(picture credit: lakeviewhealth.com)
Thomas will be going to his first
illegal drugs and alcohol party
There. I said it.
Obviously, if you know me, which some of you do pretty well by now, you know that the prospect of Thomas going to a party is not sitting well with me. I think, as parents, especially parents (and caregivers) of someone with schizophrenia, we worry when our loved ones are anywhere near the very thing that could cause psychosis, cause a major crisis, and find us sitting in the E.R. at 1 a.m. saying prayers for the safe recovery of our loved one. So, I know I'm not alone in this.
With that said, let me fill you in on what's been going on with all of this.
First and foremost, for years, Thomas has wanted to go to parties. I think he might have been to one as a teen but I know that there were no drugs or alcohol there. His friends in high school were goofy, kind of nerdy types who favored video games and strategy card games over pretty much everything else. As each Halloween came and went, there was always some reason why he couldn't get out on this night and have some fun. The last 2 years it's been because he's had to work. So, when he came to me yesterday and showed me a text from a friend from high school that I don't know inviting him to a party, I was immediately hit with questions of what to do next. I asked the requisite questions like:
Who is this kid?
Where will the party be?
Can I have a look at his Facebook page?
That last question is the one that our parents could never ask us. There was no Facebook back then. Our parents sent us out into the world with people they didn't know and I'm fairly sure they just prayed we'd come back safe. But in this day and age, the age of cavalierly putting your personal life out there for all the world to see, as a parent, we are in a unique situation. We get the information that, maybe, we wished we didn't have. As it stood, Thomas pulled up this kid's Facebook page and just two hours prior to my viewing his page, he had posted a status update complete with a picture with the comment that he was making candy corn jello shots with vodka and he was trying to perfect it for everyone coming to the party.
There it was. In black and white. The thing that I hoped wouldn't be going on at this party, was being advertised right there and now I had to decide what to do with that information. Let's think about this, though.
Thomas turns 21 tomorrow.
He's an adult.
He's a good kid.
He cares what his dad and I think about him and what he does.
He wants to please us.
But he also is very prone to wanting to please his friends too, to the point that he'll give up what he wants to do or think in order to make his friends happy.
That last point obviously being a recipe for disaster at a party with drugs and alcohol.
As you can see, I have reason to worry.
Then there is the fact that he has schizophrenia. For a moments let's forget about the price he would pay by mixing drugs and/or alcohol with his meds. We all know what the end result of that is. What concerns me more is his cognitive abilities (or lack thereof), his inability to reason, his inability to think through a given problem and solve it, his immaturity and so much more. Cognitive skills are the building blocks that are very much needed to navigate a party with friends, peer pressure, and drugs and alcohol.
But he is almost 21, he is an adult, he deserves a chance to spread his wings and fly a short distance from the nest and test his own ability to make the right decisions, and he deserves to have some fun on Halloween night with a few friends.
How can I stand in the way of that?
So, last night, after a long day for me, after my own emotional breakdown because of stress, I handed everything over to Dan.
The calm, logical, strong, voice of reason.
All of which I found myself sorely lacking.
He and I talked and I told him my concerns and I turned it over to him to speak to Thomas about the responsibility he was facing by going to this party. He told Thomas that he felt he should go to the party, he said that he should have some fun, he said that it would be a worthwhile experience for Thomas and he made Thomas promise to call if he got scared and needed a ride home or if he did end up drinking or taking something or if there are no designated drivers to bring him home. Dan gave him sage advice and...
He gave him his freedom.
So, I'm tired. I'm fighting my own form of serious mental illness--a heavy depression, a crash after a mixed episode--and I am not equipped to make a well-informed judgement call on this whole party thing. The possibilities swirl through my mind as I type this. I have laid them all out here for you to consider. All I have left, all I can muster from my dark, oppressive cave of depression, is ardent prayers for my beloved son who lives with schizophrenia and is about to walk into the belly of the beast.