Hearing the stories of others on their mental health journeys can be empowering and validating. It helps to know we are not alone. Being able to share our stories is a powerful step in recovery.
Peers have lived experience and their voices are invaluable.
At NAMI, it is our mission to amplify those voices.
Want to share your story? Call us at (567) 525-3435.
Written on behalf of John David Bates/Michael (church name)
A few weeks ago, a peer who had been receiving services from NAMI came to us and asked to share his story. After struggling with his mental health for some time, he was able to receive help and has been living in recovery. Today, he hopes to spread awareness about mental health conditions and inspire others to prioritize their mental health. This is John’s story.
John’s mental health journey started when he was a teenager. He recalls memories of sitting in his room alone in the dark. Although his struggles continued into adulthood, he had not realized he was living with mental health conditions. At age 46, John experienced some significant life changing events that tested his mental health. After surviving a suicide attempt and spending some time in the hospital, something inside John shifted. He wanted life to be better, he wanted to find help.
From accepting the need for help to talking about his problems with caseworkers, counselors, and other new faces, the process was not met with ease. John describes this process as “fighting from the inside out”. After appointment after appointment, test after test, John finally received his diagnoses: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Although the process was difficult, John remembers feeling relief after hearing the results and feels the experience was worth it. Now, John understands himself better and continues to learn about his mental health every day.
Among the things John has learned, he strives to cope with negative feelings and maintain positive views. John has made changes to his environment and his lifestyle to better support his mental health. Living in recovery, John shares that he still has his good and bad days, “I have my struggles, you know, who doesn’t?” He thanks the services that have helped him along his journey, including NAMI, Family Resource Center, and New Life Church.
When asked what advice he would give to others on their mental health journey, John encourages people to be honest with themselves about their own mental health and to educate themselves on different conditions. He advises others to set small goals instead of big goals. John states, “There are different tracks in life - one that can destroy you and one that can lead to success, but there will still be bumps.”
Stay tuned for more testimonies!