mental illness, NAMI Convention

All things come to an end.

Today is Saturday.  During the summer, the Bustang doesn’t run their commuter bus on the weekends…so apparently people don’t work on weekends in the city?  I don’t get it and I don’t want to ask Johanna to drive to and from Denver two days in a row just for one session (although it is a research update and bound to be interesting).  I didn’t want to spend an extra $65 for a dinner ticket for Johanna to the closing banquet because (a) that’s an extremely large amount of money for a dinner and (b) that’s a lot of money to spend on dinner (not that Johanna isn’t worth it!  I just think $65 is excessive).


So yesterday was a very interesting day for me.  Got to Denver early-ish for the research update for Depression.  Apparently the guy who was supposed to give the update wasn’t able to so the medical director for NAMI Dr Ken Duckworth came and did a on the fly update.  He talked about a lot of things I already knew-ketamine may lead to amazing discoveries in the rapid antidepressant field, MAOIs are really good antidepressants if you can give up the finer things in life (like cheese and wine) and don’t mind looking at the ingredients label and expiration date of every food you eat while on them, Transcranial magnetic stimulation works for some people but isn’t covered by all insurances at the moment, Optogenetic stimulation that uses light (?) to stimulate parts of the brain through the eyes that helps with depression in animals, and he reiterated to us all that the field is progressing and finding more treatments and there is hope.  He did a really good job for not actually preparing for this session.


The next research update was for Borderline Personality Disorder.

Continue reading “All things come to an end.”

mental illness, NAMI Convention

So, being in a place without all of my tools available and being on my own came to a head today.

Today was an early morning.  I was up at 5:00a and we left the house at 5:40a-ish.  The bus left Fort Collins at 6:00a.  The reason I went on that earlier bus is because they moved Patrick J Kennedy’s book signing from the middle of the day (when I would be in another session) to before the opening plenary from 7:30a t0 8:30a.  So I got there in time to buy a book and stand in line to have him sign it. Here’s the tweet when I stepped in the room:

I am in the same room as . No biggie.

So just being in the room with him was exciting.  I saw other people getting their pictures taken with him and was like, “Yes, I shall do that too.”  He’s done a lot for people with mental illnesses and, well, he’s a Kennedy.  So I asked the woman behind me to take a picture with us (you know, me and Patrick J Kennedy) so she did.  These are the pictures of us (notice I’m wearing a “Practice Reckless Optimism” t-shirt.  You can get one here)-



We’re just adorable.  And he was super nice.


So then I walked through the exhibition hall and read signs without making eye contact with any of the people in the booths.  hehe.


Mmm.  Opening plenary was amazing.  Colorado’s governor and Patrick J Kennedy spoke and I was incredibly moved.  Lots of claps and cheers.  Made me happy to be there.  I believe that many people were moved by the speeches.  I think I’m going to get a cd of that session.  I might want to listen to it over and over.


Then there was a workshop about youth and young adults.  I may have gone into it because I thought it was a group for young adults but it wasn’t.  That makes me kind of sad because this year, without a young adult track or even just sessions geared specifically for the young adult population, I feel kind of alone at the convention.  Like I’m sure happy to be in Denver for this convention and am feeling the spirit of advocacy to go back to Iowa and make a difference in my communities there.  But I’m sad because, as opposed to being surrounded by young adults that I could identify with and got to spend quality time during and after hours of the convention, I’m not really connecting with people on more than a “Oh, have a nice day,” or “Can I sit here?” type of way.  In addition to my depression and OCD, I also live with social anxiety.  It’s hard for me to just approach people and connect, especially if they are older than I am.  I have this constant feeling that I’ll be devalued because I’m young and my brain tends to make word soup and I think (mind reading, I know) that people would assume that I’m uneducated and don’t have anything to contribute.  I know those are distorted thoughts, but they seem so real…as most distorted thoughts do.  Tomorrow I’ll try reaching out more.  But today, it was hard.  I think it may have been because of the early morning.

In the afternoon, I was having a lot of pain in my body and it was making me nauseous to the point where I just went out and camped out in a bathroom stall because I felt like I was going to puke.  I did not puke (thank goodness) but I still felt like utter and complete crap.  So I made the choice to leave the convention and skip the last two hours of sessions I had planned to go to.  One of them was the state caucus which I really wanted to go to but I really didn’t want to puke on or near anyone. So I took the Mallride back to Union Station and got a chai tea that the barista recommended, that had actual ginger juice in it, after I asked if they had any drinks with an above average amount of ginger.  And guess what!?  It does, in fact, have a lot of ginger.  I sipped on it slowly and my stomach started to calm itself.  My body aches were still present so I’m glad I headed to Fort Collins earlier than planned.  When Johanna (and Hawkeye) picked me up from the bus stop, we went right to get some acetaminophen at Walgreens so I had some in my backpack for times such as this.  Johanna and Brad are a strictly NSAIDS family and with my clotting disorder/being on warfarin thing, I’m a Tylenol only type gal.  😉  It all worked out.  I took some pain reliever at 6p-ish and hardly hurt right now.  Awesome!  And I put it in my backpack so I have it tomorrow.  And I’m sure Johanna has something ginger around her house for me to take with me if my stomach decides to rebel again.


Tomorrow’s going to be a good day at the Convention.  Research updates in the morning (I’m so excited!) and a couple of sessions in the afternoon.  I am very tired and am going to go to bed in nine minutes.  So goodnight all.  Sleep well and I’ll see you in the morning.


Bonus: Hawkeye driving 😉


Hawkeye is such a good buddy. ❤

mental illness, NAMI Convention

So everyone, today’s the day!

I am leaving on a train at (hopefully) 5:59p from Mt Pleasant to head to Denver!  Everything’s packed save my computer (because I’m currently using it to type this up!) and my water bottle (which is in the fridge chilling).  I have an alert on my phone that will remind me to get my water bottle before we head to the train station.



I’m so thankful for this opportunity to go to the National NAMI Convention again.  I hope to learn a myriad of things and meet awesome people. This is my chance to become an even better and more informed advocate for people with mental illnesses.  The sessions I’m most looking forward to are the research updates and the opening session in which Patrick Kennedy is speaking at.


So just follow along with this blog because I’ll be posting pictures and stories of my time in Colorado!  The good thing about riding the Bustang to and from Denver every day is that I’ll have time to update this blog on the way to Fort Collins every afternoon/night.  The bus has wifi!  If I have to ride on a bus, it for sure needs wifi. haha ♥

mental illness, NAMI Convention

Three weeks! Three weeks! Three weeks!

If you couldn’t tell from my title. I’ll be heading to Denver in three weeks! 
The National NAMI Convention 2016 has kept me going the last few months. I know I’m going to meet people who get it. Who don’t judge me for my metal illnesses. Who want to learn more and make a difference. It’s going to be hard to deal with my anxiety in public but armed with my numerous coping skills (and perhaps a tad bit of Ativan?), it’s going to go swimmingly. My dearest friend Johanna is awesome and I’ll be staying with her and Hawkeye (and maybe Brad. Who knows?) in Ft Collins…an hour and a half ride from Union Station in Denver. So that’ll be interesting. Heh. I can do it!!!!!

Thanks again to both of my church families for their support for this trip. I can’t wait to come back and tell you all about my experiences. I’ll be updating this blog at least daily. The Bustang (the commuter bus to and from Denver) has outlets AND interwebs. Whaaaat? So I’ll have plenty of time to keep you all up to date! 

mental illness, NAMI Convention

Well, I wanted to let everyone know…

That the NAMI National Convention 2016 IS A GO!


Thanks to the support of my friends at both my churches put together with the (little) money I’ve been able to save, I was able to cover my train transport out and back, a NAMI membership (to make the convention fee less), and the full convention fee!  Wowza.


And of course, I have to thank my dear friend Johanna (and her accomplices Brad and Hawkeye) for opening up their home to me for the week.  They live in Fort Collins, Co…which is about an hour north of Denver.  There’s a commuter bus that goes from Ft Collins to Denver during the week called the Bustang (ha!).  So that’s  how I’ll be getting to Denver.  Without Johanna’s generous home opening (does that make sense?), I was able to actually attend the convention this year because I didn’t have to worry about outlandish hotel fees (and the tax on hotel rooms in Denver is like 25% or something ridiculous like that!).  She’s saving my butt!  It also doesn’t hurt that she’s pretty much the coolest person ever and I love her with all my heart. ❤  What a good egg.



So yeah, in five weeks right about now, I’ll be rolling into Denver’s Union Station.  How ridiculous is that?!! Thanks to all of you for your support and love. I really wouldn’t have made it this far without it.

mental illness, NAMI Convention

Hello all. Update time!

What have I been up to, you ask?
Well, I’ve been doing fairly well. My mood is up. My activity level is up (except for this last week when I spent a lot of time in bed. I think seasonal allergies are to blame). I’ve been watching cute kittens at tinykittens and it’s made me realize how thankful I am for people who do the right thing just because it’s the right thing. How refreshing. 

I definitely rode the bus a couple of weeks ago! It went well. I’m going to try to go on my own this week. We’ll see. I’ve got the bongo app downloaded so I’m primed to succeed. 

So guess what? Thanks to Washington’s United Presbyterian Church and Iowa City’s First Presbyterian Church, I’m going to be able to attend the National NAMI Convention in Denver this summer!!!! For sure! I’ve been blessed with amazing people who love me and are interested in my journey to being an advocate for mental illness. 

And, thanks to the amazing Johanna and Brad (and Hawkeye) for letting me stay with them for this convention. I promise to make you guys a good dinner while I’m there…or to at least buy a pizza (because Johanna is a much better cook than I am). 

For the first time since high school, I’m excited by life and its possibilities. These past ten years have been nothing I could have ever imagined. Lots of illness, pain, and death. Thankfully, I have the best support system ever. I’m a darn lucky girl.