A sharing of experiences from people who are living with mental illness

 

The stories and testimonials shared below come from people just like you who are living with mental illness.  All of these people live in South Dakota.  They and others like them are your friends and neighbors, some of whom have been afraid to talk about their experiences in the past.  Some quotes come from the perspective of having the illness, others are the feelings and observations of those who love and care for them.  At the bottom of the page we provide a place to tell us your story if you wish.  The hope of those of us who are sharing is to let everyone who is affected by mental illness know two very important facts:

You are not alone, and there is always hope.

 

 

What NAMI has done for me is helped me feel comfortable in the skin I’m in. And part of that is living with a disorder – and that’s OK .  NAMI has helped me realize the kindest thing I can do for myself is to accept I have a disorder and move on. – Lois Knoke

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“I have had quite a few people say to me as a Family to Family teacher taking the Family to Family classes has been the best thing they ever did to understand their child and it gave hope to them, knowing they are not in this challenge alone.  It is a great feeling to know we have touched someone and reached them to help them help their loved one and to help with the guilt they felt over the years.  Some have said they felt helpless and hopeless at times before the classes and after taking the classes they were empowered…  I tell them tomorrow is a new day and never give up.  I took the classes myself and in 2005 became a teacher and have been a teacher ever since.”– Nancy Sonnenberg

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“When I first became involved with NAMI I did not know what to expect.  I started my association by becoming a co-facilitator of a Connections Recovery Support Group.  We have been doing it for over three years now, very successfully.  Having a support group is one of my coping skills that works beautifully.  To have this experience under my belt is invaluable.  It did prepare me for when I became an “In Our Own Voice” Presenter.  I have given dozens of speeches now, and when NAMI says this is a vetted program to further the presenters into recovery, they are right; this is true.  I am a much more secure person than I was before.  I can’t begin to tell you all the wonderful things that happen to your mind when you start giving the presentations.  You will notice a difference in who you are, eventually.  It just happens.  I have become the state trainer for this program and we are just about to do our training session for 10 new presenters.  This is a wonderful, wonderful tool for these folks in the treatment of their mental illness. Thank you so very much!” — Loran Harris

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“We are pleased to have trained volunteers who facilitate the Family-to-Family Program here at the VA.  This impacts our Veterans and their family members and allows them to interact with others who have been impacted by a mental health diagnosis.  This has been a great partnership.”
Patricia Ramse, MSW, CSW-PIP, Local Recovery Coordinator,  Sioux Falls VA Health Care System

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“Our lives were a blur for several years – I’m not sure how we came upon NAMI.  The first I remember is talking to a gentleman about the dual diagnosis and he invited us to a NAMI meeting.  I’ve been told a few times remember how stressed we were at the first meeting…. NAMI helped us to find doctors, services, group homes and a wealth of resources to help us in our battle with mental illness.  NAMI saved our sanity as caregivers and parents.  It is so difficult and what happens is so bizarre that you don’t share these experiences with your best friends and neighbors.  We attended Family to Family classes which were very beneficial in understanding our loved one.”

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NAMI SD is working so hard to erase the stigma of mental illness.  There are several affiliates around the state which hold support meetings, other groups for peers who suffer with MI, persons who have educational programs to present, Family to Family classes that help families learn how to deal with MI and help their loved one and educating the law enforcement on how to approach those who are mentally ill.  ALL of these programs are so important and helpful for the mental health community.  NAMI IS a very important organization and helpful to many in need.” — Sharyl Hass

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 In Our Own Voice… is a wonderful program. I have been a presenter for almost three years now and have gotten so much out of it. I have a social anxiety that I deal with, and this has given me the opportunity to really come outside of myself.  Mental Illness seems to be on the back burner these days. So I think it is very important to get as many voices as possible out there for people to hear.” — Tim Flaskamp

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Connections Recovery Support Group of the Northern Hills, held at Hudson Hall on Thursday evenings from 7:00PM to 8:30PM has been the absolute best place for me to be when I have paranoia going on in my head. At times I can’t be among people, for fear of their “eyes” saying to me. I am scared of peoples’ underlying reasons for saying things. In other words, I am paranoid about being a part of a group. Yet, the folks at our Connections Support Group have been awesome. I can tell them point blank what I am thinking when they talk to me. Well, if it were not for NAMI as an organization and what they stand for, I would be a hermit at home. Thanks NAMI Organization and NH Connections Recovery Support Group. – Faith Goehring

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If you feel that your story can inspire others, please share it with us below.  We ask that you provide us with your contact information, but if you check the box labeled Please do not include my name when sharing my story  we will honor your request and post your story anonymously.  Thank you so much for providing inspiration to others who are looking for help and for hope!

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