Words by: Celeste Bowman
Holding the phone close to her ear, as closely as she can, not really sure what she was trying to hear……his voice?…….his love?…….his sanity? She wasn’t sure anymore. All she knew was he was far away. He always has been. Locked in the prison of his own addiction and the confusion of his mind. First, it was the drugs with its lying whispers of courage, strength, and security which deceived him into believing all was right with the world even when things were terribly wrong. As his life became harder, a result of his non-conformity and closing his ears and heart off to the family and mother who loved him, his mind became more confused. Soon the whispers became real, attacking him, making him see deviousness in everyone around him……..causing him to lash out at everyone, sometimes physically, and the repercussions were homelessness and estrangement.
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that makes it difficult for individuals who suffer from it to distinguish reality from the imaginary. Individuals struggle with engaging socially, often responding in an emotionally inappropriate manner. Due to faulty brain structure and chemistry, they have hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. This often causes significant issues with work, school, and relationships. It affects one percent of all Americans and 50% of them suffer from substance use disorder. They often engage in substance use to self-medicate. Parents are left searching for elusive answers just beyond their grasp.
So she listened as he raged on the phone about the newest plot against him. She strained to hear through the paranoia and accusations hurled at her by the son who once made her laugh with his silliness. He was able to make her smile even when she was furious with him. Growing up she overlooked the symptoms that were evident even in high school when he wouldn’t do his work and she had to move him from school to school to try and get him to focus, finally settling on a military camp to help him get his high school diploma. She was blind to the problems he was having when he went away to the military and was eventually discharged dishonorably.
In most cases, help for schizophrenia is not usually sought until after the first psychotic episode, and it is a severe and chronic disability. There are now new approaches focusing on early intervention investing greater resources into the early stages of the disorder to reduce the number of people who develop chronic disabilities. Schizophrenia causes devastation to the sufferer and their families. Currently the long-term outcomes, despite new medications, are poor with a one-year relapse rate of 15 – 35% and rising to 80% within 5 years. 10% of sufferers eventually commit suicide.
So she listened, refusing to hang up the phone, not wanting her son to be alone although she knew he was, trapped in a prison of delusion and voices. She is also alone, in her suffering and her fear. She dare not share with others her darkest regrets and deepest fear, that her son would die in the streets of New York because she never figured out a way to save him. “Where is his help? Why can’t he get the help he needs? Why can’t I help him?”
Celeste Bowman is a Certified Addiction Professional with 24 years of experience working with diverse populations who suffer with substance use and mental health disorders. She is cofounder and owner of Independent Recovery, an addiction counseling alternative for individuals seeking a private recovery experience. Celeste is originally from New York City. Her own personal experience with addiction and mental health have prepared her for the daunting task of working with people who suffer with these disorders. She attended Empire state college where she received a BA in human development and psychology. She has been certified in NY and Florida as an addiction professional and she has her international and national certification. Celeste is currently attending Walden University for her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.
Independent Recovery is an addiction treatment alternative. They provide private one-on-one counseling through online sessions, mobile sessions and traditional office visits. In addition, they work with people who can’t or have tried to do traditional addiction treatment unsuccessfully. They encourage people to take charge of their lives and recovery by developing independent goals to better their lives.