Monday, February 10, 2014

I'm Not Sick, I Don't Need Help!

Last night Thomas worked again. The night wasn't as successful for him with his anxiety and paranoia. I was woefully disappointed as he reported to me that his anxiety had been a 4/10 and that the security cameras and people had bothered him a lot. Aaahhhh!!! A setback!! I know, before you say it, that is to be expected and it's not like the Latuda can work miracles in just a few days but that darn hope of mine really got in my way in the last couple days so I was a little sad about last night's report. I guess this illness is always a case of "you win some, you lose some." Well, last night Thomas lost, last night I lost. The thing is though is that I am not going to let this get me down because other good things are happening. My favorite right now are the "I love you's" and the genuine hugs and the fact that he keeps his door to his room open a lot of the time.

Now, I titled this post what I did because I wanted to say something about the book and about its solutions for people living with schizophrenia who don't believe they are sick. After a posting or two of mine someone mentioned this book to me and how it might help me with Thomas. I had started reading the book in the past and decided it wasn't for me because, after all, Thomas readily says he has schizophrenia to people. I didn't think I needed the book until his over the top anxiety came to a head the other day and we locked horns over whether or not he should eat.

I mentioned to you (or maybe it was his doctors) that I felt like that exchange with him felt like I was dealing with a delusion and I felt like it might be possible that somehow his anxiety was turning into a delusion. The more I thought about it the more I could see that "Thomas is sick and he does need help." I will say that there is a fine line between someone saying they have a disease and then actually accepting that they do. I learned that lesson that day and even better understood that concept as I dove into that book.

In it, the author offers up strategies for working with someone in denial of their illness and while their examples centered around trying to get someone to take their meds or accept inpatient care (for example), I quickly came to realize that the strategies would work for getting Thomas to understand that he needs to eat (or any number of other delusions that he doesn't accept as part of his illness). Suddenly this book became my Bible for working with Thomas and I have been furiously reading it trying to learn and tentatively implement it's strategies. This is a lot easier said than done. If you have read the book and tried to learn the strategies then you know what I'm talking about. The book calls for you to change everything about how you think you should deal with your loved one. I felt pretty stupid as I read along and tried to memorize how to use the strategies. It is no small feat as it is nearly impossible to change a lifetime of tactics used to communicate with and reason with people.

One thing is for sure though, I have learned a great deal from the book and will continue to read the pages of strategies over and over until it fully sinks in. I can see how, if executed properly, that I will be able to get through to Thomas when he is locked into his anxiety or some other maladaptive delusion.

So, essentially this post today is a book review of sorts and an encouragement to look beyond the surface of the book and it's goal to convince a loved one to take their meds or accept their diagnosis. It's strategies are useful for many aspects of this illness and for me will be instrumental in helping me help Thomas through his anxiety and delusions.
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The name of this book:

I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help 
How To Help Someone With Mental Illness Accept Treatment
by Xavier Amador, Ph.D.

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