Sunday, November 16, 2014

Symptoms of Schizophrenia revisited

I had to look up the symptoms for schizophrenia again. The last couple of days he has had excessive body movements, strange posturing, leaning his head to the side and I didn't know if this was part of schizophrenia. It's been a long time since I've seen delusions or hallucinations and I started doubting whether we've got the right diagnosis.

As I went through the list of symptoms for schizophrenia, I saw that he's had all of them at one time. Now that he's on the right medication we have only seen disorganized speech and the body movements. Yes, the abnormal motor behavior is on the list of symptoms. I am back to thinking we have the correct diagnosis of schizophrenia, but I see a better outlook to being able to manage it.

We have not seen agitation, delusions, hallucinations or paranoid thinking in at least 6 months. This is what makes me start thinking it's not schizophrenia, but I have to face facts that the reason we are not seeing those symptoms is because the medicine is working. I do worry that the inappropriate and bizarre posture, or useless and excessive movement can hinder his job prospects. Part of rejoining society is getting into the work force. I will try not to hold him back out of fear.

Symptoms of schizophrenia listed from the Mayo Clinic:

Delusions. These are false beliefs that are not based in reality. For example, you're being harmed or harassed; certain gestures or comments are directed at you; you have exceptional ability or fame; another person is in love with you; a major catastrophe is about to occur; or your body is not functioning properly. Delusions occur in as many as 4 out of 5 people with schizophrenia.
Hallucinations. These usually involve seeing or hearing things that don't exist. Yet for the person with schizophrenia, they have the full force and impact of a normal experience. Hallucinations can be in any of the senses, but hearing voices is the most common hallucination.
Disorganized thinking (speech). Disorganized thinking is inferred from disorganized speech. Effective communication can be impaired, and answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated. Rarely, speech may include putting together meaningless words that can't be understood, sometimes known as word salad.
Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior. This may show in a number of ways, ranging from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation. Behavior is not focused on a goal, which makes it hard to perform tasks. Abnormal motor behavior can include resistance to instructions, inappropriate and bizarre posture, a complete lack of response, or useless and excessive movement.
Negative symptoms. This refers to reduced ability or lack of ability to function normally. For example, the person appears to lack emotion, such as not making eye contact, not changing facial expressions, speaking without inflection or monotone, or not adding hand or head movements that normally provide the emotional emphasis in speech. Also, the person may have a reduced ability to plan or carry out activities, such as decreased talking and neglect of personal hygiene, or have a loss of interest in everyday activities, social withdrawal or a lack of ability to experience pleasure.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Living in the present

Several years ago, before we had the diagnosis of schizophrenia, I wrote that I wished I could fast forward 10 years. I thought that by then my work situation would be better, my son would be better, my older two children would be out of the house and married. I thought I would be teaching, loving some grandchildren and all would be at peace. We are closer now to that 10 year point. My oldest is out of the house, enjoying his job, and dating someone. My daughter is working, going to college and thinking of marriage. My youngest is stable.

I no longer wish for the future to hurry up and get here. As it says in the bible, "Today has enough trouble of its own." I no longer wish for the future because I am content in today. I am very proud of all 3 kids and I have the best husband.

I live in the present and I'm thankful for my husband filling my tires up with air and putting gas in the car. I'm thankful for the conversation on the phone with my son and hearing how he loves the big city. I'm thankful for my daughter cooking dinner and I'm proud to have the time with my youngest getting groceries.

I no longer wish for the future (sometimes I fear the future). But mostly I want to live in today and recognize the blessings. I can see how God has brought us through the valley of the shadow of death. I'm happy where we are today. I cannot say I am happy that we went through the trials but I can say I'm glad we made it to the other side. It took a lot of prayer, a lot of memorizing scripture, and a lot of talk therapy to get us to the other side. I can say living in the present is far better than living in the past, and I don't want to yearn for the future; I want to accept the present.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Less anxious

I am happy to write this post. Most times I write because I am anxious, fearful, sometimes even scared about what's going on in the household. Today I am happy.

My son is back to his "old self" enough that he has done an amazing job helping with housework this week. He has emptied the dishwasher several times, vacuumed, emptied trash cans, and cleaned the bathrooms. I'm so happy that he's wanting to help. I haven't seen the involuntary movements which use to be a side effect. I'm hoping that is gone now. He almost looks normal. Sometimes I do feel he looks normal to the outside world.

I don't know why it's important to me that people look at him as a normal person in society, but it's very important to me. He has lots of redeeming qualities. He's harmless right now. Hopefully it will stay that way for a long time.

This has been a good week. Instead of him spending all his time in his bedroom, he's been more sociable.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hope for the future

It's been since April or May since the last schizophrenic episode. It's getting easier to not fear the worst when I have flash backs of past events. A distant cousin told me of her nephew that has schizophrenia. She said that he is married and occasionally has anger issues when he doesn't take his medicine. I pray that my son can lead a "normal" life with a wife and children. He has not been aggressive since he was regulated on 40 mg of Latuda. He's doing well on the medicine and for now he's taking it without complaint.

The last few weeks we've had several trials (which don't come close to the stress schizophrenia can cause). First Paul had a car accident that landed us in the emergency room with fear he had a concussion. Just a few days later he was riding his bike and flipped over the handle bars of the bike. He hurt his hand and wrist. Our daughter has been complaining for months about her bed so we bought her a new bed. In the meantime, the TV went out and we bought a new one which meant we also had to buy a TV stand. Jacob complained about a toothache and the dentist told us he had an infection and needed a root canal. He got the root canal and is taking antibiotics for the infection. It's been a week and he still complains of pain. Hopefully that will end soon. THEN I came home to melted ice around the refrigerator. A repairman charged us $78 to tell us the compressor was out and we needed a new refrigerator. Our bank account is dry!

Again, this doesn't compare with the stress of mental illness. On medicine we are not dealing with anger, delusions, confused speech, or voices. He does have depression which leaves him talking little, sleeping a lot and staying in his room. I am always elated when he smiles, laughs or helps around the house. It's amazing how your expectations can change. He use to do chores everyday now once a week if he empties the dishwasher I am happy.

We are at a better place and pray he continues with his medicine and that I can stop analyzing his mood all the time. I haven't cried in months which I take as a good sign. It means I have hope for the future.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A few good months!

It's been 3 months since my last blog and everything is going smoothly. My son has not had an " episode" in so long it's hard to remember just how bad it can get.

He seems to be doing fine on the low dose of medication. We even took a vacation! With his episodes, it's been hard to take him places because we never know what might happen. Through God's grace we had a peaceful trip. He was able to handle the flight, all the touristy stuff and restaurants. I am happy beyond belief!

I want to just be happy with where we are but am constantly bombarded with thoughts like he needs to work, go to college, get a driver's license. He is content staying in his room, coming out occasionally and visiting with friends about once a week.

Living one day at time and not worrying about the future seems to be the only way to get by.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


I am using this as an outlet for my frustration. My son, who has paranoid schizophrenia, has just called me a bitch for the 6th time this month. He uses it as a weapon. I told him he was acting like an idiot when he threw something at his dad last week and now he's angry that I called him a name.

Today when I got home from work, he came downstairs and I proceeded to tell him what I bought him at the grocery store. There was no response. I keep trying to teach him social graces so I said, "Did you hear me?" He said, "No" and I repeated it. He said, "I told myself I wouldn't eat pears." I said, "I didn't buy you pears." Which he responded that he hadn't heard anything after bagels. I repeated the list which sent him into a tirade because he has thoughts in his head and I keep talking. Well he continued to talk, I stopped. I would say after calling me names, and lots of yelling, he went to his room after what seemed like a long time but was probably 5 minutes.

I hate being yelled at. I hate being called names. All I can see is that I went and bought him food and I am treated like crap. His point of view is that he wanted a quiet environment and I talked to him. Sometimes he will say please don't talk to me-which I feel is rude-but is better than what I just went through.

Finding the balance between understanding that he has voices that makes it hard for him to concentrate and wanting him to respond when he is talked to, is hard. I want him to treat people with kindness and the kindness seems to be getting less frequent.

He reduced his anti-psychotic medication and it's just not controlling the symptoms like I would like. He also walked into traffic during a psychotic episode and broke his leg in several places. I'm sure the leg doesn't feel great and he's having trouble getting around. He gets tired quickly.

I'm ready for a period of calmness. We don't seem to get through more than a couple of days without having an angry episode.

Monday, March 17, 2014

At a better place

I've finally got some answers. The psychiatrist said that the anger is absolutely part of the mental illness. The person we see between episodes is the real him. This was good to hear because when you are in the middle of it trying to give consequences it doesn't work. Now we just ride it out and talk to him about it as the need arises.

We are back to normal now. No yelling, or talking to himself. We are able to have a conversation. All is well.

I think I am feeling better not only because he is well but because I got a job offer. I was able to quit what I was doing (that I was getting very frustrated with) and return to working at the school. Hopefully this will give me the outlet I so desperately need.

Yesterday was peaceful. A nice morning in church and then some light housework.

It's still hard to talk about mental illness and the toll it takes on the family. I can't imagine the load it puts on the person with the mental illness. It is easier to get through the episodes now. I keep my composure somewhat better. I try to keep smiling and realize he doesn't mean much of what he says.

Yes, life is good right now. My babies are all safe and happy. I appreciate my husband and all he does. I'm at a better place.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's ruled it's ugly head

After 7 months of being virtually symptom free, we are back in turmoil. He has not being taking his medicine consistently and started with an angry outburst 10 days ago. This time has been different because the first few days we had mania (he was very happy) and he had a day of disorganized speech. Then the aggression started. He has been aggressive every night the last 4 nights.

I don't know what is part of schizophrenia or bi-polar and what he should be able to control. One time I told him to stop cussing and he said "The girl made me cuss and I get the consequences." Another time he kept saying that he wished the "guy" would stop and that he hated being this way.

Is the anger and cussing which has been the major symptoms of the last 10 days part of the mental illness? If so he is going to hit someone at some point and end up in jail. At one point, he grabbed his dad's arm digging his fingers in his arm and biting him. His dad now has 2 different cuts and redness on his arm. He said that he did it because he wouldn't stop talking. I have seen him get frustrated with people talking many times. It's not like we can be on guard to not talk to him too much.

This episode is very different because he can seem fine. He can be very coherent. He can reason. I'm so confused about what to expect from him. We go to the psychiatrist tomorrow but I don't expect answers. I hope I'm wrong. I probably should join a support group. I need answers and I'm not getting the help I need.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Life without major symptoms

He has been virtually symptom free for 7 months. We have not seen him act manic, hear voices, have delusions, or have disorganized speech. Paranoia rules its ugly head from time to time and he can also give human feelings to objects.

The paranoia I take with a grain of salt. Maybe I should be more concerned. I just don't see it disrupting his life. Some of the things he is paranoid about are-he believes we should not come in his room with shoes on because it will contaminate the area. He believes his dad is out to get him. He has overheard people talking on their cell phone and thought they were talking about him. He believes that fluoride disrupts dreams.

He frequently gives human feelings to objects. He names his plants and is very concerned with how they are treated. He believes that water goes through bends and curves and thus becomes unhappy. Since the tap water is unhappy, he only drinks bottled water.

The months without schizophrenic episodes have helped me heal. I'm not in a constant fear of what he'll do. He still can get frustrated when talked to too often but is generally in a good mood. He gets together with friends. He smiles and laughs. He enjoys life. This helps me to enjoy life also.