It’s almost been one year since we recognized our adult son was not well. In hindsight there were red flags a few years before, but we were more confused than convinced something serious was happening to our loved one.
He flip flopped back and forth, living with his girlfriend for a few months, then moving back home. He never stuck around long enough for us to get a clear picture. At some point it was obvious, but he didn’t have any diagnosis. He began practicing bizarre spiritual rituals. The rituals gradually consumed him. He listened to the same genre of music day and night. He made handmade instruments and taught himself how to play them. When we would try and open a discussion with him about all of his newfound spiritual practices he would tell us we had nothing to worry about. That seemed fair enough we thought, until his behavior caught the attention of the local police department when he took to the city streets to share his ideals. He was very noticeable because we live in a small community of 14,000 people. His dad and I were so confused. We suggested he see a doctor, and he refused.
The next significant event came on Christmas Day of last year. Our son had been up for 3-4 days. He had taken a large kitchen knife to his room. His prayers became louder and his speech was incoherent. We thought he was in danger of hurting himself so we called 911. Law enforcement was ill prepared and the event was traumatic for everyone. Our son was hospitalized and placed on a 72 hr hold at a local hospital. We weren’t able to participate in anything because he chose not to sign a consent.
Fast forward almost one year. I know if you are caring for a loved one with schizophrenia that is going untreated, you understand I could write a book about all we’ve been through as a family the past year. At this moment our son is in secure detention at a medical facility after we were asked to testify at a competency hearing earlier this week. this is the first time in a year that I have had time to regroup. It’s the first time I’ve been alone with my thoughts and not living in crisis after crisis and I’m tired. And I just want to run away. I feel so incompetent trying to navigate a broken health care system and a justice system who don’t work together. I feel like a bad parent for not seeing things earlier. I’m immobilized and stuck while my son is out of the home right now. Maybe that’s normal. Maybe that’s o.k. for right now. I don’t trust my own judgement anymore. My son has schizophrenia and I want to help him. He didn’t deserve this. nobody deserves this. How do you put one foot in front of the other and move forward?