Journeying back to Self

Chris and I wish you and your family a wonderful New Year.

It’s been fifteen years since Chris was first hospitalized and more than that since he began to show symptoms of psychosis.

Today’s is my last post.

Thank you friends and readers for joining this blog and sticking with us. I started this blog in 2009, and recently welcomed my 150th follower. Thank you for your comments, thank you for personally getting in touch with me and sharing your own stories.

Chris is much older than when we started out and I’ve said and done all that can be said and done. The blog will still be here for reference and entertainment purposes only. My New Year’s project is to improve the categorization of my posts to make the blog more accessible. Pick a post, any post, and you may find something informative or just fun to read. If you would like a condensed version of the journey, do consider purchasing my book. I can guarantee, you’ll love it.

Just when I thought Chris had plateaued, something surprising happened. Chris’s motor tics have greatly diminished. I’ve noticed, too, that he is taking more initiative, such as going regularly to the gym and by speaking up for himself. The newfound initiative is a welcome sign because the negative symptoms of schizophrenia (motivation/initiative) are the hardest to treat and are what keeps most people with serious mental illness from working or studying.

This sudden shift appears to have been caused by his being prescribed an antidepressant back in August for his OCD symptoms (in addition to the Abilify he has been taking on and off at low doses for years). We learned that an antidepressant could reduce the tics. I’m now wondering if his problem all along has been some form of OCD and underlying depression that got labelled schizophrenia. These labels (and the drugs that are prescribed to treat the symptoms) are increasingly interchangeable (but not always effective).

Here’s what I know after fifteen years, and it’s not much. The treatment for what is called serious mental illness is woefully hit and miss. Nobody gets it. Psychiatrists haven’t much of a clue and, despite years of trying, neither have I. We are at the mercy of the latest research results that may or may not help our relative. I had understood for many years that antidepressants were not recommended for schizophrenia, as it was thought that they could drive the person into mania. My husband was all in favor of trying one, Dr. Stern and I were not. Nobody even raised the possibility of OCD in Chris’s case.

I had no idea that motor tics were a sign of OCD and I’m guessing that this nugget of information is something that has come out only within the past decade. I recently stumbled across a page from the Mayo Clinic linking motor tics to an underlying symptom of schizophrenia. (Never heard that one before. Have you?)

I don’t know if these promising changes will last. Who knows what Chris’s future holds? I’m optimistic. He’s has a lot to give.

Parting thoughts

  • Trying anything is usually better than trying nothing. (In my experience, all interventions, coming from a place of love, lead to small improvements).
  • Learning good communication skills is essential.
  • Be an advocate for your relative. When it comes down to it, you’re on his side, not the doctor’s. Leave no doubt that you want what your relative wants and you will try your best to make it happen.
  • Holidays bring added stress.
  • Drugs have their place, but keep them as low as possible and never stop searching for a drugless alternative.
  • Not all doctors are automatically wrong. Be open to what they have to say.
  • Take an interest in this most intriguing condition. Enjoy the mystery.
  • Lighten up. The journey has its moments.
  • Look after your own health.
  • Live in the moment.

Someone who did have a clue about what is called mental illness was author Herman Hesse, my go-to person for his reflections about journeys and discovery. Chris and I leave you with this:

“One must find the source within one’s own Self, one must possess it . Everything else was seeking — a detour, an error.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

9 thoughts on “Journeying back to Self”

  1. Thank you for your persistence, courage, generosity, and love. I, too, am optimistic about Chris as I see our son Daniel recovering from a fourth episode of schizophrenia without medication and with a somewhat inconsistent application of Focused Listening. This time, the healing trajectory is slow, as in 2008, but familiar. The two-steps-forward followed by a step back makes for a rocky road. The brain seems to have to integrate and solidify learning before it is ready for further progress.

    Good health and happiness to you and your entire family. May 2020 be remarkable for each and all of you!

    1. You have been an inspiration to me, Laurna. Chris has benefited a lot from Focused Listening. Though he no longer does it consistently, he continues to work on mandalas and has even got his roommate hooked on doing them as well. So glad to hear (and I am not surprised at all) that Daniel is getting over his fourth bout with schizophrenia, unmedicated. It is do-able. It takes courage, patience, and focus on your part to never give up.

  2. Hi Rossa,
    May 2020 be filled with brightness and hope for Chris and the entire family. Happy New Year.
    Its been 2 years since Karan is back to India from US but he still does not want to go for any course or job. He does take interest in painting n makes nice paintings at home. I told him to go n learn the finer points, to take up some course in art, interiors or cooking since he likes to cook too, but he refuses.
    Am still worried about him as I want to see him settled n work consistently. May be you could help me by giving some tips.
    Regards,
    Sheela

  3. I have read your book more than once. I am curious, do you feel moving to Florida was good for your son? We live up north and the long winters are tough on all of us. Wondering if the warmer climate seems to help?

    1. Hi, Christine,
      Chris seems overall pleased with moving to Florida. He has said on a few occasions that the weather is more agreeble and that the move has given him a renewed sense of purpose and a new start. He just bought a bike to get around easier. There are a surprising number of cyclists here, which is a good thing as the public transportation system is not great.
      …Rossa

  4. Thank you. My oldest son moved to Florida this year and I am feeling a change coming for our family. Just not sure how or when.

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