Opinion: NAMI helps those with mental illnesses

Christopher Gilyard

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Christopher Gilyard

Mass communication junior

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“Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence and euphoria pervade one’s marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against. You are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.”

Kay Redfield Jamison wrote this in her book “An Unquiet Mind​” about mental illness. Mental Illness: writing it sends this rush of misunderstanding, classification and unknowing down my spine. Not just mine, but every human being that has gone through, experienced or seen mental illness at work. Feel free to ask Rachelle Orgeon and Jesse Smith III, representatives of National Awareness of Mental Illness (NAMI) in New Orleans. Both are able to tell compelling, majestic, yet painful stories of living with different forms of mental illness, and yet found strength in a program dedicated to bringing light to the issue. Listening to them speak, you walk away knowing three things. The first being that there truly is a stigma when it comes to mental illness, a stigma that revolves around not being able to see something physically, making it hard to believe. Imagine how complicated it has to be, knowing that you need help, yet not receiving the right help to help you grow. The second being that every road has bumps, curves, twists and turns, yet if you keep going you will “…rise from the ashes”, as Orgeon gracefully stated. That patience will get you in the door, but walking in saying “I am here. And I need help” is the first step.

The last thing is the most important one of them all. It’s what I observed as Orgeon and Smith brought their presentation to a close: unity. It wasn’t just the fact that they were a powerhouse together, but all the acceptance, coping and bridge to recover that they opened up about. This was allowable due to NAMI, a program that sees them as tokens to a blissful life, rather than as rocks sinking below the ocean unable to graviate to the surface. Using therapy as a way to open the wounds and medication to clean it, the true bandage comes from love and understanding. That is how we can help people that battle mental illness. We are in a time where we need to realize that a sickness is not always curable with drugs, an illness is not always something to fear, and the worse pain is not always physical.

Together we can create a home to every man, woman, race and sex that advocates joining together and helping people. Through NAMI we have that opportunity, that chance to help the ones that yearn for it the most. It’s time that we not only wake up, but stay woke to this issue. Orgeon and Smith did something during they’re presentation that will forever be engulfed in my heart. They smiled. They showed that while the illness may be forever, the dark days are only temporary. That there is hope … a yellow brick road … a happily ever after for mental illness. It’s just up to us, to help get them there.

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