Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 09 May 2014 00:00
Hakeem Rahim just wants to help. He wants to use his experience to aid others who may be suffering from what he called “an uncontrollable terror.” That terror was a panic attack and mental break. Rahim recently shared his story at a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., which focused on mental illness.
“I had delusions,” he said. “I thought I was Neo from The Matrix. I was jumping off the walls. I had all the classic signs of someone who broke from reality. It’s good to talk about it. It’s not good to hold it in.”
Rahim, who serves as a guest speaker for the nonprofit National Alliance on Mental Illness of Queens/Nassau (NAMI) in New Hyde Park, talks with students about his experiences before, during and after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2000. He’s speaks regularly with local school districts, including New Hyde Park Memorial High School.
Rahim suffered his first panic attack in 1998, his first year at Harvard University. During the spring of 1999, Rahim stated that he roamed the streets of his native Hempstead “possessed with a prophetic delusion that I had to share with everyone I met.”
In the spring of 2000, Rahim suffered his second manic episode. This included a complete break from reality, otherwise known as psychosis. “I had visions of Jesus and heard cars talk,” he recalled. At that time, he was hospitalized, and his long struggle to triumph over his illness began.
After he was released from the hospital, Rahim switched his major from African American studies to psychology to understand what was happening to him. But he had to take a year off.
“The complications with my condition and medication forced me to do that,” he said. “I ended up graduating with honors and went on to Columbia University, gaining dual masters in psychological counseling.”
For Rahim, talking about his past is two-fold. It aids his handle on the condition and may save a life in the process.
“I am so much more than my diagnosis….much more than a label. It is my hope that speaking out for compassionate and equitable care for every person living with a mental illness will help break the stigma that persists in this country to this day and will allow every American to be treated with dignity and respect,” he said.
In 2012, Rahim left his position as academic advisor to Hofstra, John Jay and Mercy colleges, to concentrate on helping people with similar issues. NAMI’s programs peeked his interest.
“We are committed to making a better world for everyone living with mental illness and their families” NAMI Board President Janet Susin said. “Working with Hakeem is a joy. He cares so much about our cause and is such a wonderful success story.”
To date, he has spoken to well over 4,000 high school and middle school students on such topics as bullying, peer pressure, facing fears, and other mental health concerns.
“I’m glad that it’s getting national attention,” said Rahim. “I think the more we see mental illness is a life obstacle like any other illness, the more people will be accepting of it and try to help others.”
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00
New Hyde Park Village trustee Donald Barbieri contends helicopters are still flying right over New Hyde Park and other residential parts of the north shore, harming citizens and the town with excessive and unlawful aircraft noise. In spite of what federal law says and in spite of what a federal court says, the noise levels are still an issue.
Barbieri drafted a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, apprising the entity of New Hyde Park’s situation. The FAA did not return calls for comment.
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Wednesday, 30 July 2014 00:00
Operation Main Street, a plan that would see a section of Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park revamped with traffic calming features and aesthetic updates, is finally in the home stretch, New Hyde Park village officials say. Village contractor J. Anthony Enterprises will be putting the finishing touches on the $1.46 million project this week.
“It’s all but finished,” trustee Donald Barbieri said. “Honestly, I feel good. It’s looking solid. It took forever to get it done. They’re going to put more benches in and plantings; striping the road.”
New Hyde Park’s department of public works will maintain the planters and medians installed for the project. Twenty-five potted plants were recently installed along the turnpike, officials stated. More than 10 benches will be available on the turnpike.
Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00
Students at Charles Water Karate & Fitness, located at 122 Hillside Avenue in Williston Park recently received belt promotions after successfully completing a series of extensive exams.
“Our goal at Charles Water Karate & Fitness is to facilitate mental growth enabling our students to reach their highest potential as human beings,” says Charles Water, owner and director of the school.
“Our studio teaches students how to defend themselves responsibly while instilling self-confidence, self-discipline and respect for others.”
Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:00
Runners and walkers from New Hyde Park are invited to join in the fun on one of the most unusual 5K courses on Long Island at the Saturday, Aug. 9 Sands Point Sprint.
The run presents the Long Island running community with an opportunity to traverse a unique combination of paved paths and runner-friendly woodland trails at the Sands Point Preserve.
The August 2013 edition of the Sands Point Sprint attracted 313 finishers, including top New Hyde Park finishers Michael Ringel, who scored first in the 11-14 age group and Dave Frisone, who earned first place honors in the 65-69 age group. Race organizers are looking for both Ringel and Frisone, and a host of other New Hyde Park runners, to be back next week.