Living with Schizophrenia, A Father and Son's Story
With remarkable frankness, Patrick writes of Henry’s transformation from art student to mental patient and of the agonizing and difficult task of helping his son get well. Any hope of recovery lies in medication, yet Henry, who does not believe he is ill, secretly stops taking it and frequently runs away. Hopeful periods of stability are followed by frightening disappearances, then relapses that bleed into one another, until at last there is the promise of real improvement. In Henry’s own raw, beautiful chapters, he describes his psychosis from the inside. He vividly relates what it is like to hear trees and bushes speaking to him, voices compelling him to wander the countryside or live in the streets, the loneliness of life within hospital walls, harrowing “polka dot days” that incapacitate him, and finally, his steps towards recovery.
Patrick’s and Henry’s parallel stories reveal the complex intersections of sanity, madness, and identity; the vagaries of mental illness and its treatment; and a family’s steadfast response to a bewildering condition. Haunting, intimate, and profoundly moving, their unique narrative will resonate with every parent and anyone who has been touched by mental illness.
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Read an Excerpt
On February 8, 2002, I called my wife, Jan, by satellite phone from Kabul, where I was writing about the fall of the Taliban. It had been snowing, and as I leaned out of the window of the guesthouse where I was staying to get better reception, I felt very cold. Jan’s voice sounded thin and distant but more anxious than I had ever heard it, and I felt a sense of instant dread as I realised there had been some disaster. I could not make out the details, but I grasped that Henry, our twenty-year-old son, had nearly died when he swam Newhaven estuary fully clothed and was rescued by...see more
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