Thursday, November 11, 2010

The little things

Since Chris was released from his third hospitalization in May, 2009, Ian and I have been keeping a low profile around Chris. We made a conscious effort to practice low Expressed Emotion. This means for us, not asking Chris how his day was, not asking him about his night course or whether he thought he might be ready to tackle something big. We don't ask, he doesn't tell. In the past, our showing "friendly interest" can also be interpreted as "concern," and this is high Expressed Emotion. We don't ask his psychiatrist for meetings and we have given up trying to figure out if Chris is in his right mind. Ian and I don't discuss Chris between us. We don't comment to each other about whether Chris seems happy or sad, and we never discuss our future hopes and plans for Chris.

The result is that things are going along swimmingly. Chris has always had a tendency to be too honest and would tell you, if asked, all about his self-doubt and would share subtle things that made one despair he would ever pass his course. We don't want to hear this (too nerve-wracking), and now we don't.

Last night I was just about to turn in when Chris knocked at the bedroom door. He popped in to tell me how much he was enjoying his computer technician night course, and that it was a bit challenging because of the language difference, but all in all, he thought it was going well.

In the past, I might have gotten all enthused and interested and probed him a bit more and then launched into some ideas about where he could go with this course. Instead, all I said was, "that's great. See you in the morning."

This is something little that is also something big.


  1. Brilliant! I know exactly how this holding back can feel so liberating.
    Yesterday my daughter texted from NY to tell me that she had found a psychiatrist who will work with her to get off of the benzos. The woman doesn't take insurance but it turns out it will not be a hardship in terms of cost. I replied, "That's great. I was sure you would figure it out." I had a MILLION other questions which I didn't ask.

    A year ago if you had told me of this kind of conversation, I wouldn't have believed that I could have done it. This is a very thoughtful and difficult approach to a relationship. And, it takes practice. Ask one too many question and you have crossed the border.

    I have wondered if we will ever get to the place we are with my son. If I have a question, i ask it. He fields it if he doesn't want to answer and we move on without a second thought. For the time being, this Low Expressed Emotion works if she is not right in front of me. If she is, as I have said before, my daughter gets irritated by what she perceives as lack of interest. Oh, the rules we have created for interaction...

  2. Dear Rossa,

    It is lovely to read your testimony of the value proven in your son's and you and your husband's lives by the careful and controlled way in which you have been sharing your love This the art of living is the way to go. I have been asked by my mentor to mail him some of my insights and shall also be writing a new uptodate version of my personal story for my Grow groups soon I shall also send it to you.
    My medication reduction is also going smoothly with no problems at all so far at about one third of the Serequel reduced at this time.

    Lots of love

    Noel Gaughan

  3. Noel - Yes, please do share your personal story, and congratulations on the way the meds reduction is going.
    Liz and Kristin - thanks for the support and personal insight.

  4. Rossa,
    This is indeed something little that is truly something big! The blessing is in the knowing. Thank you for sharing this.


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