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Advocacy -- NAMI: IOOV Training

The NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) In Our Own Voice: Living with a Mental Illness (IOOV) training was phenomenal! Many of my peers left the training with a feeling of pride in having a mental illness. Way to go! Correction: the presentation is 90 minutes. It includes five segments: Dark Days, Acceptance, Treatment, Coping Skills, and Successes,Hopes, and Dreams. We stop the video to elaborate on each section in our personal experiences. There are two presenters and the presentation can be fulfilled in a variety of settings.

There is one element of the presentation I would like to discuss in more detail, Successes, Hopes, and Dreams. In the training I told the audience about this blog, which is a success because of you- Thank You! In addition to the blog, I shared information about my non-profit organization, Embracing My Mind, Inc. and how I would like to operate a wellness center with various groups to help people on their journey to recovery. My volunteer work with NAMI, and my hope of graduating from college. However, I forgot to mention the fact that I would like to own my own home and to write a book about my experiences with schizophrenia- good and bad and outcome- today leading groups to educate others about mental health and to reduce stigma.

The main reason why I am participating in and facilitating many mental health groups is because I want to contribute to the elimination of stigma, in general and next self-stigma. Stigma is negative perceptions someone has toward a group of people as a result of lack of education, fear, and exposure to. Self-stigma is when someone internalizes another's negative perceptions and limits their hopes, aspirations, and way of thinking that may eventually have a toil on their self-esteem. I believe education and exposure to mental illness will change perspectives and accordingly reduce stigma. And being an IOOV presenter is another way for me to work on dismantling stigma and self-stigma. If you are interested in seeing the In Our Own Voice presentation and you are in the Atlanta area, please contact me by email:

Recently, I made a huge change and took a great risk and sacrifice. I changed my major from business and marketing to psychology to benefit my goals of having a wellness center through Embracing My Mind, Inc. This was a great risk because by changing my major I pushed back my graduation date tremendously. I had two years of credits/classes in business and marketing. Now, I do not know how many classes will count toward my new major, but I am satisfied with my decision and I think it was one of the most fulfilling decisions I have made.

However, with so many things I have planned this fall I will also focus on limiting my stress. I plan on taking two classes in addition to leading support groups. To help cope with stress I enjoy writing- it is soothing, talking to family and listening to music. I know from research talking to my health care provider that I must manage my stress because if I do not the symptoms can return even though I am on medication. The medication helps me function but stress can sabotage its impact. Because I am anticipating some stress related to school I will write more often and let my doctor know if I experience any symptoms- voices, paranoia, delusions, etc.

In short, schizophrenia is a complicated illness that affects a person's social, mental, and emotional. For me, as I may have mentioned many times before, my illness took a toil on me to the extent that I was not doing anything- eating, drinking, showering, talking, or even moving. The voices and paranoia took life away from me, however, medication, therapy and support gave me my life back!

If you would like to learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., NAMI, and Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).


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