In My Own Voice: the NAMI Play


Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder (Photo credit: SheriW1223)

Last night I was at the National Alliance on Mental Illness play Pieces in which people living with mental illness educated the audience about their struggles. It was a magical hour of song, poetry, music and heart-felt emotion about depression, post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and suicide. The main message was the need for hope, understanding and love as keys to supporting the road to recovery.

It was very much a family night. Several couples were there, a young man brought two boys, a couple brought their child,  and the family of the cast was there, as well. But I also think of family in the broader sense: people with whom I have been sharing the journey as a mental health advocate. One moment was a little unnerving, however. A young woman Tracy Reed who advocates for patients through Abri scared the life out of me when she sneaked up behind me in the theater.  Apparently I turned white with fright, a feat previously achieved only by Michael Jackson.

I am happy to report that I am back to my natural complexion this afternoon. Perhaps this was due to one of those tasty little sandwiches that NAMI provided for the refreshments.

The play was held at the Martin Luther King Center, which is a gem operated by Milwaukee County. At times, the King Center has been targeted for closing, only to be rescued by our county supervisors. This is a good thing, too. We need a place to gather and celebrate and have family among us. We need a place to cast off fear, understand our strange impulses and recover our minds. We need a place for young white college students to feel safe and share moments away from campus.

It is time to hear our own voices. If you want to learn more about the play, contact NAMI at (414) 344-0447. The production last night was taped and they are looking to bring it to other community settings.

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