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Our Son’s Schizophrenia Diagnosis Changed Our Lives

"When Mike got the diagnosis of schizophrenia, we realized that this was a life-changing episode and that our life going forward would never be the same."



We knew that Mike was smoking a lot of marijuana, and he seemed to be having a problem controlling that. He came to me one day in November, 11 years ago, and said, "Mom, I think people are talking about me. As I'm walking to class, as I'm walking down the street, I'm feeling that people are laughing at me and are talking about me." And I said, "No, you're just paranoid from the marijuana." So, that was the first time that he actually voiced to me any concern. Mental illness was not in our vocabulary. I didn't make the connection between the paranoia and mental illness.

Then, the next time that I noticed some peculiar behavior was on Valentine's Day. He called me, I was at work, and he said, "I'm at the airport and I'm trying to buy a ticket. I don't have enough money on my credit card to buy the ticket," and I said, "Well, maybe you should come home – what are you doing there?" And he really didn't have a very good explanation, but that was strange behavior, and at that time, my husband and I were becoming more and more concerned for Mike.

So, Bill [my husband] and I were trying our best to find ways to help him all the while thinking that he had an addiction problem. We decided that we would present a letter to him that said, "You need to quit the marijuana or you will not be able to live in the condo any longer." And Mike said, "Let me think about this," and we agreed to meet the following day.

And then Sunday came, and we tried to phone him, and he didn't reply. And Monday and Tuesday rolled around, and we still had not heard from him. By that time, we are driving over to his apartment and see that his car is gone. His brothers were calling him, and he was not replying to anyone. At that point, we put a missing person report in with the Boulder Police Department.

Then, didn't hear anything for a couple more days until we got a phone call in the middle of the night from Mike saying, "Please come and pick me up at the train station." So, we went down to Denver, picked him up. He got in the car, and he immediately started talking about Stonehenge and aliens. My husband and I, within 10 minutes of picking him up, looked at each other and said, "There's something very wrong."

We drove straight over to the hospital and took him to the emergency room. It was extremely difficult for us to take him to the hospital. We waited a very long time in the emergency room for them to get a mental health person to come in to even talk to Mike. That was excruciating because he was not well. They interviewed him there and sent him up to the mental ward. That's finally when we got a diagnosis. Originally, they thought he had bipolar disorder, but that was later changed to a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

When Mike got the diagnosis of schizophrenia, we realized that this was a life-changing episode and that our life going forward would never be the same.

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