Tag Archives: paranoid schizophrenia

David’s Story

While my son was ill for 16 years, I kept scraps of paper where I jotted down all the crises we all experienced. Using all that information, I eventually wrote a book which I called ‘DAVID’S STORY’, even though his name was DORON. I have blogged for years about schizophrenia and the blame, shame, stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.

Here is my last blog for this year.

DAVID’S STORY

This is the story of one family, the story of millions of families worldwide. My happy, busy, social son, changed. ‘A classic case of paranoid schizophrenia,’ the psychiatrist said. It took a long time before we learned that parents could not cause this illness; that we could not be blamed. We thought he would go into the hospital ill but exit healthy. Wrong. He tried psychotherapy, occupational therapy, dance therapy and group therapy yet he continued to be out of focus, angry, psychotic and paranoid and the army of psychiatric health workers and psychiatrists were unable to help him.

Our teenage daughters stopped bringing friends home. Fear crept in. We attended family therapy at the hospital, told them what transpired when he was home, yet, they sent him home for weekends. BUT, I noticed that in the hospital, the staff always walked behind him.

Meanwhile our daughters did without; without sufficient time from us, without vacations or extras as spare cash went into another prescription, another treatment, and for his psychiatrist’s fees. Our 13-year-old daughter summed it up. ‘IF David’s body were hurting, people would bring gifts and visit him in the hospital, but because it is his mind that is ill, they stayed away.

Our family remained together, took each day as it came, learned to find the positive things in life and even realized how lucky we were to have a father/husband who was so caring,  as well as parents who loved one another. Together, we forged new dreams.

 Our son could no longer bear the voices in his head and realized that he was never going to have peace of mind. All he had ever wanted was to hold down a decent job, have someone to love, and … peace of mind. So, he went to a place of beauty; a place suitable for the surfer he had been.

Our son’s name was Doron but when I wrote this book, I changed all our names and called him David.

In January 1996, three  months before his 34th birthday, we buried our son. On that dull winter’s day, the earth that had been dug out stood in a mound ready to be thrown back. For the last time I talked to my son, while in the cold, still air, I heard a thousand birds sing their songs of life.

All the people who loved my son said farewell, even those who had not coped with his schizophrenia but knew how to handle his death. So many friends, neighbors and acquaintances stood, shoulders touching, their breath mingling in the icy air into one great sigh for our loss. I whispered goodbye. So much left unsaid. I ached to see him on his surfboard There was a thud of earth, a marker – and he was gone. He didn’t even say goodbye. In a tumble of memories, I saw David’s superimposed on the painful image of his anguished expression.

I love you, David. Rest. 1962 – 1996.

David’s Story by Jill Sadowsky, can be bought as a kindle book on Amazon and Smashwords.

 

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B. Morrison reviews David’s Story by Jill Sadowsky

B.Morrison Barbara Morrison reviews David’s Story by Jill Sadowsky. (Jan. 14, 2013.)

Sadowsky has written a wrenching memoir of her son’s mental illness, which was eventually diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. The film A Beautiful Mind, based on a true story, characterises the most common course of the disease: onset in young adulthood, auditory hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and social disfunction. It is not multiple personality disorder, now commonly known as dissociative identity disorder, but rather a disruption of cognitive processes. It is far more common than I thought. Sadowsky quotes a doctor saying:” One in every hundred people in the world suffers from this illness at some time or other. More than a quarter of all hospital beds in the world are filled with patients who suffer from schizophrenia.”

As a parent, my heart ached seeing the disease gradually take hold in their beautiful son in spite of the family’s best efforts. Initially they were stymied by a lack of information, as Sadowsky and her husband battered themselves against the medical profession trying to get a diagnosis.

Still, the book is not as dark as I expected. There are many moments of joy and humor and family togetherness. There’s a lot of love in this family. But Sadowsky’s fear and worry for her son came 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. This is no saccharine afterschool special. We are not spared her frustration at his limitations and failed attempts at independence or her weariness at having to go through it all again when he relapses or stops taking his medication. Most difficult is her concern about her two daughters; not only were their parents distracted by their brother’s needs, they could not bring friends home to a house made chaotic and were themselves sometimes targets of their brother’s  violence.

Most frustrating is the lack of support for the family. They were not given a diagnosis for years because the doctor was hesitant to diagnose someone so young as suffering from schizophrenia. Instead, the parents were openly blamed for causing their son’s problems, either through neglect or malicious intent. Once he was diagnosed, the mental health professionals continued to blame the parents – in the face of overwhelming proof that parents cannot cause schizophrenia – and refused to offer any advice on how to deal with their depressed son.

Through all the fear, anger and frustration, what is most apparent is the love, not just for this diffiult and damaged boy, but between all the members of the family. Sadowsky reminds us of the smart and generous child, the avid surfer that David had been. Her husband does not leave a difficult situation as many do. The daughters complain but in a supportive way.

Sadowsky did not begin to get answers or assistance until she discovered a support group. She continues to speak to parents and health professionals about her family’s experience and what can be done to improve support for those suffering from schizophrenia and their families. She also works to erase the stigma associated with mental illness that hampered her family every step of the way.

The author sent me a copy of this book to review, knowing from this website that I share her goal of confronting social stigma. I approached the book with caution. I knew there would be tears, and there were, but I found comfort in the love binding this family together. I read the book all in one go, unable to pull myself away. I’m grateful to Sadowsky for giving us this authentic account and encourage everyone to read it and re-examine your ideas of mental illness. Check out her website for more resources for caregivers.   https://jillsmentalhealthresources.wordpress.com/

What is death?

What is death?

What does it symbolize?

Is it the soul entering another body

or simply another illusion?

I will never know

but I conclude that death

is a crime.

                         David

A poem written by my son toward the end of his life.

My son, my son

My son was one of the people who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and who did not make it as he was medication resistant. My son, David, wanted to get well, he wanted to love and be loved, but most of all, he needed the peace of mind that the rest of us take for granted and which eluded him. When he threw himself to what I can only hope is a place of calm, peace and endless waves fit for a surfer, our family was left to cope with our grief, each in his/her own way.

I often think back to the first 18 years of my son’s life, before he was drafted into the military. In those days, he was perceived as being normal. During the following 16 years, people referred to him as mentally ill, but our family always addressed him as David. (I have changed his name to make this easier for me to write about.)

We were left with little or no guidance on how to survive our terrible loss. My immediate family had the usual coping mechanisms used to dealing with regular stress.  But these mechanisms were insufficient in the face of David’s suicide. As a result, we cycled subconsciously through various ways of coping in order to find the best way for each of us. I remember the disruption and pain we each experienced – deep, forceful pain that has never completely healed, but somehow, we got by even though it took many years. I was fortunate to have a supportive, loving husband who knew how to give unconditional love to us all. We had good relationships with our other children and were there for one another.

In the past, during the 16 years of David’s illness, I carried a lot of anger around in me; Illogical anger at him for contracting this terrible illness, anger at the medical profession for their inability to cure him or even give us the kind of support we desperately needed. I often though of fleeing but of course I remained. I wanted to tell my son’s friends that if I could have fled, I would have done so. I was never angry with them. I was angry at the world and understood that they had to get on with their lives. They gave David as much support as they possibly could.

How did I cope? I coped by keeping busy. I swept, and dusted, washed the floors, shone the beautiful silver candlesticks on our sideboard. I dug in the garden, knowing just how useless and tiring this activity would be, but, it stopped me from thinking about David all the time.

After his death, someone told me that my son was in a better place. What I should have told her was that grief is permanent and that all I wanted was my son at home with us and not in a better place. I was told; “Time heals.” True, but it was far, far too early to say that to a newly bereaved mother whose son had taken his life. “Find something to take your mind off it,” I was told by another well-meaning person.

None of this made any sense to me. It was a time when G-d did not make sense, so I left it at that and concentrated on trying to cope.