I read an article recently about the correlation between sleep issues and psychosis and it got me to thinking. For a few days after reading the article I would ask Thomas if he had a good night--like I always do--and he told me it was fine. Then it clicked and I thought to ask,
"How is your QUALITY of sleep?"
That's when I discovered his nights hadn't been fine at all.
It turns out he has been having what I would call nightmares lately. Bear in mind he rarely dreams, most likely because he's so sedated. In the last few nights, though, he has had reoccurring dreams that he's fighting with either me or Dan. I told him how I felt that must be awful for him but then yesterday dug in a little deeper. It seems that his dreams start out as all of us fighting kind of playfully about something and "then it gets personal".
I asked him if the fights turned into name calling and the like and he said that happened and other stuff too. He wouldn't elaborate. What could his mind be telling him in his dreams? I certainly don't like that he's dreaming that he's having conflicts with his dad and I because that isn't real life and I know his dreams can be real enough that he wakes up believing they have happened. I told him how sorry I was that he had these dreams and that he had to wake up feeling so awful. I understand that feeling because I, too, have trouble separating dreams from reality sometimes. There's nothing worse than--for example--dreaming that someone has been hurt or killed and you wake up crying and feeling the grief as if it's really happened. He heard me and said, "okay" but the dreams have continued.
It makes me wonder, though, what does all of this mean for his schizophrenia? If bad quality of sleep, or changes in sleeping patterns indicate that someone is dealing with psychosis then is this what is happening to Thomas right now? I guess with all of the paranoia about work and crowds and the government he's considered "psychotic" so it stands to reason that his sleep would be disrupted.
More than that, I have to wonder how the dreams are affecting his waking life. I always live in fear that the time will come someday when he will no longer trust me because a delusion has convinced him I am an enemy of some sort. It seems to me that reoccurring dreams about fighting with me where they get "personal" and nasty that wake him and cause him to be unable to separate dreams from reality might convince him in his delusional mind that even when he's awake that I am not to be trusted. I have some grasp on how his mind works by now and it's not that far of a stretch to see how he could reach a point where even when he's awake we are, somehow, at odds.
I guess only time will tell. I'm going to keep an eye on him and his sleep and make sure that things are okay. Beyond that I am going to make a concerted effort to keep any tension low so that he doesn't correlate dreams with reality. I can't have him thinking I am the enemy. I am his only lifeline, I am the most trusted person in his life and my role needs to be protected at all costs for as long as is possible.
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