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Hakeem Rahim Goes To Washington

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.”


News

The Sons of Italy, Cellini Lodge No. 2206 Italian Festival in New Hyde Park garnered a solid turnout during its five-day run at Michael J. Tully Park last week. According to Lodge First Vice President Alfonso Squillante, the annual festival had more 1,500 people each day, with 3,200 people on Saturday night for the fireworks display.

 

“We’ve had a great turnout, the community has responded very positively,” said Squillante. “Last year we had 12,000 people over the course of five days and this year we are looking at record-breaking numbers.”

Sewanhaka High School alum Vince Scuderi took over the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan this past Sunday with his group, the Out of the Box Big Band. 

 

“The concert went well, with just the right amount of fulfilled expectations and controlled and chaotic surprise to keep the audience and the musicians on the edge of their seats and always wanting more,” said Scuderi.

 

The Out of the Box Big Band is made up of 17 pieces, which includes five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, a piano, guitar and string bass. Sometimes, they also had a vocalist to the mix. 


Sports

Students in the Karatatot program at Charles Water Karate & Fitness recently received fitness tips.

Major League Lacrosse (MLL) recently announced Denver Outlaws backup goalie and Herricks High School graduate Charlie Cipriano as Warrior Defensive Player of the Week in recognition of his performance in Denver’s win over the Florida Launch.


Calendar

Italian Festival - August 13

Beauty And The Beast - August 14

What Matters To You - August 15


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com