On Tuesday Thomas went to a friend's house and when I went to pick him up, he got in the car and very excitedly told me about how he was going to move out and live with his friend Jon and 4 other people. I was, of course, immediately apprehensive. I knew the house that they were thinking of moving into and it's basically a pill box house and there is no way 5 people were going to fit into the house. I listened to Thomas talk about it and asked a couple of questions but ultimately told him that we should talk to Dr. K. about this. We weren't going to be seeing Dr. K. for two days so I took the stance of "needing to think about the whole idea of moving out" and that I would talk more with him over the next couple of days. I didn't want to be a "dream squasher" and deny him a chance for independence but everything in me screamed that this was a horrible plan.
The initial plan included Thomas, his friend Jon, Jon's sister, Jon's sister's fiancé and one other person all living together in this small house. I knew that five people in a small house was a disaster waiting to happen for Thomas for many reasons though one big one being that the stress and lack of structure could cause symptoms to reemerge. All I could think to myself was that there was no way that I was going to let this happen but I didn't know how I was going to be able to tell him that in a gentle way and in a way that wouldn't alienate him from me because I was saying no to the plan.
Then yesterday he went to Jon's again and when I picked him up to take him to therapy he, again, got in the car very excited and told me that they were going to move into a different house and that there would be more room. He said they were all going to go look at it after his therapy and he couldn't contain his excitement about all of it. Once again, I stayed pretty much silent on the subject and told him, again, that I thought we should run this by Dr. K..
We sat down in therapy and Dr. K. brought up the whole moving out thing. It was very serendipitous that he was doing that given that was what had been on our plate for 2 days. Thomas immediately, proudly and excitedly announced that he was going to move out soon. Dr. K.'s initial response was,
"I'm very excited for you Thomas!"
Please, Dr. K., get on board with me here and listen to the plan and for God's sake stop saying you're excited about this!!!!
Dr. K. went on to ask questions and out of the questions we learned that the kids Thomas was moving in with were his friend Jon who is 21 and then his sister who is 17, a high school dropout and a mother of a two year old. Then there was the fiancé who is also young and then another high school kid. First, Thomas has no business living with a bunch of underage kids. That is just a recipe for disaster. I saw Dr. K.'s hesitation once he learned that information but he went on questioning Thomas about it. He asked about Thomas's income and he said,
"So you must be getting about $700 per month from Social Security, right?"
"No," I said, "He gets $311 per month."
Then he asked about how much he was making from his job and it came out that Thomas makes about $35 a week working. All of it hardly enough to live on, even with roommates.
Then he asked if there were any concerns of mine about this besides him getting enough sleep and proper meals. I told him that Thomas had been forgetting his meds a lot lately and while he did finally go back and take them a few hours later, he still was forgetting them and I felt that in a situation like he would live in, a place of chaos and without structure, that he would forget them more often and probably not go back and take them. There were a couple other concerns we covered one of which was the obvious and that was relapse.
Then he started asking Thomas about his life skills like could he write a check ("No") and what could he cook for himself without help ("frozen meals...at least he thinks he could"). Then I brought up that Thomas hadn't washed his jeans in over a week and that he told me that he kept forgetting to ask me to teach him again (I've taught him three times already and he still can't remember how). I told Dr. K. that he had been wearing the same jeans for days now.
Then we talked about Thomas's self care and it came out that Thomas is still showering just every 4 days. Currently his hair is flat and lifeless and full of grease and dandruff and he hasn't bathed in days. Dr. K. said,
"So you haven't been showering every other day like we talked about."
Dr. K. tried to explain to Thomas that he has dirt and germs on his body that need to be washed off and Thomas was completely unfazed by that and stated that he always showers when he works.
One day a week.
So, his gauge for when it's a good time to shower is only when he has to work?
Then we talked about washing his sheets and all of that conversation kind of flew by but not before it caught the periphery of my attention and I remembered that Thomas hadn't changed his sheets in weeks. Imagine if he were living on his own. Do you think sheets would get washed? No. He can't even remember to wash his jeans.
The end of the session was about relapse and both Dr. K. and I agreed that this was the number one concern about Thomas moving out. Throughout the entire session I was giving Dr. K. the look trying to get him to see that I felt like Thomas moving out into this situation was a nightmare and he caught a couple of my looks but not enough of them. I wanted desperately for him to tell Thomas he couldn't move out but I realize now that that isn't his place to do. As such, I felt cast out on stormy seas trying to figure out how I was going to break the news to Thomas that in this case he would not be moving out.
After session we drove up to the house. I sat in my car in the driveway and snapped a picture of the house, shocked at the size of it. No basement, no upstairs, and just 2/3 the size of my house and my house is small. While I waited for Thomas to walk down to Jon's house and get him and bring him back to the house so we could look at it, I fired off an email to Dr. K..
"This whole moving out thing with this particular group
will happen over my dead body.
I have a lot to say on this subject
(because I wasn't able to say my peace in therapy)
so I will email you later."
Over my dead body.
I said it and I mean it.
Tomorrow I will talk about the living conditions and the serious conversation I had with Thomas as we drove home from seeing the house.