January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her
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At age six, January ("Jani") Schofield was diagnosed with one of the most severe cases of child-onset schizophrenia on record. Hallucinating constantly, she is at the mercy of her imaginary friends—some of whom are friendly, while others tell her to scream at strangers, jump out of buildings, and attack her baby brother. Jani is torn between two places: "Calalini," the illusory home of her imaginary friends, and our world. When potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her, the line dividing delirium from reality grows dangerously blurry.
Amid Jani's struggle are her parents, who face seemingly insurmountable obstacles daily just to keep both of their children alive and safe. Their battle has included a two-year search for answers, countless medications and hospitalizations, allegations of abuse, despair that almost broke the family apart and, finally, victories against the illness and a new faith that they can create a happy life for Jani.
A passionate and inspirational account, January First is a father's soul-bearing memoir of the daily challenges and unwavering commitment to save his daughter from the edge of insanity while doing everything he can to keep his family together.
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was born. The mall is almost empty, which is a good thing. The fewer people the better. Janni storms into a toy store, one of the high-end places that sell classic toys. The clerk comes over to us. “Can I help you?” she asks. “No, thanks. Just looking,” I say, wanting to get rid of her as soon as possible. The last thing I want is for Janni to start talking to her. Janni doesn’t talk like your average three-year-old. The clerk nods and starts to walk away, but to my dismay Janni follows her.
Susan on the arm. “Janni, no,” Susan says, but Janni keeps hitting. Susan tries to take hold of Janni’s arms. “She needs Thorazine,” she says to me. I step out to the nurses’ station. “Where’s Barb? Janni just hit Susan out of nowhere,” I say. “I don’t think the meds she’s on are enough.” Barb comes around from the nurses’ station and enters the visiting room. I follow, expecting that she wants to see for herself. “Janni, did you just hit your mother?” “Yes,” Janni answers without emotion.
scream to her. “Run!” I race toward Honey. I don’t know how hard Janni will hit Honey, if it will be only a light slap or if she’ll hit Honey repeatedly. Not that it matters. I can’t allow her to get away with hurting an animal. There was a time when Janni would never hurt an animal, but I don’t have time to think about that now. Honey looks up and sees me coming full tilt. Thinking it’s a game, she runs off, Janni’s fist missing her by inches. Janni turns to follow Honey, but I reach her,
keep trying to have her discharged and I will keep fighting them. “I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get the results of the MRI,” Dr. Kim tells us, looking up from her folder of notes, “but I was waiting for the images to be analyzed by a neurologist before I got back to you.” Susan and I wait nervously. “For the most part, everything was normal,” Kim continues. “There was one bright spot in her thalamus, which is what I wanted to get analyzed.” “What does that mean?” I ask. “Well, usually in
dad and check on Janni,” Susan says to me. “Okay.” I go out into the hall and call my father. “Is everything okay?” I ask when he answers the phone. “Well, we went to the mall, to that play area, but she didn’t want to stay very long. She tried to run off.” I close my eyes. This is exactly what I was afraid of. “So where are you going now?” I ask. “We’re going to take her to dinner.” I look over at Susan. Even in the shadows, I can see her eyes, nervous. I make a decision. “Come back to