Wednesday, November 20, 2013

That Annoying Spotlight

The other day when I spoke with Thomas' therapist about Thomas' grandpa's condition something came up that seems to plague me every now and then. As his therapist told me that Thomas was doing well my head began to swirl and the questions about the validity of Thomas' diagnosis bubbled up. He spoke so assuredly about Thomas' great health that I started to think that maybe we had it all wrong. There is always a tiny part of me that doesn't want any of this to be so. I want to believe that Thomas isn't schizophrenic and when that happens I begin to look for clues to reinforce that he is just fine and I really start to dismiss the signs that still remain.

As his therapist went on about how good he's doing, I finally interrupted him and asked him,

"So, are we still looking at schizophrenia here?"

I asked this with all of the different emotions that you can imagine you feel when you start to doubt everything about how sick your loved one is or even IF they are sick. There's nothing like that whirlpool of emotions swirling around dragging you down to parts unknown. You search your mind as you feel excitement, fear, foolishness, uncertainty, and most importantly HOPE. It's amazing how fast I grabbed onto hope and in the space of a few seconds began planning a life for Thomas free of schizophrenia. Had the last year just been a fluke? Would the next year mean success in his job and maybe he'll go to college after all?

I wanted so desperately for Thomas not to be sick anymore. I wanted the meds to go away, the need to keep a constant eagle eye on him to go away, the questions about what I do witness to go away. I wanted it all gone and I said a silent prayer that we had it wrong all along.

Obviously rationality is not in action at points like this. It's so easy to forget the late nights in the E.R. talking with psychiatrists and listening as Thomas spoke with confidence about being tracked by the government. It's so easy to dismiss those things as a very smart kid with a vivid imagination but inevitably it's always some professional that pulls you out of that whirlpool and starts to break apart your own delusions that have taken root in just a moment's time.

Thomas' therapist went on to tell me that Thomas is well medicated and compliant and that that is why he is doing so well. He told me that there are things that the medication won't help though and those will be the things that stick around that very much signify that Thomas is, in fact, schizophrenic. It was those nasty negative symptoms that brought me back to reality. The social awkwardness, the shaving without shaving cream right before he's supposed to go to work, the anhedonia, the not showering for days at a time, the inability to carry on a conversation without stumbling over words and thoughts. All of those negative symptoms that are the other side of schizophrenia are going to be a constant fixture even without all of the hallucinations. Let's not forget those delusions too. When I came back down to earth those damn delusions of his came crashing back into my consciousness also.

Just like that, all of my hopes and dreams that manifested out of the swirling mist above me disappeared as the therapist shined the light on what still exists in Thomas that signal that he still warrants the label of paranoid schizophrenia. In the moments before that annoying spotlight cast brightly on my hope that we could walk out of that office schizophrenia-free, I had a life planned, a different life, a happier life, a more productive life.

Alas, I am forced to face reality myself. Thomas has schizophrenia and as hard as I hope for something to be different, the hope is not as strong as this illness that has its nails dug into the brain of my boy.

1 comment:

  1. I have done the same thing. All those thoughts and emotions and doubts and lingering denial. I even asked the psychiatrist, as you did, "So is my son really schizophrenic?" She handed me the tissues and said, "Yes. Oh....yes." It's so hard. His negative symptoms are all of the above. I hate the negative symptoms.

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