January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her
A harrowing memoir from the father of a seven-year-old girl, January First is the desperate story of Michael's mission to find out what is wrong with his highly intelligent daughter. Right from when she was a newborn, January has kept her parents on their toes: as a baby she slept for only 20 minutes at a time, as a one year old she spoke in complete sentences, at two she asked about negative numbers, and by three had literally hundreds of imaginary friends. But when her brother Bodhi arrives her behaviour becomes increasingly violent, her never-ending delusions and hallucinations interspersed with paroxysms of rage that eventually force her parents to live in separate one-bedroom apartments - communicating with walkie-talkies to keep her brother safe. As her father does the rounds of child psychologists, doctors and locked hospital wards, he provides an unflinchingly honest account of parenting, as well as an indictment of the lack of care for children with severe mental illness. January First shows the passionate dedication of a father who refuses to give up on his little girl even as her behaviour becomes ever more alien.
An eventual diagnosis is reached of one of the most severe cases of child-onset schizophrenia that doctors have ever seen: January is hallucinating 95 percent of the time that she is awake and potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her.