Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sobering Up

A couple of weeks ago Thomas' therapist gave him a test to fill out measuring what delusions he had and how much they disturbed him and how much he believes them to be true. I was given the same test to read through while he filled his out and we were seated in such a way that I was able to see what his answers were. While I was happy to be able to see them I also became more and more horrified as we went through the 40-question test. I couldn't believe the things he believes and worse yet I couldn't believe how much they disturbed him. I think that was the most painful thing of all to witness was that some of them scared him a great deal.

After the session I went home and looked the test up online and went through it again and read every one. The thing about Thomas is that he doesn't fall into the usual categories of delusions meaning he doesn't present as the "typical" schizophrenic, at least not the ones I had known in my life. So, true to form I fired off an email to his therapist asking him if Thomas was really schizophrenic. I have written a handful of these emails to him when things didn't quite match or his therapist had seemed to me to play down certain symptoms and here I was again hoping like crazy that the email I would get back would say, "It turns out Melanie, that no, he is not schizophrenic" and then I could walk, no RUN, from this diagnosis and get my boy back. There would be no such email.

The next session we began going over the test together. As we went through it we discovered that some of the answers he had marked were delusions he had when he was younger that had resolved themselves. The more of those we found, his therapist and I were visibly relieved and I won't deny that I started thinking yet again that maybe he's not schizophrenic after all!

Then we got into the territory of the themes that had presented themselves when we first learned of the depths of his illness less than a year ago. He repeatedly confirmed their existence, confirmed that he very much believed them to be true and he felt terrified about most of them. It broke my heart, shattered it really, because it proved that he did in fact have schizophrenia and once again I felt there was no turning back from this cruel diagnosis and I sat back in my chair and fought off tears.

His therapist then began asking questions about the specific delusions that he had named and what is absolutely striking and knocks me back EVERY SINGLE TIME is that when you ask Thomas about these things that he believes, he becomes a whole other person. He sits straighter, his eyes become steely, he clenches his teeth and his voice is filled with utter conviction. And then there it is. Those very well built, impenetrable delusions that I have rarely, if ever, been able to break through.

Delusions are the one quality about this illness that never cease to shock me. The conviction to which he holds them and his complete personality change when talking about them cause me to do a double take every time. On top of that my heart gets broken all over again and I succumb to the grief, reminded that he does in fact have this illness.

It is so unfair. It is unfair for him that the world he lives in isn't an accurate representation of the real world, that he is terrified daily because of what he believes and that he feels the need to defend his world with such tenacity because he needs to hold onto it to survive.

It is so unfair, too, that I will never again, though it won't be the last time I hope for something different, see the boy I once knew. Sometimes I think to myself how very similar Thomas and I are because I think it takes some delusional thinking on my part to keep myself in the world that I live in where he is fine and everything's going to be ok. The truth is though, I'm finally sobering up.

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