There’s no sugar coating a severe mental illness like schizophrenia. To say it’s challenging is an understatement. It can be devastating. At least it was for my mom and I. We share our story in a memoir we co-authored, Love's All That Makes Sense: A Mother Daughter Memoir—a candid, yet inspiring story about the struggles and triumphs we experienced while dealing with the ravaging effects of schizophrenia over a span of 25 years.
Homecoming Queen to Homeless
My mother, Sakeenah Francis, describes her life as a Cinderella story in reverse. She grew up in a well-respected, middle-class African American family, went to college, was homecoming queen, got married, began a career and had two daughters. Then schizophrenia struck and her world began to crumble. For the first twelve years of her illness, my mother was in and out of mental hospitals, on and off her medicine, and in and out of my life which was hard on both of us.
Growing Up with a Mother with Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia didn’t just wreck havoc in my mom’s life, it also impacted those closest to her like me. Only four years old when my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I too was traumatized by her mental illness. Early on, I experienced schizophrenia’s ravaging affects as I tried to support my mother and cope with the emotional roller coaster created by her illness. In our memoir, I share what it was like to grow up with a mother with schizophrenia and how this impacted me well into adulthood.
Where the Hope Lies
We didn’t write our story to simply say that life is hard with a severe mental illness, our desire is to show where the hope lies with mental illness. In the words of my mother, 'It’s not what happens to you in life, it’s what you do after it happens’. Even with the devastation schizophrenia caused at times, there was always love - which at times was the only thing that made sense to my mother and I. Love gave us the strength and resilience to heal. My mother has been in recovery for the past 16 years and is now a mental health advocate who has given over fifty speeches about recovery and life with mental illness. I too had choices to make. My life could have been defined by the challenges of my childhood, but I decided that my life would be characterized by my resilience, strength and ability to heal. Our sobering story carries a message of hope and love that all can relate to.
What People Are Saying
'“Have you ever been cruising through life on autopilot barely paying attention to the road when you hit something that jolts you awake?” asks Anika to introduce this moving and eyeopening memoir. Her excellent use of analogies make this story about a woman with schizophrenia and her roller coaster relationship with her extremely gifted daughter a work that will enlighten and enrich anyone whether they suffer from a diagnosed mental illness or the difficult vicissitudes of life in hard times, or just the ups and downs of life at any time.' - Sandra Shwayder Sanchez of Bookpleasures.com Read More
“Love's All that Makes Sense: A Mother Daughter Memoir embodies the essence of unconditional love and a Spirit that never gives up. It takes you through the struggles, trials, and triumphs of the effects of mental illness on consumers and their family. The underlying message is that love...real love...unconditional love... truly does conquer all.” – L. Horne
"This an amazingly riveting book and a must read on so many different levels. Mental health professionals and policy makers need to read to understand how funding cuts and programs profoundly impact families. The themes of unconditional love and family are universal and resonate with everyone. The story is raw and gritty at times, deeply moving and personal, but ultimately an inspiring love story and testimony of God's grace and constant presence. There are so many layers to unpeel and I highly recommend this book." – C. Simmons
Growing up with a mother suffering from schizophrenia means you’re going to take some serious knocks. The question is whether these knocks take you out or build you up. My knocks built me up and made me strong. Even so, knocks at such a young age leave marks and scars which I carried silently for many years. Read More
– Anika Francis- Love’s All That Makes Sense
"After walking down the middle of the street ranting and raving, who would have imagined that I could function as a ‘normal’ person and give speeches to people about my illness and recovery, all I can say is it’s not what happens to you in life, it’s what you do after it happens.” Read More
- Sakeenah Francis – Love’s All That Makes Sense