Psychosis, you are not my friend.
You are not loving, caring, giving or kind
You are selfish, dark, and manipulate the mind
You create what is not real
Terror is what you want us to feel
You prey on children you perceive as weak
Wanting their outlook to be bleak
While our battle has just begun
You will not get the best of me or my son
You will be defeated in the fight
Light over darkness in His sight
Psychosis is something only serial killers have, right?
Hallucinations are something only drug addicts experience when they are high, right?
A psychotic break from reality is something only (straight-jacket wearing) patients in a mental institution have, right?
Nope, nope, and nope.
While these statements may be true, they are not all-inclusive. Like many others, I believed these statements were true, and pretty much all-inclusive, but they are not.
Psychosis can be also be found in my 11-year old Bipolar son.
Hallucinations are also seen by my 11-year old Bipolar son.
A psychotic break from reality is something experienced by my 11-year old Bipolar son.
Sometimes in life God places challenges in front of you that seem too much to handle. A challenge that makes you realize all the other moments in time you thought were big challenges were really just small bumps in the road compared to this…this moment.
My 11-year old son Adam’s psychotic break happened on a Monday night about a month ago and, Praise God, hasn’t happened since. I saw Adam’s pupils dilate, his eyes get darker, and then, like the flip of a switch, the lights went out and only darkness remained.
For the next 30 minutes or so, Adam could not distinguish between what was real and what was not real. He had experienced some hallucinations in the past, but not like the ones in this moment.
I had to explain to my precious son that no, the devil wasn’t standing in the doorway and no, your dead Papa isn’t walking toward you with blood pouring out of his eyes and, of course the dog is absolutely not running around the house on fire.
Up until this moment, when the hallucinations would appear, I would be able to tell him they were not real. He would be able to accept this, snap out of it if you will, and move forward.
But not this time.
There simply are no words to describe what it feels like as a mother to witness your 11-year old vivacious, funny, sweet, loving son walk through a break with reality. No words at all.
There is no chapter about this subject in the Mommy Instructional Manual.
It was one of those moments in life I will never forget. Like my wedding day. Like the day our adoption was final. Like that big of an impact kind of moment.
I’m not gonna lie, in that moment it took everything I had to keep it together. To stay strong for my son. But as we do in many moments of crisis, our adrenaline kicks in and we handle the situation. We find super-strength we never knew we had and we get through it. I got through it and decided I would never be caught off guard by this beast known as psychosis again.
After a month of reflection, here is what I have learned from that experience. There is always HOPE and FAITH.
HOPE that if we embrace this new normal (a normal that includes psychosis) and refuse to live in denial, we can love Adam through each episode. HOPE we can adjust his medications to stabilize him. HOPE his anxiety about hallucinating at school will diminish with time. HOPE that someday our normal will not include answering questions like, “Mommy, is there a bloody hand floating above me?” Or, “Mommy, are the walls in the room closing in on us?”
FAITH in the team of doctors, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists working with Adam and the recommendations they make for his care and treatment. FAITH in our almighty God above that He chose us to raise Adam and He will not give us more than we can handle.
I swear I’m not trying to sound like a hippie from the 70’s…peace and love, hope and faith all the way baby! 😉
I truly mean it. No matter what challenges we face (I say we because, as moms, we are all in this together), HOPE and FAITH are pillars of strength we all need to hold on to. Your challenge might not be a son with psychosis. It might be an illness in the family, financial struggles, relationship issues, etc. but, whatever it is, we must grab on to FAITH and HOPE and never let go. No matter how difficult the journey may be, there simply is no other choice if we want to move forward.
Yes, whatever it is, we have to FACE IT and EMBRACE IT. We cannot wish a new normal we don’t want to face away.
Lately, I’ve thinking of it like this. If you were being chased by an enemy through the woods and you ran and ran and ran until you mentally and physically could run no more, eventually you would be forced to stop running and have to turn around and face the enemy head-on. You have to fight for your survival, for your internal self. If not, the enemy will consume you. The enemy will win.
My son’s psychosis is my enemy right now and, as difficult and heart-wrenching as it is, I am choosing not to run through the woods until I physically and emotionally collapse but rather to turn around and face it. I will defeat this enemy head-on, toe-to-toe.
My son is worth the fight…