Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Importance Of Routine

I have thought a lot about routine for Thomas lately for 2 reasons. First because of that article I posted a couple days ago but most importantly when he was asked in his ADL,

"What would happen if mom changed plans when you already had something to do? What if you had plans to do something and she insisted that today was a day to go shopping and you had to go with her? How would that make you feel? How does breaking routine help or hurt you?"

His immediate answer was that he would be really upset.

After that, I have been assessing our lives and just how routine it is. Let's just say we lead the world's most boring life. Everything happens the same way all of the time. Even things like today's visit with Dr. N. are scheduled ahead of time so they become a part of the plans, a part of the routine, even though the appointments are 3 weeks apart now. I am always awake to greet him every morning, he gets up and showers sometimes, he comes in and makes his breakfast and more often than not wants me there with him to help. He takes his pills and he retires to his room with his breakfast on a tray. His dad comes home around the same time every night, we eat dinner at the same time every night, he takes his pills and then he again goes to his bedroom for the rest of the evening.

Boring.

But routine.

Just exactly what he needs.

I noticed the other day, too, that when my husband and I were having a heated argument, Thomas was in a great deal of distress. He has always been like that, affected by other's moods. That argument culminated in my husband, in a less than polite way, asking...no TELLING Thomas to take out the trash and clean the basement stairs where dog and cat hair had clumped in the corners. The argument didn't help things but even worse in my opinion is my husband's inability to ASK NICELY for Thomas to do something around the house. Thomas has gotten so good at remembering to do some things on his own and he had even vacuumed the stairs recently but my husband calls him down the stairs and I hear him down there roughly telling Thomas what a mess this, this and that, are and that he needs to start noticing things and get them done. NOW. It makes me so mad that he can't just say "please do this thing." or understand that Thomas isn't intentionally leaving dog hair in the corners, he is just doing the job he was asked to do and no more. He needs accurate, detailed instructions for what he needs to do and failing that he needs whoever is asking him to fix it, to do it with kindness which includes a "please" and "thank you."

At any rate, the effect of that whole exchange with how badly he did vacuuming the stairs really upset Thomas and he wouldn't even look at me as I walked by and squeezed his shoulder to show him that I was there and that I understood he was struggling.

I understand that the arguments between my husband and I (though they are becoming less frequent in the last few months) and the subsequent 'picking on Thomas about his chores' events that take place afterwards are just part of being a family but if you want to talk about routine, when you change things up, you need to do that with compassion and thoughtfulness to how your person with schizophrenia is affected by it. We don't live in a normal house anymore because we have a young man with schizophrenia who is affected by the things that take place that are out of the ordinary--that aren't ROUTINE.

So, I laud those of us who manage to keep a routine for our loved ones with schizophrenia. For me it's a small price to pay for a little happiness and peace of mind for Thomas. Anything under my control that can help him cope will be the thing I do for the rest of my life.

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