September 20, 2009

"Two phantom figures — Wednesday the rat and Four Hundred the cat — are the restless hallucinations who urge Jani to do what she calls 'bad things.'"

A first-grade girl with schizophrenia:
That week, Wednesday told her to find a place to jump from 50 feet. Jani told her parents about Wednesday's command but informed them, "I'm not listening."...

On Sept. 10, while at school, Jani said, Four Hundred told her to run out of her classroom three times....

When Jani is discharged [from the hospital], she will not return to school. "I'm better at keeping her out of her psychoses," [her father] Michael said. "Special ed is just not set up for a child with schizophrenia. And it's difficult to trust anyone else to do what we do for Jani."

The Clozaril has helped, overall, but it will never extinguish the mysterious animals and little girls that frolic in Jani's "other world," which she calls Calalini.
Very sad.

14 comments:

rhhardin said...

Newspapers are fortunate to have a large population to select hopeless situations from.

traditionalguy said...

She seems to be a prisoner being held against her will.

Flexo said...

I've represented a number of people with schizophrenia or other mental illness. It is especially sad when the person is aware that they are mentally ill . . . and can do nothing about it.

I had this one client and everytime we talked, she would bring this notebook and write down everything as it was said. This was so she go back and read it later in order to separate the true recollection of what happened from the imaginary.

Of course, sad as it is, it can also be an occasion for a chuckle or two.

When she freaked out at a 7-11 and smashed some things, resulting in being arrested for disorderly conduct, which included assaulting the police officer, while she was still in this hyper-manic state, she explained that she was acting this way because she was involuntarily under the influence of PCP.

ADULT CONTENT WARNING -- She further explained that she did not take the PCP herself, but that she had taken a taxicab and the driver had taken PCP. But, in order to pay for the ride, she had performed oral sex on him and swallowed. It made perfect sense to her, at the time, that PCP could be passed to her that way.

Of course, it was not PCP-laced semen that caused her to slide into this manic episode, but some form of mental illness. The sad part is that when she was lucid, she knew that she was mentally ill. She desperately wanted to be able to control her thoughts and actions, but she couldn't.

Then there was the time that I represented the guy who invented the multiplication tables. He preferred to be called "the General." He invented multiplication tables, but the Reagan Administration stole the idea from him. Unlike the other client, the General always insisted that he was perfectly sane, and so, he usually refused to stay on his meds for long.

Lem said...

At least they seem to be involved in some networks of other people like them.

They are "proactive" about it.
hartbreaking.

rhhardin said...

Belmont Club identifies a mental illness, whether of Obama or the media or the media audience I can't say.

lumiere said...

It's unusual, though not unheard of, to have someone so young display the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. A complicating factor is that almost none of the anti-psychotic medications currently available are thoroughly tested on the young which makes prescribing them potentially very dangerous to the patient.

PatCA said...

Very sad.

Reminds me of the movie Heavenly Creatures. Peter Jackson has also directed The Lovely Bones, a fairly boring novel, but I intend to see it because of Jackson.

Holly said...

That is absolutely heartbreaking, and I'm going to remember this child the next I get annoyed because my second grader is a sarcastic, foot stomping dawdler who fails to appreciate all that I do for her.

I'm so blessed, and I'm so quick to forget that.

EDH said...

At least in later onset cases the sufferer had the opportunity to develop some adult skills and maturity before confronting the disease.

It must be very difficult for her to cope.

alan markus said...

One of the joys of parenthood is seeing the world through the eyes of your children. Imagine what this is like for her father & mother - seeing the world through the eyes of a child suffering from schizophrenia.

Very interesting story - will be passing this on to others who share an interest in child development issues - thank you for pointing this out.

bearbee said...

"I was looking for the U.S. government to say, 'Yes, your child has schizophrenia,' and that we would have the full force of the federal government behind us," Michael said.

For government medical benefits, other?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

bearbee, if you will back up a couple of paragraphs, you will see that he was referring to their attempt to get Jani into an NIMH study.

Maxine Weiss said...

She's faking it.

She knows if she acts out, she will get loads of attention.

If she acts normal, there's no pay-off.

Clever.

Summer Anne said...

There was an excellent Metafilter post about her awhile ago:

http://www.metafilter.com/84479/Its-200-degrees-in-Calalini

You can read her dad's blog. It is really hard to read, though, because he is so unflinchingly honest about the emotional toll this has taken on him and his wife. Really, really heartbreaking.