When we bring home those perfect little babies from the hospital, we know in our heads there’s a whole scary world out there that we need to protect them from – but the real nightmare is worrying that some day, we might not be able to protect them from themselves.

Mental illness is real, it’s scary, and when it comes to schizophrenia, it can steal the person you love right out from under you.

Here’s what these 12 parents’ experiences raising a schizophrenic child were like.

12. It must be so hard for her, too.

Here’s hoping help is out there.

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11. Just say no.

Trying drugs isn’t just a lark for everyone.

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10. That’s not in the job description.

But you do have to take care of yourself, too.

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9. The helpless feeling must be overwhelming.

You have to find peace any way that you can.

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8. It’s not the easiest job.

It is necessary, though.

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7. There’s nothing you can do.

Except love them no matter what.

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6. If only we could take their place.

Most parents would do so in a heartbeat.

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5. That’s not the way its supposed to be.

But for some people, that’s the way it is.

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4. There’s a difference.

Quirks can be mental illness, but not vice versa.

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3. Things could have been so different.

It’s definitely not what you wished for.

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2. Childhood is precious.

Everyone deserves to have one.

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1. Kids can be cruel.

But they can be great, too, if you give them a chance.

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These are honestly horror stories through a parent’s eyes, right?

If you have firsthand experience that’s similar, share your truth with us in the comments!