Thursday, August 24, 2006

There is hope

Congratulations to Rae Belle and Roger Gambs on being honored by NAMI California this weekend for their endless advocacy on behalf of the most severely mentally ill. Perhaps their greatest accomplishment was saving their own son’s life.
“The Gambses watched Rodger use street drugs, become homeless, get arrested, go to jail and face four years in prison before finally, in 1999, he was ordered by the court to seek treatment. Rodger Gambs recovered successfully and now lives on his own in San Luis Obispo.” [UPDATE: Read a stunning editorial tribute to the Gambs' in the August 25, 2006 San Luis Obispo Tribune ...]
There are so many tragic stories that we sometimes forget to celebrate the successes and honor the families who refuse to give up, persevering until they save their loved ones. (We especially thank those willing to share their positive experiences and success stories to help tear down the barriers for others.)

Jodey Lacey helped save her son Nicholas when she began to see signs of mental illness after he left for college. She reminds us, as teens head off to college, how important it is to recognize the symptoms of mental illnesses. Nicholas explains the role of medication in his recovery.
"Medications have helped control my symptoms of schizophrenia without negatively affecting my ability to do art work and enjoy life. Living with schizophrenia isn't easy. As a young person, I had to learn the hard way that I couldn't run away from my problems. It took many years before I realized that I needed to take my medication on a daily basis."
Jared Harvey has schizophrenia and is featured in the documentary "How Do You Eat an Elephant?" which explores the barriers mentally ill people face in integrating with society.
Jared gives others hope:

"Most of the time it's OK. As long as I take my medication, I can tell the difference between the hallucinations and what's real. As long as I keep myself moving, go to school, the easier it is to overcome the depression and the psychotic symptoms. And you learn to live with it."

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