When our son became ill with schizophrenia, we had never met anyone else with this condition and had never heard of a person displaying the kind of behavior he displayed. We knew that people were whispering about us, about him, and about his condition. They did not offer help as they did not know what to say or how to say it. The first time we realized that there were many people with mental illnesses was when we joined a support group. My late husband and I walked into the room where the meeting was being held, to see 18 people sitting in a semi-circle with the group leader in front of them. They took it in turns to introduce themselves and each one told us about their child who was ill. Then, it was our turn to speak and my husband did that for both of us. We learned a great deal from them all, especially how to handle a person with our son’s condition. They actually gave me some hope. Till then, I had no idea of how we would ever cope with the situation at home.
When our son entered a psychiatric hospital for the first time, the news flew around the neighborhood faster than sound. All I wished then, was that we hadn’t been made to feel so very different. I wish I’d been able to speak as naturally about these problems in the early stages as I do now.