problem I just didn’t want to be judged by other classmates so I stayed very quiet about it. After high school I was doing really well so I asked the doctor if I could go off my meds and he said yes, because at that time they thought it was hormones and being a teenager.  Basically they just thought I had a nervous breakdown.

I made some friends there for the time being that helped me through the hospital ordeal, because the first few days I was really scared about being there.

After high school I went to college and everything seemed fine, but I started drinking and experimenting with marijuana after moving out with a roommate. I did pretty well in college and was able to get an AA degree and into Eastern Washington University. I had a great job and I was on top of the world.  That didn’t stop me from drinking and partying because it was the only thing that made me seem “fun” and “outgoing.” In the winter of 2007 I got laid off from my job and thought, well, what I am going to do know. This put me into a depression and the only thing I wanted to do was smoke more pot and drink more alcohol. I thought a trip to Las Vegas would make me feel better, but all I did was stay up all night and drink. When I got back I went right back out with my friends, but I was exhausted, but I didn’t care I went out anyways. I partied so hard that it sent me into a manic episode—into a paranoid psychotic break—and straight into the hospital.

It’s been six years, but recovery is an everyday process and I still struggle with depression from time to time.

I went to Eastern State Hospital and let’s just say it was an experience I will never forget. I made some friends there for the time being that helped me through the hospital ordeal, because the first few days I was really scared about being there. The experience was not the best, especially when I have never been treated like that in my life. I think the hardest part for me to grasp was that nobody told me I was bipolar I had to hear it from a piece of paper. This made me livid, but I knew that I had to change my life around after I got the diagnosis. The day I left (they must not have much faith in you) a worker there said, “Good luck!” It didn’t sound very positive, but I told myself I would take good care of myself from that day forward.

It’s been six years, but recovery is an everyday process and I still struggle with depression from time to time.  After I got out of the hospital I was put on a medication where I gained 60 pounds, slept all the time and I couldn’t even smile. My wonderful doctor took me off it and put me on a new drug that really helped. I liked it, but I struggled with insomnia for a long time. I finally figured out that after eating and a nightly routine it works a lot better so I am still on it. I am able to work on it, I have energy to get me through the day and I have lost weight. 

Life is good. I can’t believe I have made it this far.

I have lost a lot of so called “friends” along the way and had to drop out of college. I have great friends, family and have had awesome psychiatric treatment. The reason I am doing so well is because I was with my doctor until he retired and with my counselor until he passed away. They knew so much about bipolar disorder and learned a lot from them throughout the years. 

Some years have been harder than others, but the last two years I have been able to hold a full time job and a stable relationship. I never thought in a million years that I would get married, but my husband has been through a lot in his life to and we bonded right away. He was the first person I could be my true self with and we just got married in August. I am also getting involved with NAMI and am excited to get more involved. I even applied to become a NAMI Peer-to-Peer counselor, something I was actually in school for. That is one of my goals, but another goal is to fight stigma, because I know it’s still out there today. Life is good. I can’t believe I have made it this far.

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