Schizophrenia: Tragically Altered State

Schizophrenia is defined as a mental disorder characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality. It most commonly manifests as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking.

Schizophrenia is marked by suicidal tendencies. Schizophrenics tend to lose touch with the real world. And always, the paranoia— the deep-rooted belief that people are plotting against them.

Our oldest son Nicky started to show symptoms of schizophrenia at the age of fourteen. After he was diagnosed with schizophrenia the prognosis was not good. The medication he was taking caused severe depression.

In college, with schizophrenia tormenting his mind, coping with studies and trying to fit into college social life were excruciating. His mood swings became extreme. Paranoia, a core symptom of schizophrenia, caused him to wall himself off from everything and everybody. To see your child gradually fall into an abyss from schizophrenia without being able to offer much help is a heart-wrenching experience.

We lost Nicky to suicide at 26 years old. Alone, on a bitterly cold December night just before Christmas in his cramped two-room apartment, with no heat, no companionship, and only a few sticks of furniture, his world came to an end. No longer able to cope with schizophrenia, Nicky broke our hearts—he committed suicide, and I discovered life's greatest pain.

The thought of not ever seeing him again would eat away at me every day of my life. Now, age offers comfort in the knowledge that each day brings me a day closer to seeing him again. How fitting that his headstone should read, THOUGH HE DIE EARLY, HE SHALL BE AT REST.

His death and schizophrenia gave me an inner awareness of things I hadn't thought much about before. Most important was the need to be grateful for every day of life.