Monday, August 24, 2015

The Empty Milk Carton

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The other day, out of the blue, Thomas sprung on me that he was, again, thinking of moving out. It's interesting that he announced that because I had been thinking over the previous days that I thought it might be worth a try for him to move out sometime soon. He's doing a few things a little better like trying to keep up with his laundry and he, now, has totally taken over managing his medication and putting it into the weekly pill case. These are things that I didn't think I'd see for a long time but he's doing it!

When he brought up in therapy that he wanted to move out there was a definite pause as Dr. K. and I took in the news. I could sense Dr. K.'s apprehension about it and he right away began questioning Thomas about his life skills. This is what is so good about having an outside perspective because as Dr. K. talked, I realized, much to my chagrin, that Thomas is far from being able to move out. I take care of so many things in Thomas's life that I don't think about what it is he is not learning for himself. It's not that I feel like I need to do these things anymore, it's just that it's my job. I'm a mom and I'm a wife. I take care of the house and the meals and many other things. I don't think about these things because they are things I have done my entire adult life.

As Dr. K. talked, I realized that there is still much for Thomas to learn. He doesn't know how to write a check, granted he's never had a need to, he just uses his debit card, and he doesn't know how to keep a proper budget, planning for specifics like rent and utilities. These things are all-inclusive in the rent he pays us but he's never had it broken down for him. That's my fault, I guess. As for grocery shopping, he can now go through the whole store alone and pick up the things on his list but these things are simple like apples and cereal and snacks and desserts. They are hardly things with which to prepare a real meal. I have had a few "sessions" with him teaching him how to make dinner but he doesn't really know what it's like to budget for a week's worth of food and plan meals. That's been something that I haven't taught him because of the way I shop.

When I was married the first time, we had a budget. I clipped coupons and when we ran out of our allotted money for the week, we ate only what we had in the house. Now, with me shopping at Costco and buying in bulk and grocery shopping trips being used to supplement the things I buy at Costco, we now live a life where "shopping for a meal" consists of going downstairs, pulling out a self packaged bag of meat and then going into the pantry to pick sides for the meal. None of this teaches Thomas about the realities of living in the real world. I'm not sure how to remedy this situation because at this point, it's cheaper for us to buy groceries the way we do now instead of the way I used to when I was married before. Clearly this is something that is going to need to be worked on and I'm going to have to come up with a way to change the habits we now live with.

The other thing that Dr. K. brought up was what kinds of bills Thomas would have if he moved out. He mentioned his therapy bill, his psychiatric bill and his meds. Right now, I haven't seen a bill from those things because insurance is covering most of it between the insurance he had before he was declared disabled and now Medicaid. This doesn't paint a clear reality for Thomas because with insurance, bills are sporadic and meds only become an issue when the new insurance year starts over and meds start costing more until the family meets its catastrophic cap. What Thomas doesn't know, too, is that for months now I have been working with my sister and her husband, Thomas's biological dad, to get him put on his insurance for life because that is something that could be offered since he's declared disabled. The problem is, right now it's a bit of a fight to get my ex to get the ball rolling with getting that insurance for life. Thomas has not been included in even the tiniest detail of this. Beyond that, what Thomas doesn't know is that if that insurance for life doesn't come through, he will be solely on Medicaid and that is a huge game changer. As all of you know who live with Medicaid only, their coverage is not terrific and things like certain meds aren't even covered. While I haven't looked into it, I would assume Thomas's Latuda won't be covered since it's a brand new medication with no generics offered for it. If it's not covered then Thomas will have to be taken off that med and as we all know, changing meds can be disastrous which, more often than not, leads to a setback. Dear God we just don't need a setback! All of this, though, Thomas knows nothing about. He's sheltered from it mainly because I don't see a point in stressing him out about it but it's a looming possibility and it will definitely affect how he's going to do if he moves out.

Apart from those things, there are still other things to think about. Dr. K. asked Thomas how he would feel if he had purchased a gallon of milk and when he went to the fridge one morning to get milk for his cereal he realized that his roommate had finished off his milk without his permission. Thomas's response was that he didn't care, he probably wouldn't say anything and he'd be fine with going without milk that morning. The problem is, and I think Dr. K. and I are on the same page with this, Thomas needs to care. He needs to see that he has a right to have his things respected and he has a right to be upset that his milk has been finished up and he has a right to say something to his friends about it including expecting them to replace his milk. Thomas is such a sweetheart and passive and is afraid of upsetting anyone. He'd go without something that belonged to him just to keep the peace. This is not a good quality to have in the dog-eat-dog world of inconsiderate roommates. Therein lies a problem. How do I teach him that life skill? How do I teach him to care about that, to be indignant if that happens and how to be assertive and respectfully ask his roommate to replace his milk? Thomas's innocence is one of his most endearing qualities but it hardly prepares him for life outside these walls. In fact, it's a disability of sorts because it limits him from living the best life possible for himself.

So, as you can see because of what I've mentioned here, plus the many other things I don't have room to mention right now, he is far from being able to move out. There is so much I want for him, most especially his independence, but there are many hurdles to cross before that happens. I can teach him how to shop for and prepare meals, I can teach him how to do laundry but there are so many things about real life that can't be taught, they just have to be experienced, and I can set him loose to learn those things but I'm not entirely sure he'll be able to pick those things up just because they go against the very core of who he is.

Life can be so cruel, people can be inconsiderate, things can pop up that you can't plan for and all of those things are on Thomas's horizon if he is to move out. He has a lot to learn, a lot of toughening up to do and he needs to learn a sense of justice for himself. We've started the learning process but for him to be able to move out, we still have a long way to go.

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