Richard Ruston was afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia before his daughter, Delaney Ruston’s birth. After many years of shame, frustration and fear she decided to hide from her father and keep her phone number and address unlisted. But now, 10 years later, Richard is more stable on a newer medicine and Delaney, given her experiences as a doctor and a mother, decides to reconnect with her father. What understanding and acceptance of her dad and his illness can she now find? What obstacles to getting her dad treatment will she now face? Knowing that her earlier failed attempts to get needed treatment to her dad is a common occurrence in today’s starved mental health system, Delaney decides to bring her camera with her during this journey of reconciliation.
As the story unfolds Delaney finds that the wall she has created between her and her dad starts to slowly crumble as she applies her medical understanding of her dad’s illness, to their tormented past. By meeting with people involved in her father’s life, past and present, and by referring to her father’s autobiographically based novel that he wrote during the onset of his schizophrenia, Delaney begins to better understand her father’s world and how she can now be a part of it.
But this journey is not without strain as Delaney faces the conflicts around caring for her father that have existed since her youth. Delaney must confront family members who each hold strong opinions about her responsibility to her dad and she must face the constant tension of her dad wanting to go off treatment. When he finally does, Delaney finds herself on a race against time that is a matter of life and death.
Sharing touching and at times painful detail about the personal toll of mental illness, Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia is a soul-searching examination into the nature of responsibility—of parents and children, of physicians and patients, of society and citizens towards those afflicted with severe mental illness.