The last leg of our vacation was attending a wedding anniversary celebration for Ian’s father and his father’s wife (no blood relation to Ian). I was particularly curious to get reacquainted with “Joan’s” eldest daughter, who I had not seen for almost twenty-five years. “Linda” was a nurse married to an ambitious, up-and-coming young man until it all fell apart after the birth of her second child. Linda was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Her husband ditched her, took the children, and quickly remarried. She seemed like a lost soul for many, many years. From time to time I would hear from Joan that Linda was living out of her car, or living in church basements. Joan’s family doctor had told her after several years of trying to intervene, just to “let her go, there is nothing you can do.”
So, I went to the anniversary celebration half expecting to see Linda on the fringes of the room muttering incoherently to herself and looking dishevelled. (Dr. Abram Hoffer referred to untreated people with schizophrenia as “deteriorated schizophrenics.”) I am guessing that Linda was not now and had not been on medication based on the information I had picked up over the years. I used to worry that her not being on medication was affecting her brain and would make it harder for her to make a come-back. I had bought, without feeling really good about it, the “protect the brain” hype that the pharmaceutical companies were using to sell their products. Dr. Hoffer’s point was that megadose vitamins were better than medications, yet I doubt Linda had been taking vitamins.
At the gathering I looked all over the place for Linda and about half way through the party I spotted her. She was healthy and happy, and better yet, she was socially outgoing. She greeted me warmly and enthusiastically. I was dying to ask all kinds of inappropriate questions to find out how she had managed to be so well, but of course, I didn’t. I doubt if she has gone back to nursing, I even doubt if she is working at the moment, but I remain open to being surprised. I was told that her sister took a real interest in her welfare and has helped her tremendously in regaining her confidence.
Linda’s twenty something daughter is struggling, however. She has dealt with the aftermath of a premature birth all her young life. A few years ago she “came out” as a homosexual, married and divorced a woman, and was subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia. (Makes me wonder more than ever about the validity of these labels when you consider all the suffering.) The daughter is young and can work it through for herself in her own way, in her own time. Empathy is a great healer, too.