This post deals with mental illness and may be triggering for some readers.
Today I found out my 17-year-old son has schizophrenia. It feels like we’ve both been handed a death sentence.
As I try to process the news, a series of headlines and news stories flash through my mind. Cases where loving family members and support workers, sometimes even complete strangers had been violently killed because the voices in another person’s head told them to do it.
I can’t believe I’ve immediately gone to such a dark place. Is it because I used to work in news? Or is it because I’ve seen a couple of violent outbursts I never thought my gorgeous boy would ever be capable of?
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I hang up the phone and immediately start to google. I need answers. I need consoling; I need to see anything but the horrific kaleidoscope of news images circulating in my head.
Google is not my friend.
This is permanent. This is not just a Year 12, hormonal, stress-related, teenage meltdown.
This is my youngest child in such a serious state of cognitive impairment, he might never emerge from his cocoon of confusion, paranoia and catatonia.
I grieve for the things he has already lost and find it hard to find light in his future.
He was diagnosed with psychosis halfway through his final year of school. It came after months of increasingly erratic behaviour. Anger, lashing out, obsessiveness, aggressively argumentative and then withdrawn, crying, vulnerable and then silent - just stuck, staring in to space.
I honestly thought he was just an arsehole.
He’d always been a bit quirky and prone to obsessive behaviours - for years he refused to wear anything but Coles brand grey socks- or if anyone touched anything he was eating or drinking, he would push it away, like it was poison.
But he was also incredibly sociable, and sporty and smart and an endless source of entertainment for us all.
It was only when he hit puberty he started to develop more antisocial behaviours and insecurities. He also, like many teens, started smoking pot.