What an incredible experience we had at the NAMI Wisconsin Conference this year! The Osthoff Resort provided us a gorgeous space in which to host, Wisconsin gave us a few warmer, sunshiny days after a late winter storm, and we were fortunate to have so many dynamic speakers to lead the sessions and workshops!
As a first-time attendee of the Annual Conference, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from these packed two days. Scanning the schedule, multiple session topics caught my eye, so I had to choose selectively. I ended up attending Ask the Expert: Schizophrenia, Yoga for Anxiety, The Important Role of the Faith Community in Mental Illness, and About Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
During these workshops, not only did I learn new information about conditions and treatments I’m not as familiar with, but I also got to expand on my knowledge of mental health while practicing self-care. I have shared this information with others after the Conference was over, and I’ve been continuing to use the skills I learned in my own life as well.
The biggest thing I took away from the Conference, though, was hope. The past few months have been a very challenging time for me with my mental illness, something I’m sure many others at the Conference could relate to. But this was a period of time set aside for me to focus on my mental health and on learning ways to better care for myself and to help others, all while being surrounded by people who understand the struggles I have experienced. It was a time to feel totally accepted for every part of me and to talk about my mental illness without stigma.
It felt good. It felt hopeful: hopeful that there are many ways out of the darkness; hopeful that recovery really is possible, even if it means re-recovery; hopeful that we are not alone in these struggles. The NAMI Wisconsin Annual Conference 2018 gave me the hope to keep fighting.
Written by Heather Ehnert, Communications and Advocacy Intern