My Lived Experience Expertise

I have lived with a diagnosis of severe bipolar I disorder and experienced dozens of major depressive episodes, including extended periods of suicidal depression, and psychosis for over 20 years.

More specifically, my experiences include personal and career disruptions, withdrawal and isolation, suicidal depression, five severe manic episodes, three involuntary psychiatric hospitalizations, four relapses, and criminal justice involvement. I also have extensive experience in mental health recovery through my own journey and engagement with peers and caregivers pursuing recovery. I have been happily living in recovery since 2018 after an 18-year battle with serious mental illness.

My Serious Mental Illness Lived Experience Expertise is based on many sources, including:

  1. Personal experiences living with serious mental illness for over 20 years;
  2. Extensive experience identifying, researching, and writing about a wide range of serious mental illness topics. My research has been focused on evidence-based approaches to address serious mental illness and pursue and reach recovery. I translated many clinical and academic discussions into highly accessible plain English;
  3. Engagement with caregivers. These include experiences of my caregiver, who has been with me through my entire serious mental illness journey. I have also learned through the shared experience of many other caregivers I have met and worked with. I have coached hundreds of parents seeking to help their loved one with serious mental illness. I am also extensively involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which focuses on helping supporters of people with serious mental illness. I am currently a director of its New York City affiliate, NAMI’s largest;
  4. Insights gleaned from interactions with hundreds of peers living with serious mental illness whom I have met through my involvement in the peer specialist community. I am a trained New York Certified Peer Specialist-Provisional. I have engaged with these specialists and other peers through the work of the ForLikeMinds peer support community website, which I created, and my non-profit organization, a leading psychiatric hospital outreach program which has reached over 10,000 patients;
  5. Mental health recovery promotion and advocacy through social media;
  6. Mental health recovery promotion and advocacy through mainstream media;
  7. Personal treatment experiences with multiple psychiatrists, therapists, and other healthcare providers, hospital programs, and hospitals;
  8. Dialogue with corporate entities, behavioral health organizations, including leading hospitals, and investment advisors;
  9. Significant history raising awareness of serious mental illness, among people with conditions, family and supporters, and society more broadly, and advocating for positive change in perceptions, behaviors, and treatment approaches.

My experiences over the years have taught me strategies for helping caregivers or other family members learn skills to:

  1. Respond to Mental Illness
  2. Manage Difficult Situations
  3. Talk About Mental Illness
  4. Pursue Recovery Together
  5. Empathize and Validate Emotions
  6. Exercise Self-care

I have shared my lived experience expertise in many ways. These include academic publications, industry conference appearances, presentations to companies and hospitals, and interviews with major news outlets. My favorite way is writing. I have written widely regarding serious mental illness since 2018, the year I reached recovery. My writings have been widely recognized for their insight, information, and inspiration by readers and thought leaders impacted by and focused on serious mental illness. My life’s mission is to share my hope and inspire others to believe that serious mental illness recovery is possible and to help them reach it more easily and quickly than I did. My writings share my hard-learned lessons along with evidence-based insights from academic research, peers living with serious mental illness, their caregivers, and treatment providers.

My favorite place to share is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Blog particularly due to its wide reach with caregivers. I believe I can best help my peers living with serious mental illness by helping those who love and support them. My writings always seek to provide guidance to parents on how to best work together with their loved ones. I help parents understand their loved ones with serious mental illness. This insight can help strengthen their relationships, reducing tension and conflict, to reach recovery together. My many blog posts have been highly praised by mainstream, academic, and clinician readers. As of January 2023, my blog posts have generated over 750,000 views. Further below is a list of my various writings.'

I help caregivers better understand and connect with their loved one, particularly if and when their loved one may be ambivalent about getting help. This is a frustrating, and all too common, dilemma facing both caregivers and loved ones adding further stress to the difficulties caused by the illness itself.

These are a sample of my writings:

  1. Blog Posts for the National Alliance on Mental Illness Blog, the leading mental health blog in the U.S.
  2. (All blog posts written by K. Ponte as sole author, except where noted.)
  3. Highly praised ForLikeMinds: Mental Illness Recovery Insights Book
  4. Excerpt from foreword:
    “I have been waiting for over 30 years for someone to write a book like this - an instructive and very practical guide - directly applicable to the everyday lives of persons living with mental illnesses and their loved ones - offering them a hand and leading them step by step through many of the lessons Katherine has had to learn mostly on her own - from creative, dogged, and prolonged efforts to find a way to build and maintain a full life in the face of a serious illness”
    —Larry Davidson, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Yale University
  5. Highly praised Your Mental Health Recovery Workbook: A Workbook to Share Hope
  6. Received highly positive endorsements from leading academics, clinicians, non-profit leaders, a hospital, a parent, and a peer.
    See endorsements here

Firsthand knowledge and experience about consumers unmet needs amid the evolving treatment landscape. Providing insights from lived experience expertise to enhance patient treatment outcomes. Understanding patient perspectives when forecasting the impact of new treatment options. Appreciating how patients define recovery for themselves. I look forward to hearing from you.

Psych Ward Greeting Cards