September 27, 2012

January First by Michael Schofield


January First by Michael Schofield
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: August 2012
Categories: Mental Health, Personal Memoir

Description:
Michael Schofield’s daughter January is at the mercy of her imaginary friends, except they aren’t the imaginary friends that most young children have; they are hallucinations. And January is caught in the conflict between our world and their world, a place she calls Calalini.  Some of these hallucinations, like “24 Hours,” are friendly and some, like “400 the Cat” and “Wednesday the Rat,” bite and scratch her until she does what they want.  They often tell her to scream at strangers, jump out of buildings, and attack her baby brother.  
 
At six years old, January Schofield, “Janni,” to her family, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, one of the worst mental illnesses known to man.  What’s more, schizophrenia is 20 to 30 times more severe in children than in adults and in January’s case, doctors say, she is hallucinating 95 percent of the time that she is awake. Potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her. 


A compelling, unsparing and passionate account, January First vividly details Schofield’s commitment to bring his daughter back from the edge of insanity.  It is a father’s soul-baring memoir of the daily struggles and challenges he and his wife face as they do everything they can to help Janni while trying to keep their family together. 


My Thoughts:

  1. That poor, poor girl :(
  2. Her poor little brother. Omg.
  3. Why in the hell did they get a dog? 
  4. Is the author's wife really that cold and clueless?
  5. Are the author and his wife still married?
  6. I'd divorce him if he wrote about me like this.
  7. Huh. This guy is kinda a dick.
  8. Thank God none of my kids have schizophrenia because, wow. 
  9. I. Can't. Stop. Reading. This. It's like a train wreck of crazy that I can't look away from.
  10. Whew!
Have you read this? What did you think? 



21 comments:

  1. This is nonfiction?! Oh my gosh, I don't know if I could handle this. Unfortunately, I've known several people close to me with severe mental illness, and it certainly takes its toll. Wow. 6 years old. Is it super depressing?

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  2. Yep, nonfiction! It's a super tough subject :( It reads more as ANGRY to me than it does as depressing.

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  3. Oh my goodness, non-fiction! And a memoir about schizofrenia no less! I've not heard of this book before but I think I'd feel compelled to read it in one go while at the same time feeling quite horrified. I hope the author feels that she could let go of her anger after writing this...

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    1. I couldn't put it down and my mouth was hanging open in shock almost the whole time I was reading it!

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  4. I feel like a book like this would be scarier for those of us who are parents than any horror novel we could read. I'm not sure my mama heart could handle this one. I might be the one sleeping in my son's bed at night!

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    1. You are absolutely right. It is terrifying to read about this family's struggle and I wanted to snuggle my babies. My "babies" would have none of it since they are way too old and cool for snuggling ;) lol

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  5. I agree with your points! I think that any relationship would be under strain in such a situation though, and didn't judge his wife as harshly as I might have because I figured he was probably too close to the situation to give a truly objective view of her reaction. But I did think he doesn't sugarcoat his actions/reactions either, which was good.

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    1. He was honest as all get out wasn't he? I enjoyed that, even if I thought his wife suffered at his hands a bit.

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  6. I have been wanting to read this. I had no idea the author had portrayed his wife in such a negative light. Of course, an experience like this will change a marriage, and there is usually one partner who is in more denial/less invested in treatment. I am even more curious about the book now.

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    1. Frankly, I don't know how they held it together as a family. They did find some unorthodox ways of dealing with their situation.

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  7. Wow. Just reading the synposis for me was heart-wrenching. I cannot imagine as a parent, watching your child go through this. I also didn't know that schizophrenia was more severe in children than adults. I can imagine that this would put a severe strain on a marriage, and a family. I am interested in this book, but it sounds so heartwrenching... Gah.

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    1. Apparently it is quite rare in children too, they had a hard time coming to the diagnosis. I can't even imagine how awful it would be :(

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  8. This whole family was just on an episode of Dr. Phil this week. Total coincidence that I know that! It was on in the background at my mom's house. lol Here's the link in case anyone is interested: http://www.drphil.com/#Show1875

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    1. Oh cool! Thanks for sharing that link Cherie! I'm going to check it out!

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  9. Wow, sounds like a difficult read and also ouch for the way it sounds like he wrote. I kinda feel bad for the wife from the sound of it. And a dog? Really? A life like that and you add a dog?

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    1. I know! A dog!? I just couldn't get over that! I could almost understand why they had another child..but the dog? No.

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  10. I have read it and here's my review if you've got a minute http://teddyree-theeclecticreader.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/january-first-by-michael-schofield.html

    I mentioned having the utmost respect for his honesty, as cringe-worthy as it was lol, he talks about it more on his blog which is also very frank and interesting. Yes they're still together and Jani is improving

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    1. I'm glad to hear that she is improving, I think of their family now and again since I've read the book. I'm off to read your review!

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  11. I love the way you listed your thoughts they closely mirrored my own!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

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    1. My heart ached for this family..but at the same time I kept thinking that the dad was coming across as kinda jerky :( Then again, how would I deal with a situation like that? I have no idea and I'm lucky that I'll never know.

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  12. I cannot imagine having a child with a mental illness, let alone something as difficult as schizophrenia. Raising children is difficult enough without adding the trauma of that. I'm not a huge fan of memoirs but this one does sound intriguing, if heart wrenching.

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