I have been attending NAMI Connections groups for about three and a half years now. Most of my time has been in Nevada, but since I have moved up to Idaho, it is the same exact environment I feel. NAMI has been a lifesaver for me, my battle with ideations have been quite a battle and my friends from those Connections groups have literally been there for me for the past three and a half years. These are my real life friends, who will keep me from killing myself at 2:00 in the morning and drive me to the emergency room. I am not immune to giving back to my friends either, visiting them or driving them to the emergency room myself. There have been times where I pick peers up from a stay at the hospital and drive them home because I would like the same to happen to myself if I ever get in that situation.
Who has a friend who is willing to drive 500+ miles round trip to get you help? This probably isn’t all NAMI Connections groups, but the ones I have been to have been like family. We love each other like family because ours have either left us. We are too ashamed to bring our mental illness to their attention. Never had so many lovable moments in my life, with non-family. I consider them to be more than friends, cause we have been through struggles together that no normal human being would go through. I won’t use their names because what is said in our groups, stay there, but we do have an understanding that we are there for each other, but at the end of the day, we can’t solve all of our issues. It is black and white, these groups. We have guidelines we abide by and principles that can not be broken easily. Sure we get into a little spat here and there, but so do family members. Being a younger person, it is harder to open up to people. The groups skew older, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a younger spirit!
I would like to keep the positive vibes going. Having myself learned a lot over the past few months going to more than just the NAMI Connections groups. I now go to the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance and it has been working out well for me. There are other local groups, peer to peer, family to friends and other groups that help out. Sometimes just talking to a fellow peer can be helpful. I have seen people mourn losses of loved ones. Known of someone who completed their suicide attempt and left us shocked. The reality of this is we are in a war with our illness(es), but we must strive to fight on!
– Tommi Asylum