It took a family tragedy of immeasurable proportions to bring author Gail Schmidkunz face-to-face with one thing he realized he had neglected to teach his children—what to do if you are detained by the police. This left his son, Zach, unprepared for the horrible ordeal that awaited him while dealing with the side effects of abruptly ceasing a drug used for treating depression. It was an event that would change their lives forever.
The Schmidkunzes, a Christian, middle-class family, were immensely proud of their son, Zach, as he headed off to college. Zach had always been an easygoing young man who had never displayed an outburst of anger. When his grades began to plummet during his freshman year, Zach returned home to begin a different path. But, as his father details, it was not long before Zach’s personality changed. He became reclusive, withdrawn, and suicidal; he was eventually prescribed Zoloft, an antidepressant that everyone trusted to be safe. It is only when Zach’s parents discovered a body behind their couch and no sign of Zach that they realized they were in the midst of a nightmare instigated by side effects of the very drug they thought would help their son.
I Am Not Silent shares the true story of one family’s faith-filled, life-changing journey through depression and the subsequent after-effects of a prescription antidepressant that sheds much-needed light on the frightening issue of drug-induced insanity.
A single Winchester 12 gauge AA shotgun shell hull lay on the floor near the small coffee table in front of the couch. I recognized the hull immediately. It was one of my reloads that Zach and I used for hunting or sporting clays. The hull lay almost half the distance from Zach’s bedroom door to where the young woman lay. With great trepidation I stepped towards the grizzly scene. For sure Zach’s car was gone, but in spite of that fact, would I also find my son dead behind the couch? Had someone murdered Zach and this young woman and then fled with Zach’s car?
Our pastor arrived and he immediately gathered Rhonda and I into his arms and the three of us stood sobbing. From Isaiah 41:10 he read, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” It brought comfort to know that Pastor Paul would gather our church family and exhort everyone to pray for us, particularly Zach. So began the support we were to receive for many months from a legion of angels sent by God. Angels with skin.
GAIL SCHMIDKUNZ earned a bachelor of science degree in social and behavioral science and a master’s degree in mathematics. He is a middle school mathematics teacher and award-winning football, wrestling, and track coach. Gail has been married to his high school sweetheart, Rhonda, for thirty-eight years. They have two children.