Wednesday, March 04, 2015

My Caged Animal

It began again yesterday, an all too familiar issue that for the life of me I can't solve.

I went to my mom's yesterday leaving Thomas alone. I've done this many times since he's been stable. Usually he plays video games and watches YouTube while I'm gone and I always return to find him in his room doing what he does. Yesterday was different, though, but I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.

When I walked in the door he greeted me at the door. This doesn't happen, at least not lately. He announced to me that he felt like he just HAD TO move and that he couldn't sit still. There it was, yet again, my son, the caged animal. I suggested that we watch a favorite TV show of his to help lessen his feeling of restlessness so we sat down to watch TV. I checked in with him while we watched and the feeling wouldn't go away. We've been here before but I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what to do.

He planned to go to a model train club meeting so we went in the kitchen to make dinner. As I cooked I could feel his eyes on me and he stood there, this big, agitated presence in my kitchen. I know now that I should have gotten him involved in helping make dinner but as I put it together all I could think was,

"Here we are again. What do I do?"

The thought hit me that my being gone from the house part of the day might have triggered his agitation and I remembered that I am leaving on a trip in a few days, leaving him home alone to fend for himself for a couple of days. I asked him if he thought it might be anxiety about me being gone and he initially denied that. I stewed over what could be wrong because it was SO FAMILIAR yet here I was, after all this time and all of these similar experiences, and I couldn't figure out how to help him. I stopped and I looked at him and I said,

"We have been here before, Thomas. We should know what to do about this. It's bugging me because this is such a familiar issue and by now I should have written down somewhere exactly what to do for this."

I began to fill with anxiety myself as the minutes wore on and he just stood there watching me. I knew what it meant, I knew that I was right, he is anxious about me leaving him alone for a few days. This happens every time I leave, he gets agitated for days beforehand if I'm gone for even an hour from the house and then I come home to try to clean up the mess. Perhaps a solution would be to take him with me everywhere I go but there's always a part of me that thinks that I need to show him that he's going to be okay if I am gone. He can't live his life being afraid when I'm gone and he has to learn how to be alone and I have a right to a little bit of my own personal life.

Still, I couldn't shake my own anxiety. I hate this. I hate that he can't be alone. I hate that my trip is coming up and it's going to be marred with worry about him alone at home. I hate that I'll be putting out fires via text for the 4 days I'm gone and I hate knowing that my efforts will be in vain. I did this before when I went to Vegas. As I visited the city I was stopped over and over by him texting me THE SADDEST texts about being lonely and scared and anxious. Being so far away, I couldn't do anything for him but tell him over and over that I loved him and that I'd be home in a couple of days. It is the most heartbreaking situation for us both to be in and again, it's a reminder that he's just not ready to be on his own living in his own apartment somewhere.

I know, it's just anxiety, it's just agitation, it's really nothing right? I mean, things could be worse. But with the whole incident happening with the man trying to pick him up in the dark and that making him terrified and paranoid and unable to walk home from work anymore and now my leaving and his anxiety/agitation starting up, I find myself in all-too-familiar territory and quite honestly I just want to cry. Why does this happen? Why can everything be just fine and then suddenly be a mess? Why does he have to suffer so and why do I have to feel my own anxiety about leaving him alone with his demons (anxiety, paranoia, agitation) for a few days?

On the way to the club meeting he got very quiet in the car and he finally piped up,

"Mom, I think you are right. I am anxious about you leaving me when you go to Seattle."

And there it was, the truth behind the agitation and anxiety. I reached over and I squeezed his leg and I held on for dear life. My poor kid, so afraid, so unable to be comfortable with me being gone, so riddled with this stupid illness that robs him of peace of mind. Sadly Dr. K. is out of his office this week at a conference so there will be no help for Thomas or for me for that matter. Right now I'd kill to have a solution to this problem but instead I'll try to hold things together over the next couple of days until I leave and I'll plan for a trip away from him spent texting and calling and helping him get through my absence.

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