Thanks to everyone who sent me encouraging words and helpful comments. I changed the original title of this post from "crisis averted" to "crisis postponed" because the crisis did, in fact, happen, and there is always the possibility of a new crisis somewhere in the future. Such is life. Due to the events of the last few days, I'm trying to be more philosophical about the need for Chris to be back on a medication. We had to grab an additional weapon that might stand a chance of stopping his growing anxiety, emotionalism and negative self-image. I've seen in the past where this can lead, and it was the hospital.
Not that I have changed my mind and think that the drugs are safe or particularly effective, but, they can work in a pinch, and often they do work to shut down the symptoms I described above. (I'll not go into the side effects in this post. We all know them, and the first visible one, even at a low dose, is usually weight gain.) Vigilance is needed on everyone's part (especially Dr. Stern's) to maintain the drug at the lowest dose for the shortest period while continuing to find other ways of making Chris even more resilient the next time a crisis looms.
I think it's important to point out that a supportive family and intensive psychotherapy didn't stop the crisis from happening, and based on my past experience, won't necessarily prevent it from getting worse. But, with all the holistic interventions Chris has undergone in the past eight years, he's in a much better position to not prolong this latest crisis. Ian and I acted quite business as usual with Chris and did not aggravate the situation by over-reacting.
Chris agreed to the resumption of Abilify, and seemed back to whatever his normal is the following day. He's keeping up with his musical theater practices and finally bought himself a cell phone so he could keep better track of his appointments and his growing group of friends. Ian and I picked up where we left off with him, and are no longer walking around in a state of fear.
Some people may think about the medication, well, what's the big deal? Everybody knows that low dose is best. Well, that's not exactly the way the doctors presented this to me eight years ago. Eight years ago nobody I spoke with mentioned low dose or a single medication only. I had to do my own homework, and was treated like an idiot who didn't understand the problem. Now, lowest possible dose and fewest drugs are on everybody's lips. To get Chris to a low dose of one drug only, took a lot of arguing and willingness to change doctors on my part. Leonard Cohen's crack of light getting in, at least where psychiatry is concerned, is largely thanks to the growing stridency of the psychiatric survivor movement.