Born Schizophrenic: Updates from the Schofields

The Schofield family together again.

Susan and Michael Schofield update us on their life after Born Schizophrenic and talk about the challenges they face as a family.

Q: How did you deal with living in separate apartments?

SUSAN: There was a sense of relief for us. It took immediate stress off of Jani because every time Bodhi would cry, it would trigger her. And for him, it would be a nightmare because she would give an ear-splitting scream that was way more intense than his crying. That stress was gone. And perhaps more interesting, it was a nice break going to sleep at Jani’s apartment because on her medications, she slept and still does really well. So, we would each get a good night's sleep. Then, when over at Bodhi’s apartment, I could give him my full attention.

MICHAEL: It gave us peace. I know it seems extreme, but compared to what we were living with before, it was a life-saver. It allowed us to keep our family together. Before, we lived in constant terror of Jani hurting Bodhi because she would try. It was like walking on egg-shells all the time.

When he was an infant we lived in fear of his crying because of Jani’s violent reaction. When he was old enough to crawl and move around, he would pick up a toy only to have Jani rip it away from him. He could not explore his environment with her in that state. It was like he wasn’t being allowed to grow up. And it was awful for Jani because she couldn’t control her violent tendencies. I didn’t want her constantly struggling against her inner demons, and I wanted him to be free to explore his world without his sister or us constantly shutting him down.

We tried to get Jani into a local residential, but no one would take her because of her violence, and we were not going to send her out of state. She needed us. But Bodhi needed peace and freedom to grow up. It was also very important to us that he not grow up afraid of his sister. So, having the two apartments was not hard emotionally at all. It was Susan’s brilliant solution to keeping our family together.

Q: When did you make the decision to move back into one apartment?

SUSAN: In early 2011, we made the decision to move into one apartment for several reasons, the most important being that Jani was no longer a threat to Bodhi. And we needed a cheaper place. However, when we first told Jani of the idea, she became too stressed out over it. We waited about six more months before signing the papers. On October 18th, 2011 we made the move. We had told Jani a few days before we did this. She was anxious, but ready.

MICHAEL: During the two years we maintained the two apartments, I had to beg strangers over the internet for donations to pay for it. Thankfully, many people who have never met us stepped up to help. But the financial struggles (coupled with the fact that I could not teach very much due to Jani needing constant stimulation) made each successive month harder and harder to make it. Yes, Jani was doing better and no longer a threat to Bodhi, but CPS had told us not to move the kids back together until Bodhi was five. Eventually, I just couldn’t raise enough money to keep the two apartments. I suspect we would have continued had the cost not become untenable. But I am glad we did.

Q: Would you go back to your old living situation?

SUSAN: If we had to, yes, we would. It was not bad. It was harder in some ways because we’d have certain things over in the other apartment at certain times, but we could just walk across the parking lot to get them. We were located so close that it was ideal for the predicament for that time in our lives. We had been given a “Sophie’s Choice” by CPS: either keep Jani or keep Bodhi, but we couldn’t keep both in the same home because she was a threat to her baby brother.

MICHAEL: I agree. We would do whatever we had to do to keep our family together. But it has been so wonderful going to sleep at night knowing my entire family is here around me that it would rip me apart to have to do it again. But, yes, I would do it again if we had to - without hesitation. We could never send either child away, ever.

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