A week ago today, I had the opportunity to attend my first of what I expect to be many NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health) meetings. When I walked into what was easily recognized as such a warm atmosphere, I was immediately greeted by people just like me. People who were somehow impacted my mental health diagnosis and who were there not only to offer support and knowledge, but to gain knowledge about the ever so present phenomenon of mental health and what it’s like to live with a mental health diagnosis.

What I expected to be an hour of hearing things I already knew as a mental health professional, quickly turned into one of the most beautiful learning experiences I have encountered to date. Not that there was anything extraordinary about this meeting, but simply because of the hearts that filled the room. People who were years into the world of dealing mental health illness, as well as ones who were newly introduced to what will be a lengthy journey, were there to show more than anything else, that they care about themselves and others who live life with a mental health illness.

What stood out the most to me in this meeting is that regardless of what issue someone presented, there was someone else there whom they could connect with for support and information. The level of unity filled my heart as the weight of despair exited my brain. I was reminded of why I entered the field of Mental Health to begin with and for me, that was a game changer.

Oprah Winfrey once said, “I believe there’s a calling for all of us. I know that every human being has value and purpose. The real work of our lives is to become aware, and awakened. To answer the call.” A week ago today, NAMI reminded me of my purpose and of the reasons why I decided to answer the call to help people just like myself who have been diagnosed with mental health illnesses.

I waited a week to write about my NAMI experience because I wanted to be able to fully process the level of motivation I was left with after attending the meeting. What I can say and am willing to stand by is that if you are diagnosed with a mental health illness, have a loved one who is, or if you simply have a heart to make a difference in the world, joining your local NAMI group will be very beneficial to your journey in life. I recommend it. I support it, and I will continue to be a part of it.

Dealing with mental health issues are hard. While the struggle is definitely sometimes real… your reality can be Healthy, Whole and Highly Functioning.  The goal is to overcome any Mental Encounter!

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