When my daughter was diagnosed with a mental illness, NAMI provided current information quickly. Then, they provided a safe place where I could meet with other parents in a similar situation. There are/were no bailouts or final solutions, just the comfort and support of others who understood and encouraged me to have hope.
Mary Lou, This story is about a Support Group not a person. Our group (DBSA Aurora formerly known as DMDA Aurora; Mercy Center Support Group) started in November 1991 at Provena Mercy Center Hospital. The group was made up of the volunteers from the Adult Inpatient members that were released or getting ready to be released. The group was run by two hospital staff members. In June of 1993 the group became a "Self- Support Group" with myself being elected Group Leader. During the time period of June through August 1993 I visited with different organizations in the area: NDMDA (National Depression Manic Depression Association) now know as DBSA (Deppression Bipolar Support Association); NAMI DuPage; NAMI Kane County South; DBSA West; DBSA Fox Valley to list most of them. Our group decided to join what we know today as DBSA and we are the DBSA Aurora Chapter. I talked & visited with the staff of NAMI DuPage a few times in our earlier years but now we recieve & share most of the information via the newsletter & cia of E-mails like this one I'm answering tonight. After sixteen years of being the President; DBSA Contact & Group Leader I stepped down and I'm now a member, Official Resource Person, Member of the Board of directors & Budget Auditor. I probably wrote to much about our group but I wanted to explain how we started with you all and that most all the information from NAMI DuPage is shared with our members. For the group & me personally I Thank You for all the sharing about Mental Health over the years. Tom Johnson Former President, DBSA Contact & Group Leader DBSA Aurora Chapter firstname.lastname@example.org 630-653-3560 Current President & DBSA Contact Claudette Hockin email@example.com 630-554-9823
NAMI of DuPage is an outstanding not-for- profit organization. Their committment to their mission...provide support, education and advocacy to individuls and families with mental illness is apparent in everything they do.
I found the Family to Family education class shortly after my son's initial episode as a senior in high school. The class enabled me to be an effective advocate for my son as well as give me the support and tools to cope with the drastic change in our lives. I've since become a Family to Family teacher (currently teaching my fifth class) because I've personally experienced and witnessed the life changing power of education and support. Lynn
My husband and I stumbed over the group NAMI (at that time called AMI) over 20 years ago thru a newspaper announcement telling about a speaker to present on the subject mental illness. From there we were able to learn more about our son's illness, had support from other family members and learned to acccept the illness, get him the best help at that time; and then the stigma was lifted. We became very involved members, serving on committees, speaking in public, became board members and volunteered in many acitivities. NAMI is life saver in many ways.
I think it is so important that we have committed advocates for the mentally ill in our county and around the country. I think we can best serve these clients when the advocates and professionals work toward a climate of trust and commitment to problem solving. Our clients will be best served if we can put our energies together with the common goal of the welfare of the clients. When we work in an adversarial mode, clients are not best served. For some, this adversarial positioning diverts client energy and focus away from their treatment goals and encourages resistance to recovery efforts.
I started volunteering with NAMI of Dupage County after I had a relaspe with my mental illness. They were very supportive. I joined their speaker's bureau and told my story to many people, police, churches, etc. I then started working there and soon later started my own company keeping NAMI as a client. They have been very instrumental in my recovery. The staff is great!
Wow, NAMI DuPage is one of the first non-for-profit organizations that I've worked for. It is one of the Best! It has a beautiful office near downtown Wheaton, one of the most prominent cities in the county of DuPage. It is a very Christian organization and also helps not only the family of the mentally ill but also the consumers with the resale shop as a place of employment. We treat everyone in a professional manner and help others with a warm sense of belonging. The staff are well-trained and have long-term employment. I have known Mary Lou Lowry, the executive director for many years and she is like a mother to me. Her fundraising skills are outstanding and the organization skills are that of an angel. NAMI DuPage strives for growth and we have reached thousands of members in the last 25 years. The organization started around when I lived in Wheaton and the mental health movement was in gear. Our organization, SA, went right along with the NAMI beginnings and really was part of the grassroots of consumers versus family in the mental health arena. There was a separation of whether the family played a role in their mentally ill sons and daughters and if it was a hereditary illness. I was so glad to have something else to go to and read about and someone else to talk to about my thinking and the situation I was in. We had great fun with the parties, fundraisers, silent auctions, plays, etc. My deceased husband of the Year 2008 and I thank you. We all are grateful for this organization and applaud NAMI DuPage. I intend to continue my growth with them and hope they'll continue to be blessed.
This is a wonderful organization that gives support to family and friends of a mentally ill loved one. It offers support groups, education and many books, videos and various other information. I have a mentally ill loved one and NAMI was a life saver for me.
Great organization that really cares for the relationship of financial needs to those who suffer or are hindered by mental issues. Much more is needed across the country, but NAMI does a great service here in our area of Illinois.
NAMI helped me to heal. Through Speakers Bureau I was able to tell my story to those that mattered, unashamed. Through Peer to Peer I met others with similar journies. Through volunteering with various endeavors, I was able to give back. NAMI helped me to grow. With the encouragement and sponsorship of NAMI, I helped develop the Child to Child Program.
Our family was in turmoil for over 20 years. Now, thanks to NAMI, our family is whole again. With their help, teachings, support and guidance with our adult son, we are all sharing happiness and understanding. Our son wasn't diagnosed with Bi-polar until he was into his 30's. If only we had found Nami sooner we could have saved him from the horrific life he was living with drugs, crime, alcohol abuse and jails; all due to his uncontrolled ups and downs and self medications. With Nami, he now has a life, a beautiful family of his own, and understanding from all of us for the pain we did not realize he was in.
In the spring of our daughter’s freshman year in high school, she experienced a complete psychotic breakdown that put her in a world that left her in a state of both frightening visions and voices that were telling her that her life was worthless and that she had no reason to live. Our immediate solution was to have her hospitalized for her own safety. Over the next year she would be hospitalized on four other occasions. Her emotional state vacillated between depression, anxiety, and fear that she was being controlled by forces that wanted to harm her. My wife and I were both frightened and confused. All at once we began to question what kind of future out daughter would have including would she be able to graduate from high school, would she be able to work, would she be able to live on her own, would she ever recover. Our focus was on getting our daughter safely through each day. There seemed to be no quick solution to our daughter’s problems. We tried many medications with mixed results. We quickly realized that our daughter needed our help and that if we were to be a positive force for our daughter’s recovery, we needed to understand how to be effective advocates. Our daughter’s psychiatrist recommended NAMI of DuPage as a good place to start. We contacted NAMI of DuPage and they recommended that we enroll in their Visions for Tomorrow class. The Visions course turned out to be just what we needed. It provided my wife and I with an understanding of how to move from the devastation of our initial response to our daughter’s illness to being effective advocates for our daughter. We became educated in the lexicon of mental illness including diagnosis, how the brain works, and the medications and treatments. We also met other families that were experiencing the same things we were. We found that through our sharing of experiences we began to gain confidence in our new roles as parents of a child with a mental disability. We found this experience to be so helpful that we enrolled in the NAMI of DuPage Family to Family course. This was a 12 week courses that built on the knowledge that we gained in the Visions course by providing us with the skills necessary to be effective advocates for our child. Both courses were led by outstanding facilitators who could empathize with our experience because they were parents of a child with a mental disability. With the knowledge and skills we learned in the two courses we became effective advocates for our daughter. We began to develop a plan for our daughter’s recovery. There are still significant issues to overcome but we have experienced many successes. Our daughter was able to graduate from high school, she has been able to get a part-time job, she is attending college, and she drives. Most importantly, our daughter has a treatment plan that is working. NAMI of DuPage has given our family hope!
Imagine you have an 18 year old son who has gotten into the college of his dreams. He has been an A student, a good athlete, a social person, etc. You drop him off at college and 3 weeks later he is in the throws of a complete psychotic break having hallucinations and delusions that were quite 'scary' to say the least. Not having diagnosed mental illness in our families, my husband and I were extremely confused about what was happening. Nine months after working with a recommended psychiatrist, our son had another break from reality and WE were consoling the doctor who said he didn't have the experience to help us with our son now that he really needed him! We began to seek out another great doctor that we still have 5 years later and he lead us to NAMI DuPage! Now things were beginning to at least make sense. We attended the Family to Family Class...a very helpful class for families members or caregivers of someone with a mental illness. I decided to become a trained Family to Family teacher. This has kept our family connected to others that can share their coping strategies and offer moral support. I have found through teaching that as I 'give back' I am rewarded with new friends and support that would not come from my usual circle of friends and family. NAMI DuPage surrounds our family with many people that can truly understand the daily challenges. I also began volunteering at a "Drop In" center every Wednesday night. This is for consumers (with a mental illness) that can come and enjoy a free meal along with a social activity afterwards. I have found this work also very fufilling. This is an important night out for those with limited access to funds, transportation, a social life!! Go NAMI DuPage and the wonderful lady that has been running it as a volunteer for 13 years!!
11/3/08 Two years ago our eldest son had an episode of depression. It was his third time and it was bad. On one of my calls to the DuPage County Hotline, I was seeking some help, and one of the places they suggested was NAMI.org. My son was hospitalized for a bit and then came the long downward spiral of going from one thing to the next. When I finally realized that I had better get some help for myself and my husband to figure out how to cope and help-I entered into the online pages of NAMI. I read everything I could find and, I am sure accidentally, I came upon the pages under Find Support. I found the Family to Family classes listed. It sounded like a perfect fit. When I called to enroll (the classes had already started) the folks at NAMI helped me get enrolled and gathered all the paperwork I needed for me to pick up. From there is was 12 weeks of intense classes which I think kept my and my husbands sanity in tack. Learning about resources and finding other folks who knew how we felt and getting help and listening and learning. It wasn’t easy to hear, but gradually a cloud seemed to lift and my husband and I were one with our plans and thoughts and how to deal with our son. It was a long ugly road. After the classes were over one of the gals in the class started her own NAMI group for those of us who needed more support and one of the other gals in the class started up a NAMI chapter in Joliet and actually taught one of the Family to Family classes (is doing it now, as a matter of fact). I have since suggested the class to others who have taken it upon my recommendation. I even applied for a position in NAMI myself, as I thought that my own experience would make me a good candidate to help others with the same issues. In my interview-I was impressed with the staff and yet felt like I had come home. They are an incredibly caring group-with endless resources and insights and great listening skills. My son is now unmedicated, living on his own, and working at a job he seems to love. We are not lulled into a sense of false complacency, and realize that he could have another episode at any time, when stress becomes too much for him. We are hoping and keep talking with him to realize who he is and know himself well enough that should he feel a change that he seeks help right away. Thank you NAMI-you gave us the courage and boost we needed to get ourselves on the right track.
I first found out about NAMI DuPage in 1996 when two of my children were teenagers and suffering terribley from two different brain disorders. I had done many hours of research at public, hospital, college and university libraries and was well educated on mental illness. We as a family had been dealing with the chaos for two years and had seen many doctors and been through multiple hospitalizations. A nurse a my children's high school mentioned that NAMI of DuPage County had a support group. This was one big piece missing in my puzzle of trying to survive the horror that had befallen our lives. My husband wasn't coping or understanding and I needed someone to talk to in order to keep strong for my children. I started with support group and then signed up for the Family to Family Education class. I already knew a lot of the material from educating myself, but I also learned a lot of new and helpful information. What I benefited from most was bonding with the group of 18 other parents who were as heartbroken and frustrated as I about what had happened and was still happening to our children. I have since become a teacher and taught the class four times. It saved me from feeling alone in my battle to keep going for my children and keep myself from crumbling into a hopeless heap. I will forever be grateful to this program and the many others great programs NAMI offers to family members of people with mental illnesses and persons with mental illness. Sue Prentice
I think NAMI is a great resource for families and consumers suffering from mental illness. Some people don't know where to go for information and NAMI is a good place to start.
Great people,truly helpful and caring. Many excellent speakers. Does an unbeievably awesome job in outreaching into local schools!Helpful to clients through groups.
Outstanding outreach to the community, National Allinance on Mental Illness, NAMI DuPage reaches out to all the families of people suffering from a mental illmess as well as the consumer or mentally ill person. Education programs in hospitals, schools, churches, police departments (crisis training), and the general public are consistently being orchestrated.
When our family was upset, confused, frustrated with our schitzophrenic college age son, we got lucky and family members from another state steered us to NAMI who accepted us into the next Family to Family class. This truly turned our world around. We thought we were the only ones dealing with this issue, we were ashamed and embarrassed and unable to speak about our situation to anyone outside our most immediate family. After a few weeks of classes, the evening came where we had our chance to talk about our son, good & bad, and I cryed - it was the first time I was able to speak about his illness to anyone and to do it in a supportive environment began the change. To realize we were not alone and that so many others were struggling and loving someone with mental illness was life altering. My husband and I were better able to educate and support our children who were also frightened by their oldest siblings behavior, they didnt' understand it - we didn't - how could we have raised four children in the same home and have one that no rules seems to work? They were embarrassed and puzzled by his delusional thinking and his irratic behavior. Through our education, we were able to help them understand and love their brother and learn about mental illness. Because we were more educated on mental illness, we were able to pass on education to extended family and bust the myth that our son was "on drugs". It had been easier to let people think he was "on drugs" then dealing with schitzophrenia...it had been more comfortable for us due to the stigma. We drove 50 miles one-way to attend the classes at NAMI Dupage because we were afraid someone we knew would find out about our mentally ill son and our family nightmare. Due to NAMI Dupage and their support, our family if very comfortable discussing mental illness but sometimes extended family drops their voice and ask in a whisper, "How's Joe?" because he has been physically away for a long time... we answer freely that he is mentally ill, unmedicated and homeless and use the opportunity, if they seem interested to educate and raise awareness. Sometimes new friends will disclose how they are affected by someone with mental illness in their family. This class saved our family and I believe our marriage - we know there is no one to blame for his illness, we have done everything we could to get him help which he has chosen not to use. He can communicate with us any time he wishes and he does contact various family members who then let us know they heard from him. They treat him with kindness and compassion when he calls and realize when he goes into his delusions, it's time to end the conversation. Our family is not embarrassed anymore and our arms will be open if "Joe" ever decides to take his medication and come home to those who love and care about him. Until that time, we are okay with him living at a distance - we have no guilt.