Joann: What Happened to Jacob?

Joann remembered Jacob as a young man with ambition and drive, who was now spending a lot of time in bed. Jacob covered up his symptoms, keeping them from her. He became more isolated from his friends. Before the onset of his bipolar illness, Jacob had always worked. He kept control of his finances; paid his bills; and bought a car, obtaining a loan on his own without a cosigner. He successfully started a small business, arranged for contracting, and paid the taxes. Joann applauded his responsible behavior, observing “I don’t know a lot of young adults who would be that responsible at that age.” For a while after his first hospitalization, Jacob held his life together.

That’s really admirable. You think of somebody and everything they have to deal with when they’re living with a mental illness and not taking the meds to help what other symptoms they’re dealing with. Whether it’s the voices or the impulsivity. . . He managed to hold a job, pay for his insurance, and pay for car payments—never missed one.

Jacob seemed fearful that Joann would use information against him and refused to confide in her about his plans. She struggled with how to communicate her care for him. When off his medications, he blamed others when he could not get a job, saying that everybody is against him and judging him. He became fixated on religious topics and posted “bizarre” videos and comments on social media.

Joann expresses anguish over the loss of the Jacob that had been and what she hoped he would be.

You have all these dreams for your children. Everything that you think they are so capable of doing is ripped out from underneath you. You grieve the child that you knew. And you’re not sure if that child is ever going to come back. That’s a huge piece of grief that I carry, because I don’t have that hope that I’m seeing my baby in there somewhere right now. I have that feeling of loss—like I’m never going to get that child back or all of my hopes that I had for him and all the stuff that he used to talk about before and what he wanted to achieve in life.