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Executive Director’s Report: Finding Direction with NAMI’s Help

Kris Gamm-Smith - NAMI SWI Executive DirectorSeptember 1, 2020
Fall is generally thought of as a time for new beginnings…

We are on the cusp of our Fall season, which is generally thought of as a time for new beginnings, fresh starts, with holidays to look forward to and a change of climate to adjust to. But for many of us, the joy that can come with Fall seems suppressed, and life feels unsettling and, for the most part, out of our control.

COVID-19 seems to have taken over our lives. The COVID gloom is beginning to consume us. How much isolation can a person endure? How long do we have to be separated from loved ones, and restricted in what we can do with our time? If you’re starting to feel like life is falling apart, you are not alone. I believe we are in a state of COVID fatigue, where our minds feel dulled, and our energy level is low. We are bored, confused and feel like we are on the sidelines of this life as it is happening around us.

How do we recharge? How do we get back on track with our goals and our dreams? We live in this state of waiting until this “thing” is over, and we can go on about our business as usual. The answer is not rocket science. It boils down to a basic need that innately exists within each of us i.e., the need for significance. How do we find this significance? We find it primarily in our relationships with others, and by pursuing activities that bring us gratification and a sense of belonging.

That is what NAMI SWI is all about…finding direction, stability and a sense of well being in our lives. Listening and talking to people who have “been there/done that” has such a positive impact on one’s sense of hope and anticipation of good things to come. Having the ear of someone who understands what you are going through is priceless. Knowing that others genuinely care about you, and want the best for you, is the greatest motivator around. NAMI SWI Connection and Family Support Group’s are the primary vehicles for reaching out to others in need of acceptance and being a part of something bigger than themselves.

Let’s say that today was not a good day for you. You had trouble getting out of bed, and really wanted to sleep another hour or two. Instead, you push your body off the mattress and almost land on the floor. You get dressed and take off to a doctor’s appointment, and the bus is late. You arrive a half hour past your appointment time and get reamed out for not being on time. Your hungry, you have no money on you, and you will have to wait for another bus to come. You finally get home, eat some dinner, and decide to go to group. You really don’t feel up to it, but the day has been so lousy. You walk into group and everyone is smiling and saying hello; asking how you are. You sit and listen to what another’s day was like, and you suddenly don’t feel so alone. You’re in a safe place where you can talk if you want to, and not talk if you aren’t up to it. No one judges or criticizes you, and everything you say is held in strict confidence. You finally feel like someone understands what you went through today, and how hard it is to pull yourself out of the pit. Thank your fellow group members for caring and being there for you.

That is what recovery support groups are all about. We have them for people living with a mental illness, where they can go and relate to another’s similar struggles with their illness. You immediately reduce the sense of isolation and being misunderstood. You have the ear of people who want to listen to what you have to say, and they truly can empathize with what you are going through.

Look to our Support Group webpage or Calendar for the schedule of our Support Groups. Our Peer led Connection support groups are held every week on Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons. On Thursday nights we also have Family Support Groups for any adult with a loved one who has experienced symptoms of a mental health condition. Gain insight from the challenges and successes of others facing similar experiences. You are always welcome… let NAMI SWI help share your pain, and demonstrate the hope of recovery with a mental illness.

Kristine Gamm-Smith, M. A.
Executive Director, NAMI SWI

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