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The Cycle Repeated (Burn It Down)

One thing about mental illness… it always pulls you back in.

 

You know what I am going to talk about, don’t you?

 

Oh, sure, I am seeing the Facebook posts that we shouldn’t talk about the reasons for the Connecticut Shooting (how interesting. Now it is capitalized. A proper noun), that now isn’t the time to make to make a political point, that now is not the time to talk about gun control or mental illness.

 

As far as I am concerned, that only applies to the families of the victims. The rest of us have no right to sit around crying “Why?” and throwing around words like “evil.”

 

We just did that a earlier in the week with Clackamas, Oregon. We did it six months ago with Aurora, Colorado.  We did almost two years ago with Tucson, Arizona. We did it four and half years ago with Virginia Tech. We did it nearly thirteen years ago with Columbine.

 

I mean, seriously, how many more times are you going to act shocked? I would think by now you should be getting used to it.

 

What is it, exactly, that shocks you? Is the events themselves or the number of the dead? It’s a legitimate question. What is it that makes this harder every time, instead of easier?

 

Is it because it is getting harder to answer that “Why?” question?

 

“I just can’t make sense out of this,” you say.

 

I am afraid CNN is not going to make sense of it for you. And it is rather inconvenient to our need to understand when these killers keep killing themselves afterward.

 

You are right, though. It doesn’t make sense. Which should tell you something right there.

 

The average number of homicides in the United States is approximately 20,000 per year, of which best estimates suggest those under 18 make up approximately 2000.

 

20,000 homicides per year. Not bad when you consider there are over 300 million of us living in this country.

 

You see them every night on your local news. A gang shooting that left six people dead, including one baby. A hit-and-run that killed a six year old girl. A man arrested for murdering his wife because he believed she was cheating on him.

 

You don’t ask “why?” with those. Why?

 

Because, in a twisted way, those murders make sense to you. You can understand why six people were killed in a gang shootout. It was probably a drug deal gone bad or two gangs fighting over drug dealing turf. The driver who hit the six year old and drove off? Probably a guy who was drunk and already has several DUIs. He runs because in most states, like California, killing someone under the influence is automatically a murder charge. The guy who murdered his wife? She was cheating on him and he shot her and her lover. Okay, so it’s probably not what you or I would do in that situation but you get it. You understand it. It makes “sense” to you.

 

You even understand serial killers, even if you claim not to. They killed because of some sick pathological desire, rooted either in deviant sexuality or “rush” from killing.

 

But those killers all have one thing in common: they try to conceal their crimes and they try to run. They kill and hope to resume living their lives as if nothing happened.

 

It gets a little bit harder to fathom when a guy walks into a movie theater and opens fire at random people and then calmly walks out to wait by his car for the police. It doesn’t make sense when another guy walks into an elementary school classroom and kills 20 kids he doesn’t know and then blows his own head off.

 

Mass killings, where there is no relationship between the killer and the victims, make no sense to you because you can’t find a motive. But you still try, don’t you?

 

Half the country is screaming for gun control. That’s fine, but it would be helpful if you articulated what kind of gun control you are looking for.

 

Ban on assault weapons?

 

None were used. Yes, a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle was found. In the car in the parking lot. All the victims were shot with two semi-automatic handguns. UPDATE: This was later determined to be incorrect. The Bushmaster was the weapon used. It was a shotgun found in the car.

 

Ban high capacity magazines?

 

Sure. I mean, after all, do you really need 30 rounds to kill a deer?

 

But that only reduces the death toll to between 8 and 15, depending on the capacity of the standard magazine. And they can always reload.

 

Ban semi-automatic weapons in general?

 

Okay. That reduces the death toll to six, or the number of rounds in a standard revolver. Unless the shooter brings more than one gun.

 

Ban all guns?

 

Fine with me. But then these killers can do as the Chinese do…. A machete to the neck.

 

A friend of ours was just attacked by a schizophrenic man with a knife (after he was done stabbing himself repeatedly). Should we ban knives?

 

However will we cut our prime rib then?

 

Canada has more guns, including assault rifles, per capita than we do but they have far fewer mass shootings.

 

No, I am not a member of the NRA and I don’t own a gun. I have two mentally ill kids. Why on God’s now bloodied earth would I own a gun? Frankly, people I know who own guns scare the shit out of me, even if they aren’t mentally ill.

 

Unfortunately, the NRA is right on their famous line: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

 

Okay, so “evil” then?  What, exactly, is “evil?”

 

“Ah…. It’s doing bad things.” Oh, you mean like eating a grape in the produce section and not paying for it? “No, you idiot! Really bad things. Ten Commandments stuff!”

 

Is “Thou Shall Not Kill” the First Commandment?

 

  1. “I am the Lord thy God. Thou shall have no other gods.”

 

 

Huh. I guess not. God is apparently more concerned that we get who He is than whether we take another life. Well, it’s gotta be number two, right?

 

 

  1. “Thou shall make no graven images or likenesses.”

 

Okay, okay, God, we get it. You da man. Number 3?

 

  1. “Thou shall not take the Lord’s Name in vain.”

 

Jesus Christ! Ooh! Sorry. But when are going to get to the good stuff?

 

  1. “Remember the Sabbath and keep in Holy.”

 

Oh, come on! Really? The Almighty is more concerned that we don’t work on Sundays?

 

  1. “Honor thy Father and thy Mother.”

 

 

So taking the trash out when your parents tell you is more important than not killing?

 

“Thou shall not kill” is number six on the Ten Commandments countdown. Number six! Or slightly more important than not committing adultery but less important than listening to dad and mom. I guess these killers’ parents never sat their kids down and said, “Son, it’s important not to kill people.”

 

I don’t remember the episode of “The Brady Bunch” where Mike Brady sits Greg down to have a serious talk about not killing. Apparently, I missed that one.

 

If fear of damnation is the only thing that keeps us from killing, I guess I better watch my back around my atheist friends, those Godless heathens.

 

Let’s be honest here, okay? If “evil” makes people kill then why aren’t you in church right now, praying for God’s deliverance from your desires to murder? Because obviously you have then, right? The Devil is lurking around, waiting to tempt you into murder, and it is only the Grace of God that saves your immortal soul from pulling the trigger on a Glock 9mm into a classroom of kindergartners.

 

“I respect the law,” you say. Good for you (but make sure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign). But I guarantee that if there were no legal consequences for killing most of you would not be rushing out to do so. Why? BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT TO!!!!!!!! Not because you are protected by God’s Grace, not because of the law, but because your brain is not telling you to do so!!!!!

 

And that scares you, doesn’t it? The idea that the only thing between you and twenty dead kids lying at your feet is a couple of functioning neural pathways. That all it takes is one break somewhere inside your brain and suddenly you are hearing voices and think everybody is out to get you. That in six months you can go from being a well-liked and reasonably happy individual to planning a mass murder.

 

No other human affliction can make you do that. Not asthma, not diabetes, not leukemia. There is nothing else that can destroy everything you were and remake you into Jared Loughner or James Holmes or Adam Lanza. All of them were once nice boys. But now their names will forever be linked to monstrosity. To senseless violence.

 

“You’re being too negative,” critics say to us.

 

I’m sorry. Is there anything positive about ebola? Anybody? No?

 

“That’s different,” you say. Really? Ebola can turn you into a killer as well. So can HIV. You could give it to someone else before you ever know you have it.

 

Do you know the history of the Black Death? Do you know about the rumors that swirled around Europe after it arrived in Italy in 1347? Some believed it was God’s vengeance. Many more believed the Jews had poisoned the wells and set about killing them on a scale to rival the Nazis nearly 600 years later.

 

Except it was caused by a bacteria carried in the fleas who lived on the rats who lived with the humans at the hole at the bottom of the sea. But nobody knew that until the 19th Century.

 

Today, we call it bubonic plague and it still exists. Every few years, there is an outbreak of it in the American Southwest, usually on Native American reservations.

 

Quick! Kill all the Indians! Actually, we better quarantine the states of Arizona and New Mexico, just to be safe.

 

Ah, but now we have penicillin. We can treat bubonic plague without issue.

 

We can treat mental illness as well.

 

So let’s stop crying “Why?” shall we? You know “why.” Are you aware that all these mass shooters were in their late teens or early twenties, which is the typical age of onset of schizophrenia in males?

 

You want to know how to stop the violence? I’ll tell you.

 

First, you must understand the nature of mental illness. It is a disease and like any other disease it cannot be stopped without treatment. You can’t beat it on your own, at least in its most severe forms (schizophrenia).

 

Second, it can strike anyone. And I don’t mean getting killed by someone with a severe mental illness. Honestly, that isn’t too likely to happen. No, I am talking about YOU. ME. US. Any of us can have our brain turn against us and the rest of the world. If it is going to happen, there isn’t a damn thing you can do to stop it.  And the worst thing is you wont even know it’s happened to you. In the beginning, you will feel yourself starting to change but you won’t know why. You will seek help. And you won’t find it. And that will feed into your paranoia. Soon, who you were wouldn’t even recognize what you’ve become.  The most insidious thing about psychosis is it becomes normal to you because it alters how you see the world and yourself. The voices or the hallucinations, the “bad” thoughts,” it all becomes as much a part of your life as breathing. Most do (we think) fight back. But eventually, without treatment, they lose the fight. The world of psychosis overwhelms the outside world and nothing matters anymore but the thoughts in your head.

 

Third, you have to see past the rhetoric, both the external that will strive to provide another explanation (more gun control, despite the fact that Connecticut already has some the strongest gun control laws in the country), and internal to the mainstream mental health advocacy, are probably screaming at their computer screens right now, “Most mentally ill people are not violent! Michael, you are contributing to the stigma!” That’s our big catchphrase in mental health advocacy… “stigma.” We fight the “stigma.” I suppose because it’s more polite than the truth: MOST PEOPLE DON’T GIVE A SH*T. That probably doesn’t help with the donations, especially corporate sponsors, who want to sponsor “positive” things, “empowering” things. They want the big money donors to feel good about themselves while they toss back their champagne and slap each other on the back for the job they are doing to fight “stigma.”

 

They are right, however, about most mentally ill not being violent. That is true. But it is interesting that I only ever hear that from women, either women with mental illness who are on medication and are functional and fear being ostracized by the judgmental society they are trying to fit into (which is why they play “nice”) or mothers of mentally ill children who don’t want people looking at their son  and seeing a future killer.

 

I understand both of these things.

 

But notice I said “sons.” And notice I made no mention of ever hearing complaints about my contributing to THE STIGMA from men with mental illness.

 

Most mentally ill are not violent. Most are likely to wind of dead simply because, like I said, society doesn’t give a damn. Those women can bristle at what I say because they themselves are not going to be mass shooters. Mass shooters tend to be male and young. So young mentally ill woman worry about the stigma because they have that luxury. But the mothers of mentally ill sons worry about it because they are terrified that, no matter how much of a longshot, it might actually come to pass.

 

Which brings me to my fourth point and the answer to your question of how to stop this violence.

 

Laura’s story and the law in California named after her.  Laura Wilcox was a 19 year old college sophomore volunteering at the Nevada County (California) public mental health clinic when she and two others were shot to death by then 41 year old Scott Harlan Thorpe, who suffered from schizophrenia and was resisting his family’s attempts to get him treatment.

 

Laura’s Law, passed into law and signed by Gray Davis shortly before the citizens of California recalled him for the Terminator, created what is called “assisted outpatient treatment,” or, more bluntly, forced medication. If you are lucky enough to get into an inpatient psychiatric hospital, you will get meds but there is no system to forcing compliance out in the world (other than prison, and currently the California Department of Corrections is the largest provider of mental health care services in the world). Laura’s Law would change that.

 

Unfortunately, it was left up to each California county to decide whether to implement it (the Citizens Committee on Human Rights, which is a Scientology front group, has sued counties that have tried). So far it is only fully implemented in Nevada County, with a pilot program in Los Angeles County.

 

By the way, Mr. Thorpe had sought psychiatric help from the Nevada County Clinic in person several times before and been turned away every time, being told that there was “nothing we can do to help you.” By which I assume they meant they couldn’t get him inpatient.

 

So here is what we need to do if we want to stop the violence. Not everybody is going to like it. Tough.

 

  1. Part of the reason Laura Wilcox is dead is because there are not enough psychiatric hospitals, or “beds” as they are called. This is because building psychiatric hospitals is neither a political priority for funding, for donations, and because nobody wants one in their back yard. You see, even if you present to the ER with psychosis, if there are no beds available, you will be released. Attempts to build more are often blocked by local governments and community groups, who view patients as “inmates” (now there is a stigma we can fight). Nobody objects to the local hospital adding on a neo-natal unit or a stroke unit but they don’t want psych wards. The irony in this is that the mentally ill are already all around them. Do you want the bubonic plague spreading or do you want to treat it? Your choice.
  2. Even if you can find a bed, you won’t be there very long because there is no real parity between physical illness and mental illness. Insurance companies will pay for chemo as long as you need it (or until you die) but they still view mental illness as “behavioral,” which is a code word for “something you could really control if you just wanted it bad enough.” In 1980, the average stay at UCLA’s psychiatric unit was six months. Today, it is four days. You can’t treat cancer in four days. Why in the hell would they think you can treat severe mental illness in four days? Right now, doctors have to balance the need for treatment with how likely they are to get paid by the insurance company or Medicaid. Laws must be passed which force insurance companies and Medicaid to pay for inpatient care as long as doctors feel necessary to stabilize the patient (while at the same time forcing them to offer inpatient and outpatient mental health care, which most individual plans don’t). This is because mental illness is forever. With cancer, the insurance companies know you are either going to get better or die. Either way, they won’t be paying forever. With mental illness, they will. If we treat mental illness like we treat cancer, the number of these killings will drop dramatically.
  3. Make Laura’s Law mandatory across the United States. This is where our advocacy gets controversial. If you won’t take your medications, we must force it. It sounds ugly but if you had bubonic plague, we wouldn’t allow you to refuse treatment. Let me put it in everyday terms. Have you ever been flagged as possibly having tuberculosis?  It’s pretty common if you develop pneumonia. What happens? They quarantine you until they are certain you don’t have tuberculosis. We do not allow the option to refuse treatment for tuberculosis because you are a risk to public health. It’s the same if you are severely mentally ill. You are risk to yourself and to public health. We have to treat you, whether you want us to or not. Human rights violation? Not if you have TB. Don’t like the way your meds make you feel? Talk to your doctor. But you are gonna take something.

 

Laura’s Law is based on New York ‘s “Kendra’s Law,” which has been around long enough that New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University were able to conduct studies of efficacy (how well it works). This is what they found:

 

  • 74 percent fewer experienced homelessness;
  • 77 percent fewer experienced psychiatric hospitalization;
  • 83 percent fewer experienced arrest; and
  • 87 percent fewer experienced incarceration.

Comparing the experience of AOT (assisted outpatient therapy) recipients over the first six months of AOT to the same period immediately prior to AOT, the OMH study found:

  • 55 percent fewer recipients engaged in suicide attempts or physical harm to self;
  • 49 percent fewer abused alcohol;
  • 48 percent fewer abused drugs;
  • 47 percent fewer physically harmed others;
  • 46 percent fewer damaged or destroyed property; and
  • 43 percent fewer threatened physical harm to others.

As a component of the OMH study, researchers with the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University conducted face-to-face interviews with 76 AOT recipients to assess their opinions about the program and its impact on their quality of life. The interviews showed that after receiving treatment, AOT recipients generally endorsed the program, with 62% reporting that being court-ordered into treatment had been overall a good thing:

  • 38 percent of them reported that AOT helped them gain control over their lives;
  • 81 percent of them said that AOT helped them to get and stay well; and
  • 90 percent of them consider themselves more probable to keep appointments and take medications because of AOT.

 

 

Pretty good numbers. All the major risks to severely mentally ill individuals dropped. And for your benefit, notice the 47% fewer physically harmed others.

 

That’s it. We make those three things happen and we significantly reduce not only the risk of violence but reduce the far more likely causes of death for patients with severe mental illness. It’s a win-win for our society.

 

But why do we (meaning me and Susan) do this? Why do we care when Jani is extremely unlikely to ever be the perpetrator of a mass killing? Why, on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/janifoundation, keep bringing up all this “negative” stuff instead of focusing on the “positives?”

 

I’ll tell you.

 

When you have a Facebook “page” that people can “like,” it allows you to see how many people have “seen” each status or post. The other day I posted two photos of Jani at school with her hair done in braids by her therapist there, smiling into the camera.

 

Within a few hours, both pictures had been seen by more than 5,000 people. It had hundreds of “likes” and hundreds of positive comments on how well she looks.

 

I hate that.

 

You know why?

 

Because in another thirty years, I will, in all likelihood, be dead. Maybe forty years. And what will happen to Jani when Susan and I are gone? What will happen to her at 18 when we have no legal control over her anymore?

 

I hate the people who want to focus only on the positive because they will be the same ones who will walk past a disheveled dirty blonde bag lady in the street in forty years and not even recognize her as Jani, that cute girl from Facebook and the TV specials all those years ago. You like her now and you want to help now but if you don’t help me to change the mental health care in America before I die, you won’t remember her when she is on the street and dirty and disgusting. None of those five thousand people who “liked” those pictures will be there. I know you too well. You are not bad people. You are human, just like me. And you will forget. Because everyone eventually does. Right now Jani is a subject of fascination but eventually that will fade. But she will still have schizophrenia.

 

NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) has been around since 1979. That’s 33 years. In that time, they have helped push the biological model of mental illness and I am grateful for that. But I don’t have another 33 years to wait for mental health care in America to move at the glacial pace it has been moving. That is why I am not “positive.” I have to move you any way I can, even if that means screaming what you don’t want to hear.

 

Jani and thousands of kids like her don’t have the time left.

 

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54 comments on “The Cycle Repeated (Burn It Down)

  1. Michael, I agree with you. Nobody, wants to deal with the negative effects of mental illness. I still shudder at the stigma, however, we do not treat it seriously. Parity is number one, then the rest falls into play. I used to be antipsychiatry, however, that changed when I got better on my medications and realized that these are illnesses, not socially-imposed ones, but actual biological manifestations. It is still tough taking medications and remembering my time in the hospital; however, it has helped me and I am proud of that. If we treat mental illness like we did with cancer, then things would be different. And, yes, what will become of me when I have no support, when my parents pass away, I do not know, that is why we need more support services, only through support have I made it this far and am able to go to college. Please, don’t give up, things will change, hopefully. I am glad that I met strong-willed people like you, who are not afraid of speaking out, even if it means getting criticism, this is what NAMI is afraid of. Please, keep on fighting for Jani, Bodhi, and the rest of us. Good luck.

  2. okay
    So today I was on facebook and I saw susan was posting all this stuff about the mental health care system etc and I just asked what she was gonna do about it
    Cuz u noe… just bitching about the same thing everyday doesn’t fix it. And all she could do was get mad at me. I seriously was asking. She just spouts off info. And the way she twists your words around to make you seem like your supporting abuse is kinda mean too. I mean, i am a supporter of the Jani Foundation. Why is she being mean to her supporters? And then you write one blog. And now I know that there is Laura’s Law and that’s what we should do about it. thanks for clearing that up. And trust me. I will NEVER forget Jani. I promise.

    Note from Michael: What was your question?

  3. Canada…
    What does Canada do to have such lower rates?

    Note from Michael: That is a great question, Kate, and one I don’t have an answer for. We need to commit research funds to this and see if we can figure out why. Is it because of better access to mental health care for adults in Canada? I don’t know.

  4. Very good …i know its tiresome, but keep it up. –i hear more and more people talking about the need to have mental health assistance and care available.

  5. Hi Michael,
    I just discovered Jani’s story and your blog. I was reading stuff from before your family reunited into one apartment again. I was wondering if you still needed financial help? Also-fuck Warrior Mom.

  6. Our society’s health care system
    Yes we need an intelligent conversation regarding gun control.
    We also desperately need a conversation regarding mental health issues in this society.
    They are not mutually exclusive conversations.
    If you want to make an informed decision about our health care system, read January First: A Child’s Descent into Madness and Her Father’s Struggle to Save Her, by Michael Schofield.
    If you don’t want to buy the book, check out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-schofield/january-first-child-with-schizophrenia_b_1753687.html
    And pray for peace and bringing our 60,000 soldiers home from Afghanistan.

  7. Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. Thank you for your blogs and especially the incecent facebook posts about the status of our mental health care system in this country. I’ve always agreed that the system isn’t working, but I’ll admit; I found the relentless questions and criticism of news articles rather annoying. Here is where you have helped me: My first thought when I heard about the shooting was β€œI hope that son of a bitch is burning in hell right now.” (I don’t even believe in hell.)But, almost immediately, my perspective shifted, and instead of hate for that murderer, it dissolved into despair. That the mental health care system failed him and failed those 28 victims so terribly. Mental illness is our enemy, not the “evil” people who are not fortunate enough to have brains that work properly. I’ve shared this post on facebook, and hopefully more people have a clearer perspective on the REAL problem in this country.

    Also, I just want to say that I, too, suffer from mental illness. I guess I’m “lucky” that mine is directed inward. Because it could just as easily have been directed outward. A couple more crossed wires, and I could be the one either vilanized for a mass-shooting or forgotten on a street corner somewhere.

  8. Thank you.
    Thank you a thousand times, thank you, for being a voice. For standing up exactly where you are in your life and calling peoples’ attention to the real issues, for challenging them to action, to make a true difference. So many just sit on their hands and moan after such events, crying and saying, “Some one needs to do something!” But they do nothing. They sit and cry over the tragedy. I cannot seem to shake them hard enough and yell loud enough, ‘WHY ISN’T THAT SOMEBODY YOU?! DO SOMETHING!’

    Note from Michael: Thank you.

  9. Well, now we know everyone was killed with the Buckmaster rifle, so…

    Note from Michael: Yes, we do. One mistake does not invalidate the rest of my argument.

  10. HI,
    I’m working with some gluten specialists in norcal and they firmly believe that glutenous foods can be a cause of schizophrenia. It is not widely known but I am now 100% gluten free after having gut issues and I won’t ever go back! Quinoa pasta is really good. Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season.
    Alyssa
    Special Educator
    SF Bay area

    Note from Michael: Again, did you even read this blog entry before you posted this comment? You realize this post is about death and you want to talk about pasta?

  11. Some reflection…
    I lost my teens to SZ (I’m in my mid-twenties now) and am living with my parents. I honestly don’t know what will happen when they die. At least there used to be a safe place for the mentally ill, even if it was less than the ‘independent’ life, but now the system is just confusing and there’s no safety net for the severely, chronically mentally ill. It’s the cognitive problems which get me worst (attention/memory). My ‘positive’ symptoms are no longer frightening (and have actually led to very important events I don’t consider symptomatic). I’ve learned some basic life-skills and surely Jani can, too, but I understand the fear of it — and I would hope your daughter will recognize all you’ve done for her and not abandon you when she’s a legal adult. There’s still some maturation to go and maybe that’ll help. Deinstitutionalization didn’t exactly achieve what it set out to do, did it? I agree about firm action. I’m a decent, caring person and it’s a shame the sensationalism of violence is the tipping point to get the system reformed. Let your love guide you whenever you can.

    Note from Michael: The mental health movement needs people like you to share their stories because right now I am not sure the mainstream movement speaks for you.

  12. Is Jani still vegetarian?
    Hi Michael. I just read your story, Jani’s story, for the first time. I’m curious to if you have ever ventured the diet road. If you have what have you tried? I know you said your daughter was vegetarian at a young age. Is she still? For the past 3 years I’ve read and researched everything I could get my hands on regarding children’s health. I don’t pretend to understand your daughter’s condition, but there is a guy by the name of Aajonus Vonderplanitz who has had success treating schizophrenia through diet. Some of his diet remedies and suggestions will sound completely bizarre, but his success rates are remarkable. I’m sure you have had so many people write you trying to convince you to do this diet or have Jani take this med that you’re sick and tired. I’m not selling anything. I’m not affiliated with this person in any way. I’m just a father who has scoured tons of research and has helped many parents who were willing to listen. Check his website out, wewant2live.com, and contact him. You might not be ready for his advice, but when you are, I’m almost certain, it will help your daughter.

    Note from Michael: Did read this blog before you made your asinine statements on diet? Just wondering?

  13. Canada
    Canada provides free medical care for all of its citizens, including those who are mentally ill. They have adult residential fascilities, and ones for children too. The stigma is not as great for mental illness and addiction. Those who are afflicted are seen as victims of disease. They are treated compassionately. They are given the resources they need. Its not perfect, but its so much better. I am so sorry for your struggle, Michael. America desperately needs to address its funding of mental illness and addictions programs. Social welfare is not a luxury, it is a neccessity.

  14. Mother of a mentally ill 21 yo son
    I couldnt have written this better myself! As both a teacher of at-risk youth and the mother of a 21 yo who has a mental illness (and who, ironically, came to my school and threatened my life on Dec 14, 2012), i chose to take action to prevent future tragedies. Here’s the link: I just started a petition on the White House petitions site, We the People. Will you sign it? http://wh.gov/RU9u
    Please help me spread the word! I need 25,000 signatures in order to get a response from the Whote House. I did not previously know about Laura’s Law, but after reading your article, I’m screaming inside, “Yes! that’s it! That’s what we need! That would help my son and so many others!!!”

  15. mother of a 21 yo bipolar son
    Before reading this article, I had no idea there was such a thing as Laura’s Law. Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information. Now I know what the national conversation on mental health needs to address.

    I am a teacher of at-risk teens and the mother of an emotionally disturbed young adult son who (ironically), in a psychotic state, came to my school and threatened my life on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.

    Before even being aware of your article, yesterday I started a petition on the White House petitions site, We the People, because I want true help for my son before he, or any other persons with a mental illness they can’t get treatment for, becomes the next shooter.

    Will you please share the link and sign the petition? I need 25,000 signatures by January 13, 2013 to get an official response from the White House. We can include Laura’s Law in the national conversation about mental healthcare reform. Here’s the link: http://wh.gov/RU9u

    Thanks, and God bless all victims and families!

  16. Father of 25 yr old son with Scizzo.
    GREAT ARTICLE! If You lived this life trying to care and get help for a child with mental illness, you would understand this all! We can no longer look the other way! I was like most people, until it actually affected my life I never understood it! Mike and Susan are trying to make much necessary changes to our system and WE ALL NEED TO HELP THEM! This needs to HAPPEN NOW! Many of these kids without proper Meds and Stabilization do not rationalize like a Normal Brain. We have to give them a place for treatment! Prison is too Late or more Violence!

  17. Since neither autism spectrum disorder nor OCD is generally categorized as a mental illness, it appears that you actually don’t have two mentally ill children. Only one.

    I just learned about Jani today and spent a while watching videos before reading this entry and your previous blog entry. While watching the videos, I was absolutely amazed at how you and Susan managed it all. When I read your previous blog entry, in which you acknowledged some mistakes you made at various points, it made more sense, because I don’t know how anyone could possibly go through all that without making some pretty serious mistakes along the way – that’s just the nature of how human beings learn to adapt to incredibly difficult situations. I feel for the people you may have hurt along the way, but I’m also impressed that you’re able to look back and acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. I still think that you and Susan are doing an amazing job of raising your children.

    Note from Michael: OCD is characterized as a mental illness in the DSM-IV. Autism is a “spectrum disorder” but still brain based.

  18. can i please share your post at my facebook page?
    can i please share your post at my facebook page? (i mean copy & paste it at my notes and state that it is taken from your blog) beacause i agree 100% and i feel the need to share it as it is
    Thalia from Greece

    Note from Michael: Of course.

  19. An international perspective
    I live in Australia, where we haven’t had a mass shooting since 1996, when the government responded to the tragedy in Port Arthur by making it extremely difficult to own a gun (pretty much the only people who do are farmers, police officers and the military). We also have free healthcare, including mental health, for everybody. We have subsidised prescription medication, free counsellors and psychologists, involuntary and voluntary inpatient programs. There is funding for school students with physical OR mental disabilites to help them access appropriate supports It’s not enough, by any means, but I do believe it’s a factor that has helped us to avoid the kind of tragedy that the USA has seen multiple times in just the last 6 months.
    But guns. You pointed out that if they banned all guns, people would use a machete like in China. I’m assuming you’re aware that on the same day as the shooting in Connecticut, there was a similar incident in China? A man entered a primary school and stabbed 22 children. Which means he needed more time and had to get much closer and potentially deal with the victims fighting him off. Still, he managed to stab 22 little kids. And none of them died.
    I do think this shouldn’t be seen as “the” solution so they can conveniently side-step the gun issue, but I also don’t think that gun control should be seen as “the” solution so that they can conveniently ignore the huge deficits in mental health care. Both need to be addressed.

    Note from Michael: I completely agree. Unfortunately, Americans tend to be an “all or nothing” group of people and see things in black or white. It’s either gun control OR mental illness (and at least we are talking mental illness and not “evil”). But of course it is both. I am just not convinced my fellow Americans can do both.

  20. Wanting to make a difference….
    Michael,
    I read your blog the other night and this am I was at my parents and we turned on the news and of course it was talking about the shooting. My step dad, who is a lawyer voiced very abruptly that we need gun control. I am on the same pg as you about mental health needs to be dealt with- but don’t argue with him. My mother- who is a nurse and has dealt first handedly with many family members with mental illness, especially with me in the last 6.5 yrs- said no it’s a mental health issue. I wanted to just be like thank you mom, but then I realize her view on treatment. My mom is strongly opposed to meds and is ok with her brother who has severe type 1 bipolar being only on herbal remedies–which is just a ticking time bomb. She thinks that my severe tx resistant depression doesn’t need anything except an Ssri, herbs, sunlamp, fish oil, etc. these might helps bit but they don’t let me function up to my ability. I don’t care if I am heavier or live a shorter life, but it is more about being happy and functioning and the quality of life. People don’t get this. In the natural organic world we live in today, people don’t want psych meds or to comply with them. It’s sad. I want to make a difference with what I can right now– could you please help me find a family to help to give respite care to if it doesn’t work for you. I have time right now as I am deferring my np school til next fall because I can get financial help since I am going into mental health. I will continue to law school if that I’d is what i need to take on Washington in the mental health world. Sorry I did not send $ last time, but I promise I will this week- and if there is anything I can send for Xmas let me know! πŸ™‚

    Michael: Kyle, are you in our private group for adults with mental illness? At least there you would have people who get you. If you don’t have a support system at home then you have to find it online. Feel free to email me at michaeljohnschofield@me.com.

  21. Very touching post. I just stumbled upon this site through a fb post from a friend. I have a friend who recently lost her brother who was bipolar. Mental health is definitely a topic that needs attention and one I think many people are afraid to approach because as you alluded to we can’t explain it. As I said I do not know the details of this topic…but didn’t the US at one time have institutions for helping mentally ill individuals? Is that what California is trying to reinstate? Do you have a website you recommend for more information?

    Note from Michael: No, California is not trying to bring back mental hospitals. That is the problem. No one is, because they are expensive.

  22. Just wondering
    I was wondering about the resources out there for parents of mentally ill children. I was reading an article about a mother of a mentally ill child and she was saying there isnt much out there to help her. One social worker told her to get her child charged with a crime that way she will be taken seriously and her child will get the help they need. But putting a mentally ill child in jail is not what they need. What can be done to help parents in her situation?

    Note from Michael: Not much. That is why we split into two apartments, one for each child, and traded off. There really are no resources out there for a severely mentally ill child if a medication combination cannot be found.

  23. I just finished reading your book and wanted to check your blog out. I love your honesty and i am astounded by your perseverance and determination to make your family survive this. And Susan….wow, I have no words to describe how amazing she is. I have a child who is different, and obviously I wouldn’t try to compare our struggles with what your family has been through, but I identify with you and Susan in many ways. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers, and God help us if we ever forget Jani.

    Note from Michael: Yes, Susan is amazing. She is my partner and I could do nothing without her.

  24. I’m shocked to hear we – Canada – have more guns. However, I think there are several things that make us safer after thinking it over and doing a bit of research. Gun control. Yes, we have it, which proves that gun control doesn’t mean people can’t own guns. And mental health care. It’s not perfect, but it’s much more available here because of our public health care system and our greater number of social services. I have no idea why Americans seem so resistant to these two things – gun control and public health care/social servies – when their neighbours to the north clearly show that these things keep us healthier and happier. I live in the murder capital of Canada. It’s not a nice title. But you know what? I feel safer here than I would in most US cities. Relativity is key guess.

    Also, re: Adult Jani – I work in a facility for adults. Meds are voluntary but controlled. The ‘tenants’ live a relatively independent lifestyle, but we handle meds for them. Most take them without complaint but need to be reminded. The problem isn’t that they don’t want meds – they only go into that state of mind when they’re not medicated and have become psychotic – the problem is that they do not have the capacity to manage the meds on their own and in not taking the meds properly, they become ill and THEN start refusing. As long as someone else is giving them consistently, they don’t refuse because they are thinking ‘well’. Just something you might want to look into for when Jani gets older. This isn’t residential treatment, but a group home setting for adults that encourages learning life skills and independent living. If you can encourage this lifestyle for her – if you think she still is unwell enough to need it when she’s 18 – as soon as she leaves your care, she will have a better chance of staying on meds throughout her adult life and into the period of her life where you are no longer present to help her.

    Good luck with your kids!

    Note from Michael: I agree about the reminders. As for why Americans won’t pay for social services, the narrative in America for thirty years has been that taxes are too high. You also have a more functional government than we do.

  25. My facebook is flooded with pictures of guns and how Australia and the UK banned this kind of gun or that kind of gun after Dunblane and something else.. this is the kind of post that should be up there. Can I share it?

    I hope this doesn’t come off as rude (I don’t mean it to), but it’s depressing that even Jani will eventually fade away with SZ which really grabs people’s attention as a mental illness. If people don’t pay attention to that, even, what hope is there for people who have other diagnoses which don’t sell quite so well in the media?

  26. Sorry if I double posted..
    I’m not sure if my comment went through.. but I wanted to say that my facebook is flooded with pictures of guns and posters claiming that the UK and Australia have banned this kind of gun or that kind of gun since Dunblane or whatever, but the kind of post you wrote is the one that should be all over facebook. Can I share it?

    I hope this doesn’t come across as rude (I don’t mean it to) but it’s depressing that even Jani will fade out of the public consciousness one day and she has a diagnoses of SZ. People are kind of aware of SZ because it’s so severe but if that doesn’t get people’s attention enough to make changes, what hope is there for the rest of the people who fall somewhere else under the mental illness spectrum with less “exciting” diagnoses?

    PS. I can’t stress enough how much I hate the idea that mental illness is something you just aren’t trying hard enough to get over. Well said.

    Note from MIchael: Yes, please share. Mental health advocacy hasn’t moved because they won’t do what they need to do to get attention. Some will. It will change. I will make it change before I die.

  27. Question
    In your book, you refer to Jani as a “genius.” As things have evolved, do you hold to this estimation? My son’s development pretty much parallels hers (in most ways he was ahead, in a few ways possibly behind), but I have never thought of him as a “genius.” I’m sort of puzzled by your use of this term. Can you explain?

    Note from Michael: At the time, I used her great capacity for learning and retaining abstract concepts as an excuse to cover her increasingly bizarre behavior. Do I still feel she is genius? That depends on how you define “genius.” She is very bright but not the same. One can be genius and mentally ill at the same time.

  28. Great post. I am just curious where the bit about “Canada having more guns” came from. It seems that is blatantly false in terms of per capita guns, but is there some other statistic you mistook that for? Percentage of households with guns? Per capita ownership of some particular type of gun? I’m searching the internet and am not finding anything that suggests Canada has more guns no matter how you slice the data or define “guns”. I don’t think this at ALL negates the arguments that you are making, and I shared your post on Facebook along with a comment warning people that there are at least 2 factual errors (Lanza the assault rifle, and Canada has fewer guns), but your points are still valid. I am asking simply because I am curious where you got that idea and if there is ANY way in which Canada has more guns than we do. Or should I just erase that idea from my head?

    Note from Michael: I admit I took it from “Bowling for Columbine” where Michael Moore claims Canada has more guns per capita than the United States. I honestly don’t know if it is true or not.

  29. Greetings from Toronto
    Well done Michael. I love the passion for how you express your thoughts ,fears,hopes, and resolutions.
    My silly question for the day is…. Can you move to Canada?Could our health care system help you and the kids?
    Keep on keeping- cause love lies here. You have a lots of supporters, and yeah, Fuck Warrior Mom ,pardon my french πŸ™‚
    Blessings to all

  30. I don’t understand
    I think your blog is very well written, although I don’t agree with everything. As someone with a MI I found your blogs very informative and interesting. Maybe because I never bothered to read the comments. However I have completely lost respect for you. Why must you take it upon yourself to attack everyone? It seems to me they were all well meaning people giving advice. I understand that you have probably heard what they have said a million times, but that doesn’t mean their intentions were bad. To call someone asinine for giving advice? I don’t get that at all. From what I can tell they only were thinking of Jani. They weren’t saying “Hey, you’re a shitty parent” or anything of the sort. I am sure I will be on your asinine list next, but I hope you take my thoughts into consideration next time you attack a stranger.

    Note from Michael: I am not even sure what you are talking about. Who did I attack? You didn’t give an example. But do not fret. Whether people lose respect for me over something so insignificant that I don’t remember it doesn’t really bother me. Contrary to what some people may believe, I am not dependent on public adulation or people agreeing with my methods. Thanks for writing.

  31. Thanks for your article. I am a special education lawyer for low income children(I represent them for free). I have had a lot of clients that were ignored by the schools from young ages, I feel very strongly that the schools who are also now in charge of mental heath (as you mentioned) are failing our MI and otherwise disabled children. What has your experience been like for your kids? Did you ever hire a lawyer to get better school services?

    Note from Michael: No, we fought on our own. Now, granted, we had media exposure which helped and we also live in a smaller school district. In another year Jani goes to the high school district and we start again but we personally are old pros at this. We know the law and we know what Jani is entitled to. But like I said, our school district (eventually) became cooperative. Our relationship with them now is very affable.

  32. Keep Fighting
    I shared your post with several friends and facebook. I commented on a previous post about my father convinced any little sign is me slipping into manic depression (thank you for your reply). Just tonight, he commented that my energy concerns him. I just finished finals and am still coming down. It’s natural but he sees illness.

    Anyway, in regards to this post, I’ll never forget the young man – early teens – who was in the psych ward with my mom when I was young. He was housed with several other people evening though he had violent tendencies. But, the bigger problem was that the hospital would only hold him for a few nights at a time. His parents would have to take him home and wait for the next violent outburst, bring him in, and get 3-4 days. He wasn’t kept separate from the other patients nor their visitors. In fact, I was talking to him, as he was my age and I thought he was cute, when he had an episode.

    I don’t know what became of him, but I know the system let him and his parents down. They didn’t have the means to take care of a violent teen boy. The hospital that was aware of his illness didn’t even try to keep others safe around him. This was before ativan, which was what turned mmy mother’s illness around. I don’t know if it would have helped him or not. He was a good kid in need of support and a safe place to live.

    I have, of course, been pushing the mental illness aspect of these killings as well, and have in the past. I am hopeful that this time others are talking about it, too. I see it come up in discussions even at the high political levels more than it has before.

    Thanks again. I continue to fight for those like Jani, so she won’t end up on the street. I have often said my mother would have been on the street or dead had my father not been the amazing man he is. We can’t let the mentally ill suffer any more.

    PS. The diet folk really get to me. You don’t tell a man hit by a bus to have a carrot. It is so insensitive and insulting to those of us that struggle with mental illness in ourselves or our families. A grilled cheese sandwich isn’t going to fix damaged neural pathways. Thanks for responding to them as you do.

    Note from Michael: Thank you. I appreciate that.

  33. Thank you, Michael, for eloquently pointing to the actual problems leading to Sandy Hook and other shootings and not the palliatives. I just ordered January First for Kindle. Once I better inform myself, I look forward to becoming actively involved with public awareness. We would benefit from greater outrage directed toward a failed mental health system, and demands for greater accountability from Big Pharma.

  34. Thank you!
    I appreciate your writing so much.

    Just wanted to let you know that I quoted this post on the most recent entry on my blog. Please don’t feel the need to read it, I just wanted to give you the courtesy of letting you know.

    Please keep writing!

  35. Sz
    I just finished your book about your family’s struggle with mental illness . I was astonished at yours and susans ability to live the life you were/are living. Very very few families would be able to do what you have done. I am confused on whether you are insinuting the columbine killers might have had sz. I believe they migt have been on anti depressants but do not think they had hallucinations or voices telling them to kill. I absolutely think that most of these horrendous acts have been due to severe mental illness. I just dont know if ALL can or should be classified that way. It is more complicated and i believe (opinion), evil people do exist. I wholeheartedly think the nation is missing the root cause of sandy hook and the focus should be on mental illness but we also need other measures of protection. God bless you and susan for sharing your story. And i will pray for both your beautiful children

    Note from Michael: We did what we had to do to keep our children. That was more important than living under one roof. No, I didn’t mean to imply either Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold had schizophrenia. Neither did. Jared Loughner definitely does. James Holmes appears to have it. Seung-Hui Cho definitely suffered from paranoid delusions but I don’t know if he had hallucinations. Adam Lanza remains unknown so I am speculating.

  36. FYI about Canada…..
    Google Early Psychosis Intervention in Canada and prepare to be in awe. Could it be? A country that supports their vulnerable, often frightened citizens and their families?! Yep, and they borrowed EPI from the UK. Australia has EPI programs as well. Countries who actually treat their brain disorders citizens also show decrease in stigma which may in turn contribute to increases in folks seeking out help during a first episode. I could write more but you get the picture. Programs like this, societies like this, give me hope for my 3.5 yr old daughter dx Psychotic D/O NOS, my 5.5 yr old daughter dx Classic Autism, and humanity. My family is currently looking at leaving the US once my husband can retire because, as a psychologist myself, I firmly believe that the US just cant turn it around and lacks the desire to catch up to the aforementioned countries. My 2cents, my Xmas rambling.

    Note from Michael: I understand, but I won’t abandon America. Somebody has to make a stand here. Sadly, in America change comes at a higher cost, be it financial or in human life.

  37. Of asinine attidues…
    I was going to buy your book and help with your cause, but in reading this blog I realized you are awfully rude and condescending to some of these people who are offering their suggestions and well wishes out of their goodness of their heart. Did they read your blog? Probably not. But you could have taken the high road by keeping your thoughts of “asinine” remarks to yourself. After all, you’re the one who wants to get this effort all the public attention that it needs. I don’t like you, so I won’t be joining your efforts. Good luck with getting more people on board with your asinine attitude…

  38. Concession.
    Yeah, I do agree with a lot of what you’re saying. Psychiatric treatment really is not what it should be in America. And I do my best to support that.

    But did you really have to bring the Bible into this and mock not only God, but also Christians?

    A side note: I wonder what you read or heard that makes you think that the Commandments are in some sort of hierarchy. When someone breaks a law, we don’t say that they broke part of the law. We say they brok the law.

    Note from Michael: If you took me as mocking Christianity (or Judaism as the Ten Commandments are in the Old Testament) then I am not sure you understand what “mocking” means. And I don’t mean to sound mocking with my response to your comment as that is not my intention. I am being serious. I was invoking the literary tradition of “irony,” which is not mocking a target but using humor to show the insanity of something (which was not God).

  39. Apology
    Thanks for the clarification (I have a bit of trouble discerning certain types of irony).

    Just got done thoroughly reading the post for the fourth time. Sill not really clicking with me, but well-written nonetheless.

    I’ll be sure to share this blog with friends.

  40. Please don’t be fooled by Canada’s universal health care system. Canada should NOT be held up as a shining example. I work in the public school system as a speech language pathologist on the autism spectrum disorders team and I also have a 9 year old son with Aspergers. by the time he was 5 he had been in five different public schools. We had sat through endless meetings and been told our son was unteachable. We moved him to a private school that caters to kids with special needs. Now we pay, out of pocket, for school, OT support, cognitive behaviour Tx, and any other service he may need. This myth that Canada has an enlightened health care system is just that, a myth. Every day I fight school administrators and burned out teachers, trying to get kids with special needs some help, any help.

    While, there are some great teachers, most just want the kids to go away, hidden in a special class somewhere, somebody else’s problem. They are overwhelmed by the needs in the system and are not provided with the training and support needed to teach kids with multiple needs.

    Canadians who have kids with special needs face the same problems. Also, you could die on a wait list before you get help. The average wait list for most community services, such as SLP support, psychology, OT etc is 2-3 YEARS!!!!! Only parents with money can get things dome. So we take loans, beg family and screw any retirement saving to help our kids.

    No, we don’t have guns for protection but don’t be fooled. We have shootings at malls and block parties, gangs, and social angst. The grass is not always greener.

    And also, I love your writing, your honesty and your aversion to asinine comments about dietary restrictions.

    Note from Michael: Very true. Canada’s mental health system for adults is better but when it comes to kids they lag behind the US.

  41. Hello Michael,
    I have a mentally ill 11-year-old daughter, and I am writing to thank you for your words. You have given my every thought a voice, and in reading your thoughts it finally seems acceptable for me to be really pissed off instead of balancing on the brink of despair. I am consumed by the constant battle I face with her, as well as making sure my three younger children are not hurt by her, and there us not a person in the world I can explain it to. While I am so meek, I am comforted that your voice is ringing for those of us who need you. Please know that I am here, listening, taking comfort in your activism.

    Note from Michael: Scotti, we have a wonderful private support group for parents of mentally ill kids. At least you would not be alone. Contact me at michaeljohnschofield@me.com.

  42. Jani is my inspiration i was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia im 21 ssi messed my medicial up say i get to much money to get medicial and my medication is abilify cant go without it but have to pay rent and my meds cost 400 bucks without insurance my case manager will hopefully get me back,on medicial hopefully,i,do well on my meds

  43. Michael,
    Have been following your story after reading your book and I applaud you for continuing this gargantuan task. My 22 year old son has schizophrenia and I could not agree with you more. As I see it, we need to march on Washington, such as AIDS activists did in the 80’s, to bring attention. Being a member of NAMI, I am sure we could get NAMI groups across the USA to participate. The people attending their support groups are like you and I, frustrated parents looking for a way to help their loved ones. And hating the system that has put us in this vicious cycle that does nothing long term. I watch my son get worse every day because he will not take medication and as you know, there is NOTHING we can do about it until something bad happens. This is a monster of a disease and you are so right that because the mentally ill do not vote, they will not be heard by these politicians.
    What do you think of a well planned march on Washington? I am sure we could get many names to participate, like Glenn Close. If we start planning now, we could be at the White House before 2014. What do you think?
    Mari, NJ

    Note from Michael: I think it is a great idea and one Susan has wanted to do for some time. I would like to as well but the problem is how do we get to Washington with Jani and Bodhi? But it is indeed something I want to do. Even simultaneous marches on the state capitals. Email me at michaeljohnschofield@me.com.

  44. Weighing In on the Newtown Tragedy …
    I’m writing to let you know how much I identify with you. While the schizophrenic dx was ruled out for my daughter, she is Axis II, cluster B. Bipolar with Borderline personality disorder. She is 19 years old. I have followed your story and it resonates with me. Reading your story helps me feel less alone in this. I too have a blog and would be honored to hear your feedback. I also wrote a blog post on the Newtown tragedy. I waited a day…but it appears under the title I used for this comment. I will continue to follow you and I wish you and January all the best. I know too well the struggle. But I can tell you from personal experience that with all that you’re doing for her and further to bring more awareness, it will only help her and many, many others. I see what my involvement has done for my daughter.

    Please visit my blog at: ADelicateMind.blogspot.com

    Many thanks.

  45. Weighing in on the Newtown Tragedy
    Michael –

    I have been following your story since I first saw you with your family on Discovery Health. Your story resonated with me. While my daughter’s psychological evaluations have ruled out schizophrenia, she has been dx as Axis II/Cluster B. Bipolar with Borderline personality disorder. I so admire you for telling your story. When I first heard about you, and saw you talk about your daughter, I felt less alone with my own struggles. I too have a blog that I have been writing for 6 years. I have thousands of regular followers.

    I would be honored for you to read my story.

    I also wrote an entry in my blog about the Newtown tragedy and used the same title I used for this entry. I too have struggled with the need and lack of help when things have gotten dangerous with my daughter for myself, my younger daughter and my husband. My Bipolar daughter is now almost 20 years old. She is stable at the moment. I keep close tabs on her day to day health. We never know what is going to trigger her again and I just pray she stays on her meds.

    Thank you again for your strength and for telling your story. All the best to you and your daughter.

    My blog:

    ADelicateMind.Blogspot.com

    Katherine, FL

  46. Weighing in on the Newtown Tragedy
    Hello Michael –

    I first learned of you and your daughter when I saw your story on Discovery Health. I must tell you that it resonated with me. I felt less alone when I heard some of the ways you described your daughter as you saw this disease take hold of her. I too have a daughter with a mental disorder. The psychological evaluations have ruled out schizophrenia, but after many doctors, therapists and specialists of all kinds and a two week stay in a mental hospital at the age of 17 as she was baker acted into the facility, we learned that she has Axis II / Cluster B. Bipolar with Borderline personality disorder. I too have been writing a blog for more than 6 years now. At first I began writing to share what was happening in our home with friends and family who did not understand. Then it was for therapeutic reasons. Now, with several thousand regular followers and hundreds of new hits per day, I also do it for those seeking a better understanding and help for their own loved ones.

    I would be honored if you wanted to take a look at my blog.

    ADelicateMind.Blogspot.com

    I admire you very much for coming out with your story. I know it took tremendous courage. Your daughter is beautiful and very lucky she has you for a dad. She will do something amazing with her life as she is already on that path.

    All the best to you and your family.

    Katherine, FL

    Note from Michael: I will definitely take a look, Katherine.

  47. Response to
    Michael, I just learned of your family today and was actually in awe of the dedication to family that I saw in both yourself and your wife. However, when I began to read your blog comments I noticed how rude and self important you are. I specifically was shocked at your response to a comment from someone who stated that he was mentally ill and that he was upset that you had called someone else asinine. You stated that you didn’t even remember it. I found it right away. It was in response to a question regarding your daughter’s vegetarian diet. I generally feel that if it’s so easy to forget name calling you must do it quite often. If it were an “every once in a while event” it would be memorable. A humble man is a good man. You still have a lot to learn in life and you have definitely been given a heavy cross to bear. It’s difficult to feel empathy for you when you have such difficulty being kind to others.

    Note from Michael: Okay. Although I am not sure empathy is what we are looking for. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for thin-skinned people. There are bigger issues than how I respond to comments I have heard a million times before, no matter how “well-meaning” the individual might think are being.

  48. Just A suggestion (Please Be open Minded)
    With all the respect of mental disorders and any diseases..I saw the Oprah special and I believe you guys should take a holistic approach . I do believe some type of exorcism is needed and no people it isnt like the movies..you should try and take your children to a energy healer. You guys really do not have anything to loose at this point. I think you should take every option you can think of. It isnt healthy for you mentally, financially and physically having to deal with hospitals, counselors and etc There have been reports of such things..some people attract various vibrations and entities prey on children because they are the most sensitive. I feel like engaging in more vibrational activities like house cleansing and balancing will at minimum help you guys all personally. If it doesnt work then Hey but at least you know you tried every available option. How do you think Magic has been alive for so long..he works with energy practitioners in LA and does not take medicine. Please consider all options for the sake of your well being and your family. Dont be so quick to rely on medication and diagnoses. Im telling you I vibe things and your daughter is not crazy at all and I dont believe these are hallucinations. There are alot of amazing practitioners and people that can help you where you live. You dont know what you dont know… Love and Light to your family

    Note from Michael: It is dangerous misinformation to suggest that Magic Johnson doesn’t take the anti-retroviral cocktail for his HIV infection. It isn’t true. Never suggest that anyone not take medication. You could inadvertently kill them.

  49. Registered Nurse
    Dear Michael,

    I cried when I read this. Your blunt honesty is something to be admired, especially when it comes to mental illness, as there is so much stigma and even “doubters.” It appears that people are interpreting your bluntness as being unkind, and I can clearly see that’s not the case. You care so much about mental illness issues that you are blunt about it. I agree with you that discussions of this type should never be sugar-coated. People deserve to know the truth and hear about the way it is, especially if they have turned a blind eye to it in the past.

    As a major supporter of implementing mental illness reform in this country, I truly applaud you.

    I feel badly for people who think that religion or holistic measures can cure anything that is biologically-based such as mental illness. It’s as real a disease as cancer and HIV, just like you said. Personally, if I had no access to mental health care, I would prefer to have cancer or HIV rather than be at the mercy of my mind. People who are unfamiliar with severe mental illness sometimes cannot comprehend the complexity devastation that it causes.

    I have yet to read your book, but I really want to as soon as I can. Thank you, Michael Schofield.

    Sincerely,
    Liz, RN BSN

  50. I just read this other whole post…
    …and holy damn was that well written. It was intelligent and even witty. I kind of feel bad for my comments to your ‘I’m an asshole’ post now (not really, ’cause now I’m sure you could easily find something more assholish to write back to me if you wanted). Just wanted to say I do call it like I see it, and this is one of the best blog entries I’ve read in a long time on anything, period. Please believe me that I mean it in a good way when I say you are not nearly as dumb as you come across on TV.