Mental Health

by Mariah Morgan

As we grow out of our teens and enter adulthood, we learn to adapt to our surroundings and naturally change. Some things may include changing majors, changing where you live, or changing crowds. What some of us never expect is the change to our mental health. It is crucial to adapt to this before it takes over your life.

On October 27, two women from the local chapter of NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, shared their personal stories at Whatcom Community College. Their graciousness and acceptance touched the few who listened as they took time describing the stages their mental illness took them through.

 “Awareness is half the battle, education is key,” said Megan Herbert, a volunteer at NAMI, who was diagnosed as bi-polar in her late teens. She stressed the importance that mental illness doesn’t need to define you; it’s just a part of your life.

Their presentation included short video of people with all sorts of mental illnesses, in stages of their dark days, acceptance, treatment, coping skills and successes, hopes and dreams. One of those people speaking was a psychologist, explaining, “I would rather have 15 pound twins than be clinically depressed.“ 

These women standing in front of the room, sharing their life with strangers hoping to bring optimism, are the same people you walk by everyday. They did nothing to cause this horrible disorder, nor are they doing anything to pro-long their mental illness. They just happened to develop it for whatever reason, and have to learn how to live with it to the best of their ability.

“It was a good day if I made it to the mail box,” Herbert described during her dark days. It wasn’t until her biggest melt down she decided to get help. She at first accepted her condition but it wasn’t until she internalized it, she said, that the recovery process started to make a difference. She set off to get a therapist and to find medication, that worked for her, after switching a few times.

 Some of Herbert’s successes in life were being debt-free until law school, and continuing on to grad school. Having a challenging job keeps her brain moving, she said with a chuckle.

One of the most important things to learn about having a mental illness, both women said, is to learn everything you can about it and be in constant communication with your doctor. Even letting your teachers know what’s going on with you will help them and you.

“It was humbling for teachers to realize they do have students with these issues,” says Diana Ash, an outreach specialist at NAMI.

NAMI president Richard Elenbaas wrote in the Whatcom County Pamphlet that NAMI is an organization “offering genuine encouragement, standing in the gap, or more like bridging the chasm, for those who just can’t.”

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Those who want more information about mental illnesses can contact our school counselor Margaret Vlahos or NAMI on 1212 Indian st, phone number is (360) 671-4950.


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