After I wrote my post yesterday I decided to read it to Dan. I took a risk in doing so because I never know how he's going to react. Lately he has found articles online about schizophrenia and has read every one, including one time reading one TO me after he had sent it to me and I forgot about it. The fact that he is reading about schizophrenia warms my heart and he really seems to get it and feel sadness and even some respect for the illness, understanding that the things he read about are things that happen to Thomas or might someday. I took the risk to read my post to him based on those experiences lately and I prayed he wouldn't have anything disparaging to say about Thomas.
My fears of his "rejection" of the post were unfounded and we ended up sitting and talking about it for a little bit. He reminded me of something that apparently I just can't seem to get through my head.
Stress causes schizophrenia symptoms.
You'd think I'd get that by now. You'd think that after all this time I could take setbacks of Thomas's and accept them and move on. That is so hard to do, though, when you're in the thick of it all. Perhaps part of it, too, is my tendency to see the world in black and white or all or nothing. Either he's sick or he's not.
Then yesterday I watched "Perception" (a TV show about a college professor with schizophrenia) and afterwards I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk to Thomas about his experience the other night and how he's feeling about working on Friday. I asked him how he was feeling right now.
I asked him if he was having paranoid thoughts.
No, not at all.
I asked him if he was ready to work on Friday.
I asked him if he was worried about it as far as the symptoms coming back.
Wait. What? What happened to the level 8 paranoia? What happened to not being able to stay at work that night? What is with this complete about face where work is concerned?
To his credit, he understood that the stress he was under from me being gone and the subsequent anxiety was the beast behind the downfall. So it left me wondering,
"How will he REALLY do on Friday?"
Early this morning I was talking to Dan again about what Thomas had said yesterday about being fine and he reminded me that Thomas is riding a high from the fact that on Saturday a HUGE group of his friends are going to another town to a big area-wide Airsoft BB gun war. He's been looking forward to doing this for a long time but none of his friends had been able to go. The plans are made, though, and they will leave at 6:15am Saturday morning to spend the day under the hail of BB gunfire.
Dan is right. Thomas has meaning in his life and that meaning is taking away from the nasty feelings of anxiety and paranoia. It makes Dan and I wonder, though,
Do we need to encourage him to get out more, perhaps find a class to take or something to keep his mind off of any transient symptoms that might crop up?
It seems like a terrific idea in theory but it wasn't too long ago that Thomas and I sat in therapy and Thomas voiced that taking a class scared him because he was afraid the stress from it would cause him problems. I have tried to come up with ideas of things for him to do but they all get shot down. Work doesn't fill his time, he's not the least bit interested in volunteering and his two loves are BB gun wars that don't happen that often and the newly acquired social interaction of the model train club that only meets once a month. He needs more meaning in his life. I just don't know how to help him find it.
So, I don't know. I don't know what to do to get his mind off of anxiety and stress. Tomorrow is Friday and another shift at work so that will be the litmus test for how he handles a day at work when I haven't been away. Perhaps he will sail through it like a champ and last Monday will become a distant memory. That is my hope anyway. With stability lately being the norm, hopefully this last little taste of what it's like to have full-blown schizophrenia in our lives again will be just a blip in the radar.
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