NAMI National Convention update from San Antonio!

I am at the Nami National Convention in San Antonio. The thing that strikes me the most is how there is this diverse group of people who have all come together because of a shared experience. We come from all over the United States. We come from a variety of cultures and socio-economic backgrounds but we all share one thing in common and that is our lives have been impacted by mental illness.

It is amazing to me how this one commonality somehow forms an instant bond and openness with complete strangers.

I experienced this on the shuttle as I was traveling to my hotel. A woman had on a NAMI polo shirt. A young man next to me asked her if she was here for the convention. Then I said “I’m here from Atlanta and NAMI Northside” . Before you knew it 5 other people were introducing themselves from different affiliates and states. There were only 3 people on the shuttle who had nothing to do with the convention. Open conversations were struck up about programs they were involved in and what they hoped to learn at the convention. It made me wonder what the other 3 non-Nami participants on the shuttle thought about our open and stigma free conversations about mental illness.

Tonight I attended a screening for the documentary “Of Two Minds”. It was produced by Lisa Klein whose sister suffered from Bi-Polar disorder and died from suicide. The documentary follows 4 persons over a 3 year period. Quotes that stood out for me in the documentary were:

“People have a complete misunderstanding of what mental illness is like.”
” Those living with bi-polar disorder find inspiration in truth.”
“The hardest part was learning that the parts of my life that I enjoyed the most were the illness.”
“Sadness is different than depression because sadness goes away.”

It was an inspiring movie with moments of laughter, sadness, and hope. It showed what it is like to struggle to live with this brain disorder from the perspective of both the individual with the illness and their loved ones.

Tomorrow is a day packed with opportunities for learning. Some sessions I look forward to experiencing are:

  • Out of Crisis and Into Treatment: Key Partnerships for Success. It will provide an overview of Bexar County’s model for building a strong infrastructure of community-based services and supports.
  • “Road Map” For Empowering Families to Collaborate with Professionals: A Flexible Train-The -Trainer Curriculum.
  • Special Presentation: “I’m Not Sick; I Don’t Need Help” by Xavier Amador

I look forward to sharing more from the NAMI Convention in San Antonio tomorrow!

Neitcha Thomsen
Nami Northside Atlanta

From the Treatment Advocacy Center, an amazing FREE app for your smartphone to help families during a crisis situation.

Read Neitcha’s updates from DAYS 2 & 3.

View the convention’s Full Program.

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