For the past year Chris has made leaps and bounds socially. He has joined several choirs and amateur theatrical productions and is busy with these activities every night and increasingly, on the week-ends. It’s his days that hold no promise. Other than shopping, cooking for the family, and keeping his appointments with Dr. Stern and the occupational therapist, he has nothing to do to fill them. Ian and I know that Chris is well, but we have deliberately avoided rocking the boat. We tell ourselves to be patient. We hope that Chris will eventually decide for himself that his day situation is intolerable. I’ve noticed that men who have recovered from the condition called schizophrenia often report that they began to take steps to change their lives beginning around the age of 28 (the first Saturn return).
The other day Ian and I left for work, as usual, and Chris waved us off at the door, as usual. I said to Ian as we drove away, “Don’t you think Chris being home all day has gone on long enough? Shall I contact the occupational therapist and tell her to get going on helping Chris find a job?”
“Go for it,” said Ian.
I sent an e-mail to the OT saying that Ian and I felt it was high time Chris became a useful member of society and begin by getting a job. I said we would have preferred that he go back to university or take some intense training course, but he didn’t seem ready for that step, because, if he was, he would have initiated the process by now.
I spent the remainder of the day wondering if I had done the right thing by putting pressure on the OT. What if Chris really isn’t ready for a job?
I got my answer that evening after I got home from my yoga class. Chris arrived home shortly after I did.
““Chris, wasn’t your rehearsal tonight?”
“I didn’t go,” he said, his voice sounding tired. “I bought the train ticket but I just couldn’t go.”
“Well, why not?”
““I was inside all day and I didn’t do anything, and I just couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm at the end of the day.”
“Did you spend your day in fantasies?”
“No. I don’t do that anymore. They aren’t so interesting.”
Well, that was a relief, not that I am worried that Chris will slip back into psychosis, but I still felt I needed to check.
So, we sat down and talked. By now, I was glad that I had contacted the OT.
“Chris, I fully understand how bored you must be at home all day. It’s draining. I’ve been there myself when I was unemployed. The less I did, the less I wanted to do, the less I thought I could do. Don’t you think it’s about time you got a job? You need the stimulus of routine and people during the day because you have got to the point where you are very sociable and need more company. You have made great strides, you are basically “normal” now, you have great potential and there’s no reason why you can’t make an enormous contribution to the world, but you need to get out and start to be productive.”
Chris brightened. Hearing me say this was a huge relief to him.
“There’s one thing, though, Chris. You are still waiting for life to choose you, you are kind of like — apologies for not having a male equivalent — a princess in a fairy tale who is waiting for a handsome prince to wake her up out of her dream state. Just because you are intelligent and talented doesn’t mean that somebody is going to define you and tell you what you should be doing the rest of your life. Life doesn’t work like that. Learn to take chances and not fear failures. In the past you just collapsed when life started putting pressure on you.You’re much stronger today than you were then, so now it’s time to take action, and not intellectualize too much about whether it’s the right action. If you don’t mind, I’m going to start getting on your case more about developing a daily schedule and sticking to it. I don’t want you missing any more rehearsals because you haven’t been busy enough during the day. ”
End of lecture