I heard about the Walk for Hope way back in the early days. I missed the first one, but I went out there and was impressed—it was a much smaller group then. I remember they even served some fried fish and chocolate chess pie!

My daughter got the wrong diagnosis for years and years and years. Some anticonvulsants, in some people, can cause psychotic behavior. That’s what happened to her when she was seven. They put her on phenobarbital, because she was on seizures, and within days, the teacher called and said, “There’s something wrong; it has to be the medicine.” She was never supposed to be on phenobarb again in her life.

But a doctor put her back on it, under a different name, in high school. It was 14 years before I discovered it. That kid has lived a nightmare.

The mentally ill comprise the largest amount of the disabled, and yet they get the least amount of funding. They get dumped on the streets.

This became a calling for me, and I decided to advocate for the mentally ill at the North Carolina state legislature. I once told a woman there that I didn’t think that anybody was listening. She said, “They listen more than you think.” Then she said, “Why don’t you wear a hat every time you come down here, and when they see you, they’ll know.” And I’ve worn a hat ever since. I had to give away 27 when I moved to Virginia!

I introduce myself to people, “I’m Louise Fisher, I’m a volunteer advocate for the mentally ill.” I once introduced myself that way to a new legislator and he said, “Oh, you’re the mental health lady!”

I want to be a watchdog for everybody. That is my mission.

There’s a saying: “That which is spoken from the heart goes to the heart.”

Too many people give statistics. They hear statistics all day long. If you’re a family member, or have a relative, they’re not gonna remember the statistics. But they’ll remember your story.

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