Therapist: A Memorial to My Mother with Schizophrenia

Therapist: A Memorial to My Mother with Schizophrenia

Art is a wound turned into light ~ George Braque

In spite of being a seasoned psychotherapist, the ambient ways in which my schizophrenic mother maneuvered to nullify my existence eluded me. All was obscured by the shroud of psychosis that pervaded our connection and absolved her of any malintent.

When I finally faced and accepted the agonizing truth of how my mother’s vindictive motives infiltrated our dynamic, I realized that in order to save myself from certain psychological and spiritual annihilation, I had to dissolve all ties with her.

That realization was a pivotal choice, one which catalyzed a dark trajectory of healing and growth. After many years of separation and continuous efforts to recover from an extensive history of child abuse and subsequent traumas, I ultimately discovered that the severance of my connection to my mother allowed me to thrive like never before.

I was no longer trapped by concealed prohibitions that dulled my innate potentials and desires. I reclaimed my right to exist for myself.

A year ago, when I received word that my mother was grappling with a horrible death, I found myself at a crossroads. Re-traumatized by her elusive return, I knew that I needed to discharge my anguish through some sort of creative expression. So I wrote. I wrote a memorial for her and for myself, to elucidate our connection and to bring our relationship into the light of truth.

Writing this piece for my mother Pearl was a healing ritualistic act. I decided to share it with others who might identify with this plight, so I sent it to OC87 Recovery Diaries where diverse journeys of recovery are given a platform.

OC87 Recovery Diaries editor Bud Clayman forwarded the memorial I wrote to filmmaker Glenn Holsten. That gesture ignited the formation of this animated film short.

It’s been tremendously poignant and reparative to have filmmaker Glenn Holsten and animator Paul Fierlinger imbue my story with their artistry and vision. Their generous offering has shown me that by elevating the human journey through art, one’s insufferable aloneness is mitigated and one’s hopelessness transcended.

By watching the short, I am reminded that creativity, humanity and love can somehow survive the harshness of trauma. By sharing my story, I am encouraged to inspire others to follow suit, with the hope that by so doing we will come to recognize the unique and personal purpose of every individual life.

It has been a remarkable gift that I hope will make a difference for all those who seek to create meaning from adversity.

About the Team

Glenn Holsten

Paul Fierlinger

OC87 Recovery Diaries

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW


Therapist: A Memorial to My Mother with Schizophrenia

Rev Sheri Heller, LCSW

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, is a seasoned NYC psychotherapist with 25+ years experience in the addiction and mental health fields. Sheri is also an interfaith minister and playwright, and the founder of The Sistah Tribe - Phoenix Project, a therapeutic theater event for at-risk women and girls in the public sector of NYC. For more information, visit


APA Reference
Heller, R. (2016). Therapist: A Memorial to My Mother with Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Dec 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Dec 2016
Published on All rights reserved.