Erika - National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City , Inc.

It can be so difficult navigating the mental health space, especially when you’re unsure how to help a loved one. For Erika, the haze began to clear when her sister was diagnosed with a mental health condition five years ago.  

Her sister’s behavior and hospitalizations raised concerns, yet the exact diagnosis – schizophrenia – remained elusive. It was during this uncertain time that Erika learned of the NAMI name in a book she was reading, and she stumbled upon NAMI-NYC online. 

Erika previously joined NAMI-NYC’s Hearing Voices Family & Friends support group and was interested in Family-to-Family. The instructors brought their compassion and firsthand experience to the class, identifying as family members themselves. Through the program, Erika delved further into her sister’s diagnosis, gaining a deeper understanding of schizophrenia and its physiology. “It was powerful to learn about anosognosia and truly understand that my sister isn’t aware of her illness,” shared Erika.  

Erika also valued Family-to-Family’s lessons on communication. “With my sister, I often feel like I’m walking on eggshells, but the class offered a roadmap to navigate these conversations,” shared Erika. “This is not only important to me as her sister, but preparing for the future, when I may become her primary caregiver. NAMI-NYC gave me the tools to practice these skills and improve our relationship.”  

Yet, Erika’s journey with NAMI-NYC was not only about the knowledge of the class—it was about finding hope. “My sister and I weren’t necessarily close growing up, so I was concerned about how I would build that trust and our relationship,” shared Erika. “NAMI-NYC helped me find my hope again. My sister is on the path to recovery and I’ll be the best caretaker I can be.”  

“I’m incredibly grateful for NAMI-NYC and the wonderful instructors. I witnessed other family members overcome their fears, participate, and experience a sense of community,” she said.  

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