We were heading into a tornado. Of course, we didn’t know that. Our daughter Susannah was returning for her last year at college in Grand Rapids. But a late summer thunderstorm hit us en route. Soon, it developed into a blinding deluge. White-knuckled, I pulled into the dorm parking lot. As we headed for the dorm’s entrance, sirens went off. Residential Assistants herded students and parents into the basement. Perhaps a hundred of us sat on a cold linoleum floor and waited. Blue lights from cell phones illumined students’ faces as they checked the tornado’s path.“The tornado’s coming right at us!” one girl yelled.Winds whistled and howled. When the massive metal doors at either end of the basement sucked and moaned, another student started to cry. Ninety minutes later, we emerged to find sixty-foot pines snapped and uprooted, crisscrossing the soccer field behind us like pick-up sticks. Whew, I thought, that was close. But a more significant storm lay ahead. Two days later, Susannah burst into tears during her choral class. At 4:30 a.m. the next morning we received a phone call. Our daughter had been taken by ambulance to the emergency room. By the time we arrived, ER doctors had sent her back to school with a written report. She had suffered a panic attack and was advised counseling. We drove her home. Within twenty-four hours, we secured an appointment to see our family doctor. He diagnosed stress, anxiety, and depression. But Susannah couldn’t tie her tennis shoes or sit at the dinner table. Muscle spasms knotted her spine. Most parents view their children through the eyes of love. Our filter of affection kept reaching out to make sense of her physical and emotional symptoms. The child we had known since day one had always made sense. Now nothing made sense. Susannah took a semester leave from her senior year. Once back home, we faced a slew of well-meaning talk therapists. Desperate for another approach to help diagnose her condition we found a counselor who listened to Susannah first, then asked a series of diagnostic questions. I was startled by some of Susannah’s answers. Following a moment of silence the therapist leaned close to us, and with a warm voice asked, “Susannah, do you know what psychosis is?” Psychosis?? A smooth hard stone press against my throat. I could not breathe. But Susannah shook her head with a lack of alarm. The woman continued. “I want to refer you a center called Early Treatment for Cognitive Health. The executive director, Catherine Adams, has a specialty working with college students.” Our counselor must have caught the shock on my face. “Great strides have been made in the area of mental health.” When she left the room to make an immediate referral, Susannah and I gazed out her picture windows in silence. The leaves of a sugar maple were turning. It took everything I had not to burst into tears. When we got in the car, I looked at Susannah in the rear-view mirror, “Susannah do you know what psychosis is?” She stared through the window and shrugged. “Nope. Hey, can we stop and get a latte?” It turns out I didn’t know what psychosis was either. I’d seen plenty of folks living on the streets of Berkeley. One fellow perched on top of a parking meter along the sidewalk waving his arms and shouting. Sometimes he shouted at me. Once home, I told Susannah I had to run an errand. I drove to the nearest parking lot, turned off the engine, and wept. I was terrified. What will our daughter’s life become? Did this illness seep out from my genetic pool? Will friends avoid her? Since that bewildering day, my husband and I have joined our daughter on a journey towards health. As parents, we have educated ourselves about psychosis during family therapy sessions. Stepping away from labels, we’ve learned to focus on better understandings of mental stresses and ways to practice healthy behaviors. Along with her caring psychiatrist, Susannah’s individual, peer, and career counselors have enabled her to return to college while teaching her coping skills and strategies for resiliency. Using a team-based approach, the staff at ETCH have treated her with respect and compassion. “They have given me hope again,” Susannah said. It has been a year since that frightening tornado. Susannah is back at college for her senior year, working part-time, resuming voice lessons and beginning to play the guitar. Renewing friendships with high school friends continues. The road to cognitive health is not always smooth. Detours and downpours surprise us along the way. But we’ve discovered that having a child with a mental illness need not limit their potential nor have the final word on their life. ETCH has equipped our entire family with new insights, tools, and understandings to provide shelter from the storm.