Sunday, March 13, 2011

Eleanor Owen's tireless battle for mental-health care

An article published in the March 12th edition of The Seattle Times:
Having a son with schizophrenia, Seattle's Eleanor Owen knows firsthand the heartache and worry families face. She joined others to found the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

By Maureen O'Hagan

HE IS your child.

You watch him go from artist to hermit, from scholar to stranger. He starts sleeping in the basement, in a box. You tell yourself it's an adolescent phase.

He walks the streets, barefoot and disheveled, a blanket around his shoulders and letters shaved into his head. Could it be drugs?

Then one day you find a noose he'd hung from a pipe.

Another day, he gets arrested after creating a disturbance at the train station, trying to get from Seattle to San Francisco on a movie-ticket stub.

Eleanor Owen [pictured] was teaching and staging children's plays. Her husband, John, was an engineer. They were well-educated and comfortable and endlessly resourceful. Yet they felt helpless.

Their son's life, Eleanor says, "became more and more tragic."

At some point, she realized two things.

Her son had schizophrenia.

And she would fight for him with all her might.

To read the entire story, please click here.

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