Friday, October 9, 2009

Family-to-Family: Week One

Note: One of our current Family-to-Family participants is writing a weekly series of her experience in NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania's 12-week class. This is her first post.

My first indication that NAMI's Family-to-Family program was going to be much more than I expected was the large binders placed at every seat around the square of tables. I had expected some handouts, but not enough for a two-and-a-half inch binder. As we went through the agenda, I discovered just how intense the program is. Family-to-Family is much more than an informational support group; it's hard core education from those who have been-there-done-that-and-more.

But don't be deterred. Like water to the thirsty, the education you get from Family-to-Family will soak in to your brain without effort. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, I was amazed by the range of experiences among our group members. And yet, as each person described their situation, I could make connections to things that had happened in my own life. And, unlike my high school geometry class, when we started in on the handouts, I felt one "ah-ha" moment after another rather than one long "duh" moment.

This first session introduced us to the objectives of the class and what to expect, as well as getting us all acquainted with each other. Next week, we'll learn about the specific symptoms of major depression, schizophrenia and mania and discuss how those symptoms affect our loved ones.

For more information, visit the Family-to-Family section on the NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania website.