I picked Thomas up from work last night and asked him how his night went at work. I expected a very Eeyore response (kinda depressed and mopey) and instead I got an "it was good!" I hesitated for a moment trying to process that he'd actually just said he had a good night at work. I asked him if he'd actually had a "good" night and he again confirmed it. Well, okay then! YAY! Somehow we have come through his depression/anger era about work and have emerged on the other side with him actually starting to have good nights.
Ever the optimist (?) or mom in sporadic denial, I asked him if he felt there was anything left of his illness inside of him, in his opinion. For me I have written off delusions now to something equivalent to having a scar on your body. It'll always be there and it's something you just have to accept. So, to me, in my denial, I write them off and deem him "cured" and onward we go. His response however brought me back down to earth. To my question he hesitated a bit and responded, "I don't know." Uh oh...the dreaded "I don't know" that means something even though he doesn't know.
I thought to myself that maybe I could word it better and I asked him if he had any symptoms left of his schizophrenia and he stuttered a little bit, reached for the radio to turn it down, hesitated a little bit and tried to form a sentence that I couldn't decipher. Then, frustrated, he again said, "I don't know." I rifled through my mind trying to figure out what he was trying to say but because I started this whole thing in denial, I couldn't really see past that to clearly think about the truth of what's going on with him.
Then, to let him off the hook a little bit, I said to him, "Is it that you feel like SOMETHING is wrong but you don't quite know what it is?" To this he answered, "yes". I had heard this before come from others living with schizophrenia, usually in conjunction with the time before full-blown symptoms hit them for the very first time. It was something, that, had Thomas had the words back then, he would probably have told me too. So I said to him, "You know, I have heard from a lot of people that they feel like something's just not right inside but they can't explain what it is." Thomas was silent. Then I said to him, "I think, kiddo, that you will always have something like this going on. After all this is a chronic illness and while you may get better in a lot of ways, I think there will always be some residual left to deal with." He just said, "yeah." and we pulled into the driveway and got out of the car.
Once inside, he couldn't wait for his nightly hug and I went straight to him and hugged him so tightly and told him how much I love him. It's just so unfair. He's just a kid who is kind and sweet and suffers from a bit of a low self-esteem and he doesn't hurt a fly and somehow in the poker game of life he got dealt a crappy hand of cards named schizophrenia. Sometimes life is just downright cruel.
Then this morning on my walk I got to thinking, was I kind of a jerk pointing out that he'll always be sick? Would that have been better left unsaid? In the light of the morning sun I felt like pointing out the obvious, or maybe the not-so-obvious to him, truth was mean. I don't know. Maybe not but it does seem like I'm handing down a death-sentence by saying something like that to him.
At any rate, the truth of the matter is that he WILL always have this illness. Whether we talk about the truth or not, won't change the facts. For last night though, the biggest take-away was that he actually had a "good night" at work. I am grateful for that and hopeful that we are on an upward trend where that is concerned. I want him to enjoy his work, relax and just think about the money he's making to buy things he wants. The rest of what I learned last night is just another step to climb and accept. We'll do it and hopefully my "denial virus" will spontaneously cure itself and I will accept reality.