Interview with Fermina Ponce

Fermina Ponce is an award-winning author from Colombia who uses her writing talent to help others heal from the trauma of mental illness. A member of NAMI Kane-South, DeKalb and Kendall Counties, she will soon be training to be Connection Recovery Support Group facilitator and will be a presenter at the NAMI IL 2020 State Conference.


1. Please tell us a little bit about the presentation you will be making at the NAMI Illinois 2020 Virtual State Conference.

During the Creative Transformation session, I will be talking about Let’s Talk/Conversemos, an expressive writing workshop I offer, the purpose of which is to encourage attendees to explore their emotions through writing. I strongly believe that writing heals and it can be any kind of writing.

2. You are going to let participants do a piece of the workshop you offer. What will they actually be doing?

They will be experiencing a small portion of the workshop called “Three Words.” Participants will construct a text of any kind following my instructions. The important part of this text is the connection that it has with their feelings, thoughts, emotions and healing needs.

3. How has your history with mental illness influenced the work you do, for example, with your writing or workshops?

It has completely influenced my desire to help. Having bipolar II has pushed me to be brave and vulnerable at the same time, in order to give back to the Hispanic community. Due to our upbringing, culture and so on, there is a lot of stigma and taboo. I want to contribute through Let’s Talk/Conversemos to face the stigma and to overcome taboo.

4. Please tell us a bit about what you have done or are planning to do at NAMI KDK.

I have been facilitating the Let’s Talk/ Conversemos workshops twice a month, the second Tuesday of the month in English and the second Thursday in Spanish. Once I complete the Connection training and we can offer groups in Spanish, I think I will be all set with my contribution to the Hispanic community.