It’s a fine Spring afternoon; I’m sitting at my desk writing, and a memory of my early encounter with a profound message rises: Somehow, somewhere, back in 1992, I believe – I found my first NAMI Dane County newsletter. That’s not important. What is important was the written message it contained.
I believe it was the newsletter’s “From the President’s Desk” column that encouraged me to learn more about NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness). The column reflected an understanding of biologically based mental illness that I had not found before, and an understanding, not only of my illness experience, but more importantly for me an understanding of my father’s illness and my family’s response to that illness. It was a strong “no fault, no blame” grasp of the fundamentals of daily life with a serious disorder.
It was clear to me that the column’s author and others in NAMI knew and believed without question the conclusion that I had just encountered: The only way to view mental illnesses and brain disorders is without applying blame or fault. Not to families. Not to individuals.