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Connecting with Others

Connecting with Others
By Emma Volesky

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Guest blogger, Emma Volesky, shares her experience at the 2012 NAMI Convention.

I attended the NAMI National Convention for the first time last year. When I first heard about the convention, I knew at once I had to go. Not only did I want to go, I needed to go. Just the idea of going made me excited. Now, having experienced the convention firsthand, I can say that it is a hundred times better than I could have ever imagined.

The awesome presentations I attended, the brave people I heard speaking and the helpful coping skills I learned made the convention a very worthwhile trip for me. But most of all, the memories and friendships I got to take home with me made the convention even more meaningful to me.

One of the most wonderful things I experienced while at the convention was meeting people who understood what I have been through. For years and years, I isolated myself from the world. I felt worthless, sickening and inadequate and everything else someone living with a mental health condition can feel. These kinds of thoughts had me believing that I was every one of those things, which ultimately led me to the worst belief of all: that I was alone.

I was alone. This belief pulled me down into a pit of misery. I got pulled deeper and deeper every second I felt alone. Even though I was in recovery when I first heard about the convention, I still felt like there was a big chance that the convention could help me feel even better and it did! I got to meet other young adults like me at the young adult networking session during convention. We talked about the issues most important to us and had fun the rest of the convention together. I now know without a doubt that I am never alone.

Also at the convention, I became aware of all the new opportunities at NAMI that exist for young adults and that can help me change the world. I had been speaking about my mental illness since I was 17 years old, but now I speak with even more intelligence because of everything I learned attending workshops during the convention.

Everyone impacted by mental health conditions should go to NAMI’s conventions. There are a lot of reasons they should go that range far and wide. For me, the biggest reason is that I learned I am making a big difference in my life and in the lives of others just by attending the convention. The convention empowers people to be themselves without their mental health condition keeping them back.

Being at the convention showed me that there is hope. There still is the stigma of mental illness but it can be defeated by something as simple as attending conventions held by NAMI. This is a humungous step toward fighting stigma in my opinion.

All in all, the NAMI National Convention last year impacted me in a very good way more than anything has before. It gave me confidence to go further in my life! I can't wait for the 2013 convention to see my friends and to learn more about how I can be an effective young adult leader.

I hope to see even more young adults and adults there this summer. And a few last words: 2013 NAMI NATIONAL CONVENTION HERE I COME!!!!! Do you plan to attend the 2013 NAMI Convention?

NAMI is excited to announce that the 2013 NAMI National Convention will include the first ever young adult track. This track will equip young adults with the skills they need to make a difference in their communities, in the lives of their friends and in their own lives. It will include powerful workshops and special sessions, social events, creative activities and a unique skill-building leadership training specifically for young adults. To learn more about this opportunity for young adults visit www.nami.org/convention.

NAMI is also offering young adult scholarships to support active young adult leaders to attend the young adult track at the 2013 NAMI Convention from June 27-30 in San Antonio, Texas. More information about the scholarship and the scholarship application is available on StrengthofUs.org. Please note that you must be signed in to StrengthofUs to access the information and the application. 

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community for hope for all of those in need. NAMI created StrengthofUs.org in consultation with young adults.