Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 15 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 the Wheatley 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.”
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:00
Swaths of nearby and local residents flocked to the sixth annual Mineola Street Fair on Sunday, Sept. 14. With vendors lined up and down the streets featuring local businesses and restaurants, live performances and various entertainment for kids, the Mineola Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event didn’t disappoint Mary Cheung of Great Neck.
“These fairs are always fun,” she said. “It’s not too hot, not too cold. The music is the best part.”
Saturday, 13 September 2014 00:00
A bunch of fruit in a bowl may not be that exciting to look at, that is unless you’re looking at them from Nancy Colleary’s point of view. Through her still life paintings, the she explores shadows, colors and light to make the most ordinary objects appear beautiful.
From her in-home studio, she continues to hold classes and work on her own projects, which includes paintings that are on display at Walk Street in Garden City and Chef’s Corner in Mineola.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 00:00
Although the expectations for the 2014 Mineola Mustangs boy’s varsity soccer season may be somewhat measured, the team enters the season with the goal of a berth in the Nassau County playoffs. The team is young and inexperienced but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
There is considerable talent on the horizon. There are only four starting seniors and five sophomores on the roster. Four year starting senior forward Daniel Pardo returns (19 goals in three seasons) as does senior standout goalkeeper Andrew Pereira.
Thursday, 11 September 2014 00:00
Mineola resident Michael Patalano of Andrews Road was named one two captains on the Kellenberg Memorial High School varsity football team recently. He played for the Mineola Chiefs for five years, which prepared him for football at the next level. He has three younger sisters. Two of them play sports for the Mineola Mustangs.