It was 1993, and Patti’s daughter was ill. She had a drug-induced psychotic disorder, and Patti and her husband were struggling to deal with it. Then her husband saw a notice in a hospital about a Family-to-Family meeting at NAMI. They went, and the rest is history.
After taking the Family-to-Family course, she joined the Family & Friends support group. Family-to-Family was the source of information, advice, and compassion that Patti was looking for. It was exactly what her family needed.
Everything in Family-to-Family, Patti says, affected her relationship with her daughter for the better. Patti learned what was happening to her, how to communicate with her, and how better to support her in her times of need. Family-to-Family taught her to accept people for who they are – and that applied to both her children. Patti says that the friendly and compassionate voices she found here “made all the difference.”
There’s something special about a family support group being led by actual family members, says Patti, or a bipolar support group being led by someone with bipolar disorder. It makes the experience more relatable, more honest. You don’t feel like you’re being analyzed. You can simply trust that the people standing in front of you have faced the troubles you’ve faced, and have lived to tell the tale.
Patti has been volunteering for NAMI for over twenty years. She trained to teach Family-to-Family herself, and after 3 years of teaching the course, she trained at the national level to become a state trainer. “I’ve taught Family-to-Family over 30 times,” Patti says matter-of-factly, as though it weren’t an incredible achievement.
She answers phones on the Helpline and facilitates the Family-to-Family Grads Support Group, on top of teaching the course. “It feels good to give back to what I got those first years, when I was struggling. I love volunteering here.”
Patti is just as appreciative of NAMI as we are of her. The amount of services NAMI provides, she says, is just astounding. NAMI provides a “very broad, large safety net,” and has a very “holistic” approach to the struggles of families and individuals alike. “I just love the people who work here,” Patti enthuses. “It’s really an honor to be working with people so committed.”