The closing of a year offers a time for reflection. I've been the Executive Director for NAMI Montana since June of 2008. In those years, I've learned a lot about my own mental health challenges and the challenges that affect my loved ones. I've also made a lot of incredible friends that battle with serious mental illness, post traumatic stress, and/or addiction issues fighting everyday for recovery and hope.
This Christmas I caught up with people who are doing better than they or anyone ever thought they would be. People who are celebrating the holidays with a greater sense of peace and more relationship connections than ever before.
I also grieved friends and family who lost their battle with mental illness. Saw facebook posts from friends who were trying to get through the holidays after losing a child to suicide. Hurting for them and all of our NAMI families across the country who are in the same position.
These illnesses are unfair and complicated. Some people respond immediately to treatment while others struggle for years to maintain hope that recovery is possible. It's similar in both hopeful and tragic ways to how cancer patients respond to treatment.
We should not expect that the road to improving the mental illness treatment system will get any easier. There will be steps forward and there will be steps back. We will hit obstacles that will require tenacity, creativity and teamwork to overcome.
I know that together we are up to the task.