My husband and I recently attended a support group called National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI).
It is an organization that helps families deal with schizophrenia, bi-polar, personality disorders and other problems that are related to mental illness in a safe, confidential environment.
The support and information we got from the members of NAMI was very helpful and comforting — they have given us a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Families that are confronted with the challenges, frustrations and lost dreams that mental illness has inflicted on a family member can be overwhelmed. It comes with a lot of misunderstanding and discrimination.
People understand and have empathy for someone who has cancer, M.S., lack of sight or hearing, etc., but, mental illness, because it is so misunderstood, leaves victims and family members feeling lonely and isolated. This is an illness just like all of the above. It just involves a broken mind that cannot operate normally.
There was an article recently in the paper that talked about many of the homeless choosing to be homeless. What needs to be said is so many of those homeless are mentally ill and are not able to make good decisions for themselves because they are confused and sick.
Just ask the parents or relatives of these loved ones,, and they will tell you how impossible it can be to get help; reasoning with a sick mind can be impossible at times — they become victims of themselves.
I encourage anyone who can relate to this letter to join NAMI by calling (530) 272-4566 for information.
Jacqueline Hastings lives in Nevada City.