Robin C. is very busy these days. He no longer has time to sit in the shade on his patio, sipping lemonade and reading the great works of literature that he collected over the years in anticipation of retirement. The problem is that he has gotten involved with NAMI’s highly successful stigma busting program called In Our Own Voice.
In 1956 Robin became ill with schizophrenia at the age of thirteen. Within weeks he had become completely dysfunctional. Fortunately, his psychiatrist thought that mental illnesses were brain diseases and treated him accordingly. This treatment was then truly revolutionary. At the time there was only one medication and it didn’t work for Robin. With his doctor’s guidance he tried every new medication as it was introduced until 1966, when they discovered a neuroleptic that relieved his symptoms. He then applied all the coping skills his psychiatrist had taught him as growth tools in managing his new life. He went on to college, graduate school, and a highly successful business career as a senior executive with several Fortune 500 companies and as an investment banker and entrepreneur.
Robin has always wanted to advocate for people living with mental illness, and especially to reduce the stigma associated with these disorders. However, he lacked the means for making his voice heard. NAMI’s In Our Own Voice Program has given him the perfect vehicle. He now spends a significant amount of his time working with the program. He serves as a Presenter, a National Trainer of Presenters, and as the Coordinator of the NAMI Mercer County New Jersey program.
When recently asked if he minds all the hard work, Robin replied, “I’m having more fun now, and am accomplishing a great deal more than I ever have before. I’m thrilled to be a part of the In Our Own Voice Program. I recommend it highly to consumers in recovery of any age or walk of life. It serves a very important social function and has been a liberating experience for me. It isn’t at all the kind of retirement I had envisioned for myself; it’s much, much better.”