For some people, coming to NAMI isn’t for their own mental health; it is for the mental health of a loved one. Jim and Dee Curcio’s son is diagnosed with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that, “interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others.” Schizoaffective disorder is, “characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression.”
The Curcios began coming to NAMI when one of Dee’s coworkers recommended a support group since her mother was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Along with that, their son had a psychotic breakdown and they began to search for resources to help them understand their son’s mental illness.
NAMI Greater Toledo has impacted the Curcio’s lives by giving them a path to follow. Mental illness can be tricky without proper support, but coming to support groups made everything less complicated. “They’ve given me the resources to direct me through correct channels to assist with my son’s issues,” says Jim. “I realized through NAMI that the people in the support groups were going through the same thing and it made me feel good. It helped me realize we need to talk about mental illness,” says Dee.
Both Jim and Dee credit NAMI for the improvement of their son’s mental illness. Though their son doesn’t come to any NAMI activities, it helped them learn about his mental illness. “When we had him hospitalized, we knew what to say to the doctors to get him the help he needed because of NAMI,” says Dee. Jim goes on to say that the difference is night and day with his son’s schizophrenia. You can hardly tell he has a mental illness because he allowed his parents to help him through his struggles. NAMI taught the Curcios how to understand mental illness and because of that, their son got the help he needed.
The Curcios participate in Monday Night Support Groups and do mentoring sessions for other families. They give back to NAMI by helping with Crisis Intervention Training (CIT). They share their personal story then allow a Q&A session so that people can understand how to help in a schizophrenic situation.
Jim and Dee also walk in our NAMIWalks every year! They get others to participate and they donate to NAMI Greater Toledo as well. They walk to eliminate the stigma of mental illness and to raise awareness of mental health in our community.
“NAMI as an organization correctly led us through the mental health minefield to bring us and our son to where he is today,” says Jim. Dee finishes the interview by saying, “NAMI’s resources really helped us…so now we feel like we need to give back. This is our calling.”
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