Thursday, September 26, 2013

"There But For The Grace Of God Go I"

I speak on no authority here other than that I am the mother of a son with schizophrenia. I think that only gives me the knowledge of experience and of imagining the future in a unique way because of his illness which obviously is wide open but is fodder for the imagination.

I sat yesterday in the dining room of my dad's care facility and watched the evening news. The story was about Aaron Alexis and the reason it was being talked about was because they were airing video of the shooting for the first time. I turned to watch the story and came face to face with the newscaster and he began talking about Alexis' state of mind leading up to the shooting. Let me tell you, they were ice cold words to have to listen to. My blood froze in my body and I shivered and finally turned away from the T.V. and rested my head in my hands. The more he spoke, the more I silently said to myself two things,

"no, no, no, no, no, no, no........"


"There but for the grace of God go I"

What the newscaster spoke about was the driving delusions behind what caused Alexis' to go to the Washington D.C. Naval Yard and start shooting that day. The story is that Alexis believed that he was being controlled by E.L.F. waves (extremely low frequency). The newscaster talked at length about Alexis' mental health and about what was carved on his gun and how he told no one that what he was planning to do. To be honest, I tuned out the story after the E.L.F. waves controlling Alexis because that hit too close to home for me.

Let me first say that Thomas doesn't feel he is being controlled by E.L.F. waves but his delusions have themes that I have been told by more than one expert that he would be involved with the police at some point in his life. For JUST A MOMENT I was in the shoes of the loved ones of Alexis and I was in my own shoes in the moments that story aired and I prayed that I would never find myself and Thomas facing a situation like Alexis did.

You see, to be a mother of a son with schizophrenia or a loved one of someone with schizophrenia in this day and age, I think that every last one of us has a moment where we think to ourselves "but for the grace of God go I." For any one of us the Alexis story hits way too close to home and causes our hearts to drop from our chest to our feet. Our loved ones don't talk about everything that goes on inside of them. I know for a fact there is an entire world in Thomas' mind that I know nothing about and even closer to home with this Alexis story, last night I asked Thomas what he was watching on YouTube and he turned his screen away from me and said,

"I don't know."

And even when I asked him how he couldn't know what he was just staring at on the screen he repeated to me that he didn't know. I'm not going to lie, in light of the newscaster's comments that no one knew of Alexis' plan to do what he did, a little tiny part of me, for just a moment, questioned how much Thomas really didn't know about what he was watching and how much was he hiding.

Now, for those of you thinking I'm blowing this out of proportion, let me repeat this. When you have a loved one with schizophrenia, when you have been told by more than one person that your son may end up with run-ins with the police, you cannot help but go "there" and think how your story isn't far from that of many others in terrible situations where their loved ones acted on their delusions in some way (not always violent, mind you, but acted nonetheless) and left everyone asking why.

I have to tune out the news and I imagine many of you do or if you are strong enough to watch it, I know what you go through in your minds. The randomness, the scariness, the mystery of this illness leaves us all holding our breath much of the time wondering what's around the corner.

When will the next psychotic break be?
When will a new delusion be generated?
What is he/she keeping from me?
What do I do?
Where do I go?
Who do I talk to?


So, when the news story ended and I was comfortably in my dream-world state of mind where nothing feels real, when I looked around the room at all the people and thought to myself how they JUST DON'T KNOW, all I could think about was getting home to Thomas and hugging him and saying a silent prayer that the worst won't happen to him. There is no way of knowing what lies ahead for Thomas. My hope is that it's nothing but the very best but my absolute worst fear is that it may not be the best after all.

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