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NAMI StigmaBuster Alert: January 14, 2005


A Real Valentine

Fear is No Longer My Reality will arrive in bookstores in February. It is the story of Jamie Blyth, who gained nationwide attention when he appeared as one of the original final suitors on ABC-TV reality series " The Bachelorette" and disclosed his nine-year struggle with anxiety order.

Jamie has been a guest on "Oprah Winfrey" and "Good Morning America" and continues to speak out against stigma and for recovery, reaching millions through his celebrity. It's an engaging, easily readable story that includes his high school and college years, and may especially inspire young people to ask for help if they need it. Interwoven among the chapters are comments from medical experts.

"Let's fight together and for each other. Let's throw away the shame and talk to one another without the facades so we can all know that none of us is ever alone," Jamie writes. "Pain may unite us today, but triumph can be our everlasting prize if we help one another find our way out of the darkness."

A Real Heartbreaker

That was the case with the Vermont Teddy Bear Company's "Crazy for You Bear" being sold for Valentine's Day featuring a 15-inch bear in a straitjacket. It comes with a "Commitment Report" that includes the symptoms "can't eat, can't sleep, my heart's racing."

This week, NAMI Vermont raised a protest, which received national media coverage.  From a company associated with caring and comfort, it came as a distressing surprise.

The company issued an apology recognizing the "serious nature of mental illness" and stating it did not intend to diminish or offend. Developed only for Valentine's Day, the bear will not become part of its permanent product line. The company has agreed to meet with NAMI Vermont, and further, positive dialogue is expected.

In contacting the company, please be positive in tone.  Encourage support for broader public education.

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company
6655 Shelburne Road
Shelburne, VT 05482
1-888-502-1715 (toll free)

Stella March, National Coordinator
NAMI StigmaBusters


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