This is a true account written by a father about his daughter who started behaving differently since the age of three and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Why January First? This was the question I had in mind when I first came across this title. Who is January? What “madness” ails this person?
Michael Schofield is a good storyteller. He shares every dramatic and disastrous episode, and describes every emotion and thought. As a reader, I feel the physical and emotional struggle he and his wife have gone through in taking care of January, especially whenever they try to bring her back to the real world or get into her world. The couple thus bear a heavy emotional burden. Needless to say, there are times when they are overwhelmed but the couple support each other and do not give up. They believe even though January behaves very differently, she is still in many ways the same daughter they love.
And that’s the most important message in this book: faith and perseverance. Aren’t these values what all of us need in life as well?
No one knows exactly how to deal with mental illness. I bet just like any other parent, Michael Schofield wishes for simplicity and happiness with his family. Yet schizophrenia took it all. Without faith, there would probably be only pain and misery.
Life goes on and Michael Schofield continues the journey as he holds onto his faith. I hope “the whole universe conspires in helping” (quoted from The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho) him in this journey.
Keep calm and have faith.
(If you would like to find out more about the Schofields, visit their website: janifoundation.org.)
By Chan Pan Fong