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Photo by Eva Drizhal
Frank at 20. (Click for larger image)

The tragedy of schizo-phrenia

By EVA DRIZHAL

As the mother of my son Frank, I would especially like to address young people who are confused about why such a sweet and strong boy like Frank died.

Frank had a brilliant and beautiful mind throughout his life. He was always a happy kid, who shared his happiness with his brother and with his friends. He loved life and he loved nature. He was always very strong and sensitive about it. He felt he was a part of nature and spirit and he always respected that. He loved to walk in the rain, going through the snowstorm, swimming in the river and watching the stars. He tried to understand eternity through the galaxies and our short life on this earth, smiling and happy how life is beautiful.

He did not care about cars, TV and “stuff.” He would rather climb the hills not to miss the sunset. His living by nature gave him a larger perspective about life: what we are, where we came from and where we are going. He was worried about nature, pollution, garbage, wars, genetically engineered food and people’s ignorance. He studied nature, and he believed there is an answer.

He was an idealist and a dreamer. The roots of his mind were like a spring of fresh water—unspoiled. He was a renaissance man and he hoped for a new renaissance time to come. He was not only well educated, but he also knew how to apply the knowledge to live a better life. He was a leader. He believed in education, creativity, sensitivity and also responsibility.

But nature was not only beautiful to him, it was also cruel. It spoiled his fresh water. Frank got the most puzzling and unknown disease, which became his biggest tragedy. It happened suddenly and unexpectedly, like lightening from the sky, when he was age 20. He got schizophrenia. It is a disease that strikes young people in their prime. The disease distorts the senses, making it very difficult for the individual to tell what is real from what is not real. The usual age is between 16 and 25.

People with schizophrenia appear to have a neurochemical imbalance. It is not “a split” personality and it is not caused by childhood trauma, bad parenting, poverty or drugs. It affects one in 100 people worldwide. Many people with schizophrenia have high IQs and it does not interfere with a person’s intelligence.

The schizophrenic experience can be a terrifying journey through a world of madness no one can understand, particularly the person traveling through it. You feel very much alone. And it happened to my son Frank. His beautiful nature was slowly eaten by a disease that put him in a strange darkness. And we all tried to put a light there. He was fighting with it every day, every hour, every minute.

Photo by Frank Drizhal
Frank was an avid biker. He loved to ride to Skinners Falls. He was a great swimmer, great runner, great athlete. “Biking was his favorite. Photography was his love,” his mother said. (Click for larger image)

He knew what was happening to him. Frank knew his price and he wanted to have control over his life. He could not live with the difference—what he was and what this terrible disease was taking from him. It was overwhelming. He died with dignity and I have to respect that.

It is very hard for me and for my younger son Jack. Frank was my dream, my beautiful creation, my art. It does not go away. He was not only my inspiration, but also an inspiration for young people who want to study nature. Frank left a message for them: continue to love life, search for a better one. Everybody has a right to live a full rich life. I also urge young people—especially those whose life was touched by Frank’s example of his nonmaterialistic life, with his enthusiasm and knowledge—to educate yourself and also find the cause of this disease.

Frank is not dead for me. I see him in the sky, I feel him through the stars, I touch him on the grass, I hug him in every stone. I smell him in fresh air, I hear him in a bird’s song and I listen to him through the rain. He is unforgettable. Frank believed in eternal return, and I know his spirit is alive and one day he will come in a better time and be smiling.

I thank everybody who shares with me these crucial moments.


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