Well, I wanted to let everyone know…

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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.

Hello all. Update time!

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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. 

It’s only been a year and some change…

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It’s been a little while guys!  So sorry.  This blog has kind of fallen to the side of my busy life.  Mentally, I’m doing pretty well.  I had a big med change a few months back and it really seems to be working.  You know, after all of the meds I’ve been on, I was extremely wary to try yet another.  It’s relatively new, but it worked.  My mood is about at 7 out of a 10 with 10 being the highest.  It hasn’t been this consistently high for 10 years…since high school.  I thank my ample knowledge of CBT and my very good psych clinician (who I’ve been seeing since 2008) who actually listens to me and helps me come up with real life solutions.  And I’m sleeping nightly (for the most part).  Tonight is the exception.  It’s 0515 and I’m here, blogging.  It’s alright though.  I have a bit of a fever and there were a few house fires in the area and that messed up my OCD and I can’t seem to calm my brain.  It’s lying to me, telling me that if I go to sleep, I won’t wake up because fire and smoke will consume my apartment and all that is in it.  Most days, I can rationalize and challenge these obsessions I have.  However, when I have evidence that there’s legitimate something (like two house fires within 15 miles), I can’t stop thinking about it.  I’ve been doing some research online and I think I’ve found something to put my energy into.

 

This blog was started to document my trip to San Antonio for the 2013 NAMI National Convention.  I’ve been clamoring to go to another National Convention ever since but finances have been…well, living on SSDI leaves very little room for saving.  I’ve been looking for a job with the assistance of Goodwill; I put in a couple of applications a month ago, but I haven’t heard anything back.  I just spent the last hour scouring school websites, looking for a job I could do.  There’s an opening for a para-educator, from 11a-1p weekdays.  I could do that job…I think.  It’d equal 10 hours a week which I’m shooting for and I love kids.  I just don’t know if it’d be a good fit, you know?  But I could really use the money, you know?  And I could definitely use something to keep myself busy.  A routine.

 

I am planning on going to Colorado in early July.  Whether I attend the NAMI Convention that’ll be happening at that time or not is completely dependent on my budget.  So if anyone wants to chip in and help me get there, just shoot me a message and we’ll talk. 🙂  I’m looking at the program for the NAMI National Convention in Denver in July and I’m seeing a lot of things that I would really like to be a part of.  First of all, Patrick Kennedy is delivering the opening plenary.  That itself is so amazing.  He’s done so much for mental health reform and I’d love to hear him speak.  Then I got to looking at the breakout sessions.  The first one that grabbed me was “Youth and Young Adults: A Key to Building a Movement”.  Obviously, I’m interested in that one.  The reason I was able to go to the NAMI Convention in San Antonio in 2013 was because I was a young adult.  And there are so many passionate young adults out there, ready to make a difference.  We don’t want the world that our parents grew up in…we want to pave our own world and make it better.  The moderator for that session is Darcy.  She’s amazing.  She’s one of the reasons I was chosen for the scholarship that took me to San Antonio.  Another workshop that day is entitled, “Is it Time to Rethink I Can?”  It looks pretty interesting.

 

THEN COMES THE “MAJOR TOPIC SESSIONS.”

 

That had to be in all caps because it just sounds so darn important.  The first choice is “Cutting through Election Noise to #Act4MentalHealth.”  We can make our voices heard to the candidates and this session will tell us how.  Then there’s “Psychological, Social and Spiritual Faith Journeys for Veterans and Military Personnel”.  I think this one is pretty self explanatory.  Because I can’t relate to it personally, it wouldn’t be my first pick.  The next one is pretty intriguing to me-“Stepping Up: A Plan for Reducing Incarceration of People with Mental Illness.”  I happen to have a few someones in my life who have been incarcerated and also have substance abuse issues.  While they were incarcerated, they did not get adequate support.  In this session, they’re talking about NAMI’s initiative Stepping Up.  The last of these “major topic sessions” is “We Can’t Wait! The Public Health Imperative for First Episode Psychosis Programs.”  I myself have never experienced psychosis, but I have friends who have.  And the fact that they may have waited OVER A YEAR to seek help is just ridiculous.  I think many people will benefit from these programs.

 

The second day, there’s also a NAMI state caucus which is pretty cool.  I wasn’t able to go to the one in San Antonio because we had a Young Adult program at that time, but you meet with other NAMI Convention attendees from your state!  You probably didn’t even know they were there too. 🙂  Then that night, the National Veterans and Military Council has a candlelight vigil.  I think that would be something to see.

 

The next day starts bright and early with the sessions I’m most excited for—-RESEARCH UPDATES!  I learned so much about the up and coming treatments for Depression when I went to the Con in 2013.  Imagine what they’ve come up with in 3 years.  After the Depression research update, there’s another session.  I think I’ll choose to go to the Borderline Personality Disorder research update.  It’s a really difficult mental illness to treat and to recover from so I’m interested in seeing what new ideas are floating around.  And if any of them will be implemented in Iowa.  After lunch, there are more sessions.  I’d probably go to “Genetic Testing for Medication Response: Empowering Patients Toward Mental Wellness”.  That just fascinates me beyond belief.  Thankfully, I’ve found an antidepressant that works for me right now, but if we had this technology 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have had to muddle through 20+ meds to find the one that works.  Who knows where I’d be right now?  Another set of workshops in the afternoon.  I’d probably choose “A New Generation’s Perspective: Generational Shifts & Transformative Change in Mental Health” because it’s the most interesting sounding.  And, I am part of the new generation.

 

And oh!  The “How to” sessions.  Frankly, I have my eye set on “How To Erase Stigma in the LGBTQI Community”.  Or “How to Tell Your Story and Change the World”.  I mean, I’d love to share my story with the world and have something be different because of me.

 

I probably would have to head back to the bus to hitch my way back to Ft Collins at this point.  Wouldn’t be able to stay for the Interfaith Prayer & Share Service or Friday Night At The Movies.  The way I’m trying to save money on this trip is that I have a very awesome, bestest friend Johanna who lives in Ft Collins, CO which is only a bus ride (albeit an hour bus ride) from downtown Denver.  So she’s so nicely agreed to let me hang at her house, eat her food, and sleep in her guest room so I don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money on a hotel room for a few nights.  So I’m bound to the timetable of the Bustang.  haha.  That’s what it’s called. 🙂

 

I think I’m going to have to bribe Johanna and her husband to spend the day in Denver if I want to go on Saturday because I’m fairly certain that the Bustang doesn’t run on weekends (which is just so silly).  There’s another research plenary (which I’m sure will be just fascinating and a couple of training and policy institutes (which could be interesting because it has some pretty awesome people on the panels).  Saturday ends with the closing banquet.  I’m sure it’ll have amazing food and it better have some good music.  I know when we were in San Antonio, it was a little more causal than usual…we had a fiesta with all sorts of fiesta foods…delicious agua frescas, little Mexican bites, and entirely too much to eat!  I’m sure you can look back at my blog posts from the 2013 Con and see how much fun we had. 🙂  A couple of my friends I made in the YA track of 2013 are going to be there in Denver this summer.  That’s one of the reasons I’m so intent on making it there.  It doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot just for Young Adults this year though.  We had such good sessions the year they introduced the YA Track.  I think it was just a trial thing, but we really bonded and have supported each other ever since.  We had our own special room with snacks and stress balls where we could go for respite.  And there, Ken Duckworth, NAMI’s Medical Director, would be…eating our Twizzlers.  haha.  It’s a good memory.

 

I don’t really know what tomorrow or the next day bring.  I do know, however, that I’m working to the goal of getting to Denver in July.  That’s my source of motivation right now.  I want to prove to myself that despite what life throws at me, I can do things I want to do!  So send me some positive energy or pray for me.  Because I’m bound and determined to make the trip to the NAMI National Convention in Denver, CO this July.  With your help, maybe I will.

I know, I know.

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It’s been six months without an update.  I’ve had some things going on in my life that have delayed this post.  At this point, I’m still planning to go to the 2015 NAMI Convention in San Francisco next July.  Saving a little every month is going well.  If I keep on, I’ll have the necessary funds so that I can go on my trip.  I will take the train from Mt Pleasant to Emeryville, CA.  It’s a 2 day trip, but I handle the train much better than I handle planes.  And it’s much more cost effective to take the train.  We all know I’m all about being cost effective!  If I have to eat raman for a month or two to go to the convention, I will (Just kidding.  Although I’d probably lose a bunch of weight too!).  Today has been an interesting one and the days are going to only get more interesting as I go.  Tomorrow I’m going to church and singing in the choir for the first Sunday service I’ve done.  The church is so welcoming and I feel at home there.  Becoming socially integrated is something that I’ve been missing in my life and I think I can become more involved in the church.  Presbyterians are awesome!

So there’s a little bit of a plan for my future.  I just have a hope that I’ll be able to follow through with this trip.  I know it will be an amazing experience like my trip to San Antonio was.

I’ve made a decision.

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That I’m not going to continue to fundraise for the trip to the National NAMI Convention in Washington DC this fall. I haven’t gotten very far and was struggling with my drive to fundraise. I’ve felt very apathetic when it comes to life right now and that’s effecting my actions. If you’ve already donated, I’ll be sending you a check and a thank you. I’m appreciative of all of the support from my friends. I did the number crunching and figured that if I save $125 a month, I’ll have enough to go to the convention in San Francisco in 2015. Something to look forward to and keep me going. I’m sad that this has to be called off but know that it wasn’t meant to be. Thanks guys.

My Denver trip went well.

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The train ride there went smoothly and I got there a little after we should have been in but it wasn’t awful. Johanna met me at the train station and it was so nice to see her. We talk online multiple times a week to stay in touch but I don’t get to see see her very often. We decided to go to Sam’s #3 restaurant downtown. We waited for a table and chatted. Then we got seated under a heat lamp. I felt like a lizard for a bit. I ordered an omelet and French toast and it was good ole home cooking. My dad would have loved that restaurant. It was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives and they’re very stoked about that. 🙂

Johanna dropped me off at the house with instructions to eat whatever I wanted while she was off at work. I took a shower, ate some cinnamon squares, and watched a little tv with my couch buddy Hawkeye. When Johanna got home, we pulled together dinner and it was tasty. Then we went downtown to see “The Heirs of Hogwarts” improv. It was hilarious to an extreme. Also, Brad, Johanna and I have all of these new inside jokes. 🙂

Saturday morning comes and I’m ready for my day. Brad was spending his day running and biking. And while that sounds like a good time, Johanna and I had better plans. We waited in line for donuts at Voodoo Donuts and they were the best donuts I’ve ever had! Gotta repeat that next time. Then we went to Boulder and toured the Celestial Seasonings factory (the only one in the world!). Then back to Denver to have lunch at Chipotle (ha, Joseph) and went to a cool bookstore. I didn’t buy anything but I saw a lot of things I wanted to buy but didn’t. 🙂 Then we went to Trader Joe’s and then got a cupcake. Our day was coming to a close. We had homemade pizza and watched the movie The Heat.

Sunday was great. Well, in the middle of the night, I had a night terror and was flailing in my sleep and killed a lamp. Oops. But we got up and went to church then went home for lunch. Lunch was beer braised spareribs and they were delicious. Then Johanna made some pb/chocolate sandwich cookies and I made raspberry ricotta scones. Lots of baking. Yum.

Sadly my trip has to come to an end. But I had a good time and it was awesome to have so much fun with those two. Fall may bring another trip. Who knows? Have to raise money and it’s not going that well. If you want to donate to my NAMI DC trip fund, let me know and we’ll figure something out. Thanks for reading this all and I hope you have a good day.