Growing Up With A Schizophrenic Mom Showaye Selassie, now 28, remembers her mom making her laugh so hard she could forget the pain of a sharp cut on her finger. But she also remembers her mom's fears of people following and trying to kidnap them.
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Growing Up With A Schizophrenic Mom

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Growing Up With A Schizophrenic Mom

Growing Up With A Schizophrenic Mom

Growing Up With A Schizophrenic Mom

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/131063265/131089235" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Showaye Selassie (left) and her friend, Susan Greenfield. At StoryCorps in New York City, Selassie told Greenfield that her mom, who was schizophrenic, is one of the most interesting people she will ever meet. StoryCorps hide caption

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StoryCorps

Showaye Selassie (left) and her friend, Susan Greenfield. At StoryCorps in New York City, Selassie told Greenfield that her mom, who was schizophrenic, is one of the most interesting people she will ever meet.

StoryCorps

One of Showaye Selassie's earliest memories of her mother involves a puppet and Chef Boyardee.

It was Selassie's fifth birthday, and her mom had made a can of ravioli -- Selassie's favorite meal.

"I went to stick my finger in to get the little gooey bits of ravioli from the inside of the can, and I cut myself," Selassie says.

Her mom went into the kitchen to get a rag to clean the cut, but instead of bringing back the rag, her mom reached around the kitchen wall with a yellow bunny rabbit puppet.

Selassie was laughing so hard she forgot she had cut herself. "I loved it," she says.

Selassie, now 28, tells her friend, Susan Greenfield, that her mother is one of the most interesting people she will ever meet.

"She was a paranoid schizophrenic," Selassie says. "She thought that people were trying to poison us, kidnap us."

She says that when her mom dropped her off at school, her mom would often wait outside.

"So I was able to look out the window and see my mother," Selassie says. "The kids would kind of make fun of me."

And eventually her mom got worse, Selassie says. "She ended up locking me in my room."

But Greenfield notes that those events have not hindered Selassie. "You're not the kind of person who someone meets and goes, 'Oh my God, what a life she had,'" Greenfield tells her friend.

Selassie is still anxious when she meets new people, though. "Because I'm always wondering ... are they wondering if something's wrong."

Selassie says she's read a lot of articles on mental illness because she is worried that it is something that could happen to her at any time. That it could just "fall out of the sky," she says.

But her life could have been much worse, she says. "I could have had a parent that didn't care about me."

Produced for Morning Edition by Nadia Reiman. The Senior Producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.