The Walls Are Breathing: Mental Illness: A Mother's Perspective

“The walls are breathing,” her 20-year-old son said. “I know it’s not real, but that’s what I see.”

So began Julie N. Strickland’s education on mental illness. She did not know where to start, or who to call. A mechanical engineer, she had earned a master's degree. Research, she could do. Calling people, she could do. But dealing with doctors, insurance, and social security — all of these were difficult for her. For her son, these were impossible. From struggling to find a doctor who accepted new patients, to struggling to separate symptoms from drug side effects, she learned to advocate for her child. It took two years for him to recover, and another three for both of them to adjust to their “new normal."

The LA Times estimates that one-third of the homeless population suffers from mental illness. While praying about how she could help, God told Strickland to share her story. If at least one person could get help, perhaps that person would stay off the street. If enough people could get help, the homeless population could shrink.

Strickland decided to write a book to help others who find themselves in this situation without a road map. Readers can find the resources and advice that took her years to compile in the appendices and on her website ( By sharing this information, she hopes that at least one person can find the resources they need.

Strickland is not a medical professional. She is not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. She is a mother who helped her child through a difficult illness. She is telling her story here to help other parents and families.

Because few parents know how to react when their child says, "The walls are breathing."

--Julie N. Strickland