Monday, September 23, 2013

Untangling Thomas' Thoughts

One of my page members asked this weekend about delusions and their evolution and I wanted to share one experience I had with Thomas that will show how a particular delusion was formed and ultimately resolved (amazingly).

As usual I am always surprised by the delusions' existence and this time wasn't any different. We were driving along (this is usually how I learn about delusions) and we got to talking and Thomas said something about when he graduated from college that he wanted to move to a foreign country, I think it was Germany. I asked him why and he said it was because he felt that his money was safer there. We had a long discussion about this and he even named a couple other random countries that he would move to to protect his money. None of any of it made any sense. He talked at length about the governments of these countries and their economies and because I wasn't educated enough on their economies etc. I pretty much just listened. The really great thing about Thomas is that he speaks with such confidence and conviction. I think this is a fantastic quality to have if he had accurate information on which to speak about. In this case though, he spoke with that authority but nothing seemed to make sense when I really thought about it.

While he was talking I thought about why he might feel that his money wasn't safe here in the U.S.. Bear in mind I'm never as lucky as I was then to discover the origins of the fear. Here's the story.

When he turned 18 his bank account went from being sheltered under my account and turned into an adult account. As a result they put an automatic savings account transfer on his new checking account. The premise was that they would transfer $20 on the 15th of each month from his checking to his savings. It's a really great program in theory and the absolute worst one for a schizophrenic young man. For a couple of months whenever the 15th of the month would roll around Thomas would get increasingly agitated and would constantly check his bank account. He would beg me for money to cover that soon to "disappear" $20 and things got so bad that I started giving him the $20 just to help calm him down. Well, I thought it had but finally he went "underground". By that I mean that he begun to generate a serious delusion around his bank transfer and that was what brought us to that day in the car talking about him moving to Germany to protect his money.

You see, it all started because he had become a legal adult, his bank account terms changed, I had made him do the changeover on his own in an effort to give him some independence (that experience scared him to death--having to work with the banker to get that transition made), and then an almost constant anxiety about when the bank was going to move $20 from his checking to his savings. Then in keeping with other delusions of his, he made elaborate plans to move to another country in order to protect his money.

Well, that day in the car I figured it all out. I'm not sure how I managed to do that but he and I talked about it and I explained to him exactly what was going on with his account. I told him his money wouldn't be stolen from him by the bank ever and ultimately I asked him to trust my years of experience on this one. He visibly calmed down and agreed to stay living here in the U.S.

One thing I didn't waste time going and doing was that I took him to the bank a couple days later and fought to get that $20 transfer stopped. Since then, Thomas has been fine with his money, he's relaxed and enjoyed it and gotten quite adept at using his debit card and checking receipts against his online account to make sure everything matches.

So you see? In this case, this elaborate delusion about moving to another country in order to protect his money was planted as a small seed because of an average everyday bank account transfer program that was soaked in heavy anxiety and over time became an elaborate delusion. It's really very fascinating to have witnessed and I learned a lot from that experience in how to help Thomas but sadly, some of his worst delusions are nestled in years and years of methodical work to cover whatever anxious seed was planted originally. So many things are so far buried and make little to no sense and I have no hope of ever untangling them. Luckily in this case with the bank thing I caught it in time and annihilated it.

I really hate that his mind works like this. I hate this illness. I hate that he can't just feel some anxiety and find a real world way to work through it and feel safe again. Most of all, as his mom, his protector, I hate that I can't be there for every delusion inception and help him find a safe way to cope.

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