It was cold the moment of her birth that late July morning 1970. ‘Bit parky in here,’ a cleaner said. I felt the chill – and never knew about the sinister frost brought by an unseen, uninvited guest, never guessed that my Briar Rose would fall at sweet sixteen under a malevolent curse which wounded her with a mind disorder that kills not life but function. At first we didn’t believe that there was anything wrong, it was just adolescent unease, but soon we experienced disorder, distancing, despair as she sank deeper into darkness.
Fifty years on from that cold July morning, there is still no cure, just drugs that strait jacket the emotions and are given by force to bring her errant thoughts back on course.
And so this July day as the rain weeps across the windows, just as it did on the morning of her birth, I read two things. Firstly, that her disease could have been caused in the womb, that I, her mother, all unawares, am responsible for the curse put upon my daughter because an undetected virus crossed from me into her bloodstream.
I also note that some “celebrity” describes a phase in her life as ‘slightly schizophrenic.’ My blood boils at this crass, callous and uninformed description of this monstrous illness that destroys more young lives than two World Wars put together. It robs young people of their dreams, their potential. It robbed my daughter of her child, removed from a loving mother whose mind is crippled by bewildered thoughts and dark delusions.
When will we get to grips with this illness? Firstly, we must consign this meaningless, misunderstood name to the dustbin of history. It should be called DPS, Disturbed Perception Syndrome. Imagine the impact that would make! Secondly, we need to let sufferers tell their stories on a global platform. And, above all, we need a cure to restore lost synapses, heal broken neurotransmitters and release sufferers from the paranoia and persecutory imaginings which beset them like a horror film that has no happy ending.
Submitted by Jennifer Robertson, 78, Edinburgh