From January to August 2009, Jani was admitted to the hospital three times, spending a total of 174 days in UCLA Medical Center's psychiatric ward.
Her psychiatrist, Dr. Mark DeAntonio, says it's very unusual for a child Jani's age to have this kind of mental illness. "I've seen only really a handful of children in my 20 years that fit this kind of diagnosis," he says. "This kind of alternate reality that she lives in—that's very scary. That's very disturbing."
Year after year, Jani's hallucinations change and evolve, but all the cats and rats have one thing in common...they live on an imaginary island Jani calls Calalini. This island, which she describes as a place between her world and our world, is very real to Jani.
"I like Calalini better than this world," she says.
There's no cure for schizophrenia, but doctors try to control Jani's violent impulses and normalize her brain activity with heavy medication. "She's on the top of the line—Clozaril, 200 milligrams a day, and lithium, 600 milligrams a day," Susan says. "Clozaril is the last resort for adult schizophrenics."