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Have a Cigar

January First has been out now for over two weeks. Thanks to all of you, it just recorded its second week on the New York Times Combined (electronic and hardcover) Bestseller’s List, something I never expected.

 

So I am getting a lot of people telling me “Congratulations.”

 

I know people mean well. They say it out of common courtesy. I get that. But it’s difficult for me to respond. I have to respond. These are people who bought and read the book. Their purchase has put me one step closer to securing Jani and Bodhi’s future after I am dead and gone.

 

Online it is easier. I can just type “Thank you” and move on. That’s the nice thing about the online world. You can kill the conversation whenever you want. Recently, I wished one of my Facebook friends “Happy birthday.” She responded to my single line on her wall by expressing wonder that now that I was a “celebrity” I still took the time to wish people a happy birthday.

 

I know she meant well. She’s a nice person. But I could not think of a nice way to respond to that, so I didn’t.

 

I get that for most Americans, and perhaps the rest of the world, TV appearances and getting a book published equal “celebrity.” Except that I hate the term. It implies that I am a different person than I was before. But I was a different person long before anyone in the public knew my name or Jani’s name. It was the experiences within the book that made me a different person, not the book itself. The fact that I can go into a Barnes & Noble and open a book to see myself on the back flap doesn’t change me.

 

“Congratulations.”

 

It doesn’t quite work.

 

Congratulations for what?

 

What exactly is it that I did?

 

“Thank you for being so honest.”

 

What else would I do? Hide that my daughter has schizophrenia? Kinda hard to do when every aspect of my life is totally defined by Jani (and Bodhi). I have no life beyond them. There is nothing left of whoever I was before Jani became ill.

 

“It’s so great you stood by Jani.”

 

She’s my daughter. I brought her into this world. What was I supposed to do?

 

“You could have sent her away.”

 

What would be the point in doing that? Like I told you, “my” life was already gone. Okay, so let’s say I send Jani away. Then what? Go on with my life? What life?

 

“You could have run away.”

 

I tried that a couple of times. The first time I tried to run away had to be cut from the book for length reasons but it is in the blog “Stay Together for the Kids.” The second was the ultimate escape attempt, which is recorded in the book. I didn’t run away because I am more noble or better than any of you. I didn’t run away because the Universe or God or whatever you want to call it wouldn’t let me. The first time It wouldn’t let me by scaring off the other woman (see “Stay Together for the Kids”). The second time… Well, the second time It directly intervened. And it did. It had to. What are the odds that Jani would walk into the kitchen and speak to me as I about to swallow a second mouthful of anti-depressants? I didn’t save her life. It was the other way around. How many more pills would it have taken to kill me on that June day in 2009? Was that final, lethal pill waiting in the next swallow? Would I have kept going? Would I have vomited all over the kitchen floor? Gone into a seizure? Foamed at the mouth?

 

Did you know most suicide victims never leave a note? It’s true. Only a small minority ever do. Interestingly enough, those few suicide notes are rarely an explanation. You want to know what the most common opening line in a suicide note is?

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

These people are about to kill themselves and they are writing an apology.

 

Why? If they know they are going to hurt those they leave behind, why do they do it?

 

Because it’s a mental illness. It’s called severe depression. You know what you are doing is wrong but you can’t help it.

 

I believe in God. When I drove away that day to die, God spoke to me.

 

No, no apparition appeared to me in the middle the road. No booming voice from a burning bush spoke to me.

 

It was a very quiet voice, inside my head, in the same voice all my internal thoughts are in.

 

“You can’t do this.”

 

It wasn’t a command. It wasn’t said with desperation. It stated as a quiet fact, as if I was simply prolonging the inevitable. It knew I wasn’t really going to kill myself, that I could not just abandon Jani, Bodhi, and Susan to whatever life might throw at them. So why I was pretending like this? This was just a charade, me having a tantrum and raging at the Universe because I couldn’t “save” Jani.

 

And it was right. I was just playing at trying to run away. Because there was no running away. This is Jani’s life. This is Bodhi’s life. This is Susan’s life. This is my life.

 

I had a job to do, even if I sucked at it.

 

Never assume that your “calling” will be something that you’re good at. God, Nature, Universe, Allah, whatever you call It, doesn’t call you to work because you are good at the job. It calls you because It knows you will persevere. It calls you because It knows that in those moments where you feel like you are going to give up… you don’t. It calls you because It knows that if you go over the edge, you’re gonna catch that branch or jagged rock just underneath. Yeah, you might cut yourself to pieces but you will hang on rather than let go. You will live with the pain of what you have done rather than let go and fall to your death. You will break every bone in your damn body. It will let you lay there for awhile, feeling sorry for yourself. But in the end It knows what you know. You aren’t just gonna lay there forever. You are going to roll over and crawl your way back.

 

Because you got a job to do.

 

What is that job?

 

It’s very simple.

 

Stay alive.

 

That’s all It needs you to do. Stay alive.

 

You have to stay alive because one day you will be called upon to help someone else stay alive and you will be the ONLY person who can do that. And they in turn will be called upon to help someone else stay alive so that they in turn can help someone else stay alive.

 

That is how you change the world. You stay alive.

 

I don’t deserve congratulations for writing a book or being on TV. The only thing I did was stay alive. And by staying alive, I help to keep Jani alive.

 

And she in turn helps so many of you to stay alive. I know this because you’ve told me.

 

And in turn you will help others to stay alive.

 

That is it. That is the noblest thing you can do, the highest calling of a human being. Survive. Even if today, yesterday, last week, last month, last year, or your entire life has been one big pile of shit, you have to stay alive. You’re life has value. You keep others alive.

 

That is also why suicides tend to happen in sets. It’s a chain reaction. You fall and the whole chain crumbles without you.

 

If there is one thing I have learned through all of this, it is that EVERY SINGLE life has value.

 

So please stop congratulating me. You can congratulate Jani because she has earned it. She has fought back from a 50/50 prognosis to odds I’d take to Vegas if I could go to Vegas.

 

But I what I really want you to do is congratulate yourself for being alive tonight. And then I want to find another human being and congratulate them on being alive. And tell them to do the same.

 

We’re all part of this chain.

 

And I am hoping that the next time I hear “congratulations” it will be from somebody who’s never heard of me.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MRdtXWcgIw 100×100]

 

60 comments on “Have a Cigar

  1. How about thank you?
    Thanks for writing your story. I found it inspirational, and related to so much of what you’ve gone through. Your daughter has a high IQ and my sons have low ones, but so many of the behaviors and problems are the same. Over and over throughout your story I read what you felt and nodded to myself, understanding. I’m working on my own story and I only hope it’s half as good as yours.

    Note from Michael: I recommend starting with a blog (although I think you may already have one-I have to check out your link here).

    You do have a blog and it is a good one! Here is the link for other readers. Please check it out: http://www.fragilexfiles.com

  2. Wellll…..
    Well, I really do “get your post”….but to tell someone to stop congratulating you is to assume that you know them and no… you do not always know the story about everyone you meet either…Yes, they may tell you “congrats for not running away”….but….really that saying more than I think… you think….
    “Congrats for not running”…does not mean that you did not try to escape…….Their congratulations probably means…”Thank you” thank you for putting in words how it feels to “WANT TO RUN”, to “TRY and RUN”…..and to still be there and with your family…In someways you are the lucky one…too many of my families that I work are not so eloquent and they cannot put into words all the anguish of raising a mentally ill child as YOU CAN….so, get off your high-horse….this book is not only about Jani…Your book is about FAMILY…Yes, YOUR FAMILY….and the COURAGE to stay together and the COURAGE to WRITE IT! This book is about YOU, and SUSAN, and Bhodi! and yes, THEY should be congratulated, as well!!!! You did a fantastic job writing this book, but keep it real here….you cannot pretend to know the stories behind all these congrats…..Accept them for what they probably are…”Thank yous” for people who could not put this type of parental horror in writing”…..

    Note from Michael: I do love the honesty of my friends. Thanks, Amelia 🙂 Yeah, you are right. I hadn’t thought about it like that.

  3. Thank you for expressing this.
    I check my progress against Jani’s. You’re doing your calling successfully. I wanted to pop in and tell you a book that’s been helping me. “Getting Your Life Back Together When You Have Schizophrenia” by Roberta Temes, Ph.D. Some of the things in there, I never learned… It’s helping me socialize myself. All those missing years of being completely under kept me from learning properly. It feels like cheat codes. I’m probably not going to assemble a team (to track my illness) like it suggests, but it has plenty of information worth gleaning. It’s written for the patient, but that shouldn’t really stop you. Until Jani’s 18, doctors will always try to help for your sake since you’re the one “hiring” them. At least that was my experience…. Keep on keepin’ on. Good luck.

    -Cat

    Note from Michael: I will definitely check that book out. It sounds like a great idea. A “how to” is definitely needed and my book is definitely NOT a “how to.”

  4. WOW
    I just finished January First[u][/u]. I can only say WOW!! Thank you for being brave enough to share your journey including the most troubling parts. As a parent, reading this book, it was powerful to see what we would do for our children. There were many times I teared up in the book and at the end I down right cried. In fact, tears are drying on my face as I am typing this. This has to be one of the best books I have read all year. I am sending prayers to you, Jani, Susan, Bodhi and Honey. I remember seeing Jani and your family a couple years ago on Oprah and thought to myself, “That is one strong set of parents.” Then, this week on Discovery Health Channel, I saw the most recent documentary and saw how much better Jani is doing and was happy to see how she is doing now. I bought the book during that show. I didn’t start it until Saturday afternoon and now I am done. Wonderfully written and very real. Kudos, Michael and Susan Schofield, for what you are doing for children with mental illness. Keep up the good work!!

    Note from Michael: Thank you, Heather. I mean that.

  5. Great post, Michael. I agree, jani is the one who deserves all the congratulations–she is fighting something that many of us do not understand, we can only try to find a minute understanding of it. She is a fighter and will continue to fight–however, her strength trumps the illness, so that is why she is stable for now. I have nothing but good things to say about you guys–please keep on fighting along with Jani. When I said congratulations–I did not mean it in a celebrity kind-of-way; however, I meant it in a positive way–that Jani’s future is secured and the stigma will one day be eradicated. I don’t like the word celebrity, it is something that the media makes people think is good, when in fact it is something that is too narcissistic. I am on page 74 of the book and it is so compelling–I read it even though I had some homework to do for college–it is that compelling. I hope to one day tell my story to you guys–if I can visit you guys one day–because mine was quite a rough ride as well, in terms of illness. Anyway, please keep on fighting for Jani and the rest of us–this book is what will help combat the stigma of mental illness. Jani and all those suffering and fighting are the true heroes.

    Note from Michael: We look forward to meeting you finally, Ruben.

  6. Best wishes to and your family
    Michael:

    I just finished your book and I’ve been a follower of your blog for the past few years. I won’t congratulate you if you don’t like it, but only say that I know what a struggle it was just to complete your book, and how many other things you had on your plate at the time (I believe i was the one who inadvertently informed you that Amazon was already advertizing it even while you were still writing it). Well, it is a wonderful book. I knew a lot of your story already, but much of it was new to me. I hope it gives you some measure of financial help, if not stability. You, Susan, Bodhi, and Jani deserve peace and happiness. If may ask, how is Jani? (I know you can no longer give specifics on your blog, since in a sad irony, you’ve become the online target of other disturbed people.) But I hope she is indeed doing better. And that you are doing ok too. Best,

    Michael N.

    Note from Michael (To Michael) 🙂 Thank you. I write something and I am not always right. That’s the great thing about this. I learn as much from my readers as they do from me. I have already learned that are MANY things to congratulate, not just what I was thinking. As I am so often, I was arrogant in my assumptions.

    Overall, Jani is doing well. There are rough moments but she continues to generally progress upwards. She’s going to school (with other kids!) for five hours a day now! She truly is amazing.

  7. I will admit…a few tears were shed as I read this post. The line that really spoke to me was about not assuming that what you are called to do is something that you are good at. This has been very true in my life, especially in the past several months. Having dealt with severe anxiety myself, there are countless times that I can say God has used various people to save my life. Never was it something big and dramatic…rather it was usually something small….a couple words, a kind gesture. As I thought about Jani coming into the kitchen, I just thought what a blessing that she is in this world. I hope I can meet you and your family someday, not because you are celebrities, but because you are human and you are real.
    Blessings.

    Note from Michael: Thank you, Alyssa. That’s all I was talking about-a word, a sentence, an expression of concern. Happiness is not a big thing. It is made up of little things strung together.

  8. Miracle does happen
    Many miracles do happen if you meet Him. Grand Master Sheng-Yen Lu who is reside in Seattle, Washington USA now and he can resolve any hallucination or psychic issue of Jani. He has helped many children in the past and successfuly back to their normal life. I hope you can take this golden opportunity to meet him. His address is 17012 NE 40th Ct.,
    Redmond, WA 98052
    USA

    Tel: 425-8820916
    Fax: 425-8837360
    E-mail:
    Homepage: http://www.tbsseattle.org
    He is going to be in Seattle until end of October. Please do call and arrange an appointment. Consultation is free of charge. It is entirely up to you to do donation.
    Good luck.
    Kind regards,
    Lynne

    Note from Michael: Thank you, Lynne, but I don’t think I will be contacting this person. I am sure he is a wonderful man but “Master?” No, we are all masters. I don’t trust anyone who claims to be a master of anything (and that includes doctors). Arrogance is the downfall of everyone.

  9. Stronger then me…
    Michael, I read the book from start to finish in one night. It was eye opening, sad and refreshing all at the same time. I think Jani is lucky to have you both as parents and I commend the effort you have put in as a Dad. I don’t see many like you. I wish you and your family the best and look forward to another one of your books one day. Hugs to Jani and Bodhi.

    All the best
    Heather ( Mommy to 2 daughters)

    Note from Michael: Thank you, Heather. It’s my job. That’s how I look at it. My primary job in life is dad to Jani and Bodhi.

  10. I just finished your book. My sister and I couldnt put it down. You are a amazing father and writter!

    Note from Michael: Thank you, Paige (do you know that’s Jani’s middle name?)

  11. Can I say congratulations for being an outstanding father? Jani and Bodhi are so lucky to have your love. I’ve finished the book and I’ve been following your family here for years now. You are willing to admit that you’ve made mistakes and you learn from them, and that’s a quality that’s becoming increasingly hard to find. I wish my father was more like you; he completely ignores my illness. I’m a high functioning individual diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder last year, although I’ve always been “different.” My grandfather was the driving force throughout my childhood and seemed to understand me when no one else could, sadly he passed away a few years ago. I can kind of understand the relationship that you have with Jani, and I’m so happy that she has you on her team.
    I also want to thank you for fighting the stigma of mental illness. There are members of my family that I refuse to tell for fear that they will think less of me. My doctor also works with me when I have applied to schools and jobs, finding ways around writing down my diagnosis. Even though it is against the law to discriminate, so many places and people do.
    I know you and Susan will keep fighting for Jani and Bodhi’s future, and that gives me and so many other people hope for our own.
    Congratulations on making the world for people with MI a little brighter and a little less lonely.

    Note from Michael: Thank you, Kate. You can say “congratulations” for whatever reason. I’ve learned since writing this that I have no right to tell people what they can and cannot say congratulations for.

    As for you, are you on Facebook? We have a fantastic, completely private, closed and hidden group for adults with MI. So many there are like you, striving for things like college that so many take for granted. You can email me at michaeljohnschofield@me.com or reach me via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/janifoundation. It is completely private and no one outside of the group will know you are even in it (because you mentioned not everyone in your family understands).

  12. I am almost at a loss for words, but then again maybe I just don’t know how to put it into words. Your book was inspiring, yes we all know that life isn’t always wonderful and perfect, but you are exactly right, we aren’t called to do things we are good at, we are called to do things that will challenge us and make us stronger and make the world a better place. I, as well as most people have found themselves in a place where they didn’t know what to do, or who/what they could turn to. The best thing we can do is stay alive, like you said. All of this probably sounds…dumb, because I’m repeating pretty much exactly what you said in your post. Your book took me to a place where I felt like I was in your family, walking through it with you, not many books have brought me to tears…this one succeeded. So many people are so ignorant to MI, my parents especially. My mom tried to tell me the other day that everyone is in charge of their own thoughts (when I was telling her my experience with MI without really specifically talking about MI), and I brought up schizophrenia and other MI and it backed her into a corner. She didn’t really know what to say. I have no idea what I’m saying at this point, I guess what I’m trying to say is, keep your head up, you have got to be one of the best fathers out there, always fighting for your children. Thank you, your book was inspiring. The best books out there are biographies/memoirs, the stories are real and it’s not putting on a show to please people. It’s to tell your story, to raise awareness, to spread the message that there is always hope. So, again I say thank you for sharing your story, your writings are all incredible.
    Tell Jani I’m so proud of her for how far she’s come, especially with school! That is just incredible!

    Note from Michael: I will. I tell Jani everyday how proud I am of her, how much she has battled. She has achieved something as a child that not everyone with her affliction does. She has fought hard.

  13. I am reading your book right now and I know you have heard it before but you are an amazing father and Jani is so lucky to have you. My 7 year old son has Aspergers and he is very smart also, his IQ is 135 so a lot of what I am reading especially with school seems like him. I actually am doing K12 with him at home because I did not feel he was getting what he needed there. Like Jani they did not care how smart he was, all they cared about was his behavior. I look forward to hearing how Jani and Bodhi and your family are doing in the future. Thanks for such a great book!

    Note from Michael: Thank you. We have a great private online support group for parents of special needs children (all special needs). If you are interested, leave me a message at http://www.facebook.com/janifoundation. We also have a Yahoo group as well. You can reach me at michaeljohnschofield@me.com

  14. Grand Master Sheng-Yen Lu w
    Hey Buddy,
    I just read about the above comment on the master. You are saying you don’t want to see him as he’s called master.
    It’s just a word, don’t get too fixated on your interpretation of this word.
    No harm in seeing him, considering you have seen so many other medical professionals. If doctor you are seeing, gets a noble prize and people start calling him he’s master of the game, will you stop seeing him.
    I hope you have some valid reason for not exploring other avenues apart from what title someone has.
    I would like to add, I have absolutely no idea about this master guy and not promoting him.
    This comment is with respect as you are the one who understand Janni and her treatment options more than anyone.
    God bless you and little angel and I pray that she gets better in the way, you want.
    Regards

    Note from Michael: I was trying to be polite. I have no intention of seeing him because I am not going to drag Jani 1000 miles north to Seattle to see “some guy.” I am not going to put her through that, going to the ends of the earth for a “cure.” After three years in the public I have been contacted by probably every faith healer on the planet and every religion you can think of. I usually don’t answer but sometimes it gets to me. Chasing a phantom “cure” is not what we should be doing as a society. We should be focused on improving access to mental health care, quality of care, and quality of life. We should be focused on creating support systems for those who suffer from mental illness, not chasing snake oil cures.

  15. Re: Grand Master Sheng-Yen Lu w
    Totally agree. I just can’t understand why these people don’t bother to (1)read your blogs and (2)read your book and (3)watch the various documentaries dealing with Jani, BEFORE they start bombarding you with their nonsense. They should know by now, that you are NOT going to buy that damnable snake-oil they are pushing!

  16. January First ebook
    Hi Michael,

    I have just purchased your book from Amazon and am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival in my mailbox. I wanted to buy it as an eBook so I could read it right away but it is not available for purchase in New Zealand… You may want to look into that as there were a lot of people very interested in your story on the stuff website – 72 comments in 12 hours.

    I read your article on stuff.co.nz and was nearly in tears reading – it is such a powerful story. I am traipsing through your blog from the beginning and feel as though I know your family so well. You have an amazing way with words that expresses the emotions of the whole situation so well, and I am in awe of you. I struggle with bipolar myself, and am currently trying to stick it out without medication. I know how risky this is, but as I have no family support to keep me on track, I have to do what is right for me. When I was previously on medication I found that when times got tough I would take a whole bunch of pills at a time to numb myself, and end up sick for days, unable to work or function properly – we’re talking a full zombie state, someone would call my name and I would slowly look up with glazed eyes and be almost completely unresponsive. Due to my own history of abusing medication, I am very wary of being on anything until I feel more in control of my situation. The doctors have suggested I try Lithium but warned that abusing that would almost certainly lead to death, and that if I were to drink the way I do (which is usually two bottles of wine on a night out before I head to the clubs, which ends in hard liquor shots etc – for a 45kg female this is probably not doing me any good) while taking lithium I would almost certainly kill myself. I know that at this point in time I cannot kick alcohol completely, and am unable to stop at “just one drink” so for me right now it is safer to just stay off medication and try to keep on with my therapy and the methods I have been taught of difusing my situations as they arise… but I digress.

    Upon stumbling into your family’s story, I am finding myself entering a calm – I am starting to see things a lot clearer, and this is thanks to you. The way you describe your handling of the situation, and your situation as a whole makes me feel very greatful for what I do have in life (albeit not a lot, but it could be a heck of a lot worse) and helps remind me that there are decent people out there who will go to the end of the earth for those they love.

    I wish there was more I could do to help other than buy your book, and hopefully one day my path will continue on to a point where I can help others in this situation in some way or other.

    So rambling comment over, I just wanted to say thank you for having the courage to speak about what so many of us try to hide.. I sincerely wish all the best that life can offer to you and your wonderful family.

    Note from Michael: Thank you, Leyna. I am not going to get on your case for drinking. Yes, it is a self-medication and not something I would ever recommend, but I believe people need to do what they need to do to get through the day. If you are on Facebook we have a great support group for adults with MI. Not all are in the US and not all are on medication. Of course we always encourage medications but we won’t kick people out because of it. If you are interested you can reach me at http://www.facebook.com/janifoundation.

    Regarding ebook availability in New Zealand, Hardie Grant (Australia) is the publisher of January First in Australia and New Zealand and I don’t know if they are putting out an ebook version. I can find out.

  17. No congrats, just a thank you
    Michael,
    I have been in Afghanistan and locked away in schools he past 6 months and completely missed the release of the book until a few days ago. I just finished it and needed to express my gratitude. 

    My wife and I first heard Jani’s story in early ’10, while she was pregnant with our first child, a girl. For some reason I connected. Maybe it’s because of a fear for my daughter but I fell for Jani and wanted to know her. Over the past 2 years you have allowed us to become part of your extended family on Facebook and the blog. Not a week goes by where I’m not telling her story to someone new. Because of you and Susan, Jani has become part of all of our families. When she cries, we cry. Thank you for letting us be part of her life. 

    Then I read her book. Before it was for Jani, now I see you. With my beautiful little girl now 2 1/2, I see Jani, and her father. The feeling that I must be the protector, the rock. That only I can solve her problems. As irrational as those feelings are, I feel them too Michael. It is those feelings that show our deep love and commitment to the little people we have created. Jani is lucky to have a father as devoted as you. And just as lucky to have a loving mother that keeps her father grounded in check. 

    Thank you for opening up and showing everyone who you are, flaws and all. This book is more your story than hers, but honestly, that is the only way you could tell it. Someday, she will tell tell her story. I know she will. 

    On Sunday I leave for another 5 weeks of training. When I kiss my little girl and pregnant wife goodbye, I do so knowing I will return a better man. Because everyday I try to be a better husband and father, just like you do too. It’s a long road, but knowing there are people like you and Susan out there making a difference, makes my road seem a bit smoother. 

    Stay strong Michael. Know your FB family is here for you and your family, flaws and all.

    Note from Michael: Wow, Blake. This really means a lot. We have been Facebook friends for a couple of years now but you’ve never revealed much about yourself and we’ve never had this kind of talk. Thank you so much. And please be safe over there.

  18. Deja vu
    I just read your story in the New Zealand media. So much of what you describe with Jani are so similar to the experiences I had with my daughter Paige. Is she still “losing it” physically? If so, please, please, if you haven’t done so already, have a look at these sites: http://www.thinkkids.org and http://www.livesinthebalance.org.

    Note from Michael: Not sure what you mean by “losing it physically.” If you mean violence, then no, she has come a long way since then. The violence is under control and has been for about two years (it reached its peak in 2008) and we haven’t seen much of it since late 2009. Medication, particularly thorazine and clozapine, were the most effective against the violence. Believe me, if violence was still an issue it would be in the most recent blog. You have to remember that media headlines can sensationalize things a bit. I believe the book comes out in New Zealand on September 1st.

  19. Yes…I get it..I dont know what more to say other than that…sometimes the act of breathing seems to take on a sinister meaning sooooI get it…congrats for staying…

  20. The congratulations are for…
    Making that little bit of extra money to help pay for Jani’s medical needs, even though it was not your intention when you wrote the book.

  21. Wonderful story of a father and mothers love for their child
    I read this story on my Kindle every night for three nights. Reading the story helped put in perspective how demanding and heart wrenching it must of been to try everything to get their daughter the help she needed.
    Love and prayers to all four of you…xoxxo

  22. I have followed Jani’s story since I saw the first TLC documentary. I bought the book and thought it was a wonderful tribute to Jani’s and your family’s perseverence. I keep you all in my thoughts and hope for Jani’s continued recovery.

  23. There are NO words……
    WOW! WOW! WOW! THere is not enough words to explain how I feel. I just downloaded your book on my kindle, I read it in 2 days! I couldn’t put it down. My husband and I have a healthy, happy and delightful 7 yeard old – I have always loved and appreciated her and that she was my “miracle” child through infertility. After reading your book I look at her more everyday reminding me how blessed we are and how blessed you are to have your little girl Jani and your family. You have been to hell and back and never ever threw your daughter away…Im not sure if I would or could have the strengh you did. I admire you and think of you and your family often. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY WITH THE WORLD!!!!!

    Note from Michael: Yes, you would have the strength. Everybody does. You just do what you have to do.

  24. Michael,

    As I’m sure you are aware an article has appeared in the Australian media and you might be hearing from Australia now. If it’s not congratulations, then maybe ‘Gratitude’ is the word for you to receive. Gratitude for ‘getting the word out’ and bring awareness to this challenge of childhood schizophrenia. I think that is sometimes what people mean when they use ‘Congratulations’. Just one of those words we’re ‘lazy’ with.

    I can imagine over the years you have received so many suggestions for solutions for Jani’s situation. Can imagine it becomes tiresome at times, even if well meant. And so I respectfully approach offering this article which I read a few years ago and often tell people is one of the most poignant things I’ve ever read. It just seems to me that there were answers and solutions in this therapy and I don’t really understand why it hasn’t been built upon. Well I do understand – it’s the usual small mindedness thing.

    Anyway I hope you find this interesting and possibly useful.

    http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v07n3/07318fis.html

  25. Ok, so I am in tears here … school – with other kids now! For FIVE hours a day! That is so damn awesome. I know the magnitude of this for her, and you all – amazing. Until youve been there it may sound trivial, but SO MUCH has to be overcome to get to that point. Wow.

    Step back and savor that for moment.

    Liz

    Note from Michael: I know! She has come so, so far!

  26. I think the reason so many people congratulate you is because you have touched their hearts in so many way’s and for so many reasons. I know you’ve touched my heart so congratulations on being a wonderful dad despite the struggles and challenges you and Susan had along the way. Congratulations to Jani for always being a fighter and having such awesome parents . Congratulations to Bhodi for also having such wonderful parent’s. Thank you for fighting the stigma attached to mental illness. You,Susan,Jani,Bhodi,Honey,and Friday are alway’s in my thoughts and prayers. I think the number one reason people congratulate you is because they feel they can relate to what your saying on some level. That isn’t to say they can walk in your shoes. That would be impossible and absurd for anyone to think that. What I mean is they can relate because everyone has to go through lifes struggles and challenges. One of the differences is you were able to share you and your families story with the public. I would also like to mention people don’t think your wonderful parents or that your kids are lucky to have you just because your doing your job. They think your wonderful parents because of everything you do and how much you care about your kids. In other words I’m not saying to care about your kids or do everything you can for them is not part of your job. What I’m saying is the amount of love and caring you give is extraordinary compared to some parents who are’nt as devoted or loving as you are when it comes to their children.

  27. Congratulations-for opening my eyes to this world. I was one of the millions of people who when I read in the news about someone doing something violent would ask myself what is wrong with people? I couldn’t understand their anger, I couldn’t believe when they said someone told them to do it.I didn’t even understand post traumatic stress syndrome until now.

    A couple of years ago I watched a couple of minutes of the Discovery show and a few months ago I saw it was being reran so watched some more of it. It was so compelling and mind blowing to me that I looked your family up on the internet to find out if this was a hoax or real and if so, how is she doing now. It led me to your blog, which I read from beginning to end and even went to your first blog and read that and Susans and bought the book and read it quickly.

    I do not know anyone who suffers from anything quite this extreme, but I do suffer from depression and SAD. I do have those in my family who are not quite right and this has led me to believe they too could have something bigger going on than I ever knew existed. Schizophrenia was a foreign word to me. Congratutions for teaching me about it and mental illnesses. Congratulations for being so open minded to share your world- in my world it would be shunned and hidden and because of you, I know that it should not be and will encourage others to be open and share in their struggles and pain. Congratulations for being a good person and helping so many others. There are many of us that sit on the side lines and do nothing and that is shameful. Congratulations for standing up to everyone in your daughters way of leading a good life. Really-not everyone does that.

    I can’t thank you enough for what you have taught me and how much my eyes are opened.

    Angie

    Note from Michael: Wow. I don’t know what to say. Thank you. Seems inadequate to say, but thank you.

  28. Hi Jani
    Hi Jani

    My name is Jenna. You are a brave courageous fighter. You are a special miracle from god, a gift from above, earthly angel,and you are a smilen hero. You are full of happiness, life, smiles, joy, fun,love, and spunk.

    I have bipolar, and anxiety issues, behavioural issues too.

    I was born with a rare life threatening disease, and have 14 other medical conditions, and developmental delays.

    I wrote this poem
    Each of us are Special
    Each of us different,
    No one is the same
    Each of are us are unique in our own way,
    Those of us who have challenges, we smile through our day.
    Those who of us who have challenges, we smile through our day.
    It doesn’t matter what others say
    we are special anyway.
    What is forty feet and sings? the school chior
    http://www.miraclechamp.webs.com

    Note from Michael: Thank you. That was beautiful. I will pass it on to Jani.

  29. Not every father is a Dad
    “What I’m saying is the amount of love and caring you give is extraordinary compared to some parents who aren’t as devoted or loving as you are when it comes to their children.” Jessica

    Exactly my feelings….:)

  30. Ramblings from an SoCal mom…
    So, after 10 minutes of typing, deleting and retyping my opening sentence over and over and over again I’m just over it — I have no fancy words to start off my comment. Your family’s story has changed me forever and that’s not at all an exaggeration. The way I see a screaming child at the grocery store or a homeless person talking to themselves at a street corner will never be the same again. I think you were once quoted (correct me if I’m wrong) having said something along the lines of how it’s easy to be sympathetic when the story is about a cute little blue-eyed, blond-haired girl but what about when the little girl grows up. What happens 10, 15 years later when we’re left w/an adult that society doesn’t know how to deal with? I agree that less effort should be wasted trying to look for a “cure” and more should be focused on creating a support system for those w/mental illness. Like your Bodhi, my 4yr old son was diagnosed w/ASD. He’s beautiful, he’s different, he’s not broken. I LIVE to help find him happiness he so deserves. He’s in a program (EI, IEP, OT, speech therapy, sensory… etc.) not because I’m trying to fix him but because I’m preparing him for a world that isn’t prepared for him. I suspect a history of undiagnosed schizophrenia/and/or/other unspecified MI in my family (e.g. my uncle [the one everyone was embarrassed about and called “crazy”] heard voices and was once involved in a high-speed police pursuit that started when he ran several red lights trying to flee whatever was supposedly stomping on the roof of his van. He died all too young and left behind a blooming family – found several weeks after gone missing on one of his many runaways, having drowned in a shallow puddle.) He didn’t have the support your Jani has had. For some families it IS easier to hide, to ignore, to deny, to send away, to not be there – don’t fool yourself into believing you and your beautiful wife(my hero) are just ordinary. I’ve seen w/my own eyes how a family can fail a person w/MI no better or worse than the medical/insurance system or lack of state funding can. But moving on… I read your book in a single day and I spread your story and what little I’ve heard of the story of others like Briana and Mary whenever I get a chance. I give my 2cents if I can squeeze myself into a discussion I overhear about the Colorado shooting or something similar and I hope to raise awareness if only to a few people over water cooler talk at my job. I bought a second copy to donate to the shared “library” at my work’s cafeteria 🙂 I could hardly formulate an opening sentence to express my feelings tonight and you wrote a whole book that touched so many people – CONGRATULATIONS.

    Note from Michael: Thank you, Lo (coincidentally the name of Jani’s first hallucination). Since you have a special needs son I would like to invite you to either or both of our private online support groups for parents of special needs kids: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/parental-support/ on Yahoo and https://www.facebook.com/groups/144622772289553/ on Facebook.

  31. Hi, just finished reading January First with my daughters, the youngest is just two years older than Jani. Such a inspirational story. My daughters were amazed that you remembered so much, evey emotion. All our love goes to Jani, as we talk about her as if we new her forever. Thank you for sharing and opening the doors of your world. Love to Jani.

  32. Comments from the public
    I’ve read some on this site and your facebook site and there are a lot of comments about how wonderful and amazing you are and how you and your daughter is a wonderful gifts from god and so on. I’m just wondering how you take these things? If I were in your shoes I think it may get a little too much after a while and maybe bordering annoying. Does people viewing you as super parents and wonderful, god like people ever bother you? Just wondering because it struck me reading all these comments.

    Note from Michael: I don’t think anybody views us as “god like people.” Regardless, it doesn’t affect me because I am very aware of my own flaws.

  33. Well, god like people may have been a poor choice of words. Either way it was no way meant as a criticism. I was just curious about how people with a public persona handle all the admirers and I was just wondering if it gets to be a bit too much at times and since you get a lot of that I thought I’d ask. I in no way meant to say that you’re not wonderful or great parents or any of that. That wasn’t what I was getting at.

    Note from Michael: No, I didn’t take it as anything other than a legitimate question. Sure, it gets to be a bit much only because I know I am far, far, far from perfect. Everyday I screw up in some fashion. There are still moments when I lose my cool. But like I said I try my best to keep the focus on the issues at hand and not us. I try to celebrate other children and other families as much as I can. But in the end I know who I am, I know I’m not perfect, so honestly I don’t let it faze me. I acknowledge it but don’t really pay attention. I am looking for those who need help. The attention itself does nothing for me.

  34. Hope
    Michael, I haven’t congratulated you and though you feel like you do not deserve those words I believe you do. You may have done what you feel you had to do, that you had circumstances cross your path that allowed your family’s story to be shared with the world, but YOU ALL as a family fought hard to stay alive. The congratulations is not for the fame, it is for sticking it out, for not giving in, no matter how deep the despair seemed. I realize these sound like empty words, but trust me, I thank and congratulate my own parents from saving me from the abyss of permanent disabled institualization I was headed for just 10 years ago. It was their love, their persistence, their force against the insurance companies, getting someone to watch me 24/7 so they could work 4 jobs between the two of them to pay the bills of day treatment and not send me to residential. See your story is out there, I thank you for voicing what my family went through with me at an older age in different circumstances but surprisingly similar coincidences. The danger I was to myself was so high, yet their love for me despite being divorced already surpassed that and saved me. I still struggle, I’m not cured. There is no “cure” for mental illness, but I am much more balanced, less dependent and finally more safe with my own thoughts. When the thoughts get dark enough, I’ve learned to speak up and reach for help by external cues like the harm
    I start inflicting on myself or the self neglect – then I know I need more medicine and therapy because even if I’m believing all the delusions at that time, I’m not OK physically. Jani has come a long way because of you and Susan and Bodhi, but also because of herself. One day when she is older, I hope to speak to her or hear her story written by her. My memory of those years is foggy, but now at 25 I wish even before things got as bad as they did I would have had friends like Jani that understood. It was hard to speak up at 10 and say I wanted to die and not know why, I never spoke up. I just remember recording a suicide note into a microphone and tape and it must have disappeared, but the illness was there so soon memories of age 5/6 and no one noticing. Thank you for placing a spotlight on childhood mental illness. Everything is not ADHD (which I also have) – some kids have biological serious illnesses and parents should look for signs or at least health professionals and educators because kids don’t speak up until it’s in the form of self harm and suicide or violence – we don’t always have words or understand what’s wrong, we just know, something is different. Yet we don’t know why. So thank you for voicing the story of your family, your lack of understanding in the beginning, and the subsequent battle to save your children. May the entire medical community and educational community read it. May parents learn from it and those with mental illness find hope 🙂

    Note from Michael: Those are far from empty words, Lanie. Thank you. Are you on Facebook? We have a great private online Facebook group for young adults like yourself with MI. I think you would fit right in. If you are interested, you can message me at http://www.facebook.com/janifoundation.

  35. Hello,
    I bought your book after reading about it on the yahoo site. I read the book in 2 days! I couldn’t put it down. I give you and your wife all the credit in the world. I can not imagine what your family has gone through with this. I thought I had lots to deal with and stress in my life but after reading your book I realize what I think is stress is absolutely nothing compared to what your family is dealing with. You are an amazing person and I can only pray that it will get easier for you and your family as your daughter gets older. Thank you for sharing your story with us all.

    Note from Michael: And what we think is stress is nothing to someone with a child who faces a life-threatening illness everyday. It’s all relative.

  36. Thanks for sharing your story
    Hi Michael,

    I picked up your book after I read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. Thank you for sharing your family’s journey. A powerful story well written. Mental illness in general is a subject that we know very little about and society is largely unprepared (though not always unwilling) to cope with. This is largely due to our institutionalised way of thinking/ teaching and endless comparisons to norms and what is normal. I loved the way that you described the world to be unprepared for Jani so instead you must prepare her for the world. Almost every person I know has directly or indirectly been affected by menatal illness of some form and this is why i think your story is an important one. We can all learn much from Jani…what a brilliant girl.

  37. Michael, As soon a I saw you on Dr. Drew, I requested to reserve your book at my library, at least 2 weeks before it was published. Thank you for writing it and bringing awareness that this illness can also be diagnosed in the very young. I felt so much sympathy for the entire family, but especially for Jani. How difficult it must be for her. Thank God she has such loving parents to help her fight through this. Prayers for all of you from Iowa!

    Note from Michael: She is a fighter. Jani is the strongest person I know.

  38. Jani
    Michael,
    Thank You for your wonderful post. It has given me the strength to go on, even when my life is really hard. Let me tell you that I understand your case completely, why? Because your family reminds me so much of yours. I am the younger sister of an Asperger, Autistic, Agressive and Hiperactive 19-year-old brother, and I’ve been through a lot of things, my parents also had the idea of dividing the house, and many, many people don’t understand what we can go through. I am so glad about finding Jani’s journey online and I thank you for publishing it, it gives strength to many people, I congratulate Precious Jani for being so strong and go on and help so many people around the world. Jani deserves a lot and I’m sure God will give her many Blessings. I totally understand you guys are not celebrities, you are just helping your wonderful children and giving others strength and trying to change the American system so that mentally ill children will be treated just like you treat a fever. I am sure that will happen 🙂
    Please tell Jani how beautiful and amazing she is and how her story has helped me so much. I’m sure Jani will make it to adulthood, wanna know why? Because she is strong, she is happy, she has a loving family that is protecting her, she has media around that is protecting her, the UCLA, she has me…She has me, who will look after her in the media. My brother, when he was young, also had horrible attacks and would kick and scream at everyone, and sometimes, he does. He beats my father at times, he has kicked and beaten me at times, he screams and many times my father has said, in his anger, to take my brother to a Mental Hospital…But they never do it, because they want to keep him with us and will do anything for that, I will do anything for my brother to stay happy and fine with us.
    I will help in anything I can, sadly I can’t buy the book because I live in a horrible and poor country called Peru, you can imagine how much we have suffered with my brother and in America, Mental Health facilities are A LOT more than in Peru. Of course, they are not the best and we need to make them better! We need America to treat the children for long term, not just short term. We need the children to be saved!
    I am only fourteen years old, but I have lived a lot more than a fourteen year old girl does. I speak English because I used to live in America, Florida to be exact, but we came back due to…Well, you can message me, of course, mg10-2008@hotmail.com is my email, I can give you all details, and my story with my brother, who is amazing young man who keeps fighting against his disease. He is strong and a great fighter, because when the disease doesn’t attack him, he is the sweetest person, he is loving and extremely nice, and that is who my brother is, but the disease makes him get wild and agressive. So, I completely understand what is Jani going through, my brother used to be like that when he was young, he doesn’t have an exact diagnosis but the doctors say it is really close to Asperger, Austism, and Hiperactivity that comes with autism, as well as being agressive. He doesn’t have an exact diagnosis because he has gotten better in time, when he was five years old, he could barely speak, and now, you’ll be surprised, he speaks a lot! Of course, has some problems in his speech, but he speaks, and that is what matters.
    He gets better each day, a step forward, a step back, just like you describe it with Jani. Your family’s story reminds me of mine so much. I’d love to help, always! Helping this children is amazing, and by publishing Jani’s fight with Schizophrenia and her strength to go on in life and keep going on and trying always to be happy in life and smile and give strength to others, I have no words, I am speechless of the amazement she has done. I congratulate Jani with a million words! And I thank you for publishing her beautiful story.
    If you want to know about our story with Alvaro, my brother, and how he has developed and our story with Autism, even in a country where is totally helpless and going to America to find Mental Health services that have helped us a lot in America, because in Peru, there’s nothing for them. Maybe a personal psychiatrist for my brother so he could get some medicine.
    Jani is Blessed to live in America, trust me, you and all the family are! Of course, we need to change it and make it better, we need to treat the children because, like you say, there’s nearly no system, here is worst, but in America,we gotta change it! And I’m by your side, totally!
    And if those stupid people criticize you, don’t let them get you! You and your family are beyond words, amazing! Susan, Bodhi, Jani! And you! Thank you for publishing Jani’s story,
    Thank You so much, contact me, of course, I’d love to tell you my story with my brother and how we go on, and America and the country we live in now.

    Note from Michael: Thank you for sharing your story, Maria. I would love to invite you into a support group we have for siblings of mentally ill but since you are under 18 I can’t. Please keep sharing your story and the struggles of your brother to find care in Peru. I will see what I can do. Does your brother need a psychiatrist in Peru? I can see if I can find one. Where do you live? You email me at michaeljohnschofield@me.com.

  39. Beautiful Day
    I just finished reading ‘January First’ 5 minutes before sitting down to write this. I sat by myself and cried through the last chapter and after I was done reading. Then I had to come and visit your blog to tell you thank you…. thank you for opening yourself up to share your life with us. I first saw your story on Oprah while I was living back home in Australia and at the time I was working with kids with Autism as a behaviour therapist. To be honest as time went on and life went on I had forgotten that episode of Oprah until last week when I was at home in our apartment in Michigan in the U.S – yes on the other side of the world. I wanted something to read so I went on Amazon and there it was ‘January First’ I don’t even know how it came up…. I certainly didn’t do a search for it as I didn’t even know the book existed until then. I realised what the book was and remember the episode on Oprah so I immediately purchased it.

    The way you write and the things you write in your book reminds me that there is still good in the world. I really don’t know how to say it exactly but reading the book told me that if anyone in the world was able to take care of Jani it’s your wife and yourself, even little Bodhi. I don’t usually say this as I’m not a very religious person and don’t often believe in fate but I think the 4 of you belonged together…. even before any of you knew it I believe you were all meant to be.

    I won’t pretend to say that I know what it must be like to live with someone with a mental or even physical illness. I have not had anyone in my family or life afflicted with any of these conditions, and while I did work with kids who had Autism and saw the struggles their families went through I got to go home and the end of the day and leave that all behind.

    I don’t have kids so I can’t say thank you from a parent’s perspective. But I can say thank you for believing in yourself, in your family and most importantly in Jani.

    I can say with certainty I am confident that with parents like you Jani will have the best chance at life that she deserves.

    All the best to you all.

    Note from Michael: Thank you.

  40. I won’t say congratulations because I realise that this is a book that wouldn’t exist without the pain you and your family have experienced, but I will say thank you for having the courage and skill to share your family’s story with such unflinching honesty with so many people. I hope the book sales alleviate your family’s financial concerns and you will be able to focus more on Jani’s and Bodhi’s (and dare I say your and Susan’s)health and less on juggling the bills.

    Note from Michael: Thank you. I don’t know about alleviating financial concerns. Even though the book has done very well there just isn’t a lot of money in publishing unless you are lucky enough to write a “Harry Potter” type book that sells millions of copies. But that’s not why I wrote it.

  41. I watched the Oprah story about Jani several years ago and I was intrigued by her story, as I have struggled with mental illness myself. Today I randomly googled your name, curious to find out how Jani was doing. I was surprised and glad to see that you’re blogging and just released a book! I immediately wanted to read it. Then I did a little more digging on Google and found out, by your own admission, you are abusive to Jani and to your wife…you have admitted to physically abusing them both, starving Jani, there are even rumous of sexual abuse. Of course you deleted all evidence from your blog. I am apalled that you continue to exploit your daughter online when it is clear YOU are the one who needs help. How do you sleep at night? How do you live with yourself? Only a very sick person could hurt a child.

  42. You inspire me
    Hello, took your book on holiday with me to Vegas and San Fran and have really enjkoued it. I have a massive passion for children and a massive passion for mental health so January is a remarkable little girl. You are a remarkable family. Thanks for writing the book and confiming to me that it is familys such as yours that I want to work with. x

  43. JANUARY FIRST
    Michael,
    I finished in one day my LIBRARYTHING copy of JANUARY FIRST! Wow, you have chronicled your family’s story so well that I felt I was going through it with you. God bless you! You stuck by Jani and it seems to have paid off.
    My only other thought/request is that you write a sequel in some future time. There may also be a place here for “marriage and the strains of special needs children.” (Actually, “marriage and the strains of ANY children,” is a category alone:).
    Again, bless you and Susan and Bodhi.
    Karen Bernier
    Wellington, FL

  44. January First
    I’m a psych nurse and your honest and compelling account of your lives has given me invaluable insight. Thank you.

  45. Thank you
    Thank you for sharing this heartfelt story. I just purchased January First, and read it in its entirety within three days. I look forward to following your blog.

  46. Hi Michael: I just finished your book which my daughter recommended to me. It was an amazing experience, one unlike anything I’ve felt reading hundreds or thousands of books since I was a young child. I could feel your frustration, despair, and anger through the pages. I was surprised, in this age of (I thought)enlightenment regarding mental illness, that it was such an outrageous ordeal for you to get the appropriate help for Jani. I wish you and your family the best and I’m so happy that things have improved.

  47. Hey,
    I bought your book “January First” 2days ago. I couldnt put it down…. I remember the first time I heard about your family’s struggles, it was a documentary of sorts. I’m not sure if you ever had an appearance on “the Supernanny” but it was a girl who looked and acted very similar to that of Jani.
    Anyway, Congrats!! You have made the world a wiser place via your book. I admire you, Jani, Bodhi, & Susan. I wish you all the very best. Yo are so strong, all of you, especially January.
    Please keep posting, you give me hope!!
    Sincerely, Erin

    Note from Michael: Thank you. No, we’ve never been on “Supernanny” or any show like that. We try to stick to news shows, talk shows, and documentaries.

  48. Read your book over the weekend. Hard to read. I feel your pain. I pray for your family and I pray that you will be touched by faith and hope again and again…I wish you many moments of joy and happiness with Jani.

  49. Your book
    Michael,
    I have just been following the story of your family for quite sometme, been reading your blog and now have bought your book.
    Your story, the story of Jani, has truly touched me, brought me to tears and made me wish there was more support for all families.

    Thank you Michael for sharing your life, your struggle and triumphs.
    Your Facebook page for the Jani Foundation is such a rich resource and way of educating all of us on the concerns and needs of families of MI/EI children.

    Thank you

  50. I add my congratulations
    I read the book through in a day and have come here to read more. For me your book validated being in a loving relationship with someone, an adult for me, who had no control over his illness but knew he was doing damage. At some point I’ll stop asking why me, as it seems so selfish knowing what people with diseases are going through daily to get through their lives. But thank you. You are brave and courageous people.

  51. January First
    I just finished the book, I couldn’t put it down. I have 4 adopted children all with special needs, 1 being autistic, and I thought I had been to Hell and back! I want you to know how much you, your wife, your daughter, your family inspired me. I saw you on the Dr. Phil Show the other day and immediately had to read your book and I’m so glad I did because it gave me the strength and courage I have been lacking as a parent. You and your wife are amazing people and your children are so blessed to have 2 parents that love them so dearly. Thank you for sharing your journey. I can’t wait to start reading your blog and keeping up with how the family is doing.

    Note from Michael: Brandy, we have two private online support groups for parents of special needs children. One is on Facebook and one is on Yahoo. If you are interested, you can email me at michaeljohnschofield@me.com.

  52. I saw you and Jani and the rest of your family on Dr. Phil. Your families story has truely touched my heart where I never thought possible. Your family is truely an inspiration! I bought ‘January First’ it took me 2 days to read, I couldn’t put it down. I really hope you can write another in a few years to update us on Jani’s journey. Praying for nothing but the best for your family and your special little girl. You’re the voice for parents everywhere dealing with childhood mental illness. May God Bless you, Susan, Jani and Bodhi.

  53. Thank you
    I want to take a moment to tell you how inspired I feel reading “January First”. I have spent most of my life dealing with depression and severe anxiety disorders. I can’t say I know how you feel since I have a healthy 7 year old son. But people look down upon others that have mental illnesses. I know how scary it was for me and how my friends and family told me to snap out of it, don’t worry so much and how I was doing it to myself. Unless someone is dealing with MI they don’t and can’t understand the difficulties of our lives! I spent 4 years working at a group home that housed 10 mentally ill, (8 schizophrenic,1 OCD and 1 bipolar/developmentally disabled) women. That really taught me alot because I walked and spent most of my days walking through this aweful disease with them. May God bless your family. I pray Jani’s story inspires others to understand that mental illness is real and as a society we all need to understand everyone is unique and special in their own ways. You, Susan, and Brodhi and Jani were put together as a family for a reason. Life will never be’normal or easy’ but as a family you can all pull together and stay stong. Just remember this is not just your ‘burden’, Jani is an unique gift. She is with you to teach you and challenge you, but there is strength in numbers, as a family you all can pull together. It is so exciting to hear Jani is doing better and is now able to attend school regularily. Baby steps, five hours now, but hopefully soon more! You and Susan are doing a wonderful parents raising and loving 2 very special kids. Thank you for writing this book. Hopefully it opens peoples minds, hearts and inspires others to be more like you. May God bless your beautiful family! 🙂

    Note from Michael: No, never a “burden.” Exhausting, yes, but never a burden. But I am thrilled and amazed with how far she has come.

  54. I just wanted to say that when I think about how I appreciate your honesty, it isn’t so much your honesty about Jani’s schizophrenia that I’m referring to. It’s your honesty about your reactions, even your thoughts, that blows me away. Your willingness to admit the negative side just makes it possible to believe every single word of what you write, no matter how unbelievable it may sound. And man, you have had some pretty unbelievable experiences.

  55. I just finished reading the book. Thank you for opening up and letting the world in to understand what it was like going through that extremely difficult period of your life. I pray that Jani continues to do well and that you receive the help you need when you need it. I know that the system can be extremely unreliable and unhelpful and it was horrible reading about how you had no hope at such a dark time in your life. I’m majoring in social work and I only hope I can help bring some light into families like yours and help those when they need it.

  56. I just finished reading the book. Thank you for opening up and letting the world in to understand what it was like going through that extremely difficult period of your life. I pray that Jani continues to do well and that you receive the help you need when you need it. I know that the system can be extremely unreliable and unhelpful and it was horrible reading about how you had no hope at such a dark time in your life. I’m majoring in social work and I only hope I can help bring some light into families like yours and help those when they need it.

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