The Quiet Room By: Lori Schiller & Amanda Bennett
A fascinating and heart-wrenching, true story of a 17 year old girl’s struggle to find a foothold in reality.
The book walks you through the life of Lori Schiller (yes, she also helped write the book as well!). It gives you a first-hand look at what it is really like to develop and live with Schizophrenia. You see the progression of her disease, follow her progress through years of treatment, and feel for her as she slowly tries to re-establish her life.
The story begins when she was 17 years old. Lori was a normal teenager then. She came from a good home with loving and supportive parents that pushed her to do her best to succeed in life. She just graduated high school and was now contemplating her future while trying to enjoy her last summer before college. As she left to work at a summer camp, nothing was out of the ordinary – until the Voices came.
Lori tries everything she can to get away from the nagging Voices in her head. She tries running, she tries blasting music or sleeping but, nothing helps. The Voices grow louder and louder until eventually, she is unable to ignore their presence. They leave her debilitated. She loses jobs, friends, drops out of college and attempts suicide. She can do nothing to escape the torture and feels alone because no one else can hear what she hears.
Her parents believe at first that their daughter is just stressed and will bounce-back if given the time to relax. Of course, this doesn’t work out despite their best efforts. They seek help and treatment for Lori but, are unaccepting of Lori’s real need for Psychiatric help. They don’t want to believe that their perfect daughter has some scary mental disorder. No. Lori is just stressed, she just needs a social life and friends.
Lori is moved to a different hospital when doctors decide there is nothing more they can do for her. They had tried treating her for what they thought was Bipolar Disorder but, she was not getting better. The doctors assigned to help Lori at the new hospital come up with a new diagnosis – Schizophrenia and start her on treatment and require her to live at the hospital.
Her mother visits often, even though sometimes she doesn’t want to. She feels like the Lori she had raised is gone, and she wants desperately for that little girl to come back. Sometimes the visits go really well – Lori is able to hold a conversation and actually seems present. Other times she may slip away into her own world – unable to hear her mother’s voice or even acknowledge her presence. Her mother leaves the hospital in tears almost every time.
Finally, Lori is allowed to leave the hospital and move back in with her parents. Nothing is the same though, nothing can ever be the way it was before. Her parents are afraid to leave her alone with fear she might try to harm herself. Lori is depressed and alone – no longer feeling comfortable in her own skin.
In an effort to move forward, Lori finds a job waiting at a restaurant/bar. She struggles to keep up with the fast pace but puts in her best effort. The Voices are still very much a part of her every day life. She tries to ignore them as best as she can but ultimately turns to drugs to bring her the relief and silence she’s been craving.
After yet another suicide attempt, she is taken back to the hospital. Instead of being released back home, Lori moves into a halfway house through a program at the hospital. She will stay at the home and report to the hospital every day for activities and monitoring. She is given responsibilities at the home such as cleaning and cooking in order to help ensure she will have the skills necessary to eventually live on her own.
Lori tries hard to get better but her efforts are all for not after she relapses yet again. This time she is put in a long-term stay psychiatric ward of the hospital. It is there that she meets two Psychiatrists that help her get to the root of the problems – the meaning behind the voices. Their therapy combined with medications helped calm the voices in Lori’s head. Lori finally had the courage and strength to fight them off and the will to push herself to get better.
The final effort to help her came in the form of a new and experimental drug called Clozapine. When Lori heard about this drug and how it had been able to help some patients with Schizophrenia, she begged her psychiatrist to let her try it. Her Psych was hesitant because not only was there a possibility that it wouldn’t work, there was also a chance it might kill her. She does given in and decide to put Lori on Clozapine. Once treatment began, Lori showed a lot of improvement. This sort of hazy cloud she had been living under was finally starting to dissipate – and with it, the Voices. For once she felt normal, she finally felt more like herself.
One thing that was really well done with this book was the alternating narratives. Some of the “chapters” are written by other people in Lori’s life which allows the reader to understand not only how Schizophrenia affects the individual but, how it affects their family and friends as well. Her parents had a hard time accepting her diagnosis and tried their best to not lose hope throughout the entire process of seeking treatment to help their daughter.
I think this book sheds a light on the reality of mental disorders and the true torment someone suffering with them can go through. A lot of people don’t really think about the affects of trying to live a normal life when everything is far from normal in your own mind. To Lori, those Voices were Real. She could hear them as clear as anything else. It wasn’t something she made up for attention or something she was able to just ‘turn off’. Her whole way of thinking was altered – her perception of reality, all because of Schizophrenia.
Honestly, this is a really great book to read if you’re looking to delve deeper into the world of Psychiatry, to understand the true reality of Schizophrenia. Especially if you are interested in therapy. It could help you be more sympathetic and aware of what some patients and their families are really going through.
I believe it also shows strength and perseverance which can be encouraging to those who may be going through hard times in their life, especially with dealing with a mental disorder. It shows that no matter how bad things can get, there is always hope.