Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jury Duty

The other day Thomas received a summons for jury duty.

.........................

Yeah, I didn't know what to think about that either. I thought maybe it would be good for him to do since he's been reasonably stable but then I thought about his inability to focus on things for very long and I thought the jury selection questions might trip him up. I really didn't know what to do so at the end of Thomas' session on Thursday I asked his therapist about it. Right away he said,


"What do you want me to do? Do you want me to write you a letter? What can I do for you?"


............................


I guess that I didn't expect that answer and Thomas and I sat there silently and just stared at him. I know that what I wanted was his professional opinion on whether or not Thomas should do this. So, I asked him what he thought. He turned to Thomas and asked him what he wanted to do and Thomas was on the fence about it. Understandably he was scared but at the same time he wanted to try. Then, from his therapist, came the questions,


"What would you do if there was a police officer in the court? Could you handle seeing him there and him looking at you? Would you think that he was coming after you? What about the defendant? Could you handle him looking at you? Would you think that he was thinking that he now knew who you were and would come after you? What about the crime that was committed? Is there any kind of crime that scares you that might make it so that you can't focus on your job as juror?"


Essentially what he did with those questions was test where Thomas' paranoia level was and Thomas confirmed to him that all of those things would worry him quite a bit. His therapist was in agreement and I nodded my head. He said,


"Thomas, I really want you to live life. I want you to be able to experience everything life has to offer but I think right now this isn't such a good idea for you and I think holding off for now would be a good idea."


So there we had it, the truth about what Thomas is capable of right now. We left his office with him promising to write a letter to have Thomas excused from jury service. When the letter was ready, Thomas and I went to pick it up and this is what it said:


ATTN: Jury Selection Department

RE: Thomas

To whom it may concern:

Due to my clients' mental health condition which includes distractibility, it is my professional opinion that he would not serve as an appropriate or adequate candidate for your jury now.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at my office.

Sincerely,

Dr. _________


I read that and wanted to cry. I just wanted to break down right there and cry. Here it was in black and white--yet again--that Thomas is sick and will have to miss out on life. I hate this. I hate what schizophrenia does to our loved ones.


So, I watch again as Thomas is denied something that most of the rest of us get to do. He is just 19, he is so new to the adult world and somehow he's just never allowed to become an adult for one reason or another. All I want for him is a "normal" life.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Life Without Purpose

I figured I would email Thomas' therapist ahead of time to give him a heads up for what is going on with Thomas. I felt it would be easier to say my peace that way then to risk further angering Thomas if he were to listen to how I felt about things that have been going on. When it came time for therapy, I was called in with Thomas to be a part of the discussion.


Thomas' therapist spent a good deal of time talking to Thomas about anger and trying to figure out the source of it. It was clear that Thomas really hates his job but we couldn't get out of him why. His therapist gave him tools to deal with his anger and lucky for me taught Thomas a little empathy and respect for me and his family members. I was thankful for that because I was tired of getting attitude from him.


Then Thomas said something that hit me square between the eyes. Let me rewind a little here and fill you in on the discussion he and I had the day before.


He was angry about working and I was sick of his attitude so I came up with a way to kind of force him to stay in his job. I told him that his dad and I were going to start billing him for his phone and his internet use. Bear in mind we're not looking to make any money from him, we just want to have him contribute a little bit in order to teach him responsibility and what it might be like to live independently. He seemed to like the idea of that and I vowed to myself to design some kind of statement that outlines what he owes and why. Other than that there was no more discussion on the topic.


Then yesterday in therapy we were talking about his anger and why it might be there and he first came up with that his job was boring. His therapist tried to come up with ideas of how to cope with that but it was Thomas who led us to the answer finally. He told us,


"I feel like I have no purpose. I feel like I am working for no reason except to have spending money for stupid things. But mom said her and dad came up with an idea where I would help pay the bills and I liked that idea. Having something to be responsible for will give me a reason to make money and have this job. "


In essence, he needs purpose. I was surprised that he had remembered that conversation about having to pay a bill, let alone had taken it into consideration and finally decided that was what he needed for his peace of mind. So, now I had my answer and I was so happy. Maybe now he could have a little peace before work and as a result I could also have a little peace.


There was something else that his therapist brought up that I thought was important to point out to Thomas. He asked Thomas where his dark place is when someone is mad at him. Where does he go in his mind? Does he think it is somehow his fault? Well, his answer to that was that he has no dark place. He writes off other people's anger to that they might be having a bad day. When we got in the car , though, I thought I would let him know where my dark place was. I told him,


"Thomas, I worry a great deal when you're angry that you are going to act out in some way. I know that when you're angry you have trouble controlling it and that concerns me. I worry that someone is going to make you mad at work and you're going to yell at them or defend yourself in some way physically or throw something. This is my dark place and this is my biggest concern for you and your anger lately."


That got no response.


He heard me though and I can only hope that he won't do something like that in anger.


In the end, though, we now have something tangible we can do to give Thomas some purpose and hopefully alleviate some of his anger. He works again tomorrow so we'll see if that was enough. In the meantime, I am going to try to cobble together something that looks like a billing statement and present it to him today. This could be fun.


I hope it works.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

His Growing Anger

Yesterday with Thomas was a bit of a rough day as mother and son. He was in a rotten mood about having to go to work and he was taking it out on me which only made me madder than I already was at him. I really don't understand what's going on with him and for the life of me I can't figure out what is fueling his over the top level of anger about working. I have dreamed up all sorts of scenarios from, "is he being made fun of at work?" or "did he get reprimanded for being so unreliable?" to "is it just that he'd rather be on his computer all of his waking hours instead of working?" I don't really know because when I talk to him he is sullen and always comes back with, "I hate work." and then he sits in brooding silence until I boot him out of the car at the door to his work.

Yesterday, though, kind of scared me a little. He was so angry and I was afraid of what he might do or say at work. I tried to gently tell him that it was fine to not want to go to work but that he should try not to let his bad mood rub off on the customers or fellow employees. He said "ok" but he was still seething. What scares me is that the anger I was seeing yesterday was the same anger I saw when I was trying to get him hospitalized the second time. He had zero respect for anyone, including authority, and he was yelling at everyone saying he didn't belong there. This, in my fear, was what I was envisioning was going to go down at work last night. I thought that if the source of his anger came from someone at work then I could see that in that state of mind he might say something...or yell something completely out of line and disrespectful. This is the last thing I want to happen because I think an altercation that he's involved in could elicit the calling of police and a trip downtown in a police car. Now, bear in mind, this has never happened but I couldn't stop my brain from going there. He has it in him to be a pain so my thinking that he might take it out on his boss or co-workers isn't such a far-fetched thought.

I spent my evening while he was at work praying that he'd stay for his whole shift and that things would go okay for him and he'd cool down. I even thought that all of his anger might be for my benefit because perhaps he sees me as the person who is making him go to work. I usually catch the brunt of his bad moods while everyone else walks away unscathed so this time may not be any different than times in the past. Who knows really but all of my swirling thoughts and worries about what he was going to do at work with his anger made for a nervous evening for me.

When I went and picked him up at the end of his shift, he seemed a little better. I was almost afraid to talk to him after the car ride to work but I wanted to check in with him. I finally asked him how long in to his shift had his anger lasted and he said, "two hours." so my hope that once he got going with work, his mood would improve was shot down a little. Sure, he got through the shift but it had taken him time to cool down. I asked him where his level of anger was at that point and he said he was fine for the next 2 days since he doesn't have to work.

Terrific.

So we get to do this all again on Friday???

Great.

Super.

What is with him anyway? What is going on inside that head of his that is causing this? He has therapy today and I told him that I was going to talk to his therapist about this. He seemed okay with that but mark my words, his therapist is going to be made to understand the level of anger we are dealing with and how it's causing problems in the family system. No one is escaping his wrath and my hope is that his therapist will have some suggestions for Thomas or at the very least pull him up short and tell him to respect me--which he's done in the past, thank God.

Once again I find myself saying "I don't know what to do or think." It seems I do a lot of this lately with him. With all of the "traditional" symptoms of schizophrenia gone, what's in it's place, this angry kid, is frustrating me and I feel my patience eroding quickly. My reflex instinct is to want to get angry and institute some sort of rule or change but the part of me who understands that he has schizophrenia and that this might all be because of that, makes me keep my mouth shut. I'm not sure how much more I can put up with but I'll do what I can to keep it under wraps for as long as I can.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Where Do We Go From Here?

I read all of your comments this morning on yesterday's post and I appreciated them so much. You had a lot of good thoughts on the subject and some could even relate. I am glad I didn't yell at him and hopefully those days are far behind me now but I still find myself in one of the weirdest places for me about this illness.

We went and saw Dr. N. yesterday... and Thomas spent a good amount of time with him. Before going up there Thomas reported that he felt no depression whatsoever so I figured I'd leave the good doctor and Thomas to sort through whatever else there is. When I got called in there Dr. N. asked me if I had any concerns about Thomas and I brought up the depression he felt about work. His suggestion for Thomas was that he find a new job. He also drew two parallel lines and said that in between them is normal depression and normal lack of enthusiasm and then he pointed above the top line and he said that what was there was a depression or lack of enthusiasm that was not good. He said to some degree Thomas falls there but he wasn't going to worry about it right then. I thought to myself, "If Dr. N. doesn't see a problem then I guess I need to let it go."

Here's the thing though. Thomas lit up about the whole "getting a new job" idea and Dr. N. and Thomas talked about him finding something that he is passionate about. There are two things about that that catch me. First is the word "passion". I haven't really seen true and lasting passion in Thomas in...well...ever really so finding something he's passionate about seems like a tall order. Second, and I voiced this to Dr. N., it's one thing to SAY he's going to get a new job but it's a whole other thing for him to actually go out and do it, especially since he will be on his own to do it this time. Last time he had the backing of the job rehab program but he's no longer eligible for that so all of the preparation, application getting and filling out, and interviewing will be done on his own. I just don't see that happening. I asked Thomas afterwards if he could go and look for a job on his own and he said, "I think so." Sadly though I personally think he can't...and won't.

I guess the other thing too is that where he is now, they know that he has schizophrenia and they are more than generous with their allowances for his unreliability. They hired him out of a disability program and I think they have to keep him on no matter what since he's considered disabled and they'd set themselves up for a lawsuit if they fired him. I just can't see how Thomas will be fortunate enough to find another employer that is so caring and flexible.

Now, I know Thomas is bored at work. He stocks and faces shelves for 5 hour shifts up to 4 days a week. I'd be bored too. He has asked to be trained elsewhere in the store and they have refused that request and I'm gathering it's because if they put him in a position such as a cashier and he calls in sick or leaves early then they are left with no one to help the customers. I think I'd feel the same way they do about that. If they won't train him anywhere new though then what does that mean for his future at that job? Honestly I think he really doesn't have one unless somehow he becomes a stellar employee and does that for an extended period of time.

So, I don't know. I don't know where Thomas goes from here. He doesn't like his job now and each shift lately is harder and harder for him to complete. I thought with "stability" came all of the things considered to be stable and in this case, that being that he can go to work, stay at work, and find some semblance of joy in what he's doing--at the very least being happy about the bigger paycheck he receives. Alas, stability seems like a shift into a new phase of this illness and not an actual "getting healthier" thing. I had such high hopes for Thomas once the paranoia went away and yet somehow I find him still bogged down in the low lying fog of schizophrenia.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A New Puzzle To Decode

I find myself in a familiar place with Thomas again and it's disturbing me greatly. You see, in the last two weeks he has seemed stable for the most part but in the place of the absent "positive" symptoms something else has taken ahold of him. For months Thomas would call in sick to work because of his anxieties over the crowds and the security cameras, just to name a couple things. If he didn't call in sick then I would inevitably get a call from him just an hour into his shift asking me to come pick him up because he was so overrun with anxiety and fear. Well, then with stability came a decrease in the calls to and from work. Then last week that all changed.

I was in Vegas for 4 days last week and my being gone took its toll on Thomas. He was anxious, scared and lonely without me home during the day with him. Because of that, I understood why he didn't go to work one of the days I was gone and called his dad to come pick him up early on another day I was gone. I understood that because I understood what he was feeling. Now, however, things have changed as far as the fact that I am now back home with him every single day and he's still either not going to work or is calling me to come get him after an hour or so.

The other day he came to me and told me he felt depressed. I tried to let it go in the interest of not causing myself to fall into the worry trap again. Further into his depression he finally told me that he's depressed about "all the work" he is having to do. I was puzzled about this because he really hasn't been working much at all. He's been scheduled to work a lot more than normal but he hasn't actually worked many of those hours. Then yesterday he expressed again to me how depressed he was about working and instead of me falling into the worry trap, I found myself in an old familiar place, that of the mother of a teenager doing anything he can to get out of doing something. This familiar dance harkens back to junior high and high school where I would get angry at him and ground him or take something away from him and he would take his "punishment" but would continue the same behaviors. I spent years "punishing" him for what I thought was some form of defiance and since then have beat myself up for not understanding more what he was struggling with inside and that was his burgeoning schizophrenia.

Here I was yesterday though feeling angry that he was feeling "depressed" about work and not wanting to go. I kept my mouth shut because I didn't want to get into it with him but I was still mad. Then he got ready and went to work. I was pleased that he went and seemed in a halfway decent mood as he got out of the car. Then, as I was sitting down to eat my dinner, I get a text from him. It was a little over an hour into his shift and he was texting me,

"Can you come and get me? I'm feeling clammy, upset stomach, dizzy and light headed."

I told him I'd be right there but on the drive over there I became very angry. Here he was, in my mind, yet again, coming up with some excuse to not work. He'd been "depressed" about work and not wanting to go and now here he was drumming up a reason not to be there. All of the old feelings from the past bubbled up and I got very mad at him. He got into the car and I began my questioning of him to try to get down to what exactly had happened. He did look sick but I couldn't really see that because of my anger. And then it hit me.

Here we are back to our old patterns, him not wanting to do something and me being mad about it. It was such a familiar feeling in that moment that I stopped myself from saying what I was about to say to him in anger. Instead I decided to open a dialogue with him. I explained to him that I felt that what was going on was like what we went through when he was in school. I also told him that I still beat myself up for punishing him all of those years when what he needed instead was love and compassion. I told him I didn't want us to return to that place. We sat in the driveway and talked for a while and I finally said to him,

"Thomas, this feels to me like the past and knowing now what I didn't know then, I have to wonder if this is the beginning of another crash. I really need for you to keep open communication with me about what you are feeling and thinking. If the voices are back, if the strange thoughts are back, I need you to feel like you can come to me and tell me those things so that we can get you some help"

He said that he would and we got out of the car and went into the house.

So, in the end, I didn't go down that old familiar path and dream up some punishment for his behavior. Instead, I found the compassion I didn't seem to have back then and I erred on the side of this being something to do with his schizophrenia and I let him go. I am kind of lost now though. What I'm seeing isn't the usual stuff that I have gotten used to over the last couple of years, what I am seeing is the olden days and a kid who is struggling in some way. I am letting all of his calling in sick and his coming home early go and now I work to figure out what is going on inside that mind of his.

Leave it to this illness to switch things up and throw in my direction a whole new set of issues to wade through and decode.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hurdling Through Darkness (A commentary on the tragedy in Santa Barbara, CA)

I am, like all of you, disturbed by the latest news about the shooting in Santa Barbara, CA orchestrated and carried out by Elliot Rodger, a young man driven by his rage against women and society. The tragic shootings and stabbings are stark indicators that this young man was struggling inside. His parents and others stated that he had been being treated by "multiple" professionals and that they had been worried about him and his mental health for a while. Even the police had been out to Elliot's house to do a "wellness check" and had left finding no reason to pursue anything concerning this young man.


Now, I am not going to jump on any bandwagon and diagnose this young man with any mental health issue. It's apparent that there was one but beyond that we can't really know what was going on with him. Even more so, for me to slap a label on him would go against everything I am trying to do with my blog and that is to stop the madness within the media of deciding for themselves, and therefore the rest of us, just exactly what issue this kid had and even worse choosing to label him with schizophrenia which seems to be the go-to diagnosis for anyone who does something like this kid did. I am so sick of the assumption that someone who commits a violent crime must be someone with schizophrenia because, (insert sarcasm here) after all, we are all violent, sick, recluses just waiting for our opportunity to exact revenge on society.


I speak as someone with schizophrenia because in a way I am someone with schizophrenia because I have a beautiful young man as a son who suffers terribly sometimes with this illness. He was brought into this world having lived inside me for 9 months and we have been inseparable since and I have walked this path with him through the first signs of psychosis to the day of diagnosis and beyond. I write here giving voice to my boy who doesn't know how or what to say for himself when it comes to his illness. I write here to dispel the myths and suffocate the stigma surrounding this illness. I don't have schizophrenia but schizophrenia is my life and I feel I can write with some authority on this subject.


That said, I have to speak to the unfairness of society's opinion about anyone who is mentally ill. Why is it that we are such pariah's when one in four of us suffer some sort of mental health issue? The bigger picture here after this tragedy in Santa Barbara is, how can we stop this prejudice and assumptions about someone who has a mental illness whether it's schizophrenia or just garden variety depression? I feel something close to rage when I think of the armchair psychiatrists sitting in front of their evening news shoveling in their dinner and casting judgment on something they don't know anything about or WORSE if they do have a mental illness or know someone with one, they find themselves experts on the subject. The fact of the matter is, that person in front of their TV or even someone like me are no more experts about Elliot Rodger than (it sounds to me like) the ACTUAL EXPERTS that were treating him. Nobody can assume they know a person especially one they learn about on a 2 minute report on a major news outlet.


Now, let me get off my soapbox for a second and write about my boy, the love of my life that has been diagnosed with, in my opinion, the worst diagnosis of mental illness that you can get. He has the media's favorite go-to diagnosis and he struggles but he is no murderer and in fact his heart is so sweet and tender that in Spring I often catch him gazing up into the trees at a bird's nest full of freshly hatched baby birds chirping away calling for their mom. He has faced life's injustices, he was abandoned by his biological dad, he was bullied by peers, he has less than stellar experience with girls who don't seem to be drawn to him and he lives a quiet reclusive life practically physically sewn to his computer. He is not collecting an arsenal of handguns and ammunition, he is not recording videos that scare the living daylights out of people and what he writes is not a manifesto but rather a story about some kind of robot (I'm just the mom, I don't pretend to know what these robots are really called) that exists far in the future and that exist to save the world, not destroy it. He is a kid who lives with schizophrenia, he is not the media's definition of mental illness incarnate.


So, then, what is wrong with us as a society that we are so quick to judge a segment of the population as a whole instead of as individuals living quiet lives just trying to survive the injustice of mental illness? What is wrong with us as a society that we see someone with a head bald from chemotherapy after a diagnosis of serious cancer or we see the person giving insulin shots to themselves for their diabetes, as people who are victims of an unjust diagnosis yet we see the person on the street corner who talks to himself or the kid who comes to work and can't stay because the security cameras cause him anxiety as a pariah and a threat to our way of life?


I am so sick of the media, so sick of the armchair psychiatrists across the world both of whom think they get to decide for all of us just exactly who someone is and how they should be treated. C'mon people, let's get our sh!t together as human beings and treat each other as fellow seatmates on this train of life hurdling through dark tunnels, down winding hills and across vast desolate plains. We are in this together people. Let's act that way.


Please.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Horizon and A Thousand Questions

Yesterday was Thomas' usual therapy session and it was yet another one where the questions about Thomas' symptoms were thrown at him in rapid fire fashion and Thomas shot them down just as quickly with denials that they exist. This new trend in better mental health for Thomas has been an amazing thing to watch. As a result though we have had to move on to more ordinary subject matter which amounts to rehabilitation and alleviating the remaining symptoms. What came up yesterday though was an entirely new issue rooted in an old trauma.

I first need to tell a little backstory in order help you understand what Thomas faces soon. I hesitate to tell this story because it is extremely polarizing and generally falls on the side of disgust and anger at the parties involved. FOR ME though, it needs to be understood that in a lot of ways this challenge has been overcome. What remains is Thomas and his feelings about all of it.

The story goes like this:

Years and years ago I was married to Thomas' biological dad. The marriage didn't work out for many reasons and it ended in a crashing down of Thomas' and my world. Not too long after my divorce, my ex-husband and my sister fell in love and married. In to that marriage my sister brought 4 children from her first marriage and her and my ex had 4 more children of their own. All of this would have been possible to overcome for Thomas and I (and it has, for the most part, for me) if that marriage and the children hadn't changed Thomas' world in profound ways.

As time wore on, and it didn't take too long, Thomas' biological dad disappeared from Thomas' life. He made attempts at keeping contact with Thomas in the beginning but could never seem to maintain it. My sister tried to keep him in Thomas' life reminding him of Thomas' birthday and Christmas etc. but my ex, for whatever reasons and ones Thomas or I will never understand, my ex eventually cut all ties with Thomas. As a result of that it has now been 3 years or more since Thomas has heard from his biological dad. I have had many talks with Thomas in the past about his feelings about that and he has come back with either indifference or a white hot anger the kind which I rarely see in Thomas.

On the flip side of all of that, my sister, through the years, has cultivated a loving, supportive relationship with Thomas. She has helped facilitate much of my dealings with the medical insurance company since my ex holds Thomas' policy. She has always insured that Thomas got the care he needed and when she has been here during crises, she has been by Thomas' and my side through everything from the moment we discovered Thomas needed hospitalization to the E.R. visit and through to getting him checked in to the psych ward. Following that she has made calls to Thomas while he was staying there and done what she could to cheer him up. Unlike my ex, she has never, not even once, failed Thomas in any way, shape or form. Where my ex failed to stand up, my sister did her level best to fill that void and for that I will be forever grateful. Thomas loves her very much and has looked forward to every visit she has ever made to our town.

So, you might be wondering why I am telling you all of this. In part it's because it is part of Thomas' history, a heartbreaking one at that, but partly because of what is coming up very soon. As you know, my dad passed away February 28th of this year and he chose to be cremated. In July we will gather as a family to spread his ashes in the place he wanted to be his final resting place and then we will travel on to the ocean for a 5 day stay, as a family, to celebrate my dad's life.

In case you haven't put it together yet, what that will mean for Thomas is that for the first time in 3 or more years, he will see his biological dad and will be forced to spend time with him. All of this came up in therapy yesterday and when asked how he felt about it, Thomas' answer was that he had mixed feelings about it. To that his therapist said,

"Yeah...(long pause with sadness and trepidation in his voice and eyes).......I have mixed feelings about that too and a thousand questions all of which will be covered in therapy in the next few weeks until you go to see your biological dad."

It's hard to say how that trip will go. It'll be just over a week of time, for Thomas, spent around his biological dad and the children he bore and helped raise all while completely abandoning Thomas. It will, most certainly, be a trial for Thomas and with his inability to handle stress it could be the start of another fall into the depths of his illness. We have a few weeks to prepare, a lot of days of therapy where Thomas will be able to (hopefully) make his feelings known to his therapist about this and (hopefully) begin to work through some of them so that this trip won't be too traumatic for him. It is his next hurdle, really more a climb to the top and hopefully over the other side of a mountain akin to Everest. For me, as his mom, I will do what I can to help him through the visit and hopefully, with his therapist's help and with mine, he will be a stronger young man for it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Back From Vegas, Home To My Boy

Well, I'm back from Vegas!! 

After having been gone for 4 days, coming home and being home has filled me with a lot of mixed feelings. Part of me wanted to stay in Vegas forever and part of me knew I had to get home to Thomas as soon as possible. I knew it was going to be a real test for him and a little bit for me to be away. I have to say to begin with that it was very hard to be away but I did have fun living a somewhat free life away from the stressors of home and all of the reminders that my dad is no longer with us.


As for how Thomas faired while I was gone, that is a different story altogether. Since I left on a Sunday and my husband, Dan, was home with Thomas, Thomas did ok. He missed me a great deal already but I tried to keep in as much contact with him as I could including sending him tons of texts and pictures of the sights of Vegas. They seemed to make him happy especially when I discovered that my hotel had a massive Titanic exhibition going on. I have never talked about Thomas and the Titanic but his "relationship" to the Titanic's story is perhaps a part of signs that he was getting sick many years before we knew for sure. So, needless to say, he was very excited about my being around something so interesting to him.


Then Monday came and everything fell to pieces for him. It wasn't so much that signs of schizophrenia like his paranoia showed up, it was more that he was depressed and incredibly lonely. Monday was the first day he had to spend completely alone all day and by noon I had a text from him telling me how very very lonely he was. It almost literally tore my heart from my chest to get the series of texts from him that I received that day. If you have ever had a sick child (or young man in this case) or a very lonely, depressed child and you were so far away that everything was out of your power in terms of being able to actively help then you know what I went through that day. The ability to text is very cool and very helpful in theory and we use it every day for a myriad reasons but trying to help Thomas by using them was nearly impossible.


What I ended up doing was taking him "shopping" with me in the Titanic store in my hotel. I perused all of the items taking tons of pictures along the way and sending them to him and asking him if it was something that he would want. I can tell you, I would have spent my life savings to make my boy happy in that moment. He clearly enjoyed all of the texts and pictures and shopped alongside me virtually. He picked out several things from an intricate metal puzzle with tiny pieces to put together of the Titanic to a t-shirt with the drafted preliminary building plans of the Titanic on it. In those moments with him we were together and he was no longer lonely.

The day had to go on though and soon he and I lost contact a bit because I got busy touring the massive hotels and doing some shopping and slot machine playing. Then in the middle of a really good slot game, I got another text from Thomas. It said,


"Mom? I'm sorry to bother you but I am very lonely."


Bother me? Bother me??? No way and I told him as much so I abandoned my game and sat there in the brightly lit, loud music-filled, crowded casino at a slot machine to once again talk Thomas through his loneliness and depression. Being a friend to and mothering my kid through what he was dealing with in an empty house with nothing for him to do to make him happy was a test of both of our resolve. I got him to take the dog for a long walk while listening to his music as he did that. I told him to watch his favorite shows on the DVR and I came up with a couple other things that finally seemed to get him through the afternoon until Dan got home.


In the end though, with 1500 miles between us and only the thin thread of 160 character SMS texts to hold us together, we made it. Thomas made it. He was standing on his feet and looking forward to the evening with his dad and what a day it had been. Each of us, Thomas and I, were tested as mom and son and I think we hobbled through it together right through to the end.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My Mission

As many of you know, I will be going to Las Vegas for 4 days this week. Unfortunately my trip has coincided with SCHIZOPHRENIA AWARENESS WEEK. What I have done to keep a presence out there during this very important week is prepare graphics with facts and information about schizophrenia to be released during the week. I will have these scheduled which means they are pre-posted and ready to go as of today but they will be released by Facebook at various times throughout the day, all week. From Sunday until Wednesday I'll be in Vegas but I won't be far from the page as I will monitor it from my tablet and phone and see if you guys are helping me make it a successful week. I'm counting on you to do your part by (most especially) 'sharing' and 'liking' the graphics you see in your timelines. I am so excited about this week and the fact that this is our time to educate the world. OK, and yes, I am excited about 4 days away from my life and getting to go to a city where I can cut loose and have a good time!! :)

As for Thomas he seems okay with me going to Vegas. He had a lot of worries about remembering meds but I promised him I would text him reminders. I know I should be letting him fend for himself but he says he's going to miss me so much so I feel like I need to have a "mom presence" in his life while I'm gone.

Yesterday I came home from being out with my mom and we drove up to the house and found Thomas sitting on the front porch. This is something that always worries me because the front porch is where he escapes to when he's feeling "trapped" in the house which is never a good sign. We sat in the car and watched him for a little bit and I worried about what I was witnessing. There he was sitting there reading a book that I know once fed his delusions. I got out of the car and approached the front porch and he looked up at me completely annoyed and agitated. I took note of the fact that he was also blasting his "devil music" on his phone. The book, the music, the agitation all worry me for him especially since I'm leaving. I'm hoping it's nothing and praying that if it is something that it will stay under some semblance of control until I get home on Wednesday.

Okay, so, this is my goodbye to you guys for now. I have a lot to do today to keep "my boys" (my husband and Thomas) happy while I'm gone which includes planning meals and preparing a couple ahead of time so that they can just be thrown in the oven. I also have to finish up packing and I want to write notes for Thomas for my husband to leave for him every morning when he wakes up. I have pushed my "things to do" to the bitter end of my time before my vacation so I have to get moving.

I'll be looking for you guys and your support of SCHIZOPHRENIA AWARENESS WEEK via this page this week. I am so excited at the potential here to make a difference.

Together we can make a difference!!!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Different Kind Of War

It's been a while since I have written because something terrible happened within my immediate family but I'm finally back because I wanted to give you an update on how Thomas is doing.

It's been so cool, as his mom, to see the light of stability remain lit in him. He has a few hiccups every now and then but for the most part he is doing well. A few times in the last week he has announced that he's going out with friends and has gone to many different places including, his favorite, Airsoft wars which basically amounts to everyone shooting each other with BB's. At first this thought horrified me but when Thomas came home after a couple of these wars, I could see that he had survived them with only a few battle wounds (small red marks on his arms and back) but more than anything he's been happy and having fun. Normally I would lose my mind over kids shooting each other with BB's but Thomas and I have been through so much lately that it seems like a few BB's are nothing compared to the war against schizophrenia that we've been fighting for a couple of years.


These kids that Thomas hangs out with are some of the greatest kids that could ever exist in Thomas' life. Now that Thomas is well they have picked right up where they left off a year ago and they have included Thomas in all of the fun. Without questions or complaints they make the drive from clear across town to our house to pick up Thomas to bring him to the "battlefield". They give him no grief about him not having a driver's license either. As a result of all of this, Thomas now has a social life that both his therapist and I literally applaud every time he announces that he's going out. After all of the darkness of the negative symptoms, the lack of social interaction, every time he goes out into the world is something to be cheered about, at least until it becomes a way of life again.

In therapy the focus has been shifted to working on psychosocial rehabilitation. Now that there are no hallucinations or delusions or paranoia, what we have left to do is to reintegrate him into society which now includes Thomas branching out to speak to people in public and attempt to start conversations or at the very least, at work, greet people and ask them if he can help them. His biggest worry, or what I now like to call hiccups, is that people look at him strangely or think he is "weird". His therapist is working to teach Thomas how to judge a situation and people's reactions and make sense of them so that he can confidently engage with them.

Apart from that his other hiccup is the re-emergence of his oddball statements about things. These types of things I now see were, in the past, clues to the hold that schizophrenia had on him and now that he's engaging with the family more and talking more, these sorts of things are coming out again. What he says are always hard to reiterate to people because they're "rabbit hole" kinds of statements where you hear them and they're judgments of something just left of center and you're left going, "huh?" None of them are really of importance but they show that his brain isn't like a "normal" brain. I have come to accept these statements as endearing and they make me happy and make me love him more. I think it's because it's been so long since he's really talked at all and to have "the old Thomas" back makes me beyond happy.

So here we are, proof that life does get better, that stability is possible and that there is hope for the future. In the middle of all of the pain and grief of him being very sick, I had no hope at all. I was so mired down in the next 24 hours in front of me and the certainty that it'll be yet another day of him locked in his room, him complaining of side effects of meds, him severely anxious about going to work, that I couldn't see the light. Here we are though, in the light, and so help me God we are basking in it like crazy right now.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother's Day Message

 
As mother's of children with schizophrenia we have fought for our children through fire, held them when they were suffering and encouraged them when they finally found their footing. We have made calls, driven to countless doctor's appointments, stood in pharmacy lines for expensive medications in the hopes that this one will be the one to make the difference. We are warriors not just for our children but for ourselves, fighting every day to find the positives when there is every reason just to give in to the pain. We love our children with our whole hearts and give our lives every day to ensure their health, safety and happiness. We are mother's of children with schizophrenia and because of that we are amazingly strong (even when it doesn't feel like it) and we can endure anything. To all of you mother's out there today. You are to be loved and respected and honored. I feel blessed that I know you and that we stand together through everything.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Plan

Thursday was "doctor day" so we made our long journey up to see Dr. N.. I talked with Thomas on the way up there about mentioning his "bored" and "trapped" feelings along with the depression that came with it. I told him that I felt that Dr. N. wasn't going to give him any medications for it since it seemed transient but maybe he would have some advice for him.

Thomas spent his time in there alone with Dr. N. and then I was called in. Thomas hadn't mentioned those feelings so I brought them up. I told Dr. N. how they usually come around when he's depressed but I told him that I felt that this depression was due to my leaving for Vegas. I turned to Thomas, looked him straight in the eyes and said something. I held Thomas' gaze but spoke to Dr. N.,

"What Thomas forgets is that he does practically everything by himself every day of his life. He does a very good job of taking care of himself. He has so many worries but every one of them is unfounded because he has become very strong and capable since he became stable."

I smiled at Thomas and looked back at Dr. N.. He agreed with me and we talked a little about how good he's been doing lately. So good in fact, Dr. N. is thinking of removing the clozaril altogether. He felt that it might be best to wait until after I got back but he felt it was time. I was immediately concerned because it is my belief that the Latuda and clozaril together are what is helping Thomas be stable. Dr. N. agreed that might be the case but he thought we should give it a try. So, we left with instructions on how to titrate down on the clozaril once I got back from Vegas. I guess we won't know until we try.

Next we drove back to town and met with Thomas' therapist. Thomas and I together told the same story about his feelings and his therapist came up with this idea. The plan for Friday and today was to just tell Thomas, "you're on your own" every time he asked for something during the day on those two days. He asked me if I was ok with going along with that and I told him I had no problem with that since Thomas pretty much does everything for himself anyway.

So, as a result, yesterday was an interesting day. What I was met with from Thomas for a good part of the day was complete and utter silence. He said nothing to me. I felt a little sad about this but figured he was taking the plan maybe a little too seriously and wasn't going to speak to me at all in order to avoid the "you're on your own" response. I watched with they eyes in the back of my head as Thomas prepared his entire breakfast complete with all of the elements I always insist he eat like some sort of protein and a fruit and then whatever else he wants as far as cereal or toaster pastry. He did beautifully and disappeared into his room only to re-emerge for a snack later on in the day.

Finally I guess he couldn't take it anymore and he came out of his room and just stood and looked at me. I looked up and he said,

"Can I have a hug?"

I laughed and said of course he could but secretly inside I was so happy because he was finally speaking to me again. Then I said to him,

"I thought you weren't going to talk to me at all today!"

He didn't answer me but I got my hug and I think that helped us both feel better.

So, today will be day 2 of "you're on your own." I think Thomas now realizes he'll be fine in terms of taking care of himself. What the hug told me though was that he still needs me for comfort and reassurance and he's probably going to have a rough time while I'm gone because I won't be here for those random hugs he needs during the day. It is this sort of thing that breaks my heart and worries me for him. I was and am confident that he can take care of himself but I'm not so sure he can avoid the loneliness that he'll inevitably feel once I'm gone.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

His Old Familiar Friends

I have had something that I have wanted to tell you all but for some reason I've been keeping it a secret. I knew you would be happy for me and excited and I think I wanted to find just the right time to tell you. Something has come up concerning it though so telling you now just doesn't seem like as much fun. Under the circumstances though I will tell you now.

I'M GOING TO LAS VEGAS IN LESS THAN 2 WEEKS!!!

Pretty cool huh? I'm getting out and away from everything in my life and going somewhere fun and exciting and free from any stress. My mom invited my sister and I to go and we couldn't pass it up and ever since she has planned the trip we have all been so excited. Then, slowly, things around here started changing.

I told Thomas that we were leaving for 4 days and I figured he'd be fine since his dad would be home for the nights and his days are usually filled with him sitting in his room on his computer with only a few forays out of his room to get a snack or use the bathroom. We don't really speak much during the day which has been okay with the both of us, I think. I don't worry too much about our lack of interaction because when I do see him he's fine. By dinner time he is out with the family eating dinner and carrying on conversations. Something changed in the last couple days, though, that I tried, as usual, to ignore. I tried to see the good things and ignore what I saw creeping up in Thomas.

It began 2 days ago with him emerging from his room and him saying,

"I'm bored. I don't know what to do so I guess I'll start drawing."

All I heard was the screaming "I'm bored" but tried to focus on the fact that he was finally going to start drawing. I found him twice laying on his bed with his drawing book open and his instruction book beside it but he was just sitting there doing nothing. In a desperate need to ignore that he had said the "b" word, I let it all go. You see, in the past, when "I'm bored" comes out of his mouth there is nothing good about it. His "bored" isn't like a normal bored that we all feel sometimes. His "bored" is all wrapped up in a lot of other things that he's not telling me. I took note of it all but thought to myself that he's just having a bad day and I tried to let it go.

Then yesterday he woke up and he just looked off. I asked him if he was okay and he said he was so I left it. I've been trying, since he's been stabilized, to not worry about things, to give him his space and more responsibility. I've been trying but it's been hard especially after what went on during the day yesterday.

I was sitting in the living room and suddenly from his room came blasting (what I call) devil music. It's basically not music at all but rather men (singers??) screaming in low, guttural voices about angry things and hatred at the world. I hadn't heard music from his room in ages and when I've been with him in the car he's played some pretty decent stuff. This devil music, though, was a change and it worried me. I went in and checked on him and he was sitting at his computer with an art project up on his screen. The thing was that he wasn't working on it, he was just sitting in his computer chair with it turned away from his desk and he had his feet up on the bed just staring into space. I asked him what he was working on and he explained it and I tried to be excited for him but I couldn't get him to light up. So, the rest of the afternoon was spent with him in his room listening to his devil music.

After dinner he went back to his room and my husband and I got ready to take the dog for a walk. I went to Thomas' bedroom door and knocked and he opened it immediately because he was just on the other side and I found him standing in his half lit room and his mp3 player and portable speaker on his bed. I again asked him if he was okay and he said,

"I'm feeling trapped in the house and I need to go sit out on the front porch."

He looked like a caged animal but I let him know we were going out for a walk and I left him as he was going out the front door to sit in the nice spring evening air.

As I walked I knew I couldn't ignore the signs anymore. His old familiar friends, the words I have come to dread over the last couple of years, "trapped" and "bored" are back. He's no longer okay and I can no longer afford to ignore it.

When we got back I asked him, again, if he was okay and he said that he was very depressed. I asked him why and he couldn't say why. I ran down a list of things and then finally touched on a nerve. I asked him,

"Are you worried about me going to Vegas?"

He confirmed that and so I asked him what he was worried about. He said,

"I don't know if I'll wake up on time in the morning. I don't know if I'll remember to take my pills when I'm supposed to. I don't know if I am going to be okay alone during the day."

all of which he has done fine with for a long time but has been really good at since he got stable. There in front of me, though, was my child, lost and scared and full of doubt. I spent some time with him and talked to him and promised that we would talk about this a lot before I left. I also told him that we were seeing Dr. N. on Thursday as well as his therapist. I told him that we needed to let them know what was going on and he agreed to that.

So, here we are again. I'm about to go on a 4 day trip and he is depressed and scared and agitated. He will be alone, left to remember to take his pills, make a decent meal and to deal with whatever monsters might creep in when I'm not here to be with him. I want to go on my trip, I WILL go on my trip but I am going to pray, between now and then and then during my trip that this won't be a setback that becomes a permanent thing threatening to take away his stability.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

What's Next?

I figured since Thomas has been getting better and also sailing through his desensitization therapy that there was little else to work on. Our lives have been schizophrenia, schizophrenia, schizophrenia for 2, almost 3, years now. Everything in therapy centered around working with delusions and hallucinations and then as he got better, this whole thing with the police. Thomas is leaving all of that in the dust though and seems to be doing really well. So I had to wonder, what's next for him therapy wise?

Well I got my answer when Thomas got into the car last Thursday. I knew that they were going to go down to the police station so I thought that's what I would hear about but instead he told me about the new plan. He said,

"Because I have social anxiety, he wants me to start interacting with people more."

I thought this was a fantastic idea since he had been isolated for so long and 90% of his friendships are cultivated online. He has always had trouble with calling anyone on the phone too and in fact he and I had gotten in fights over him doing that very thing. He also has trouble with many other things socially speaking so what Thomas' therapist implemented on Thursday was a great new plan.

They went to the police station as usual last Thursday but then after that went to Dairy Queen to get a Blizzard. It was there that his therapist had a brilliant idea. He asked Thomas to select anyone in the restaurant and ask them for the time. I know that this must have been excruciating for Thomas but when we were riding home he told me all about it.

He picked an older couple and went up to them and asked them for the time. They didn't have it. So he left and went back to his therapist. He told me that when he got there he remembered that he could check the time on his phone. To me, there is where there is still a disconnect with Thomas. The plan was to be social and ask someone for the time and he did that but then after doing that it's like he resets and he thinks to himself,

"I don't need to ask anyone for the time, I have it on my phone."

And he told me he checked his phone and got the time and moved on. He's doing better in so many ways but there are these little glitches that pop up. I wonder as time goes on and the medication continues to work if he will have these little glitches in his thought processes. I do know that he's always been a bit quirky like that. Even before he got sick he had little things he would do or say that would make his dad and I stop for a second and just look at him. I wonder though, since he's older and since he's medicated and since he's matured some, if these things will go away.

So, for now it sounds like the plan for therapy is to work on social anxiety. Earlier in my life this was something that affected me a great deal so I'm hoping with some targeted therapy that he'll come away from it in a better place than I did. More than anything, it is so nice now to have moved away from all things schizophrenia into more "normal" waters dealing with "ordinary" problems like anxiety.

Let the healing begin!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

A Mark Of Disgrace (My commentary on stigma)

Since this month is Mental Illness Awareness Month I thought I'd write a little about stigma. Out of curiosity I looked up the definition of it. I have never done this before because I knew what it meant as it related to mental illness. I did find, though, that the definition as it stands is pretty harsh sounding and made me then think about how harsh it really is when it's related to mental illness. Here is the definition:


Stigma:
a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
"the stigma of mental disorder"


synonyms: shame, disgrace, dishonor, ignominy, opprobrium, humiliation, (bad) reputation


What I read, the word "disgrace", made me sad. So are people saying it is a "disgrace" to have a mental illness? Really? And the synonyms "shame", "humiliation", and (bad) "reputation", so we are supposed to feel shame, humiliation, and have a bad reputation because we have a mental illness? To me, this is an outrage. It is so hard for me to comprehend that our society, in this day and age where we have the internet (for example) and can educate ourselves, casts stigma on mental illness at all. Haven't we moved beyond that as a society as a whole?


The obvious answer is "no, we haven't" because it is alive and well even right here on my blog. I am constantly amazed to discover that I do, in fact, have many readers on my blog but those people who have schizophrenia or who care for someone with schizophrenia feel they must hide in obscurity because of what their friends and even family would think. What is wrong with us as a society that we force people to hide, to keep quiet and keep their heads down, people who are good people, who love, who work hard, who give their lives for their loved one with schizophrenia and who have to actually live with this illness? I want to shout from the rooftops (I'd climb higher if I could) that all of us deserve respect and compassion and tolerance. It is a travesty that we have to hide a large part of ourselves from the world because we are afraid of the stigma.


On New Years Day 2013 Thomas was diagnosed with schizophrenia just 2 months and 3 days. I was new to this illness apart from what I had studied in college. I was new to how it affected me personally. I had been out in my town, in my neighborhood and I had thought about telling my neighbors but then I thought twice and stopped myself because I knew that their judgment and disdain would be palpable and Thomas and I would end up living in a prison of sorts because we feared that judgment and those looks. On New Years Day, though, I made a resolution to myself and promised myself that this was one I was going to keep. I wanted to speak out, I wanted to tell the truth, I wanted people to know that schizophrenia touched our lives and I wanted all of this to be a badge of honor that both Thomas and I wore proudly. He was sick and nothing was going to change that so in the face of that, the only choice I saw was to give meaning to it all and try and make a difference by changing minds about this illness.


Before I began writing, I went into schizophrenia chat rooms and I asked around about what people thought of me doing this. What struck me most was how much these people stigmatized themselves and their peers! Even they saw themselves as people who needed to hide and who felt anger at someone like me who wanted to speak out about it. Many told me I was wasting my time, that people wouldn't care and that I would run into a lot of opposition. I boldly stated that I was going to go through with it anyway and I could feel the proverbial door slammed behind me as I went forward with my plan.


What they didn't know was that they were the ones that fueled my fire in the end. That they would look at themselves and their peers in that way was just the icing on the top of this whole stigma fueled movement against people with mental illness. So, I began writing. I wrote just a little at first, I admittedly felt some of the fear of what I might run into by doing what I was doing but slowly but surely my blog gained followers, I gained support and as a result my voice became louder, less timid and ultimately more confident. The more I wrote the less afraid I was of the stigma. After all, the world isn't black and white, not everyone is a hater and even better because the world isn't black and white, I discovered how many wonderful, educated (or willing to educate themselves about this illness), supportive, compassionate people there were out there in the world. I wasn't alone. Not by a long shot and as time went on I greeted more and more people at the door to my blog and welcomed their light into mine and Thomas' life.


I like to think, no I believe I have come a long way from those proverbial low-lit, angry, hidden chat rooms, from worrying about what Thomas' high school would think (I felt sure--at first--that they'd hear "schizophrenia" and automatically assume Thomas was going to show up there someday with a gun and wipe out his senior class) and from worrying about what people in my town would think. What I have found on the other side of this worry about stigma that is attached to mental illness and especially schizophrenia is that there will, of course, always be people who are close-minded and uneducated and are quite happy in their narrow little world but there are many many more people who either have a mental illness themselves or know someone with one and best of all there are people who know nothing at all and are curious and open to listening to me educate them about schizophrenia. So many just want to understand the experience of schizophrenia, what the meds are like, how they affect Thomas, what he deals with inside his head and so much more.


The lesson for today and from this day forward is just this. Find your voice, even if it's small and whispers. Find it and start talking. Tell someone in your life about schizophrenia that doesn't know about how it affects your life. I can promise you, because I have lived it myself, that someone will listen and that someone will care and that someone, somewhere down the road will be your best advocate even if they only go forth into the world and change one mind themselves. That is all it takes. One voice and with that one voice you can change the world.


FIGHT THE STIGMA!!

Friday, May 02, 2014

Somehow, Some Way, Somewhere, Someday

I gave more thought to what I had posted the other day about how I felt about Thomas' therapy session and the fact that he's doing better. I've been walking around in this sort of dream world caught somewhere between depression and anger and numbness and I have wanted to give it some meaning. Everything in my life I try to give meaning to.


Why did Thomas get schizophrenia? God must have thought he was strong enough to handle it.


Why did my dad die? Because it was his time and he left us in the way that he did to spare us a long drawn out illness that would slowly kill him and us.


Why do I feel like I feel right now about Thomas getting better?


...And then I found my answer.


Before Thomas got sick I was in therapy for my own issues. I spent a great deal of time trying to heal parts of my past. Then, one day, my therapist asked me about what I feared about my future. I sat there and thought about it. When it came to me, tears welled up in my eyes and then suddenly the dam burst. My therapist asked me what it was that was upsetting me and between sobs I managed to get out,


"I. am. afraid. of. losing. Thomas. I. am. afraid. that. he'll. leave. me. and. head. into. adulthood. and. he'll. never. look. back. I'm. afraid. that. he. won't. need. me. anymore. I. am. afraid. of. who. I. will. become. once. he's. gone. since. he. has. been. my. whole. life. his. entire. life."


And then I dissolved into uncontrollable sobs and held my head in my hands. I was keenly aware how much I had been feeling this eventual loss somewhere deep inside yet I hadn't given words to it because it was just too scary to think about. He is my only child and my entire life had been centered around making sure he was happy. Whenever possible I did what I could to bring joy to his life. Then suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, he got sick. He broke down into a hundred million pieces and I tried to gather them all and piece them back together to make him happy again. Alas, that was something I couldn't do, not then and not since. Not really.


The sicker he got the more I began to realize that he was going to be mine forever. I came to accept that he would never do the things he dreamed of doing or the things I dreamed for him to do. I came to accept that he was never leaving home. I began the process of accepting that prospect and from there began a new chapter in my life as his mom and that was one of accepting my soon to be adult child was just that, an adult/child. As it always had been, it continued still, into the future up until the last week or so. Then suddenly, my everything, my boy, my young adult son was getting better. Suddenly what I had built my entire life around was not needing me anymore. There I was, yet again, that woman in her therapist's office dissolving into tears and sobs and desperation about losing her son to the big bad adult world.


There I was and there I am now.


For as much as I felt tested as a mom of a son with schizophrenia, for as much as I had grieved him becoming ill, for as tired as I was from sleepless nights, for as adrenaline-filled as I was from being on alert all of the time watching for clues to his state of mind, in the span of one week's time all of that kind of disappeared for me. Now, I know he's sick, I know he has schizophrenia and I know he always will. I know that this may be a miracle that he's well now but I also know that he may get sick again and may do it at any moment. I know we're not out of the woods by a long shot but we are standing in a little circle of light lit by sunbeams from a warm afternoon sun in spring. My adult/child is coming into his own, waking from a schizophrenia weighted sleep and even he sees he can be free. That light in him, that hope, that excitement are all indicators that he could leave home someday. Those things make it so that all of my plans, my thoughts and sometimes my secret hopes about him living at home for the rest of his life and me taking care of him, are disappearing slowly and I am having to face a life defined by something other than being the mom of a son with schizophrenia and I am,


SCARED (because I don't know what his future will bring and because I don't know who I'll be if I'm not who I am now)


ANGRY (because I've built my life around something that wasn't mine to possess and I am losing it quickly like grains of sand fall between my fingers.)


DEPRESSED (because without him, without my constant vigils, without needing to cater to this illness, I am lonely, I have to face my true self or worse yet, I am going to have to FIND my true self and I have no idea where to start.)


All of this coupled with the loss of my beloved daddy, the man who created me, raised me, guided me, supported me and loved me, make for a woman adrift in an unfamiliar ocean with no land in sight.


So I write what I wrote the other day. I write as a bewildered woman feeling intense feelings that have no meaning to them but I write so that my story may help someone else someday down the road. I write today, though, because I want to show that there is meaning in everything, even in the chaos of emotions surrounding a big change.


Thomas will get better. If I'm lucky it's happening now and it will stick. Thomas will move out and make a life for himself someday. Thomas will go a day or two and not call me. Thomas will become an adult (no child attached) and he will see that world I dreamed for him to see had he been able to join the Navy. His world may be much smaller but he will be in it instead of holed up in his room in front of a computer screen.


On the other side of that will be me. Somehow, some way, somewhere, someday I will find myself and there will be no fear, no anger and no sadness. There will be me. Melanie. Just Melanie. Not Melanie the mom of a son with schizophrenia.

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