Marifran Korb

Tag: schizophrenia


by on May.11, 2010, under Random Writings on Relationship

My mother was my first relationship. She was diagnosed as having schizophrenia, and later bi-polar disorder. As you can imagine, that relationship profoundly affected me.

Had I lived with her alone on a desert island, it is likely I would not have survived. In this story, I show how neighbors made a difference.

Below is a new sample from my book: Breaking Through Concrete: The Gift of Having Mentally Ill Parents.


For days, Mother had been sleeping at night on the grass in the front yard. Actually the back yard was bigger, but it did not suit my mother’s purposes. It was definitely not as public and Mother had a propensity for drama. It was “too hot inside,” she explained.

Wearing her ragged bedclothes, she usually came in after the men on the street drove past on their way to work. That included Dad.

One morning, after a week of those grass-sleeping nights, men in white coats came to the house. Dad hadn’t left for work yet. The men spoke to him privately. Then they asked where to find her. He pointed to the bedroom where she had just come inside to rummage around for God-knows-what. The screaming started as the two men took her by the arms. She didn’t fight them physically as I knew she could. She was just yelling from the surprise of the ambush like a scared rabbit. Dad observed the scene as a bystander. It had to be a surprise to him, but his demeanor never gave it away.

When she was out of sight and hearing I asked Dad if it was due to the sleeping in the grass that led to this. “No, it was the noise and digging into neighbors’ garbage cans that did it,” he answered flatly as if nothing just happened. I got ready for school as always, and tried not to think of where she was going. My brothers had no reaction.

Walking to the bus stop, I lost myself in pondering what was the dividing line between sanity and insanity. “What behavior constituted normal and what constituted the unacceptable?” Making noise, digging in trashcans, and even displaying herself on the lawn didn’t seem that bad to me, especially compared to her anger flares, her sudden nastiness, etc. I guess it had to do with who was disturbed. The relatives and the neighbors knew some of the extremes that went on in private. They had seen and heard her screaming and hitting, and kept that to themselves. The people who saw her reactions and disturbances looked away. Yet, when odd behavior bothered and affected them, then it wasn’t all right anymore. It all seemed a blur to me. What got her put away didn’t seem anywhere near as serious as lots of other things that didn’t have consequences. I could never have gotten away with the things my mother was permitted to do.

Knowing that Dad didn’t call the men in white coats, I was secretly glad to have neighbors that did.

Another chapter from this book is

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