Compeer: Fighting Isolation Caused by Mental Illness

Feb 15, 2017

Margalea Warner has been living with schizophrenia since she was in her 20’s. When she was first starting to have symptoms, life was hard.

“I had depression as a teenager, and as a college student. I had a very serious suicide attempt my freshman year that I survived,” she explains.

“But then my senior year, I heard voices in my head telling me to jump into the Potomac River, and I obeyed them."

“My life became more and more unmanageable, and my mother took me to our family doctor who was sure I was on drugs. I wasn’t. It was my illness.”

Warner eventually got command of her symptoms and moved to Iowa and eventually got connected with Compeer.

Compeer is an organization that, through the help of mental health counselors and others, helps people who have been isolated due to mental illness connect with people who are looking for friends. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Warner. Deb Moore, who is program director for Compeer in Johnson County, and Dave Jepsen, who is a volunteer and board member with the organization also join the show.

Warner says Compeer has drastically improved her quality of life.

“It’s kept me from having more symptoms than I might otherwise. When I hear the voices, I say ‘Della wouldn’t support that.’”

Della is her current “match,” or her friend volunteer through Compeer.

“I don’t think I would be as healthy as I am physically or mentally. I treasure those friendships, and I want other people to have that same gift.”

Iowa has one chapter of Compeer, which is in Johnson county.