Part two of ‘A Life Cut Short’

David never stopped insisting that we had ‘planted microphones’ in our house in order to alert his whereabouts to the military. In desperation, tired of telling him that we hadn’t done that, my husband suggested calling in a professional technical team to show our son that there were no microphones. I felt that it would make no difference but my husband was adamant. After a heated argument between us, he spoke to a psychiatrist who assured him that even if the technical team came, due to his paranoia, David would find another way of blaming us.  His condition worsened and after causing an accident on the road, on purpose, (according to the police officer) he was sectioned. No one was hurt, thank goodness.

Our son found the telephone number of the Civil Liberties Association on the hospital’s notice board and arranged for them to visit him there. My son’s therapists told us later that those lawyers had decided to represent him without ever consulting with them, and sent us a court summons charging us with committing our son to a psychiatric hospital against his will in order to rid ourselves of a problem. It felt surreal to be sitting in a courtroom and being sued by our own flesh and blood. The judge was a conscientious man who had done his homework and knew the implications of schizophrenia. He referred the case to a medical panel that decided in favor of further treatment in the hospital.

One morning, David’s psychiatrist told us that they were considering using ECT – Electro Convulsive Therapy on our son and asked us to sign a form. He said he had to get David to sign too and was quite sure that after the signatures were firmly in place, the therapy would take place. When we arrived at the hospital the next morning, an extremely agitated David ran up to us saying; ‘The world has gone crazy. My shrink wants me to have shock therapy. He needs my signature but I will never sign. Never!’’ He was so upset that an orderly crept up from behind, grabbed him and gave him a shot which seems to be the only tool psychiatry has come up with to calm a patient. My husband was angrier than I have ever seen him and shouted at the orderly: “I could have calmed my son down if you’d given me a chance. Shots do not solve every problem you know.” I was afraid that he was going to suffer a heart attack.

We didn’t think it made sense to ask a person as sick as David to sign a consent form when the decision was such a grave one. I have yet to receive an explanation that satisfies me. I sat down at my computer and this is what I wrote that night:


Time weighs heavily on them as they sit in the sun,

Their only sign of life an occasional blink

of those vacant, staring eyes.

 Do they still dream?

 Those shells of healthy youngsters whose minds were disturbed

 in their prime by an illness apparent mainly to those it touches.

S c h i z o p h r e n i a

I cried a lot that day. If I couldn’t help  my son, was they any point in going on? I even went as far as purchasing Derek Humphrey’s book Final Exit, but, when my mind cleared, i made a list of the positive things still left in my life, and balanced them against the negative ones, and that was when I pushed that book to the back of my bookshelf. I drove to the beach to watch the waves pounding, surging and rippling. The waves were as dark as ink, the tide low, and the sand wet and smooth; I inhaled the tangy smell of drifting seaweed and touched the rocks soaked by hours of sunshine. I stared at the road curling along the coast toward the curve of the port which was an arc of flickering lights strung like a necklace. When I arrived home, my husband hugged me and we sat down. Over coffee, we decided to  move our son to another psychiatric hospital.

David fought paranoid schizophrenia for sixteen years and seemed to be  medication resistant. He wasn’t asking for much when he told us that all he’d dreamed of was to have a decent job, someone to love, and peace of mind. That night, he left us and went to a place where we believe he has found peace; place fit for the surfer that he’d been.





2 thoughts on “Part two of ‘A Life Cut Short’

  1. robertmgoldstein

    It doesn’t make sense to ask a person whose reason is clouded and whose reality testing is impaired to make decisions regarding treatment. Doing so is cruel. It is a an especially insidious expression of contempt and stigma to ask people with Schizophrenia to “decide” to live on the streets under the guise of protecting their rights.


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