DiLuzio to do NAMIWalks Massachusetts
For her entire life, Priscilla DiLuzio has faced the stigma of mental illness. Both her mother and her sister lived with schizophrenia. Priscilla’s earliest memory of visiting her mother in a mental hospital was at age four. Her sister endured her first psychotic break at age 20 (in the 1960s). Both women suffered for years battling the demons of suicide attempts, court ordered hospitalizations, voices and hallucinations.
At age 13, Priscilla’s father died, and the primary care-giving responsibilities fell to her. At that time, she had very few coping mechanisms, and the stigma was overwhelming, so much so, Priscilla says, that “the isolation of both those dealing with the illness and those offering support went to the core of your being.” She admits she rarely, if ever, felt hope.
“It was not until I experienced NAMI’s Family-to-Family training that I understood just how great a challenge each and every day can be for those who live with a mental illness. I also recognized that I was not alone, that the isolation and the shame that I felt was unwarranted and that other people shared my experiences.”
Priscilla credits NAMI with the fact that, before both her mother and sister died, she was able to tell them how much she loved and admired them. She says this is a “gift that cannot be measured.” She has participated in every NAMIWalks Massachusetts fundraiser since the first year. Her team has grown exponentially over the years from just herself and her two children to include high school friends, extended family, coworkers and neighbors.
Of the Walk, Priscilla says, “It gives me hope for the future of those with a mental illness, something I didn’t have for the first 50 years of my life. More and more people are talking about it, and that is a good thing. Each successive year I shed one more ounce of embarrassment, shame and isolation.”