Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Kleenex

When Thomas was very small, I went through a time where I was fighting off a very nasty depression. I would cry all of the time. Most times I would keep my tears hidden but there was one time that stood out in my mind when I was unable to hide my tears. I'll never forget sitting on the edge of the couch, tears rolling down my face, and looking up and seeing Thomas' adorable little face and big brown eyes looking at me.

"Mommy? Are you ok?" he oh-so-sweetly asked.
"I'll be ok honey, mommy's just a little sad right now." I said.
He ran off and came back with a box of Kleenex and with his little hand he pulled one from the box and handed it to me.
"This will make you better mommy." he said to me with such sweet, wonderful, concern in his eyes.
I told him that he was right and that fixed it and that I felt so much better and he went off to play.

Fast forward to the last year since he's been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

It never ever ever fails. When I am reacting in some emotional way around him, it is like I am spreading a virus to him. He picks up on the most subtle cues and reacts very strongly to them. I've gotten adept at either hiding them or, when I can't hide them, I reassure him that my more negative moods are not his fault, that I have a lot going on in my life outside of him. I always hug him and tell him I'll be ok but he looks at me, concerned, as he walks from the room.

He is tied to me emotionally as if we share the same heart and head. My predominant moods lately have been on the more energetic side and what I've noticed is how when I'm talking to him his eyes get very wide, like a deer in headlights, and he seems to get scared and it's then that I realize my energy is filling him with fear and agitation because his mind can't process my words and emanating energy. When I see that look, I immediately leave the room, dial my emotions down to a low hum and come back to him and continue the conversation.

This is schizophrenia. He has so much going on inside, so much to manage, that he can't manage what's going on outside of him very well-- like my leaking emotions. Some of the best advice I ever got from another person with schizophrenia is that people with schizophrenia are very in tune with emotions and the best thing I could do for Thomas is to dampen mine down to help him better cope with life in our home--most especially with me.

So, more often than not, when I'm dealing with something emotional and he's to be included, I have learned to get control of my emotions. He doesn't need to bring me Kleenex's anymore because it's not about me anymore, it's about him and restoring some semblance of good mental health, even if it only lasts a day.

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