My sister started her first psychotic episode when she was 12, I recently found out. I can't imagine how scared she must have felt, facing it all alone. But looking back, the symptoms were right there, and if we had known what to look for maybe our lives would have been much different, and possibly better.
When there were moments of calm from my sister's side, I saw my parents struggle to understand what was happening while not knowing where to look. At that time, I used to feel like my sister made everything about her or my parents made everything about her. Looking back I can tell how hard my parents and family tried to make my life as normal as possible. My aunt and uncle tried to surprise me on my birthday, my parents took me to places I always wanted to go, and most of all, my entire family struggled together to give me moments that everyone wished they had in their lives growing up.
When I went to university, my parents made sure I went far away, so that they could spare me some of the difficulties I was accustomed to. The first thing I noticed when I was alone was the quietness. All the fighting and screaming and yelling I had gotten used to was replaced by quietness. And I hated it. I struggled very often to not fall apart. I used to have nightmares for years on end of someone ringing the doorbell. I scared many a roommate by crying in my sleep muttering 'I will open it, I will open it.' When I lived at home, my sister would go out at night without telling anyone where she went. She would ring the doorbell in the wee hours of the morning, and as our doorbell was broken and made a soft buzzing noise instead, no one would hear it except me. I would sneak down to open the door for her, hoping no one will notice she had come back and so everyone would be saved a confrontation.
To be continued...