Sunday, 4 November 2012

Born Schizophrenic - a Young Girls Story

I came across this video about a young girl with schizophrenia from birth, whilst randomly looking for something else and became fascinated, not in a morbid way, but with the difficulties and bravery faced every day by this family. I watched the Oprah special on this little girl, but It was not as good or insightful as the five part 'Born Schizophrenic' documentary below.
Childhood Onset Schizophrenia is rare, but not unheard of; there other children with similar or the same diagnoses as Jeni shown in the 5 part documentary below.
The footage taken of Jeni as a baby appears to show her seeing hallucinations in other parts of the room, so it is thought she has had this condition since birth.
Wednesday is a Rat, and 400 is a black cat who both hurt Jeni by biting, scratching and hitting Jeni until she obeys them and hurts someone else. The 'lucid' part of her knows this is 'wrong' but the psychosis and hallucinations are so strong that telling her that Wednesday, 400 et al are not real would be like me telling you that you are not real.
What is truly incredible here is the way the family have stuck together and trusted their own instincts to treat their little girl; it was recommended at 7 years old that Jeni be taken away to live in a psychiatric facility for her own and the family's safety. Her parents refused to allow this to happen as they wanted to be part of their little girls life, so they came up with a novel solution; they would live in two different apartments, one for Jeni and the parent acting as 'carer' which was set up like the hospital ward she often recovered in, and one set up for their baby boy Bodi, so that he could grow up in as normal environment as possible whilst he was too young to understand his sisters violent episodes.
The parents worked as a 'tag-team' for about 3 years, to bring their children up (whilst Mr Schofield had a full time job! The family are now united again and living in one apartment together, and it would seem that their unusual approach has paid off, with the two children having a good relationship with each other. Unfortunately it now looks like the youngest, Bodi, may have some symptoms of Schizophrenia, on top of Autism.

The family have set up a charity 'The Jani Foundation' to highlight the plight of Children with mental illnesses or disorders and the lack of services available to them. From what I've read of it, Michael's blog seems particularly interesting as it is well written, honest and insightful.
There is also a book 'January First', which I will be looking out for. You can read an excerpt here.
I'll let you watch the documentary and make up your own mind. It is difficult viewing in parts but very touching.

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