What’s it all about? And why would anyone want to read it? Well, let me try to explain without losing your interest too quickly. Basically, it’s all about me. Shameless self-promotion: of my writing, of my novels:
Where Are the Cocoa Puffs? and Reis's Pieces, of my amazing ability to come up with clever captions on photos of my travels . . . And also, a blatant representation of my stupidity when it comes to spelling, editing, and computer-type stuff.

My debut novel:
Where are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder was released in September of 2010. My second novel: Reis's Pieces: Love, Loss, and Schizophrenia, was released May, 2012!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NAMI-NYS: Sick & Bleeding Out!

Last Friday morning as I made my way along the very dark, foggy, rainy road, toward Albany at 7:00 a.m. and a cute little bunny hopped onto the road—seemingly drawn to my tires no matter which way I turned the car—and I squashed his cute furry little head into the asphalt, I should have known that the weekend might not be all that I'd hoped.... But I chose, at the time, to somehow take it as a good sign—I had, after all, just created four potential rabbit’s feet.

I was on my way to Albany to present Where Are the Cocoa Puffs? to the NAMI-NYS conference and to present myself as one of the individuals running for a board seat. It was an hour out of Albany when I was pulled over for a blown headlight and ultimately issued a ticket for an expired inspection sticker (it’s a long twisted tale of headlight woe, which I won’t go into now) that I began to mildly question the weekend. But I turned the ticketing event into a book selling opportunity and handed the fine young officer one of my cards and plugged my book. I continued toward Albany.

As some of you may know, I’m a board member of NAMI Syracuse (National Alliance on Mental Illness). A few months ago, I was forwarded a moving letter calling for our NYS members to consider running for the state board. Although I am not politically inclined, I thought it would be a wonderful way to pay back some of what NAMI has given me. I was warned and aware that all was not well at NAMI-NYS. Nonetheless, I decided—perhaps foolishly—to plunge ahead. I went to Albany with a wide-eyed, idealistic ignorance. The issues run much deeper and are much more toxic than I could ever have imagined.

As it turns out a dead bunny is not a good sign—although it was a great weekend for Cocoa Puffs, it was not so great for Karen. I nailed my presentation for Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?and they sold all the copies NAMI-NYS ordered; but you would not believe the subtle nuisances I was forced to endure. In the short time that I was there, getting to know these people, I could sense the deep and underlying illness at the state level; and I found myself wondering, before I even knew the results of the election, what I might have gotten myself into. The results of the board elections, on Saturday, unfortunately, were not surprising. All the past board members, but one, were voted back in. And the tyranny continues.

It saddens me that the NAMI-NYS Board is, and continues to be, so dysfunctional—especially when I know how rewarding and inspiring it is to be on a fully functioning NAMI Board. Even though there was still talk of me running next year, there were things that transpired that left such a bitter taste in my mouth that there is no way I can stomach what is apparently necessary to penetrate the entrenchment of this board. I am so very grateful that I was not elected, but disappointed by the fact that I didn't get a chance to publicly refuse that board seat and let people know why I would rather chop off my right hand than get myself into that venomous mess!

I must have one of those faces that people just want to come up and tell me things. By the time I left on Sunday, you would not believe the things people came up and told me concerning the alleged corruption at the state level: misappropriation of funds, election tampering, threats of litigation, unethical practices, blatant manipulation, bullying and coercion—and on and on.

I love NAMI. It is an organization primarily run by individuals who have already had their share of stress and sorrow. It is an organization that should be run on compassion and desire for change. There are so many wonderful affiliates in NYS and so many wonderful things being done, but NAMI-NYS is sick and bleeding out. The time has come for the affiliates in NY to stop either: rolling over—feet in the air, bellies exposed—or turning their backs in apparent indifference. What’s happening at the state level is a travesty. How can we begin to heal something that is so broken? Perhaps it must be broken down fully, swept away, and rebuilt.

And so, dear readers, I am appealing to you. Paste the link to this blog entry anywhere you think reasonable; contact NAMI National (Lynn Borton, Chief Operating Officer: lynnb@nami.org or ph#703-524-7600) and ask them what’s up with NAMI-NYS; contact NAMI-NYS Board of Directors (info@naminys.org; address: NAMI Board of Directors, 260 Washington Ave., 2nd Floor Albany, NY12210) and say, "Shame on you!”

The time has come for this organization to heal and recover from its dysfunction; and to fulfill its mission statement: "To improve the lives of persons with mental illness and their families through education, support, advocacy and research, to achieve the highest possible quality of life." Its mission is not: “To maintain control and power at the state level by whatever means necessary.”


  1. Really sad! I voted for you and for many of the new candidates!! It is really a travesty that there are no term limits and that so many negative things are going on. I hope that things will start to change as NAMI affiliates become aware of the problems and we voice our concerns. Good luck and keep up the good fight! Jen

  2. Thank you, Jen! Join me in the fight, will you?

  3. Sorry you had such a poor experience back in my old home state.

  4. Yes... But my dream is that within a short time things will improve for poor old NAMI-NYS!

  5. Hi Karen, Your success is wonderful! Congratulations!
    I had an eye-opening brush with NAMI-NYS when they, in closed session a few years ago, fired the state director and never minuted their action. As a member concerned about the organization being run in an above-board manner, I called around for an explanation. There was none. You can probably still look long and hard and never see, in the corporation board meeting minutes, how and when that director disappeared. Furthermore, national NAMI didn't seem to want to or, maybe, to be able to do anything.
    Glad you are safely home. Hope to see you soon. Merry

  6. Exactly Merry! How many executive directors have to disappear! Will we find their poor sucked out souls buried in someones' back yard along with the corporation board meeting minutes?!

  7. Good morning Karen...this quote is from a website titled Superstitions About Rabbits:
    "I was driving out with a man the other day when a hare crossed the road: ‘Had that been my old father driving he’d have turned back and gone straight home,’ said the car driver. He didn’t. But I noticed that he drove with special care the rest of the way."
    As you go forward in your Life's Passion, please realize that what you have done and are doing is Far Greater than N.A.M.I.
    Perhaps being Polymorphic as supposed to Political will suit your purpose when it comes to reaching those person's that will benefit from your Amazing Gift of Print.
    I support only the Gift's that we are given...which is why I am not a fan of "Talent".

  8. ...Love your Tale of the Hare...By The Way...

  9. I too voted for you and was very sad at the election outcome. I think if all the NAMI NYS affiliates as a group contacted NAMI National it would force NAMI National to address the issues. Until then I don't think things will improve.

  10. Yes, I agree, Sharon! As you may know, Mike Fitzpatrick, the executive director of NAMI National, endorsed my novel, Where Are the Cocoa Puffs? We have been in contact. Why don't you contact him too?!