I drive through the hospital carpark trying to find a space. My five year old son, Liam sits quietly in the back. I wonder if he knows the importance of this appointment, how it could change our lives forever. Six months earlier I'd went to the psychiatrist because Liam had been acting strangely. He seemed to be in his own little world and had been talking to himself. At first I'd thought that there was nothing to worry about, after all most five year olds have imaginary friends and make up things. However Liam was talking to himself more than he was talking to other people and one day he was crying about how the bad men were coming to take him away. Over the past six months we'd been in and out of the hospital for tests and today is the day we find out the answers to why Liam behaves the way he does.
"Well we've done all the tests and looked at the symptoms you've described and it seems as if Liam has paranoid schizophrenia," the psychiatrist explains. I stare at her in shock, not believing my ears. Look at my son, at the brightness of his green eyes and his smile - this is not the face of someone with a severe mental illness. I have so many questions to ask but my throat seems as if it's blocked. "Will he be able to cope in society?" I manage to choke out. "He should" The pschyiatrist reassures me. "Liam's still quite young though so we're not sure on the severity of his condition. But with the right medication he should be fine"
"I just don't believe it!" I say to my husband, Dave later that night. "I mean no one on either side of our family has a history of severe mental illness" Dave listens patiently to all I have to say. "This might not be genetic" Dave says " We don't know what caused this but the important thing is that we make sure Liams happy. None of us are to blame Lola" Dave switches off the bedside lamp and goes to sleep, leaving me alone to think of the future and how to help my son deal with his illness.