More Common Questions

I feel privileged to travel and speak to groups about our journey through schizophrenia with our adult child, I hear questions that share common ground. I’ll try and answer some of them through the month of May, National Mental Health Awareness Month.

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  1. How did her brothers react?

Like us, they were concerned and wanted to help her. Our eldest son was the only one who lived close by. He stopped often to check on the situation and offer suggestions. He suspected schizophrenia and was instrumental in helping us move out of denial and into action. His support meant the world to us, even when he had to do the hard things. Our second son lived two hours away and our youngest son lived several states away. They called, learned what they could and offered phone support as best they could. They read books to try and understand what our family faced. After my sons read my book, Broken Brain, Fortified Faith, all three of them said, “I didn’t know it was this bad.” To which I replied, “How could you know if I didn’t tell you?”  If I’m honest, I didn’t know how. I could only try and cope with the situation.

      2.  Why didn’t you tell your family and friends at first?

At first I was embarrassed by Amber’s illness. I thought she could snap out of it if she really tried. But I was wrong – she couldn’t. She was trapped in a whirlpool of madness that sucked her down where we couldn’t reach her. In less than a month, her mental state crumbled until she became convinced that there was a conspiracy against her life. Every magazine, newspaper, and television program was about her. We felt we had to tell our families and closest friends after she verbally attacked another family member during a gathering. We opened up to our families via e-mails to keep them informed.  As a result of my frequent notes to them, our families and friends supported us in every way they could. They sent letters, notes, cards, visited Amber in the hospital, and someone even brought a casserole to our home.

Looking back, telling our families and friends was the one of two best things I did for us, and for Amber. We found the National Alliance on Mental Illness, plus we shared our situation with those close to us. These two things brought the support, love, and prayers we craved. And yes, I know, I have amazing people who surround me. Not all people react as they did and I am grateful for our family and friends. They are a gift.

Author: Virginia Pillars, author

I'm a daughter, a farmer's wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a sister-in-law, an aunt, an author, a part-time musician, a part-time businesswoman, a part-time gardener who loves to talk with people. I have a passion for my faith, my family and my friends. I love to learn and teach others what I discovered. In 2004, we discovered our daughter suffered from a debilitating disease - Paranoid Schizophrenia. I knew nothing about mental illness, but we didn't have the luxury of learning at a pace we could absorb. We had to dive in and hope we learned to swim as we came up for air. Our daughter is now in recovery and I work as a volunteer for NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) to support others who battle mental illness. I wrote my journey in the book: Broken Brain, Fortified Faith: Lessons of Hope Through a Child's Mental Illness. Ask for it by name at your favorite bookstore or purchase it directly from the publisher, Familius.com or from the Amazon or Barnes and Noble website.

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