I never expected to be the mother of someone with a severe mental illness. My undergraduate education (at Swarthmore College) and graduate education (at the University of California, Los Angeles) in the 1970s left me with a comforting notion about child rearing; as long as children had parents who were loving, sensitive, responsible, and supportive, they would not be in danger of developing mental illnesses.
My personal ignorance was compounded by the common lack of mental illness literacy in the United States and in Canada, where I lived when I had children. When our younger daughter began to flounder as a teen, we didn’t understand what was happening. Only much later did we learn that our daughter’s puzzling cognitive losses, her strange physical gait, and her growing lack of connection to the world around her were well-known prodromal signs of schizophrenia.