The earthquake in Japan has burdened my heart and filled me with sorrow.  Watching the tsunami waters carry off entire towns is sickening… but I can’t quit watching.  I feel I owe them the courtesy and honor of watching their plight, as one goes to the funeral home to honor the loved one of a friend.  The constant worry and threat of possible explosions in the nuclear plant worries me for them.  I will decide in the near future how I will help them.  Monetarily, I’m sure, however small my portion may be.

But what does all this have to do with my writing about James this week?  It has to do with empathy.  I understand the feeling of being powerless to stop a raging, devastating destroyer.  How brave those people were who took videos as the water surged at their feet, tearing their homes and businesses apart, their very life being destroyed as they stood watching.

That’s the way it was to watch schizophrenia take my son.  Powerless.  Even as I took him from doctor to doctor, from hospital to hospital, he slipped under the murky, dark water of this devastating illness.

James and Jarred.  Those two names will forever be etched deep in my heart where sorrow lives.  Two good-hearted men whose lives were stolen by the devastating destroyer schizophrenia.

An acquaintance said when their daughter was diagnosed with schizophrenia that they told the doctor they thought she was on drugs.  The doctor sadly said, “I only wish she were.”  Although using drugs is something one with a mental illness does to try to self-medicate, it is not the cause of schizophrenia.

And my James understood this better than I ever could.  When I was at my wit’s end trying to understand the behaviors of my son, James would explain it to me.  “He can’t tell what’s real and what’s not real.”  Schizophrenia doesn’t take away one’s intelligence; it alters his/her perception of the world.

Jarred’s world was altered from a safe, loving environment to one filled with monsters and hell birds and zombies; a life filled with fear.  A life stolen and destroyed.

Advertisements