Photo: Courtesy of Kathy Reed

Good Neighbors with Kathy Reed: Coping With Mental Illness

March, 2016

When Kathy Reed’s then-16-year-old son, Christian, dove from the roof of a building into a Moanalua Village community pool back in 2001 and hit his head on the side of the pool, his life – and his mother’s – changed forever.

“He was no longer the same boy,” remembers Reed, 66, co-owner of Pomaikai Promotions, a promotional products company. “He had suffered traumatic brain injury and had a lot of anger and frustration. He started to drink and do drugs and self-medicate.”

After trying to deal with her son’s outbursts on her own for eight long years, Reed heard about NAMI Hawaii (National Alliance on Mental Illness) through a mainland relative.

“I was grasping for help,” says Reed. “NAMI had a 12-week family-to-family class and I took it, and it helped me tremendously.”

Reed has been a family-to-family teacher since 2013, says Kumi Macdonald, executive director of NAMI Hawaii, “volunteering countless hours to teach and support families struggling with a mentally ill loved one. Kathy is also part of our speaker’s bureau program, and speaks at various groups and faith communities about mental health and the family perspective.”

“NAMI helped me learn how to deal with my own emotions – my fears, my anger, my frustration,” explains Reed. “I learned how to become more understanding of people with mental challenges.”

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