Getting to Know NAMI


I had the pleasure of signing my book and being a guest at NAMI’s informational meeting, “Get to Know NAMI” Saturday. It was an impressive gathering of national, state, and local officers, doctors and representatives from the medical field, a few politicians, and very appreciative and engaged members of the community. Many of the participants were members of Alpha Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which has recently joined forces with NAMI here in Charlotte.

The energy in the room was palpable as various speakers mapped out the aggressive agenda this organization has set for itself in 2015. Many of the speakers as well as those individuals who stopped at my table were there because somehow their lives had been touched by mental illness. These were survival stories, either because they or someone they loved had taken the necessary steps to understand a particular mental disorder and pursue a course of treatment.

NAMI, formed in 1979, has been the avenue of education and support for millions of people since its inception. It defines itself this way on its website: NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is a non-profit, grassroots, self-help support and advocacy organization of consumers, families, and friends of people with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depression), PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder and anxiety disorders.

My life growing up with a mother with mental illness may have gone differently had there been a NAMI back in the sixties. I survived in spite of it, and now I would like to use my book and my time to pay back. I will be looking into the many programs this organization offers in our community, and I hope that somehow Crazy and I may be useful.

As promised last week, I’ve included below a suggested reading list of YA books dealing with mental illness. If you have a favorite book not on this list, please feel free to chime in.

I put the list in alphabetical order, and you’ll notice the three Crazy‘s. Two people confronted me about my title at NAMI, and rightfully so (at least until they’ve read it), as they are undertaking a campaign to rid the word “crazy” from the language of mental illness. I was told I would eventually run into this conversation. I’d welcome a healthy discussion on the topic!


Crazy by Han Nolan ( mental illness of father of teen male)

Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips (mental illness of mother of female teen)

Crazy by Amy Reed (bipolar female teen)

Dancing on the Edge by Han Nolan (teen girl experiencing mental illness)

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught (schizophrenic teen male)

Hold Still by Nina LaCour (female teen suicide/depression)

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (female teen’s father with PTSD)

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins (three teens after suicide attempts)

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (depression in teen male)

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti (panic attacks and anxiety in teen female)

Running for My Life by Ann Gonzalez (mother’s schizophrenia)

Schizo by Nic Sheff (male teen schizophrenic)

Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington (mental illness of mom of teen girl)

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (manic episodes in female teen)

Wild Roses by Deb Coletti (mental illness of girl’s step-father)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (male teen depression)

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (eating disorders in females)

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