Claire Gerus, my wonderful literary agent can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The original titles of this memoir represent some of the changes we’ve gone through as a family since its original draft as To Hell and Half way Back, and first revision as No Casseroles for Schizophrenia: Family Lessons on the Journey to Acceptance. Present title: Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey through Schizophrenia to a New Normal .
And, indeed, the “new normal” remains in progress – but there is happy news. One of the reasons I wrote this book is to provide a vision of hope for families devastated by mental illness. Many of the chapters spell out, all too realistically, the years of confusion and chaos, with sidebars of information I wish I’d had before Ben’s diagnosis. And we all know that recovery is hardly a straight, predictable road. But – recovery is possible, with a combination of realistic expectations and persistent watchfulness and hope.
Before the symptoms emerged in mid-adolescence, one of Ben’s most endearing qualities was his way with children – warm, insightful, loving. He was a sought-after babysitter and remarkable tutor.
We lost all that under the illness for many years. If you have gone through this in your family, I don’t have to explain this any further. But – Ben is still there, indeed, behind his voices, and he is emerging from the shadows more and more, with each day he stays on his meds. This week I got to observe him teaching an art project to pre-schoolers (a homework assignment for a college class he’s taking). I saw, for the first time in years, reminders of the patience, creativity and understanding he used to have with kids.
It is possible. It’s not perfect, but it’s possible.