Help Support NAMI Wilmington, and read about a father’s journey through his son’s mental illness, loss and a search for meaning.

“An authentic and raw account of one father’s journey to support his son with schizophrenia through the complex world of mental illness. Doug’s honest and compelling storytelling using the sociological perspective will help family members, caregivers. clinicians, and academics alike to understand the labyrinth from diagnosis to treatment, and heartbreak to hope.”

– Angela Bingham, MSW

“This book uniquely presents the trials of caring for a young adult with mental health challenges from both the perspective of a parent and a researcher. It underscores the need for more comprehensive mental health support for all families.”

– Stacey Kolomer, Ph. D., MSSW
Director, UNCW School of Social Work

In our society, individuals with mental illness often are stigmatized due to misunderstanding and fear. Families with a member diagnosed as a person with mental illness may find themselves forced to restructure themselves around the idea that they are now coping with a family member who may be subject to social stigma and who may draw them into that same negative framework. In this autoethnographic story, I recall and describe the moment my relationship with my son changed forever—the moment he revealed his mental illness to me. This moment altered my own life course—from businessman, to academic, to wounded storyteller. Personally, transformative experiences like mine tend to create writers because we feel compelled to share our experiences in the form of stories. This is my story, but it could be the story of any parent and child in any family.

Douglas J. Engelman earned his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of South Florida in 2020. He is now Visiting Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Dr. Engelman also serves on the NAMI Wilmington Board of Directors as President.