I had a remarkable conversation with my 26 year old son who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia for 5 years and has struggled with mental illness since childhood. He shared with me how lonely it is to have schizophrenia and he has no one to talk to about his hallucinations. He feels schizophrenia is a life ruining disease, without the possibility of getting married or having a family. He also shared with me he thinks he has had schizophrenia for years before it was formally diagnosed. I told him I think that is highly likely in hindsight. But I also shared with him that recent research shows that with early treatment schizophrenia can be managed.
This was the first time he ever said the word “schizophrenia.” He had significant anosognosia until he was on court ordered abilify maintaina and it seemed to rewire his brain gave him empathy and insight he has lacked his whole life. The interesting thing is abilify pills did not have same effect; the pill form fixed positive symptoms but no impact on insight or empathy. This conversation touched my heart in ways that are indescribable.
The second part of the conversation broke my heart. He admitted he had relapsed and was back on street drugs. I am heartbroken. Long story short he moved out in January for first time in his life first to drug rehab, then to halfway house. He identified as an addict as it was preferable in his mind to having a serious mental illness. Yet it got him to therapy, he stayed compliant on his antipsychotics and learned many skills to be independent. He went out and about, he had friends. This is after a year of paranoid psychosis, trapped in his own world, where he never left the house, except occasionally with his parents. Then violence and a involuntary commitment in May 2019.
His drug use did not start until his late teen early adult years mostly pot. Then we moved south to the coast and he got into cocaine and heroin. I know relapse is common, but he was doing so well. He was consistently taking his antipsychotics which is going on 18 months now. He held job as construction helper for 5 months which is longest employment since his diagnosis. He willing went to therapy and intensive outpatient therapy. He has grown such much this past year that this news of relapse is so sad. To top it all off when he reached out for help his insurance denied inpatient treatment as they said his drug use was not life threatening as he was only using cocaine, not immently life threatening drugs like heroin or fentanyl. The system is crazy. The intake coordinator told him what he had to say to get his admission paid for. So he is in inpatient rehab, but he lost his housing as he used illicit substances. The next chapter begins…who knows what is next? At least he is safe for the moment.
Thanks for listening. Sorry for the long-winded story I have so many thoughts and worries going through my mind.