Last Wednesday, 7/23/2014, I did an In Our Own Voice presentation at a Jewish Community Center here on Staten Island. My friend Dwight and I presented to an audience of health care staff who worked in the JCC's social work program. Most of the staff were social workers and case managers, and some were home health aides who worked directly with the clients in their homes.
In Our Own Voice is a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Signature Program, where people who are living with a diagnosis of a mental illness go out into the community and speak to various groups. So far we've spoken to college students, health care professionals, family members and other peers living with a diagnosis, and audiences at health fairs. We talk about our experiences living with a diagnosis, from the beginning of the illness, when we were first diagnosed, to accepting our condition and learning to live with it, treatment options we've employed, and coping skills we've learned to manage our symptoms and live well in recovery. The last part is my favorite: Successes, Hopes and Dreams. That's the time to talk about the good things that have happened in life since becoming diagnosed, and our hopes and plans for the future.
The group Dwight and I spoke to on Wednesday asked excellent questions and were very attentive during the presentation.
I enjoy doing these presentations, even though they can sometimes be nerve-wracking when speaking to large audiences, because I know I'm getting the word out that it's possible to live well and take care of yourself and have a productive life, even though you may have a psychiatric condition, and even though you may be disabled. It's a very positive experience, and I know my co-presenters and I are reaching out to people and connecting with the wider community, and educating the public.