The mothers who don’t give up

Later today, MPR’s All Things Considered will begin a week-long look at Minnesota’s mental health system.

It is considered better than most states, although the bar is a low one as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out in a compelling series about one young man’s struggle with schizophrenia.

Rob Sweeney, 25, has a combination of delusions, paranoia, depression and mania. For the last six years, he’s been “churning” through Milwaukee County’s troubled mental health system.

His story is not at all unusual, especially the part about his mother, Debbie, who refuses to give up on her son.

“That’s what this disease does to you,” she said. “It tears a mother away from her son.”

She is left to navigate a mental health system that nobody tells you how to navigate. It is a system that is broken.

Hers is a story shared by thousands — maybe millions — of parents with children suffering from a diseased brain. They wait for the phone call and try to tell themselves they’ve done everything they could do.

The news is often punctuated by senseless acts of a diseased mind. People ask “how could this happen?” as if nobody had already told them.