We adopted our son from the Children’s Home when he was just three months old – a beautiful, healthy baby boy. I had so many dreams for his future. Kyle made it through high school, but was unable to cope with the pressure of college life away from home. His change in behavior certainly didn’t happen overnight, but we were slow to recognize the progression of his negative attitudes. Over time, Kyle became very isolated, lacking motivation to accomplish the most basic of life tasks.
Kyle’s mom is a public school teacher, and I am a lawyer. As educated adults, we struggled to cope with Kyle’s admission that he was hearing voices. He has been hospitalized five times for schizophrenia. My marriage was failing, I was drinking too much, I wasn’t present for my family, and I couldn’t fix my son.
That was 10 years ago. I still can’t heal Kyle, but I can help. I have found positive ways to deal with how mental illness has changed our family. I no longer feel powerless. I can accomplish things for him and because of him. I am still frustrated by the fragmentation and lack of coordination in our behavioral health system, but I have hope. I have NAMI.
NAMI is a great organization because it gets people talking about these illnesses. It empowers family members through education. It gives a voice to consumers who would never be heard on their own. NAMI is a resource that comforts and encourages family members, demands research for better treatments and cures, and advocates for vital support services to meet individuals at their unique points of need.
When people feel strongly about a cause, that passion comes through. I believe in NAMI and its good works. I love participating in the NAMI Walk, and my friends, family and colleagues have willingly supported my efforts. I think someday NAMI’s diligence will improve life for my son and many, many others like him. NAMI needs financial support and committed volunteers so it can continue to succeed in its efforts, and I am proud to stand at the front of the line.
Kyle, too, has gotten better. Now working full time, he is able to increase his self worth and has enjoyed making some money. Last weekend he and I drove to Bemus Point, NY for the day. So far his life has gotten better and mine too, with NAMI’s help.