By Adam Alkhouly
NAMI Washtenaw’s new book – “Coming Into Ourselves: An Anthology” – is a compilation of stories written by people who have suffered a major mental health condition, and some are suicide survivors. In a society and world where mental illness retains its stigmatized status, NAMI has taken responsibility to share the stories of these strong and courageous people, and I have taken it upon myself to ensure the world knows that these issues remain at large.
In my final year of architecture at Lawrence Tech, I am currently researching mental illness and its stigma in Michigan. I was blessed enough to have NAMI take me under its wing and include me in this project.
At first, it was not really clear what this book would become, or if it would become at all. Once I sat down with NAMI volunteers and discussed the potential of this book and the message we are trying to put out there, it was crystal clear. This project needed to be set in motion.
However, it is not just a project. It is a statement. It is therapy. Through art, visualization and words, the purpose of the book is to demonstrate that people with ill mental health are still people. They are still beautiful people. We are still beautiful. Yes, I too suffer from anxiety and depression, and you can only imagine how personal this project is for me.
My goal, as well as NAMI’s, is to share these stories, including my own, in a beautiful way, a way that captures the essence of the problem and branches out to all those in need, assuring them they are not alone, while providing a resource for our loved ones to help them understand what we go through. We need to assure “normal” people of the magnitude of this issue and challenge the widespread stigma we face on a daily basis. Our voices need to be heard, now more than ever.