Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It Starts With A Headache

For me there is a huge difference among the symptoms of schizophrenia and when the time arrives that something starts to show up I think to myself,

"Well this one is better than the alternative."

That "this one" is delusions. Delusions for Thomas have always been, on the whole, uplifting for him in some way. They give him a sense of personal power and boost his self-esteem. Sometimes though they have been a bit worrisome as they grow from an idea of his to a full-blown psychotic break. I wonder now, after last night, what he is cooking up in that mind of his and where will it lead?

After dinner he asked if he could have dessert. His choice? Popcorn and soda. MICROWAVE popcorn and soda. For years this has been his favorite and still remains so and he manages making it himself. I don't think anything of it and just let him be. Then last night happened.

While the microwave was running he came into the living room hesitantly and said,

"I think the microwave is getting old. Every time I make popcorn I get a headache if I'm anywhere near the microwave."

My mind slammed to a halt as I thought about what a strange comment that was. Our microwave is not old by any means and I'm fairly certain they have safeguards that keep the waves from coming out and getting you. When I was little my family got one of the very first microwaves ever made and that thing was cancer waiting to happen as we turn it on and we all left the room. Nowadays it's different though and right now, with our microwave, there are no dangers that I can think of. So when he said it was giving him headaches I told him about those safeguards and that he would be okay.

He was unconvinced.

Buying into his worries, I asked him if this had been happening every time he used the microwave and he couldn't say if it had but I could see his mind working furiously to make it so. I thought to myself,

"Here we go. We're setting up a new delusion and I'd better nip this one in the bud before it goes too far."

The question is, how to you get to work on a delusion, dismantling it, if the offending thing doesn't happen that often? It's not like he uses the microwave every day and when I do, it isn't smart for me to call him in and ask him if it's causing him headaches now since that would then be buying into his thought processes. So I have to wait until another popcorn and soda night comes around.

I know I said at the outset that delusions are better than the alternative but that doesn't mean they aren't a pain to deal with. They are set up in such a way that it takes a certain skill to wind your way around them and try to fix them before they become something bigger and unmanageable. I find myself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do I ask him if his headache is there the next time he's around a running microwave or do I leave it alone? And if I leave it alone and he is believing inside his head that the microwave is causing him headaches and this belief begins to cement itself unchecked, then aren't I leaving him in "the bad place" where uncertainty becomes stony reality, packed in his mind tightly with brick and mortar surrounding it?

It's definitely a quandary as I sit here now certain I am watching Thomas try to make sense of his world by creating a delusional reality. As with all things delusion-related, I just have to watch and wait and pray that I can catch the next offhand comments about a headache and the microwave and put a stop to this belief before it gets out of hand whether that means, in the least having to buy a new microwave to accommodate his fears or at the worst it becomes the beginning of a domino effect that sucks him back down the dark hole of schizophrenia.

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