The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

EC student reflects on growing up with a mother with schizophrenia

Naisha Ross’s upbringing was strongly affected by her mother’s disorder. “You kind of take that anger and frustration out on others around you especially the ones that you love the most and that’s what I experienced predominately, all the time,” she said. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

UPDATE Monday, Dec. 11. at 8:20 a.m.: This story was updated to include the fact that Ross is a student at El Camino College.

The darkness of her mother’s room engulfed Naisha Ross. The only source of light came from the glare of the butcher knife clutched in her mother’s hand and she used this light to avoid the piercing stab of its sharp edge.

Her mother’s knees dug into her forearms as she laid on her back, restraining her from breaking free from the sudden ambush.

Ross could hear the sounds of her sister attempting to get into the room she was being held in and suddenly she was free.

“I immediately ran into the bathroom and I looked at myself (in the mirror),” Ross said.

Who she saw staring back at her was an unfamiliar entity.

“I had patches of hair missing, I had knife marks where (the knife) cut me all around my neck.”

She recalled crying and screaming in frustration at what had just occurred.

“(I was frustrated) because I’d already been dealing with this for years,” Ross said.

‘This’ being her mother’s schizophrenia.

“Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder which means that the person has a different version of reality playing in their mind that feels just as real as true reality does to the rest of us,” said professor of psychology, Amy Himsel. “The way that this comes out is through delusions and hallucinations, primarily.”

At 32, she still feels the effects of her mother’s disorder on her life. Despite Ross being a student at El Camino and pursuing her second associate’s degree in sociology, Ross can still recall her mother’s episodes as early as the age of 14.

To Ross, schizophrenia has detrimental effects on the ones that may be inflicted with the disorder in addition to those around them.

“Can you imagine living your entire life, 24/7 (having) someone in your ear telling you you should kill yourself how much you’re a bitch, you’re a whore?” Ross said. “You kind of take that anger and frustration out on others around you especially the ones that you love the most and that’s what I experienced predominantly, all the time.”

Ross’s home life was impacted along with her school and social life due to her mother’s disorder.

“My mom brought a lot of (her) schizophrenia to my high school,” Ross said.

According to Ross, her mother would often take her out of school due to the belief that she was in she was in danger.

“She came to my high school a few times to just check me out, out of the blue,” Ross said. “(She would say) someone was coming up there to kill me. It destroyed my social life.”

As an adult, Ross still struggles to understand how she came to be in the familial situation she was given.

“I recently went to a medium and the medium had told me we pick the family we want to be born into,” Ross said. “I can’t imagine picking this shit.”

Until the age of 32, Ross remained in with her mother despite her siblings removing themselves out of their mother’s life.

“I don’t know maybe it’s my heart, I don’t understand how easy it is for people to just walk away,” Ross said. “My sister did it, my brother did it, I didn’t.”

Per her therapist’s advice to ‘create boundaries’ between herself and her mother, Naisha decided to act on counseling.

“I’ve wanted to show her how I’m progressing in life but I couldn’t bring myself to do it because I know what that includes. It (includes) heartache,” Ross said.

As an adult, Ross hopes to find peace as time progresses.

“I feel like ultimately I’m going to be healed when I remove myself from everything,” Ross said.

One of the only people that Ross confides in is her husband, Charles. Ross and Charles have been married for 17 years and knew one another when Ross was 14, and Charles was 15.

“She’s a real strong woman you know, there’s a lot of things she’s been through in life especially the things she went through with her mother,” Charles said.

In the future, Ross hopes to use her experiences to impact the lives of other people by writing a book and eventually becoming a family advocate.

Ross would also like to set a good example for her son by continuing to progress in school.

“I’m just going to keep on going and I want him to see that in me and I want him to keep on going,” Ross said.

Ross feels as though her public speaking professor, Salim Faryha gave her the ability to speak about her story in the form of a speech assignment.

“When she gave me the platform I decided I wanted to use it for something better,” Ross said.

Ross hopes that her story can inspire children in similar situations to speak up about what may be occurring in their home due to a caregiver having schizophrenia.

“I want to tell kids that it’s okay. You may not like the change immediately but I swear it may be better than the situation you’re in,“ Ross said.

According to Clerical Assistant Christine Maekawa, students who may be struggling with their mental health can create an appointment with a clinical psychologist on campus at the Student Health Center and are designated up to six counseling sessions per school year.

More to Discover