Last month, I had the pleasure of presenting an In Our Own Voice to residents of a local active senior living community. My co-presenter and I both shared our stories, seeking to educate our audience about a successful life lived with mental illness.
Going in, I was moderately concerned about the relevance of our topic among this group, but decided to just be authentic and share my story. In return, what I got was something I never could have expected, a warm open welcome, insightful questions and sincere praise for our courage to share. Each resident who asked a well thought out question sought a better understanding mental illness.
One example of a shift in perspective came from a lovely couple in their 90’s. They shared about a grandson that has struggled with a mood disorder for some time and for many years their attitude has been “just get over it.” Unfortunately, this difference in understanding and perspective led to an estrangement within the family.
After seeing our presentation, a light bulb moment occurred. The grandparents finally saw that “mental illness is not a choice.” Immediately, they reached out to their estranged family and set forth to clean up the damage and stigma caused by years of their own misinformation. This new realization has opened the door for healing and an opportunity to move forward in a new healthier way.
This beautiful story underscores the importance of In Our Own Voice. I am so grateful for stepping beyond my own misconceptions and sharing my story that April day. By doing so, we had the wonderful opportunity to shift perceptions and reunite three generations of loved ones.
NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties