“NAMI Mass changed my life.”
It all started when Allie was 11. Her parents moved from the small town where she was raised to a strange, big city. Her beloved grandmother died. She started attending a new school and burst into tears on her first day of sixth grade. The bullying started immediately. “Cry baby,” they taunted. She started having panic attacks. Her grades suffered. Her parents, deep into alcoholism, left her feeling alone and isolated.
“I ate my lunch in the guidance counselor’s office but I received no guidance. It was the first time I ever felt alone, and I began to shut down. I kept to myself, but it didn’t quiet the other kids. The only thing I could do was completely shut down into a depression and stay there until I graduated high school.”
And even when she met and married Rick, the toxicity of her family infiltrated her relationship and led her to attempt to take her own life.
“I gave no sign that ending my life was where I was. I only knew what I had seen in movies and decided on pills and alcohol to do the deed.”
After being treated for the suicide attempt and a three-week stay at a psychiatric facility, Allie entered a six-week outpatient program. Rick thought she was cured and that the whole episode was behind them. But it wasn’t. Allie still felt isolated, and the panic attacks returned. Rick didn’t understand. He thought she’d “get over it.” Their marriage was in tatters. They fought. She told him to divorce her. Rick agreed to go to couples therapy, but he just wasn’t receptive to talk therapy. They hit a dead end.
And then Allie found NAMI Mass.
At the suggestion of her therapist, Allie started spending Thursday nights at a NAMI Connection recovery support group meeting. She met people there who understood her issues and cared about her. She then attended a NAMI Peer-to-Peer class where she realized she was not alone, and where she found ways to express her feelings through words and photos. She went on to become a NAMI In Our Own Voice presenter, sharing the story of her recovery journey.
Rick joined a NAMI Family Support Group.
“He became much more understanding and compassionate around my anxiety, mania, and depression. I now feel open to discuss with him when I feel manic and to let him know how things are going. He wants to help me through it now.”
One in five people in our state suffers from mental illness. NAMI Mass is there for them—and for their families and caregivers—to improve the quality of their lives through education, training, support, and advocacy.
Please make a difference and give as generously as you can. Thank you and best wishes for a healthy, joyful, and peaceful holiday season.
Tom Scurfield, NAMI Mass Board President
Laurie Martinelli, NAMI Mass Executive Director