Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NAMI Walks -- We All Win



This is my second year for the NAMI Walk Johnson County, Iowa.  It's how people across the United States raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization whose mission is support, education and advocacy with and on behalf of people with mental illness and their families.

National Alliance On Mental Illness

I became passionate about NAMI when I learned about its origins.  Once upon a time, not so long ago, the holy writ on schizophrenia was that it was caused by overprotective mothers and disinterested fathers.  Wow.  In 1979, a bunch of these mothers started to push back.  They organized and demanded better research, better treatments, better treatment.  Would there ever be any progress in the world if it weren't for uppity women?  A new documentary, When Medicine Got It Wrong tells the story, coming soon to a PBS station near you.

NAMI has grown into a national program, built on local chapters.  It fights stigma.  It advocates for funding of services, research and rights.  It provides information about mental illnesses and medications.  It offers a variety of educational programs and services.

Peer To Peer

Prozac Monologue followers read with some regularity what I have learned from NAMI's Peer to Peer program.  In Peer to Peer, those who have a mental illness and are in recovery help others learn about recovery, living to the fullest while managing a mental illness.  I drove (my wife drove -- my meds won't let me drive anymore) 120 miles round trip every week for nine Iowa winter nights so that I could attend this program.  It was worth every mile.

Make A Difference

So here's the deal.  Every year NAMI raises money through local Walks.  My local chapter will walk on May 8th, rain or shine.  Last year was my maiden voyage into NAMIWalks.  I went with some trepidation, wondering just how bleak and weird a walk for mental illness could be.  Instead, I discovered a registration process that reminded me of summer camp, belly dancers leading the warm up, pep talks from the Hawkeye football team, a balloon arch, kids, dogs, food, t-shirts and more t-shirts, displays that kept falling over in the breeze, and chalk drawings along the trail made by the Girl Scouts.  It was a party!

I did not do a shabby job raising funds my first time out.  I knew I would do well, because I know my friends.  This year I decided to co-chair a team called, wouldn't you know, Team Prozac Monologues!  And right there, on the name, is where you can go to support my team.  Giving online is safe, easy, fast and tax deductible.

Team Prozac Monologues is about halfway to our goal so far.  Any amount you can give is important.

And as Hoops and Yoyo say,

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