CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Heather Loeb was officially diagnosed with anxiety and depression when she was in college, but she believes she’s been living with these mental conditions since she was around 12 years old.
Things got worse for her after she had her two children and also started to suffer from postpartum depression.
“I was suicidal and not taking care of myself,” Loeb said. “I was overusing my anxiety pills and it was a dangerous situation.”
Two hospitalizations, therapy, and doctor visits improved her mentally, and joining the Greater Corpus Christi chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness helped her as well.
“I discovered NAMI last year,” Loeb said. “And I started working with the management team, and that made a difference.”
She is now NAMI GCC Communications Manager, and Loeb and other Chapter Leaders have an ambitious goal for the month of March.
They want to double their membership, which they say will allow them to provide free assistance to more people living with mental illness.
Nueces County mental health and developmental disabilities statistics show that there are approximately 5,200 such individuals in the county.
But NAMI GCC program director Angela Horner says the number is significantly higher because many people have not sought help.
She encourages these people to try NAMI.
“We want to let people know they’re not alone,” Horner said. “We don’t provide therapy or counseling or anything like that, but we’re here to support you.”
What NAMI provides are support groups and materials.
A group is led by people with mental illness in their family who help other families in the same boat by sharing common experiences.
It was what drove Horner and her husband to become leaders of NAMI after it was discovered that her brother had been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder.
“Participating in the family-to-family course can really change your life and open your eyes to things you don’t know,” she said.
GCC NAMI website has several ways to become a member or volunteer of the organization.
Loeb says anyone who is passionate about mental health and has been affected by it in some way should check it out.
And if you suspect or have been diagnosed with mental illness, she urges you to reach out.
“NAMI Greater Corpus Christi has been said to be Corpus’ best-kept secret,” Loeb said. “But we don’t want to be a secret. We want you to be able to come here. We want to be a well-known and established referral organization that can help provide resources and get you the help you need. ”