Monday, December 08, 2014

Sorting Into "Buckets"

Dr. K. had a hard talk with Thomas last Thursday about his illness. Perhaps, though, it wasn't as hard for him as it was for me. Dr. K. uses the word "schizophrenia" so rarely that when he does, it still hurts my heart to hear that, indeed, this is the illness Thomas has been dealt in life. When I hear Dr. K. use THE WORD and I hurt, I realize that I am STILL in some level of denial about Thomas being sick. It's just so hard to face sometimes.

The plan, though, that came out of therapy was to teach Thomas how to sort "normal" thoughts from schizophrenic thoughts and do so using imaginary buckets placed on each side of him. In theory, at first, I loved this idea. It was set up so that, for example, if Thomas and I were in the store, then the deal is for Thomas to say,

"Hey mom, I think that guy is following us."

And then I'm supposed to help him by showing him and talking to him that the guy behind us is just a shopper thereby sorting the potential schizophrenic thought into the normal bucket. I'll have to admit I was kind of excited about this. Thomas had agreed to ask me to help him and I looked forward to helping him do the sorting.

Needless to say, the opportunity hasn't come up yet. What did come up, though, was a couple of talks I had with Thomas about thoughts that he has, both of which I didn't have a clue what to do with except to stand by and watch as they got tossed into the schizophrenic bucket.

I've mentioned before that Thomas worried, in Seattle, about me being pick pocketed. Well, it seems that thought has extended to his own life, now, back in our town. Even worse, it seems to show up at work where Thomas is convinced it's true and I'm not there to throw it into a bucket. You see, anytime someone gets too close to him he begins to believe that someone is going to steal his wallet. Coupled with that are the "shady" shoplifters who I've tried to reason with Thomas that just because someone LOOKS a certain way doesn't mean that they are a shoplifter. Both of these beliefs, to me, are schizophrenic beliefs and both currently reside in the schizophrenic thought bucket. Upon talking to him about these thoughts, I found myself unable to get them from the schizophrenic bucket into the normal bucket. I'm not there in the moments when he believes these things are happening and after the fact, I am useless to help sort because by then the thoughts are solidly cemented in their bucket. As a result, I don't know what to say to get these beliefs changed. It's not for lack of trying, it's just that these two things are now firmly in delusion territory and as we all know, fighting delusions is not an easy job. The man behind us in the store that is potentially following us, I can sort easily because it's in the moment but this, the shoplifters and the pick pocketing, are just plain out of my hands.

So I am at a loss as to what to do.

Then yesterday Thomas and I were watching a movie called "Olympus Has Fallen" about the White House being attacked by the North Koreans. It's a really good movie and I found myself, as I watched it, praying that the American hero in the story is able to take back the White House. My allegiance fell with the Americans, of course, but it made me think. With all of Thomas's delusions about government, not just ours but a couple of others, I wondered,

"When watching a movie like this, who does he root for? Does he hope that the Americans will win and take back the White House or does he root for the Koreans?"

So, on the way to work last night, asked in the hopes that I could finally sort something into the normal bucket, I asked him,

"So, when you watch a movie like that, who do you root for? Are you rooting for the Americans?"

Then came his answer and I was left holding the thought teetering above the schizophrenic bucket, myself teetering inside from the answer I got:

"Well, I don't root for the Koreans but I'm not rooting for the other side either."

Um..."the other side" are the know...this country we live in and rely on for our way of life. So...what? Who DO you root for? The truth of the matter is, because of what I know about Thomas's delusions, I know exactly who he's rooting for and my precious American team has lost the fight in this case and the Americans in the movie, not to mention the Koreans also, are tossed in the schizophrenic bucket and I am at a loss as to how to reason with him and get this all sorted in their right buckets.

So here we sit, both he and I, with these imaginary buckets on each side of us. My enthusiasm about helping him sort thoughts has dwindled and the inner workings of his brain are left to continue to sort things in the manner in which he has always sorted things. Right, smack, into the schizophrenic bucket.

I love Dr. K. to death for his enthusiasm. It's the same enthusiasm I had as we left his office last Thursday, but in the end, enthusiasm isn't the answer or the "cure". We can all want the best for Thomas, the healthiest for Thomas, but in the absence of that, Thomas is left, yet again, in the clutches of his illness. I really loved those buckets. In my mind one was painted blue, the color of normal, and red, the color of schizophrenic, but no matter how much I decorate them or imagine their jobs, the truth of the matter is, the schizophrenic bucket holds the most weight.

1 comment:

  1. Am I the only one who makes comments? I mean, I know this is from Dec. 2014 and it's a year later. Just wondering. Anyway, my son said a strange thing the other day. He was wondering about all the people who die every day...."don't all those people who die in a day, don't they need to be replaced? If they're not replaced, then what?" It was something like that. He never really finished the idea or thought he was trying to convey. It had nothing to do with what we were doing at that time, which was listening to music. I did point out to him, that people were born every day and that there was also the problem of too many people, etc. I told him not to worry about it. I'm still in a very slight bit of denial sometimes, but when he says things like this it makes me remember, oh that's right. He's schizophrenic.


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