In this must-read for any family struggling with mental illness, Kaye offers a gripping account of her son's battle with schizophrenia. Until Ben was 15, Kaye believed that patience, structure, therapy, and love were the solutions to Ben's academic and social challenges, mood swings, and drug and alcohol abuse. Having struggled to find help for Ben as his illness went unnamed and incorrectly diagnosed, Kaye provides helpful and informative guideposts throughout the book. Now a teacher for, and advocate of, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Kaye covers everything from helping siblings understand a new family dynamic, to managing involuntary commitment proceedings, to getting patients 'into the system.' Kaye readily acknowledges that no one learns this information voluntarily and reminds readers that it's impossible to reason with mental illness. Along the way, she shares her fundamental belief in love, humor, and hope. This well-written, well-researched, and brutally honest book will provide information, inspiration, and encouragement for many parents.
Kaye’s detailed record of her son Ben’s terrifying schizophrenia and terrifyingly slow descent into it may strike a chord with parents encountering similar behaviors in their own teens. Because the onset of Ben’s illness was so gradual, everyone chalked up his initial symptoms—extreme withdrawal, falling grades, and more—to a particularly virulent case of adolescent hormones. Denial did play a role in missing clues, but only because Kaye, like many, had no experience with mental illness. Even professionals (teachers, therapists, school administrators) overlooked an obvious-in-hindsight warning flag when the 16-year-old insisted he didn’t need to stay in school. Naturally, single mom Kaye tried everything within the limits of her resources to guide Ben from his self-defeating behaviors. Each effort was promising but sadly short lived. Afterward, the sweet, loving child she once knew would become obscured by an increasingly unkempt, unreliable stranger. Alas, Ben’s eventual diagnosis and treatment was just the beginning. Schizophrenia is a chronic, lifelong illness that hangs in a delicate balance of medication and vigilance.
The book I wish I would have had. Randye Kaye's skillfully written memoir of the extraordinary challenges her family has endured in coping with her son's schizophrenia is filled with hard-won knowledge and inspiring wisdom. This book should be required reading in programs that train mental health professionals; not only would students learn crucial basic information about psychotic disorders that will make them much more competent clinicians, but they'll see the chaos that is created for families when clinicians don't have the educational background they need. Randye's strong connection to NAMI lets readers understand the life saving support that this organization offers families. I wish I would have had access to this much needed book when my daughter had her first psychotic break. The journey of parents whose children develop schizophrenia is too often overwhelming and Randye's warm, insightful, informative book provides a guide about how to survive in the best ways possible.