by Janae Hunter
York’s Center for Students with Disabilities held a forum where students and faculty were able to listen to a mentally-disabled guest speak about the struggles, successes, and coping mechanisms that helped her overcome her illness.
The speaker, Cynthia Scott, struggled with mental disabilities throughout her life and never went to a doctor as a child, but knew from a very young age that something was not right.
“I would be depressed and hear voices and see things that weren’t there,” said Scott. She had suicidal thoughts at the age of 11, but having found hope, she said “the voice of god” saved her. When her mother suggested she see a doctor because she was too depressed during her mid-twenties, it was then that she was diagnosed with an array of disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression and panic disorder.
“I couldn’t accept it,” Scott said. “I was mad at my family—mad at my parents for having me, and I was mad at god for giving me these things. But I learned to love myself and began telling myself ‘My name is not my illness.’” It took years of medication, treatments, and a commitment to get better, and Scott was happy to report that she no longer experiences the symptoms of her illnesses.
Scott also spoke about her involvement with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an organization she has been a part of since 2005. NAMI was founded in 1979 by a group of parents who had children suffering with mental illnesses. Located in Manhattan, the organization offers multiple support groups and services, all free of charge. However, people can become members for just $3. NAMI also offers a helpline so people can call for assistance, or they can talk in person to one of the organization’s volunteers. The volunteers are people who have a mental illness or know someone with a mental illness.
“Today was great,” said Paola Veras, the Manager of the Center for Students with Disabilities. “I think the students benefited hearing from someone just like them and has been through what they are going through,” said Veras. “They saw that it is possible to be successful, even with their disabilities.”
The Center for Students with Disabilities is located in the Academic Core building in room 1G02 and offers help and assistance to any and all students. This is their fourth year having a discussion and forum in honor of Disabilities Awareness Month.
“We want people to be more aware, and we have a lot of other events during the month so more students get involved, whether they have a disability or want to know more,” said Veras.