I read your post and my instant thought was, “This is us.” Although my daughter may be a bit worse with her symptoms (doctors currently are baffled as her symptoms are very advanced and complex for her age). My daughter is in the hospital right now, inpatient, due to a recent crisis. It’s her third emergency admission in two years. She’s had one inpatient admission for 30 days into a residential program. We’ve known for years she was “different” but were blind to the signs. In 2015 she was diagnosed with Severe Depression and admitted for suicidal ideation. In July 2017 she was diagnosed with major depressive disorder with psychosis, oppositional defiant disorder (misdiagnosis), and generalized anxiety disorder (That one is 100% correct). MDD w/psychosis is by my interpretation, a childhood version of schizophrenia, although others may want to lynch me for jumping to that conclusion.
We didn’t know it until a few days ago that she relapsed two weeks after being released. We continued to struggle along and cope with behavior we didn’t realize were symptoms of her illness for five months. In October, the psychiatrist added paranoia as a diagnosis and bells went off in my head. Paranoia + psychosis = paranoid schizophrenia. Stil, I didn’t understand. Last Thursday she suffered a complete psychotic break for the third time while I was at work 30 miles away. Thankfully my son and a neighbor child were with her and able to keep her safe until I could get home. The psychiatrist is trying to diagnose her with Bipolar Type 1 w/psychosis but I know that’s a misdiagnosis.
I have a blog I’m keeping and one of my posts goes over all of my daughter’s symptoms. That may or may not help you with recognizing or recalling some behaviors in your son as I’ve described matching incidents and symptoms in detail. (Caveat: Statistically speaking, a Paranoid Schizophrenia diagnosis at age 10 is a 1 in 40,000 chance. I’m finding it to be a very small world currently.)
Some of the symptoms were much milder in the beginning but she showed an initial clue at age 2 when she believed that Dora the Explorer was her best friend but lived in the TV so she couldn’t come play with her. At age 5 she had a complete panic attack (and her first psychotic break which played out over subsequent months) seeing a skeletal figure in the closet while screaming “It’s right there, don’t you see it? Why can’t you see it?”
As of today, she’s best friends with a spirit named Lulu, who has no eyes and is searching for her eyes, one eye is brown, one eye is green. Libby says Lulu won’t hurt her because Libby understands Lulu’s purpose. Lulu’s friend named Surrender, however, isn’t quite so nice. Right now while Libby’s in the hospital, Lulu can’t get in, but she says she’ll be back, and she visits Libby in her dreams every night to remind her of that.
The bad news is there’s no cure. Yes, it can get worse, but a large percentage of schizophrenics get worse very gradually if at all (the top 50%). Many are able to manage life well with medication and treatment (again, top 50%). I even read one story recently about a schizophrenic who gave an interview and who teaches law at Yale. Obviously, her illness is well managed and she’s developed some very good coping skills to function at such a high level. There’s hope for many who have it with current medications.
In our case, we’re already in the bottom 25% and may one be in the 10% who commit suicide. My daughter has deteriorated very rapidly, despite medications. She’s in the hospital right now, on the maximum allowable dosage for her age and weight, and still having hallucinations. The problem is, the hospital didn’t recognize her hallucinations until I got involved.
What I’ve done is to get educated as to what her symptoms are, what the medications are, open a line of communication with treating doctors and support staff, and advocate for her best interest in all areas of her life (School, home, other family members, medical community etc). I, as her mother, am the only person who understands how she thinks and intuitively understands her. After all, I’ve known her since conception.
Most importantly, I’m so sorry for what you, your son, and your entire family are struggling with. I hope that he continues to remain stable.