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A parent's fight: Caring for an adult child with mental illness

Liz, who asked that her full name not be used, shares some of what it's like to care for an adult child with mental illness.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: June 9, 2013

/articleid/3843285/1/pictures/2123297">Photo - Siblings Brandy and Boe Clark shop at a thrift store, which is one of the things they like to do together. Brandy Clark has been through some hard times on her path to recovery with mental illness. Boe Clark has stood by her to support her. Photo by David McDaniel, The Oklahoma <strong>David McDaniel</strong>
Siblings Brandy and Boe Clark shop at a thrift store, which is one of the things they like to do together. Brandy Clark has been through some hard times on her path to recovery with mental illness. Boe Clark has stood by her to support her. Photo by David McDaniel, The Oklahoma David McDaniel

Before that night, Liz had never considered her son might have a mental illness. Growing up, he was a happy child who had a lot of friends and loved to play soccer.

“With his above-average IQ, I thought he would be able to pursue any college degree or career he wanted — now he works minimum wage,” she said. “With his good looks and loving nature, I thought he would have friends and girlfriends, but he is isolated. I thought my son would have the same opportunities as everyone else.”

Liz's son has since been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, a condition in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms — such as hallucinations or delusions — and of mood disorder symptoms, such as mania or depression, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“And now here we are, three years later,” she said. “Now we have the history of noncompliance with treatment.

“There have been periods of time when he was compliant, but mostly, he doesn't want to go and see a therapist. He doesn't want to take his medication.”

Three years later, Liz has replaced her questions with empathy, loving her son while challenging the system.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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