Thank you to my kind (virtual) friend and inspiration, Grandma Jill. I started to read Jill’s blog during the depths of depression. She blogs about mental illness, and her entries on schizophrenia started to resonate with me when I started having concerns about my brother. After his suicide this past August, I reached out to Jill as a resource. She has been an endless source of inspiration and knowledge. “David’s Story” is a remarkable, yet heartbreaking, tribute to her late-son David. She details her family’s journey as well as her frustrations — although she is not alone — with the mental health system. She tragically lost her son to suicide just as we lost my brother last August. I read most of ‘David’s Story’ within days, but I must admit that I delayed reading the last few chapters for months. I couldn’t bring myself to deal with the reality of suicide given the rawness of my brother’s death. As I came close to the end of a train ride, I finally mustered up the courage to finish Jill’s book. I spent the last hour sobbing — uncontrollably. Her book hit at my core. Jill’s persistence was and remains enviable. Her courage is admirable. Her compassion is incomparable. If you have a chance, please read “David’s Story.”
“A person diagnosed with a mental illness is usually the very last one to speak out about it due to the stigma. Mental illness is far more common than diabetes, heart disease or cancer. It is NOT a character flaw. It doesn’t help to tell someone: get over it. But it does help to show compassion as they are struggling. Try and find ways to give support. Maybe it’s time to deal with it openly with the emphasis on kindness and acceptance.” — Jill Sadowsky.
Visit her blog (https://jillsmentalhealthresources.wordpress.com) or read “David’s Story.”
Reviews on “David’s Story
“Jill Sadowsky bravely and generously shares her experiences with her son’s schizophrenia. While her story is harrowing, her strength is inspiring. She has led the way to removing the stigma associated with mental illness. Despite the heart-ache I felt, I could not put it down. Well written and without a whisper of self-pity.”
“My sincerest thank you for sharing your family’s story with us. Your book is a wonderful tribute to your late son, David. By having the courage to share this story, you ensure that the dialogue around mental illness will continue, which ultimately will lead to greater understanding and compassion. After reading through your blog, I purchased David’s Story trying to find some solace. Less than five months ago, my 24-year-old brother, Ben, died by suicide. Although he was never officially diagnosed, there were many similarities between Ben and David. I shared the book with my family with the hope that they too would find some solace. It has helped us all with the healing process and has made us feel a little less alone on this journey. Thank you again for your courage. You are a remarkable and strong woman.” My deepest gratitude, Holly Neiweem (http://bennyfund.org)
“Sadowsky has written a wrenching memoir of her son’s mental illness, which was eventually diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. The book is not as dark as I expected; there are many moments of joy and humor and family togetherness. But Sadowsky’s fear and worry for her son come through, as well as at times fear of him, what he might do in the grip of a delusion. I appreciate her honesty and openness. Through all the fear and anger and frustration, what is most apparent is the love, not just for this difficult and damaged boy, but between all members of the family.”
“I didn’t know what to say or do — How many of us have been caught up in a guilt-ridden conscience battle when considering contacting people whom we know are dealing with specific problems. Somehow it is easy when there is a physical situation that can be referred to in terms that we all know and understand. BUT it is the OTHER situations that cause us the most difficult of decision making. But beyond the decision there is the feeling of “not knowing what to say or do.” Many life situations have rituals that give us security to deal with a specific event – religious traditions are most helpful and are guidelines as to what is expected and we can lean on these rules to guide and give confidence as to what is to be done. But then there are the matters as “mental health” that is not so clear-cut or so obvious and do not have the ground rules to follow. We are lost, we feel guilty that we do not know what should be said or even if something should be done. That is why “David’s Story” is going to be a bible to many who have watched from the sidelines not knowing if they should or how to get involved. So many social taboos are associated with mental illness that no guidelines are there or modes of behavior or social etiquettes to deal with these situations. There are many such cases where society has not given us the tools to cope, not only as the actual participants directly affected but also those of us who are on the periphery and who would want to help but are at a loss as to what is expected or what will not be offensive. At last an open book, a true exposure by those most affected, is going to offer key codes of reaction that will be treasured guides to those many, many people who just were at a loss as to what they could do.
Jill Sadowsky not only has opened her heart and soul to relate such painful aspects of her life but she has opened the world of mental health to the better understanding by all of us, giving us vital information that can guide so many, to be able to reach to those in need of support – hopefully we shall know what is needed. From a friend who was lost – I thank her for her courage to help us know better what to do whenever it is necessary.”