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Mental illness didn’t even cross my mind.” The first of Jani’s several hundred imaginary friends, a dog called Low, appeared just before her third birthday.
“We just didn’t really think about it,” Michael says. It wasn’t just one or two; they were growing exponentially.
Earlier theories had included Asperger’s, autism, biopolar disorder, OCD, ADHD and extreme anxiety.
“By that point, schizophrenia was the 800lb gorilla in the room nobody would mention,” says Michael.
By the time she was four, I couldn’t keep track of them all.” All lived in a place Jani called “Calalini”, a desert island she describes as being “on the border of my world and your world”.
Some were simple playmates – a girl called 24 Hours and Midnight the cat.
Jani, as she likes to be called, announced she was hungry and wanted macaroni cheese.
“It didn’t feel like it was her,” Michael, an English lecturer at California State University, Northridge, recalls of the hellish episodes that started around his son’s birth in December 2007. I remember describing it to people as being like The Exorcist because of the suddenness of it and the severity.Jani would be kicking me, hurting me, and I remember thinking, 'This has to be hurting her because it’s her bare feet, it’s her toes’, and she was not reacting.” Jani had always been different.Precociously intelligent, she knew the alphabet by 13 months and, at a year and a half, spoke in grammatically correct sentences.While schizophrenia, which affects about one in 100 people at some point in their lives, is disturbing in adults, it is “20 to 30 times more severe” in children, according to Dr Nitin Gogtay, a psychiatrist working on a long-term study into child-onset schizophrenia by America’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).“With the typical child that comes to us, it’s not surprising to see them actively hallucinating 95 per cent of the time they are awake,” says Dr Gogtay (who has not treated Jani).January Schofield twisted her head and sank her teeth into her father’s chin.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating