My mum was diagnosed when i was 13, but it was an incredibly slow diagnosis, and she had been pretty bad since I was about 10.
I guess I was 'lucky' in that she only had 2 stays in hospital, 2 months total. The first didn't really help, but when she came out the 2nd time she was like a whole new woman. Of course fast forward a bit, and once the medications kick in, they're so strong it really drains a person of their personality and ability to function normally.
It's an incredibly difficult thing to live with, I didn't even understand what was wrong with her until about 15-16. I had absolutely no support or guidance to explain to me what was happening, and that it was okay. Instead i felt confused and scared by her behavior, and slurred my way through excuses to friends about why I was staying with my nan, or why I couldn't have friends over etc.
I actually read an article by Tulisa from N-Dubz, who went through the same scenario. It has such a lot of stigma attached to it, it can feel very lonely thinking you can't tell someone because they'll make a joke etc, like they don't understand the real gravity of it. I still have a very hard time actually saying my mum was/is schizophrenic, I spent so long trying to pretend it wasn't there/hide it, it doesn't come naturally to me anymore.
I wish I could forget everything I saw and heard, but since i can't I just try and think of a quotation. "Misfortunes are often sent to test our fortitude, and may often reveal themselves as blessings in disguise"
At any rate I'm grateful to be able to have a relationship with my mum now, it can be a real struggle, but there are good moments where it almost feels normal
Wow I didn't mean to waffle so much! :x
It would be really interesting to hear other peoples accounts of this disease.