There is life after mental illness

Anita Argenbright (left) and Danei Edelin are pictured at Georgetown Community Day.

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Nothing says spring like the feeling of fresh air blowing through our home on a warm spring day like the afternoon after Georgetown Community Day at Georgetown Elementary. After two years of isolation, I think everyone was looking for an excuse to get out of the house and be with people again.

Working on a stand was a quiet victory for Anita Argenbright and me. Anita and I had met five years earlier when I founded NAMI Brown County. We’ve been through a lot in the last five years – the death of her son, me hospitalized three times, COVID and the war in Ukraine. As I remarked to Anita in the car, “We’re just grateful that we’re well enough to work on a stand.”

Welcome to a new chapter in our lives. Watching Anita comfort a grieving mother with the touch of her hand further validated for me today why I founded NAMI Brown County. Together we make a difference, one day at a time, one life at a time.

My name is Danei Edelen. I am the founder of the NAMI Brown County Ohio branch. In July, we will be celebrating five years of NAMI Brown County at Child Focus on July 14th. Being known in my community as the founder of NAMI Brown County gives me a quiet thrill. In April, I spoke at the Brown County Chamber of Commerce luncheon to tell people about the party. I was so nervous I could barely touch my food. A woman from one of our community banks came up to me at our NAMI booth on Georgetown Community Day and told me I had done a great job. “Why thanks !” I said with deep relief.

Part of the reason this holiday means so much to me is because I’ve lost two people in my life to suicide as well as my own suicide attempt. I lived this dark night of the soul linked to suicidal thoughts. NAMI saved my life. I am convinced that if I had known NAMI before, I would have found the help I needed.

Suicide has become an epidemic in this country. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34. The 988 Implementation Act, introduced by Congressman Tony Cardenas, provides federal funding and guidance to states to implement a 988 phone number to replace 911 for mental health crisis calls. The Implementation Act of 988 provides funding for a crisis response infrastructure that relies on trained mental health specialists rather than armed law enforcement.

NAMI Brown County also offers free Zoom calls on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. If you or someone you know is struggling, know that you are not alone. Anita and I are living proof that there is life after a diagnosis of mental illness.

Danei Edelen is the Founder and President of NAMI Brown County Ohio Branch. She is a Mental Health Advocate for the Brown County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services. You can contact her at [email protected] or 513-436-0010.

Anita Argenbright (left) and Danei Edelin are pictured at Georgetown Community Day.

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