Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The ride on the recovery rollercoaster begins

There is an overwhelming urge, when a person seems well, to want to rush back to “normal” life. This is almost always a mistake. Insight and healing take time and effort. Probably years. I have deliberately used the words “seems well,” and “acting well” when it comes to Chris's recovery. Recovery is not just about getting off the medication. It's a fantastic start, of course, but you are still faced with the original problem of you and how you got to the predicament where you found yourself in the first place.

There have been many ups and downs since Chris suddenly started acting well again. The physics course he took in July 2007 for academic credit was a disaster. He convinced us he was ready for the challenge. He looked like he was ready, he was eager to do it, but he was unable to keep up with the others in his class. I thought at the time that the medications made it difficult for him to sustain motivation. That was perhaps part of the explanation, but not all of it. Chris had lost a lot of confidence and was dealing with very savvy full time students, many of whom were priming themselves for med school. He confessed he didn't identify with their single minded obsession. Ian and I had to keep reminding ourselves that he experienced a social success, because he managed to live away from home for a month, making new friends, buying groceries, and cooking for himself.

During 2007 and 2008 Chris took liberal arts courses at a local university, one at a time. He started out by auditing them, therefore bypassing the necessity to write papers or take exams. His state of mental health was still unpredictable, although far, far better than when he was on medications, so it seemed to me. To our delight, during this period he joined the church choir and took voice lessons once a week with the choir director at our church, who is also a professional musician. He never would have considered voice lessons before. She saw in him a talent worth cultivating. “He understands music,” she said. “A lot of my pupils don't. He's also got a very good voice. ”

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