Sunday, 26 May 2013

January Schofield

After reading Michael Schofield's book, January FirstI felt compelled to write this post.
January First
January Schofield (known as Jani, or previously, Janni with double 'n's) was born on 8th August 2002 (8th August is also my birthday!) By the time she was six years old she was diagnosed with onset-childhood schizophrenia
'January First' is her father's poignant, moving account of the Schofield family's struggle to cope with the mental illness that was tearing apart their beloved daughter. 
I cried a lot whilst reading the book, however in the closing chapter which was written in July 2011, Michael says how Jani is now on medication that is helping a great deal, she is not so violent, and she has many more moments of happiness. 
Jani - just a sweet little girl.
I heard about Jani when I was on YouTube one day and a video popped up about 'America's schizophrenic child'. Jani was seemingly born mentally ill. A devastating article from The Mirror in October 2012 explains how Jani's younger brother, Bodhi, may also have schizophrenia, he has currently been diagnosed with autism. 
Jani barely slept as a baby and would look around at things that weren't there. She was an extremely imaginative child but by the age of five she was becoming violent, biting, scratching and hitting her parents like she was fighting for her life. Soon after Bodhi was born, Jani tried to attack and kill him. She also started hitting the family dog, Honey. Her imaginary friends were in fact hallucinations - telling her to hurt herself and her family. Jani was always a very clever child with a high IQ, she hated going by her real name 'January' and frequently changed it. She was very good with numbers and her imaginary friends often had names that were numbers, such as 400 the cat. After masses of medication was tried and different diagnoses were suggested, Jani was diagnosed with schizophrenia. 
Jani's father Michael had a mentally ill mother, and another relative who suffered with schizoprenia who ended up committing suicide. Susan, Jani's mother, had a relative who also had schizophrenia. As a child Michael had ADHD and as an adult suffered with chronic depression and reguarly took Lexapro, an anti-depressant.
The autobiography/tale of a family is so truthful and raw. I was crying when the family cried and smiling when they smiled. I felt so much for poor Jani, as she would never be able to have a normal life - go to school, college, get married, have children. The frustration and anger that Michael felt at Jani's schizophrenia for ruining her childhood/life was so obvious in the book, and I was also angry at the illness for ruining a young child's life. The ending is happy, as happy as it can be, as Jani is a lot better (although never will be fully better as there currently is no cure for schizophrenia). Michael saw it as: try and give Jani the best life we can, keep her alive, make sure she is happy. They were given Jani from God, Susan feels. Although there are challenges that come with looking after her, she is also their daughter, their child. She is gifted with extreme intelligence, but also beauty and when she is herself and not under psychotic behaviours, a lovely sweet little girl.

Jani's parents have set up a website, The Jani Foundationwhich highlights mental illness in children and offers support for those suffering and their family.

7 comments:

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first
    comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.
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  2. Thank you for your posting on your blog. I'm definitely getting the book! I saw an hour show on January this week. It intrigued me because my family also has history of mental illness. I suffer from depression and have been taking anti-depressants every day since 2000. I honestly think that my brother is either bipolar. I wish he would get help, but he continues to deal with it on his own. Again, thanks for your post. Your blog is now on my list of favorites.

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  3. Why did these parents have a baby when there was such a serious history of mental illness in the family? Why would they subject a second baby to this? It breaks my heart that they had a second child "for Jani". She has enough to deal with without being named "January". It is a real tragedy all around. I feel horrible for their innocent son who was arrived once they knew how sick of a daughter they had---through no fault of her own. Tragic---I wish them all well.

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  4. I feel so sorry for Jani, I myself was a child with mental illness and I felt, and still feel very misunderstood. I still have hope that someone will invent something better to help with mental illness.

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  5. <<< What a nice post it is! It is helpful for all. You can get help here. If you get more information about jani schizophrenia

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    ReplyDelete