Friday: Attended NAMI Advocacy Training. Saturday: Prepared parents' income tax return. Sunday: Finished our income tax return. Monday AM: Fed son & got him to school.

No wonder I’m exhausted! Friday I attended a NAMI California Regional Meeting in which we participated in NAMI Smarts for Advocacy Training.

NAMI Smarts for Advocacy is a hands-on advocacy training program that helps people living with mental illness, friends and family transform their passion and lived experience into skillful grassroots advocacy.

Basically, we learned how to turn our story of lived experience with mental illness into a two-minute pitch to ASK for specific change, such as voting for or against a particular piece of legislation, on behalf of those of us with lived mental health experiences.


[Had to go pick up my son from school… He made it through two hours… Now back home sick to his stomach, needing to be in close proximity to a bathroom… Even took him to an acupuncturist last week hoping for an answer, a fix… Beginning of June have appointment with pediatric gastroenterologist… Poor kid.]

Here’s my scribbled and scrawled practice sheets:

Kitt O'Malley's Story Practice Sheet for NAMI Smarts Advocacy Training. Basically illegible handwriting. I will try to decipher in the text that follows.

So, my notes are not exactly neat and tidy. Here’s my transcription of them for those who cannot read them (I know I can’t):

My Introduction

Hello, I’m Kitt O’Malley from Mission Viejo, CA. I’m a member of NAMI Orange County, CA, part of America’s largest grassroots mental health organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As someone who lives with bipolar disorder, I’d like to share my story with you and ask for your support of [ASK – here I would ask for something specific in support of those living with mental illness and their families].

What Happened

I was an honors biochem student at UCLA when I became suicidal. I had high hopes of someday becoming a neurosurgeon, but had to quit UCLA due to my illness. I still managed to get an education and become an LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) in my 20’s. Over the years I was treated for depression using psychotherapy and antidepressants. My work history during these years was one of many starts and stops, constantly overworking until I again became depressed. Finally, at the age of 39, it became clear that I had bipolar disorder. Still, I tried balancing the demands of coping with bipolar disorder with parenting and working in commercial real estate. By the time I was 41, I was hospitalized for a breakdown.

What Helped

A combination of medication, supportive psychotherapy, and the support of my family, especially my husband, enabled me to achieve stability. I benefited from excellent hospital and partial hospitalization programs in which group activities offered both structure and peer support.

How I’m Different Today

Today I am an active mental health advocate through my volunteer work with NAMI and through the use of social media, including blogging. I have found purpose in this work, even if I’m no longer making the big bucks.

What is the Need or the Problem?

Far too many people do not receive the treatment that I sought and received.

What Will Help Others

We need public education to fight stigma which keeps people from seeking help, and better day programs and hospital programs for those living with serious mental illness.

My “ASK”

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. Can I count on you to [ASK – here I would ask for something specific in support of those living with mental illness and their families]? Thank you.

Orange County Health Care Agency Behavioral Health

After this training, four Orange County Mental Health/Behavioral Health Directors gave presentations on the services provided by the county, including those programs made possible through the California Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Then we broke into four groups, each group meeting with one of the four county mental health leaders, and had the opportunity to ask questions and give feedback as stakeholders in mental health services.

Thank you, Mary Hale, Deputy Agency Director Orange County Health Care Agency Behavioral Health Services, Jeffrey Nagel, PhDMental Health Services Act (MHSA) Coordinator, Anthony Delgado, LCSWAdult & Older Adult MHSA FSP Programs, and Jason Austin, MA, LMFTBehavioral Health Services Navigation Administrative Manager.

Orange County Behavioral Health Information & Referrals 855-OC-Links (625-4657) or TDD Number: 714-834-2332

855-OC-LINKS [625-4657]  (8 am – 6 pm)
TDD Number: 714-834-2332 (8 am – 6 pm)
OC Links LIVE CHAT at (8 am – 6 pm)


23 responses to “Been Busy”

  1. […] this after a very busy weekend. I had spent a day and evening with others – people beside my husband and son. I went to a […]

  2. Poor darling.

  3. Thank you, Amy. Let me know how you enjoy it.

  4. This is awesome! I recently attended the Smart Advocacy training in my local area and it was terrific. Keep it up Kitt you are going to make a difference!!

  5. […] experience overcoming mental health stigma and adversity. Check out her blog Friday we both attended NAMI California‘s Regional Meeting in which we participated in NAMI Smarts […]

  6. Awesome 🙂

  7. It is really hard for him to keep up.

  8. It did! To the point in my mid-twenties I did a genuine back-pack around Eastern and Southern Europe, bathing rather “erratically” and eating whatever was put in front of me without any negative consequences at all! I truly hope this happens for your son also. He must make him feel worse being away and missing so much at school.

  9. Taking him to acupuncturist, psychotherapist, and psychiatrist, too.

  10. His lasts one week each time at least, which makes it hard for him to make up school work. As a toddler we had to take him to the ER once for an IV. Just a couple of years ago he spent July 4th weekend inpatient due to severe dehydration from the gastroenteritis. Did your immune system ever get stronger?

  11. Poor guy. Hope he feels better soon and the doc can get to the bottom of this.

  12. Well, THAT makes me feel better about my tax returns as apart from printing labels for my folders last year, I only began in earnest yesterday! Your poor, poor son – he has my TOTAL and COMPLETE sympathy. I almost died twice from gastroenteritis before I was three hence as a child and well into my teens, whenever the bug was “in the air” I’d go down like a tonne of bricks. A 24hr bug always was a minimum of 72 hours. My heart goes out to the both of you. 🙂

  13. No. He is not. He gets gastroenteritis over and over and over again. He is in bed sick.

  14. I started my tax returns a while ago. Did everything I could using electronic data (I love mining data downloads – I’m a total geek). Then had to dig through my box of papers “to file” to make sure I had everything I needed. THAT was not fun. But, I did it. Now, I have my son once again home sick with yet another bout of stomach flu. He is extremely sensitive to gastroenteritis.

  15. Wow, that’s alot! Hope your son is better.

  16. Besides everything else, you’ve COMPLETED your tax returns? I’m two days into our tax returns and have even begun looking for ALL my daughter’s missing socks as an excuse NOT to do the returns! Sad huh?! 🙂

  17. Great job!

  18. Always, even when we rented out our house and when I’ve calculated my own profit and loss statements for freelance work.

  19. you did your own taxes, awesome!

  20. Thank you. You promptly read my post!

  21. I like the honest, no frills way you tell your story, and it’s great to see you again too.

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