Story of Hope and Success with Laurie

CAHM Interview with volunteer and supporter, Laurie!

How did you learn about CAHM?

I initially learned of CAHM from a very close friend who is a founding CAHM Board member. My friend suggested that I attend the upcoming Forum event in 2011.  I attended as a participant for the first time three years ago and was so impressed with the caliber of the Forum.  I observed that through CAHM’s extensive volunteer efforts that we could make a difference. I wanted to be a part of an organization that was helping to make positive changes in the lives of those affected with mental illness. I still recall feeling for the first time in years that I was not alone and that what I was experiencing was common among families dealing with these issues. As a result of the Forum giving life back to me, I decided that I wanted to give back to my community.  So the following year, I participated as a committee member and workshop presenter.

What is your favorite thing about the CAHM Forum?

My favorite aspect of the Forum is two-fold, working with diligent, committed and caring volunteers; and the quality and relevant content of the workshop presenters and speakers. Bottom line, I appreciate everything about the collaborative process of creating the Forum, and ultimately the satisfaction of observing so many individuals benefit from the Forum’s full day of inspirational, interactive and educational programs. The day is filled with take away information, applicable resources, latest approaches to treatments and the priceless sharing that brings a new perspective to hope, healing and recovery.

Describe your support network and positive influences, and how you find balance

My support comes from my own close –knit immediate family, and extended family of friends that I have been fortunate to cultivate through participating at the NAMI and IBPF family support groups; this is where my mixed blessings come into play. I can’t imagine not having these special connections in my life, and yet I would not have had them in my life if I had not traveled down this road. My friendships have been there for me through very difficult and almost unbearable situations and they will continue to be a very supportive and satisfying part of my life. I find balance in my life by not focusing all my emotions and energies into the difficult and challenging aspects of living with someone who has mental illness. I have discovered healthy ways of achieving well-being in light of dark and troubling situations I may face. I have learned to take better care of myself, to be more patient, become a better listener, and less reactive so I can hear and see what I really need to learn about myself and my loved one. I find a comforting and stabilizing balance when I don’t carry life’s burdens on my shoulders and in my heart. I practice a little loving-kindness every day. My faith covers me with profound humility, abundant strength, but most of all love.

What is your message of hope to others struggling with mental illness?

My message is not complicated; it is about “time”. I simply would share with others experiencing the affects of mental illness that this is not your permanent address; you will not be stuck in this place for the rest of your life. Life is constantly changing and so will your situation. Time is priceless and it is the promise that is on your side if you live one day at a time, today is now, and tomorrow will be a fresh start at a new day. Yesterday is living testimony that we made it through another day and let it give comfort to you that you have become a little more able, a little more experienced, and a little more confident that the days ahead will be ok.  Time brings enhanced understanding, greater awareness and humble victories. Every individual has a right to be hopeful! No one or any situation should be allowed to take that right away from you. Measure your days with baby steps, pint sized successes and learning opportunities. Believe in lots of second chances and do over’s! Finally, my last message would be to remember that by YOU being there for someone who needs love acceptance and understanding….. is the greatest gift you can give.

What is your favorite quote?

I have two, one is a quote I read one day, and the other is my own.

“Every relationship has its boundaries” —— Anonymous

“Never, ever give up on someone you love”——- my own