I’m really excited — and a bit nervous — about my new venture.
For the past couple of years, I’ve thought about volunteering at NAMI. I finally contacted the local chapter office and met with a program coordinator to find out how to get involved.
NAMI educates people about mental illness and is dedicated to building better lives for those affected. It’s the largest grassroots mental health organization in the nation. They advocate for reform, and offer free classes and support groups for those with a mental health issue, and also for their families. NAMI strives to help end the stigma.
I’m looking forward to participating in a program for high school students. It’s called Ending the Silence. It aims to raise awareness about mental illness among teens. I’ll be going through a training program. After that, I’ll help present and speak to the students.
I feel very close to this, as I’ve had anxiety and panic attacks since I was a child. I know what it feels like to be in school and think I’m the only one experiencing frightening symptoms of panic. I hid it as long as I could. I was ashamed.
My daughter started to have panic attacks at age ten. I understand how difficult it is to be the one going through it, and as the parent, watching my child suffer.
When I was first diagnosed with agoraphobia, I found out I wasn’t alone and that I could receive medical help. That was life-changing. I had no idea that millions of others felt the same way. I honestly didn’t think anyone, not even a doctor, would understand what my scary symptoms were, or what to do about them.
Now I’m panic free, and so is my daughter. I’m passionate about showing people there is hope. I’m nervous about my volunteer work because it’s something new. I’m reaching out of my comfort zone. My life is heading on a slightly different course, as I’m spreading my awareness and experiences to more people.
I can’t wait to go back to high school and let those kids know how far my daughter and I have come. And that there’s hope for them too.
First image courtesy of here
Second image courtesy of here