Even before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder until 1975, I knew that I was different than other people. I would cycle very fast and have racing thoughts. Not knowing what to do, I stayed within myself. It was a very lonely way to live.

I ended up in Dammasch Hospital when I had my first break. I dropped off the Earth for awhile.

I have lived with the stigma of mental illness most of my life. I was constantly told that I wasn’t going to be anyone. Stigma prevented my recovery in the early years.

After many hospital stays over the years, I have been stable enough in my recovery to manage with medication adjustments. I continue to put new tools in the toolbox of my life. It will never be empty.

I am very involved with NAMI Clackamas and all of its programs, including Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training with law enforcement.

Whenever possible, treat us like people living with illness – not like “mental cases.” Share and invisible hug and help us have dignity.

– Lorayne Dille