October 11, 2006

Schizophrenia, One Family's Story

The New Hampshire Newspaper "Portsmouth Herald Sunday", has recently started publishing a series of articles about one family's experience with schizophrenia. We thank Herb Perry and his family for sharing this story.

We hope their stories can help lift the veil of secrecy, shame and ignorance that for many can be as hard to live with as the disease itself. Click on the links below to read each story associated with the series:

Deciding to go public -- Our story is not the stuff of an Academy Award-winning movie, nothing as dramatic as the story of the schizophrenic Nobel Prize winner John Nash, as portrayed by Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind."

Voices in his head -- Herb Perry writes about his long struggle with schizophrenia, which he first recognized when he heard a voice talking to him and no one was there.

A different kind of daddy -- Daughter Jennifer Perry says she always knew there was "something different" about her father.

Schizophrenia explained -- Reporter Rachel Collins discusses the disease with leading psychiatric experts.

The entire series is available here:

Schizophrenia, one family's story

Seacoast's entire Mental Health Series

You can write Herb and thank him for his series of stories - by reaching him at this email address:
hperry (at sign) seacoastonline.com


My older brother Tom was diagnosed in his late 30's as a schizophrenic. During the diagnostic time period Tom was arrested for "stealing" a soda from a grocery store (voices told him to leave the store immediately) and he was then chased down by a store clerk who contacted the police, who then arrested Tom for disobediance and physically threatening a police officer. All the while, Tom believed he was being chased by monsters. He was given 2 felonies and did time in jail. Today he had one of many court hearings for his two felonies of which he is currently on probation. Tom's lawyer Eric (paid out of pocket by my parents at a hefty fee) does his best to represent Tom in a court of law for the mentally ill-- a court of law that is slow to resolve the issues and help the mentally ill. Tom, who had no criminal record prior to his illness was and is an outstanding brother, son, and friend. He is highly intelligent and to this day the most productive person I know. Good natured and loving it baffles me that people like Tom end up in "the system" fighting for their good name and rights.

Needless to say the entire situation is painful and exhausting for both Tom and my parents. My younger brother and I have the privalege of being absorbed in our own lives, only helping when asked. We love our brother but see him only on occassion. Tom's illness has put a strain on my younger brother's family-- his wife's uncertainty about Tom's behavior has led to a decision to bar Tom from spending time with their family. We all accept and respect the choices they currently make for their family, with the hopes that someday things will change. We love Tom and realize how important it is for us to be together as a family in order to help Tom overcome his illness.

It has been very difficult for our family as a whole to understand Tom's illness and it is our parents who care for and live with Tom. They have currently graduated from NAMI and are teaching my younger brother and I about Tom and his illness. Thanks to websites like this one we have a place to understand and discuss what mental illness is about-- and to connect with others so as not to feel so alone and strange. Thank you for giving families like ours the pieces to a very difficult puzzel-- schizophrenia. Now I can try to understand Tom and give him the help he needs and deserves so that he can put the pieces of his life back together.

Posted by: Lisa Walker at September 13, 2007 10:54 PM

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