When your child is born the first sentence out of your mouth is: “Is it normal?” There is relief and gratitude when they tell you yes. Then twenty years later a bomb drops at the time your child is about to begin his or her adult life. You have no time to prepare for this catastrophic disaster because you were told, after all, that your child is normal.
My son has schizo-affective disorder and recently had a conditional discharge (CD) renewed for another four years. Since he doesn’t believe he is ill (anosognosia), he went to court and argued his case before the judge. I wasn’t there, but his guardian said that my son did it respectfully, but I can also picture him telling His/Her Honor that he is no longer ill–in fact never was–and is as healthy as a horse, which is unfortunately not true. He has the classic positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia as well as the cognitive deficits. He only functions in the community thanks to the massive support he gets from the local mental-health center, for which I am grateful.
While I am relieved his CD was continued, I am saddened because his life turned out so differently from how I thought it would. I am also saddened for all the others whose lives are destroyed by mental illness and for families, too. I grieve for the unfulfilled bright futures, careers that never unfolded, marriage that failed to happen, and children they never had. Truly a loss. I wish I had more hope.