President of NAMI Wilmington shares personal journey with bipolar disorder as organization host annual walk this Saturday

Nami Walk For Awareness at Longleaf Park
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:58 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The 20th annual National Alliance on Mental Illness Walk (NAMI) is happening Saturday, Sept. 24 at Long Leaf Park. The two-mile walk is held to raise awareness about an illness that affects one out of four adults.

Chuck Eldridge is one of them. 22 years ago, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a mental condition that produces episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.

He knew he had mood swings but really didn’t see what his wife and others saw.

“Janis noticed some of those significant behavior changes — my employer noticed it and thankfully they forced me into getting some treatment.”

At the time Chuck was diagnosed in 1999, the Eldridge’s had four small children.

“We knew that we had to do something to change — to help him and it was a long journey getting balance as far as medication,” Janis said. “That takes a while. So, a lot of patience and a lot of prayers.”

Chuck is now very involved in helping others seek treatment, especially group therapy. He’s been a board member of NAMI Wilmington (National Alliance on Mental Illness) since 2016 and has been President of the organization since 2021.

This weekend, his wife, Janis, is chairing the annual NAMI walk which starts Saturday at 10 a.m. Last year over 300 people walked. This year they’re hoping more people will turn out to walk and talk.

Chuck says the hope is to raise awareness and have people speak freely about mental illness as there are very few households that aren’t touched by it in some way.

“I like to talk about it because it’s something I couldn’t do for 15-20 years,” he said.