Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Getting better results with spontaneous last minute planning

Funny how when I say to my son, “let’s do something next Tuesday” or “I have this planned for next Tuesday”, he will say, “no thanks, I don’t want to” or “I’m not doing it”. But come next Tuesday, if I call him the day of, maybe an hour before the activity, he will say yes. He doesn’t always say yes, even at the last minute, but I’m finding the odds are better for me of him saying yes the day of.

It’s like we have to have an immense amount of intuition and insight and understanding and compassion AND patience just to be able to do normal things other families take for granted. It’s hard work and it’s exhausting trying to stay in the same world they’re in and let them know that we are ok with “the way they are”. I think trust is everything, once you have trust, it opens so many tiny doors. My son doesn’t talk a lot, but I still understand him, and more importantly, he knows I understand him.

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I notice the same with my son. It is better if we do things more spontaneously when we can. My son has said to me in the past that it would be better to not make plans in advance. I know that his mood may change, and that he has good days and bad ones. My son does not usually talk much, etiher; however I continually learn and understand more about his condition, his limitations, and what he is capable of doing.

I’ll posit a simple explanation for this. When you are ill, you don’t really know how you’ll be day to day. It’s a bit like the weather… mild psychosis with scattered voices clearing to partially delusional in the afternoon and evening. And as we all know, those long range forecasts are the least reliable.

Making tentative plans with the option for an ‘out’ without too much emotional consequence seems a good strategy to me. You set up the expectation for something positive with less guilt if it doesn’t work out. And if it’s a good day and you decide to go out and things work out, then next time you might put on a coat when the ‘weather’ isn’t as inviting. Eventually you might go out in the rain if you feel confident you won’t melt.

What you are doing here is building social confidence, and anything you can do to stack odds toward a positive experience can pay off in the end.

P.S. And as much as some people like to talk about the ‘weather’, we aren’t that keen on talking about it. It either takes too long to explain, or talking about it seems to scare people or get us into trouble, so we are conditioned not to talk about it much, as there isn’t much of an ‘up’ side in it for us.

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I’m glad you guys have an approach that works. I am a creature of habit and need advance warning to do anything. Def do what works for you

We do this with our daughter… we ask her time to time as the day of the plan approaches, “Are you sure you’re up to this?”

Once I understood this about my son’s day to day life, I was able to be much more supportive. Thanks for writing this @Maggotbrane, this is good information.

@Moonwalker

My son seems to get anxious and stressed about it if it’s something that is upcoming days in advance. Even though there are no reasons to feel this way. My goal, of course, is to make things as stress-free, as much as possible for him. But everyone is different.

He responds better when our family acts like we “just thought of it” and “would you like to go”.

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You should certainly you go with what works as everyone is different. What’s important is to try to minimize stress and avoid telling a MI person how they should feel or how their lack of participation makes other family and friends feel. More so than ‘well’ people, when stable I feel we are better arbiters of what’s good for us or not, and whether certain circumstances might be detrimental to our mental health at a given moment.

Above all, try not to make a big deal about outings either near-term or long-term. Participation should be a welcome bonus, not a requirement and shouldn’t be framed as required for someone else’s ‘happiness’. And if other family and friends are involved try to convey this in a mater of fact way, rather than it being a ‘special case’, as you might with someone busy with work or raising small children.

Even for an individual, what’s comfortable varies with circumstances and mood. Nowadays I’m okay with most activities, but get stressed when traveling in foreign countries with jet lag and unfamiliar surroundings and languages. But since my extended family mostly lives abroad, I sometimes have to endure situations that are detrimental to my short-term mental health. So I sometimes have to play the ‘MI card’ for some family events when traveling.

My daughter tends to do it the other way around…
She is excited about plans made in advance, but then feels anxious once the time comes near.