I've debated submitting this for a while. A lot of people think childhood mental illness doesn't exist. A lot of people tell me it's just normal kid stuff. It's not.
When we give birth to our children, we expect a wonderful childhood. We have hopes and dreams. We look forward to watching them learn to ride a bike, go off to their first day of school, and experience the awkwardness of having a first romantic partner, however innocent it may be. That was me in October of 2008.
It's currently August 2017 and I'm wondering if my daughter, Eva, will even be able to finish a full year of school because she hasn't ever really finished one. In kindergarten, we first entered the world of psychiatric hospitalization. She made it until the last four days of kindergarten. In first grade, she was pulled out on an extended medical excuse a couple weeks before the end of school. In second grade, she was placed under a court order and pulled out of school a full month early.
Because, you see, Eva's been diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia. And for whatever reason, February to June are the worst for her. Nothing stops you in your tracks faster, as a mother, than your 7 year old with a feral yet blank stare in her eyes and a Santoku knife in her hand, ready to charge. Or barricading herself in your living room screaming strings of words that make zero sense. Or pounding her head into a glass window so the voices will stop. Or taking a butter knife and showing me exactly how she plans to end it all. So the voices will stop. So the chaos will stop.
My daughter's had two suspensions for intentionally trying to injure staff at school. Her teacher said, "The child disappeared out of her eyes and something else took over — a hijacked brain making it impossible to be a normal 8-year-old child."
Eva's never known a real childhood. All she knows is psych hospitals, doctors, and medications. Nevertheless, we love her — her dad, three sisters, and I. We are her warriors. We are her protectors. We take her abuse because we know she doesn't mean it. We all understand she's not a physically affectionate individual. But she shows us affection when she draws us beautiful pictures, when she decides to be more social and play Barbies with her sisters, and when she makes a paper tiara and puts it on Daddy's head and dubs him Princess Daddy.
We never expected this. We never asked for this. But this is what was given to us in life. It's not easy. It's often frustrating, emotionally draining, and physically exhausting. But Eva's my daughter. My life's blood. And I will do what I need to do to make sure she can attempt to have a childhood.