BENEFITING: MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA OF DUTCHESS COUNTY INC
EVENT DATE: Jun 03, 2017
Tina Lee wrote -I know many of you know of our story. It is a story of both joy and sorrow and of unconditional love. Allie is my hero because her journey of living in recovery is a story of strength and hope and that recovery is possible. Allie and I walk this 2017 to give hope to other families and individuals to never give up and that recovery is not only probable but absolutely possible. ********** I have lived a better part of my life suffering. I have always seen the world differently. At 7, I was diagnosed with color blindness as my blue is not anyone else's blue. This seemed ironically appropriate as a precursor to my adult diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Social Anxiety, and OCD. As early as 9, I felt like my life was like being swept up in an unpredictable, ominous tornado. I constantly spoke in a language of suicide. So much so that in third grade, I recall feeling such dark frustration that I attempted to hang myself from my 4-poster bed. I was the victim of bullying throughout my life. I would wake up in the middle of the night to prank phone calls one of which I remember the most. “Allie, you fat pig. You should just go kill yourself.” I have tried to commit suicide more times than I can count on my two hands and have more scars on my wrist than lines in a notebook, and I kept writing in that notebook cutting every time I received one of those phone calls. My depression paralyzed me. After several hospitalizations, I would tell my mother that I was going to die of sadness. I was in the hospital every 3 weeks for self-harm. My mother was so desperate and scared. She knew that it was just a matter of time before she would be bringing me into the hospital in a body bag. This is when she started attending the free Family-to-Family class through the National Alliance (NAMI) on Mental Illness Mid-Hudson Chapter and learned how to help me. (www.namimidhudson.org) NAMI Mid-Hudson saved my life and gave my mom’s life back to her. As a way of giving back to NAMI Mid-Hudson, I became a young adult advocate, mentor, and speaker. I teach NAMI’s Peer-to-Peer, a recovery driven class for individuals living with mental illness. I believe that every story has the power to save a life. I tell my story to teachers and high school students in two mental health literacy programs called NAMI’s Parents and Teachers as Allies and Ending the Silence. Sharing my story lets teachers know how to help their students and to students who are struggling, to not feel so alone, that mental illness is not a character flaw and recovery is possible. Gandhi’s quote: “Be the Change you want to see in the world.” is my mantra that motivates me to stay in recovery. I have found that giving back to NAMI not only keeps me in recovery but defines what my life purpose is: to make a difference in the world. I have accepted my illness as a part of my life. My mental illness does not define me. I have made it my mission to be the voice for those who cannot advocate for themselves and de-stigmatize mental illness. Find Help. Find Hope.