I met my new neighbor for the first time a week after she’d moved in. Jill was a petite brunette who laughed easily and told me she’d majored in art history.
Luckily, she’d found a job in publishing. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt, she looked exactly like what she was: a recent college grad trying her luck in the city. Our schedules didn’t sync so about six months went by before I saw her again. This time, I mainly noticed conservative clothes and a serious expression: a professional woman had been born. We ran into one another at random times.Time passed.
Climbing the stairs, I saw her standing motionless outside her door, the keys dangling from her hand. I said hello and she turned and wordlessly stared at me. I asked if she was OK. She mumbled and then shifted her glance as if trying to hear a distant sound. I asked again, and this time she said nothing. She didn’t appear to be upset or in pain or drunk or in danger. I went inside my apartment. After half an hour, I heard her door open and shut.
Two months later, I saw Jill’s mother — the family resemblance was obvious — standing in the hall. In a jumbled rush, the distraught woman confided in me: Jill had just been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Before I could speak, Jill opened her door. She looked even more remote, more lost inside her own head. Catching her mother’s eye, I felt miserable as well.
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder with symptoms that may include delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking and concentration, and a lack of motivation. The disorder affects slightly more than one percent of the population and is found to run in families. For this reason, scientists believe there is a genetic component to the illness, though too little is known of its exact cause. Schizophrenia typically begins in early adulthood, with the average age of onset for men being 18 and for women, 25. It is extremely rare for schizophrenia to begin under the age of 10 or over the age of 40.
“My son, aged 43, was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 19 years old,” wrote a caregiver in a publication by the British Psychological Society. “My son had a disturbed childhood. He did not talk until he was 2 years old and had obsessional habits such as constantly twirling objects and spinning around and around. When he went to school he had concentration difficulties and did not read until he was 8. However, he was very musical and played the trumpet and the guitar.”
Read More: Here