NAMI Monterey County Newsletter, Autum 2015
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CSUMB Student Compiles Essays to Promote Mental Health Awareness

Makena Volzing, a CSU Monterey Bay student and a NAMI Monterey County volunteer, has compiled a series of essays written by CSUMB students about their experiences with mental illness.

She has entitled her essays “In Their Shoes.”

Volzing said her project is a way to bring increased understanding of mental illness. “We believe education, advocacy and support are the route towards acceptance and consideration of the mentally ill in our community and on our campus,” she said.

The essays are written by either former or current CSUMB students; identities were omitted for privacy reasons.

The following are several of the essays:

A panic attack feels like the walls are closing in. I get tunnel-vision and things start to spin around me, and I know I’ve fallen back down into my dark pit. My hands shake so badly I can’t hold onto anything.

I can’t catch my breath and my heart punches against my chest as I hyperventilate. I break out into a cold sweat. The wave of panic makes me feel like I’m dying in that moment. I can never tell exactly when this feeling of terror will pass; it could be minutes or hours. Nonetheless, every second feels like it drags on for days, yet terrified my life could be snapped away at any second. When people try to help, I can’t talk or explain.
And I feel inadequate and embarrassed when people see me have an attack because there isn’t any reasonable explanation for them.

Anxiety is like a mean dog following me constantly that could pounce and bite me at any given moment. 

I find a lot of solace in music, writing, and nature mostly.

I have always enjoyed writing since I was young and so I keep a journal to track my feelings and document my thoughts.

Journaling is not only a very introspective process by a retrospective one as well. It provides great perspective on how anxieties that consumed me in the past no longer affect me a year later. It is evidence to me of my own personal growth and progress as a person.

Singing and music in general can turn my whole mood from bitter to happy.

Nature is also a reminder that we shall endure through the passage of time; that we are small and the greater scheme of the world is beautiful.  

Suicidal Ideation
Being suicidal and/or experiencing suicidal ideation is a crushing low.

It is a point you reach when everything and everyone has failed you, and all of your options have been exhausted. It is the point that you reach when you have given everything you can, to the point of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, just to find out that it is not enough, nor will it ever be enough.

Getting to this point is essentially getting to the point of giving up on yourself and the future. It is the loss of all hope for change. It is forgetting happiness. It is an inescapable black hole of crushing defeat and exhaustion.

I still have a hard time coping. There are dark points in every life, and in those times, it can be easy to lose hope and seek an escape, be it through substances, sex, or suicide.

However, even in the darkest points, there are still some things worth holding on to hope for. For me, the two things that keep me going, even in the darkest of times, are the bonds with my closest friends and music. Without them, I can safely say that I would be dead, and I am eternally thankful for them. I doubt that many of them even know how much they have helped me, but I will forever be indebted to them.

Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder makes me feel like I was never one person. I am an interplay of versions of myself that couldn't be whole at once or loved. It's impossible for me to cohesively interpret people's actions and intentions because people are either heroes or villains in the BPD mind.

The scary part with BPD is that you can't comprehend gray areas. Mentally, you have to reconstruct your entire worldview to accommodate to the good or bad you see in yourself or another person. It’s difficult to comprehend gray areas because you can only comprehend extremes, which in turn affects how you judge others in relationships.

You lose everyone around you and shame from your inappropriate anger eats away until you turn to anything to escape. Someone always plays the hero and the villain, but with BPD you need to assign that role to feel whole. But you never feel whole. Emptiness peels the inner lining of hope and you forget that a sense of self is an experience normal people have but an intangible dream that you feel you will never deserve. 

My first psychologist, after hearing my story responded, "Have you ever felt at peace?" I never knew what this meant... I either wanted all of the world or wanted the world to burn. The first step is healing and awareness to overcome this disorder.

Being radically honest with your symptoms and experience helped me the most with handling my splitting.

Constantly remind yourself that people can be good and bad... at the same time. It feels impossible, and probably is, but you deserve peace more than anything else. Be honest with yourself and others about what is going on. Constantly check up on your moods and ask yourself what made you think a certain way.

It's hard telling your friends that what they said made you feel invalidated, triggered, or worthless but acknowledging your borderline experience will give you a sense of control. Asking for help is terrifying but there are resources and amazing professionals who want the best for you.

Therapy is the most effective first step you can take. Seek help as early as possible because when you finally feel whole, everything that has eaten you alive will be worth it.

Holiday Giving Suspended in 2015

NAMI Monterey County is grateful to community members who have donated to the programs and projects that NAMI has adopted through the years.  Holiday Giving, one such program, has been a wonderful outreach to the clients of Monterey County. On behalf of the NAMI Monterey County board, we thank you.
As 2016 draws near, NAMI Monterey County is committed to its transition to a stand-alone non-profit organization with its own hired outreach staff and a new independent office. We are grateful to Interim, Inc. for its years of support in being our fiscal sponsor, but it is time to fly with our own wings. As we leave the nest, we have a renewed commitment to our mission statement and will continue to grow our programs in the following ways:
  • Providing compassionate and informed family assistance (English and Spanish) via email, phone and personal interaction
  • Training additional teachers to facilitate a full schedule of free educational programs including NAMI Family to Family, NAMI Basics, NAMI Peer to Peer and NAMI Provider Education
  • Providing resource and teaching materials for our presentation programs including In Our Own Voice and Ending the Silence
  • Introducing two new free family support groups to the county, in addition to the existing Connections peer support group
  • Expanding into diverse demographic communities and offering Spanish outreach
  • Participating more fully in first-responder training
  • Hosting free public presentations that include speakers, forums, films and opportunities for introductions to resource agencies in the community
In order to focus on the mission statement of NAMI Monterey County, our resources of time and funds are being directed towards those programs. For that reason, the NAMI board has decided to suspend our Holiday Giving program this year.
At this time of year, we traditionally solicit donations for our holiday project; however, we are now seeking monetary donations to support NAMI Monterey County’s general fund, core programs and administrative costs of expansion. As we move forward, we hope we can count on you to help us build a more diverse, independent and solid charitable organization that fills a gap in the community. In addition to more accessible outreach, NAMI Monterey County is proud to offer a broad spectrum of free education, presentation, and support programs to individuals who live with mental illness, their family members and the community.
Your generosity is greatly appreciated by NAMI Monterey County and those who are affected by mental illness.  We look forward to updating you on our progress. Can we count on your support? 

September 2015 is National Suicide Prevention month, as well as National Recovery Month.

October 5:
New Alcohol and Drug Waiver Strategic Planning Session. Informational and public input session regarding state changes to redesign of drug and alcohol treatment delivery system. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Steinbeck Hall, Building C, Hartnell Community College. Sponsored by Monterey County Behavioral Health Department. Register here.

October 13:
Embracing Mental Health Wellness & Recovery Conference. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Monterey Conference Center. Free, but registration is required. Sponsored by Interim Inc. and the Monterey County Health Department. See for details.

October 15:
NAMI Monterey County board of directors. 5:30 p.m. TBD

October 17:
Hoedown for Housing. Fundraiser dinner/auction for Interim Inc. Hyatt Regency Monterey. See below.

October 29:
NAMI Movie Night. 6:30 p.m. at the Marina Library Community Room, 190 Seaside Circle. Free. 

November 19:
NAMI Monterey County board of directors, 5:30 p.m. TBD


Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance meets from 6 to &:30 p.m. Monday evenings at First Presbyterian Church, 830 Padre St., Salinas.

Dual Recovery Anonymous meets from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturdays at Martinez Hall in Marina.

OMNI is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Pajaro Center in Salinas.

OMNI After Hours for young adults ages 18-30, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays & Wednesdays at the Pajaro Center in Salinas.

Dual Recovery Services meetings held at the Pajaro Center in Salinas and in Gonzales the first two Wednesdays of the month in King City the last two Wednesdays, Call 649-4522.

New teachers for NAMI's Spanish-language Family-to-Family program received training in Salinas in September. The three-day training, led by certified NAMI instructors, was held at the Laurel Inn. Among those trained were three enthusiastic representatives from Monterey County. Their classes are expected to begin soon.
Interim Hoedown on Oct. 17

Interim Inc. will celebrate its 40th Anniversary with its annual Hoedown for Housing at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Hyatt Regency.
The annual fundraiser helps Interim provide affordable housing for adults with serious mental illness.
Dr. Rich Kezirian will host the event, with music provided by The Muddy River Band. A silent auction and cocktail hour starts at 5:30 p.m., followed by a western-themed dinner. Western wear is recommended, and a costume contest is also scheduled.
Tickets are $125. For more information, see or call 649-4522. Buy tickets here.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”  — Jimmy Dean
NAMI Monterey County is proud of its dedicated and compassionate staff, including (from left) Deanna Rivas, Anna Lowery and Laura Hollien.
NAMI Monterey County Upgrades Website

If you haven't checked out NAMI Monterey County's online home lately, take a look at

The site if filled with basic information about mental health, pertinent local events and NAMI Monterey County activities.

For information about NAMI's national organization, see 

You can also friend us at Facebook!
Address: 441 Constitution Blvd. Bldg. 400, Suite 202.
Walk-in hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday
Phone: 755-5505
Address: 359 Gabilan Drive
Walk-in hours: 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays
Phone: 678-5125
King City
Address: 200 Broadway, Suite 70
Walk-in hours: 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays
Phone: 386-6868
Address: 299 Twelfth St., Suite A
Walk-in hours: 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesdays
Phone: 647-7652
“Calling it lunacy makes it easier to explain away the things we don't understand.”
Megan Chance
NAMI Monterey County
Board of Directors

Joe Livernois, President
Donna Abbott, Secretary
Laurie Classen, Treasurer
Tiffany Ho
Bonnie Bufkin
Al Schran
Sue Ellen Stringer
Steve Costanza
Maiko Schran
Megan Caskey
Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 295, Monterey, CA 93942
En Español:
339 Pajaro Street, Salinas CA 93901 
831.800.7530 ext. 450

Our email address is:

Call us at 831.375.6264

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