My Story Part III

The following description has been written by my mother, as I have no recollection of several years. I thought that I remembered part of it, knowing I lapsed for several years, but upon a discussion of this blog, I realized that I didn’t have accurate memories of those years either. 

    As my son tried to write the third part of this story, it became apparent that what he remembered was not exactly as his family remembers it. I must say that I can’t remember exact times and places because it all became a blur of frustration, anxiety, guilt, and remorse for me. My son, who was always a self-motivated high achiever, began a spiral so out of the realm of our reality, that we didn’t have a clue as to what was going on.

    He was finishing up his final year in college and was graduating with a physics and biology degree. He was an adult getting on with his life, but suddenly he couldn’t function enough to move back home and prepare for the next phase, which included a graduate degree and research. He was three hours away, and, we had no idea how badly things had declined.

    As I look back now, I really don’t see how he made it home. I thought he should just grow up! He was old enough to take care of himself. Unfortunately, he was a very broken man when he returned home. Depressed and unable to deal with even the most mundane task. On top of the anxiety and depression, he began to itch from head to toe. He would scratch himself with brushes which would leave bleeding scratch marks all over his body. It was horrible! I had never seen anything like it. This went on for months and we began our journey of trying to find out what was going on.

    Eventually, the itching was diagnosed as being a liver problem and he was given a medicine that began clearing up that issue. The months of itching to the point of insanity, I believe, led to an even worsened stage of his mental illness. He became catatonic for hours and was unable to attend to his personal hygiene. We visited every doctor and emergency room available. He was scanned, biopsied, and tested over and over. Doctors found that he had a calcified area on the casing around the brain, fatty liver disease, numerous gastrointestinal problems, and a tumor on his pituitary gland.

    The “break” came one night in the midst of all those doctor visits, when my son kept trying to pick up some sort of orange string off of the floor. According to my husband, he started acting very strangely that evening. I was away with my other two sons at the time, but when we arrived back home, we found him standing in the living room picking up things from the floor only he could see. He wanted me to vacuum to get it up. We tried, and he became very agitated with us. We tried telling him it wasn’t there, and he just cried. We took him to one of the larger emergency rooms in our area. On the way, he calmed down and was able to talk with us; however, he thought his brother’s girlfriend was in the car with us. He knew she wasn’t really there, but he could see a faded image of her. 

    He was lucid and almost back to himself by the time we got to the ER. This was a relief to see my son back! What was going on? This became the first time mental illness was mentioned to us. The doctors were concerned with his break from reality and recommended we see a psychiatrist. And, with this, we began our journey to finally get help. With God’s help, I researched and found a wonderful psychiatrist that we continue to see to this day. After years of trying to get the dosages right on all the medications, things began to get better. It was tough but now we have a name (several names actually) for what is going on with him. He has had several good years and his quality of life has greatly improved. Depression and voices, along with paranoia, seem to be the biggest issues right now.

    Last year, he decided to try electroconvulsive therapy. This was a big decision. This decision should not be taken lightly by anyone seeking similar treatments. The sessions seemed simple at first, and he seemed fine and chipper right after the first few sessions, but it soon turned scary when he didn’t respond well to being put to sleep three times a week. We ended up cutting the total number of sessions from 10 to 7 but I have to say that after about a week he began to feel much better. It was actually amazing to watch; but, he says he doesn’t ever want to do it again. 

It’s impossible to sum up all that went on in those few years, but it helped me to have my mother write out the parts I have lost memory of. I am so thankful to have had a family that supported me throughout this entire process and continue to today. I know that’s a blessing some don’t have. The medications help, but I still have symptoms. Keeping stress to a minimum and talking myself through some of the episodes, allow me to cope with some of the minor ones.