May: Mental Health Awareness
National Alliance on Mental Illness
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are donating 10% of profits to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with severe mental illnesses. In addition to providing education and support, they work to raise mental health awareness and improve the mental health system. In Richmond, they regularly hold support groups for those affected by mental illness, including family members, as well as for survivors of suicide loss. NAMI partners with affiliate groups around the region, and has an incredible array of resources. Find more about them here.
Growing up with a father who is a Vietnam war veteran, was diagnosed with PTSD, paranoid schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, mental health has always been in my vocabulary and in my own mind. As a child, I was told that because my father was schizophrenic, I had a greater chance of becoming schizophrenic, too. I wasn’t told how the disease works, what it does, or that it takes many factors in addition to genetics for schizophrenia to occur. I have always been curious about how the mind works, and at the same time a little fearful that it could take me on a ride no matter what I did to try to prevent it. So, I did my research. I learned about the disease and I talked it about it openly. I wanted to know what anyone else knew about it, not just what I was told as a kid. I’ve watched my father struggle with maintaining his mental health, and I’ve struggled with wanting to maintain it for him. Letting go of trying to control his behavior, and approaching him with compassion for his life, in whichever way he chooses to live it, has been one of the most valuable lessons of my own life. I hope to help others find peace in their own minds, because we all struggle, regardless of our “diagnosis.” I’m grateful for organizations like NAMI that help open the space for these conversations to occur.