I have just been exploring the impressive webpresence of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). I discovered that they have an ongoing campaign to fight M.I. Stigma:
NAMI also encourages sufferers of mental illness to share their stories.
NAMI offers two safe, moderated spaces for sharing stories and creative expression: You Are Not Alone and OK2Talk. These spaces also allow for anonymous public posting, unlike our NAMI blog. You have an authentic voice. You can make a difference for yourself and others by sharing your experiences and perspective.
What has helped?
What has been most discouraging about your condition?
What has given you hope?
There are all sorts of things you know that other people want to know—you are not alone. Let them know that they aren’t either.
I have decided to take the four questions offered above as a little interview. I am determined to keep my answers brief – bite-sized – yet as authentic as possible.
First off, a quick introduction:
- I go by Eugene Uttley.
- I had my onset of schizophrenia in late 2006, while teaching English as a Second Language in South Korea.
- I spent 2007 in undiagnosed, untreated psychosis.
- At the end of 2007, I finally sought help, was diagnosed, and proceeded with the medical treatment which has kept me fairly stable since. I have been able to work, and to live independently.
- Recently, I have begun blogging and using other social media to advocate for comprehensive mental health education and to fight the unacceptable stigma on mental illness. It is this activity which has led me here to NAMI.
Secondly, here are my answers to NAMI’s questions:
NAMI: What has helped?
Uttley: Know what helps me when I’m beset by voices? You’ll never guess. I turn on a faucet and put my ear down by the flowing water and listen intently. Weird, right? Well – fight weird with weird! Nothing weirder than a chorus of voices criticizing every thought, every action…
NAMI: What hasn’t?
Uttley: The factor which has worked most against my overall well-being is, I think, allowing myself to become isolated, alienated, and non-communicative. Over the years, I have been fighting this tendency by participating in a mental illness support chatroom. Recently, I am continuing to fight isolation and alienation by engaging in discussing mental illness through blogging and other social media. I find it much more difficult to undertake similar measures in “real life” due to stigma. If I become publicly vocal about my schizophrenia, I might lose my job!
NAMI: What has been most discouraging about your condition?
Uttley: With regular antipsychotic medication in sufficient (large!) dosage, my delusions lift, and it becomes clear to me that the voices which I experience (even despite the meds) are all coming from within myself. Probably the most discouraging facet of dealing with schizophrenia for me is owning the often disturbing and just plain wrong-headed thinking behind the voices.
NAMI: What has given you hope?
Uttley: Hope is a precious commodity. I work hard to foster hope in myself – mainly for continued stability. I base this hope on the difficulties I have overcome in the past and continue to overcome on a daily basis. Keeping hope alive is a day-to-day struggle. What I did yesterday, I can do again today. I also strive to encourage hope in others. We’re gonna make it! And we’re stronger together.