No Place Like Home
Writing these words are the scariest thing I have ever done but most necessary because if it had not been for NAMI I was going to end my life. No one can ever know the scream inside that haunts me. I have suffered in Silence. Today it is my hope that my story will help others use their voices to change how we do things in our communities and counties. On May 11 2016 my brother Shawn committed suicide. I speak truth to power so I can help others see what needs to change in our communities. NAMI has given me the strength and ability to advocate in the worst part of my life so I could know what to do when things got overwhelming and my family needed help and no one was listening. My mom has suffered so much pain from the trauma of what she experienced in dealing with how she was treated when trying to get my brother Robert help as he suffered with ALS and was disregarded and my mom was disrespected by the Hospital which made my brother become hopeless and eventually hospitalized for suicide ideations. My mom was not listened to and suffered so much distress as she witnessed my brother become more hopeless.
I felt so alone and when I was ready to give up to a miracle happened. On a flyer someone had placed in a coffee shop was the information for a NAMI Family to Family training. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was able to help my mom learn through my training to create a crisis file, ask for release of information and help my mom obtain an advance directive. My brother was committed to a state hospital because of never being given proper diagnosis but because of my brother and moms’s advocacy was released four months before he died so he could die with honor as a Veteran in a soldier’s home. We are so thankful that we had the ability through what NAMI taught us to help my brother. For my son Christopher and brother Shawn the happiest time in their lives when I was able to teach them through the Peer to Peer training I co-facilitated. For the first time they were able to recognized the power of their story and share the stigmas they experienced from how others viewed them through their disability. My son died August 1, 2014 from a train hitting him. That is when I began to realize how important it is for us to advocate for change in how we do things in our counties. Some things can never be learned except through lived experience.
As I begin to experience the trauma of loss I began to become involved in community and civic engagement in Monterey county and recognized the need for culturally relevant strength based community services and support . The issue is that it invest in peer led communities and relationships instead of data driven disparities. When I needed this most is when I have asked for community as first response training and a ethnic services and peer support . As my daughter has increasingly suffered from cycling and decompensating i once again have to recognize a need for change and call to action. There has to be community based , family and peer led oversight and accountability and reporting to reflect how innovative funding is being invested in changes that work because without thins changing my daughter like so many others are unable to live with a quality of life and at risk of human trafficking and death . I am so thankful to those who created the Alliance to work collaboratively towards change . I have learned it doesn’t get better–we learn to do it different. For me I am blessed because when I feel alone, NAMI gives me the strength I need to get through. I will start training on May 22 to learn how to work as a peer. I told my mom that I would share our story because even though my brother died in May his journey as a peer would help save lives and share his message.