Thursday, February 9, 2012

February blah

It's icy cold here. I've stopped bragging that since I'm Canadian,  I'm used to this kind of weather. This kind of weather sucks. I no longer have the 40 below wardrobe thanks to the effects of currently living in a more moderate climate. I got rid of the unfashionable Eddie Bauer stuff years ago. Our small apartment is driving me cabin crazy! The only way to make a small apartment bigger is for the people who live there to stay in their rooms or go outside. This works okay for Alex, our middle son. He's got a new job that requires that he arrive at 8 a.m., so he's long gone by the time I get up. He gets home usually around 9 p.m. after socializing with his friends.

This leaves Chris. Ian and I are at work all day, and Chris is alone much of the day, which is not a good thing. Combine that with the wickedly cold weather and self isolation is paranoid-provoking. He sees his psychiatrist, and his occupational therapist, and his voice teacher, but that's kind of "it" in terms of a reason to go out the door during the day. Luckily, he's got a roaring nightlife, for the first time in years, with his various musical commitments. And, a friend of his from first year university (imagine staying in touch with a classmate when you left university after only one year!) has moved here.

Believe me, Chris is mentally stable and I expect him to stay that way. He is a different person in so many ways that the collapsed shell of himself that he was when he had his full blown psychotic episode that landed him in the hospital eight years ago. Would I say he is symptom free? No. The more he stays indoors by himself, the more his mind races. He still has trouble knowing what he's supposed to do in a room. He lingers, he hesitates, he stands in the threshold of a room, undecided about what to do next. Here is a more descriptive example. Ian and I are in the kitchen making dinner and talking about our day. Ian notices that Chris has appeared in the hallway, and is standing facing the kitchen directly, but not saying anything to Ian or me. I've tried to explain to Chris that there is a purpose to being or transitioning through a room. We enter to sit down and read a book, or to shake hands with a guest, or whatever. The point is, Chris, either get into the kitchen and talk (How's your day, is always a good opener), or go off and do something else, but don't just stand there. 

The good news is that the occupational therapist, under some pressure from Ian and me, has hooked Chris up with an employment counselor. Chris has filled out a vocational aptitude test for her, called the "Jackson" something or something. Chris pointed out that all these tests seems to have the name "Jackson" associated with them. I immediately thought of Jackson Triggs, but then remembered that Jackson Triggs is a brand name for my beloved red wine. The Jackson test is kind of bizarre. It has multiple questions that, I kid you not, go something like this.

Would you prefer to raise turkeys?


Draw a blood sample?

That's all for now. Stay warm.


  1. I can relate to being indoors to much it really is hell on my mental state. I'm in Canada and I need to put on my unfashionable michelin man puffy down jacket and get some fresh air and focus on something else. I can relate to getting up and not knowing what to do at times \i just stand there with a blank look not remembering what I got up for .Glad you mentioned it.

  2. "don't just stand there",
    How long is he there for?
    You want/need instant decisions? What if the decisions are wrong?

    Only someone who is psychotic is certain they are right and can make instant decisions .

  3. Mark,
    I usually explain to Chris that it's a two way street. If my actions make him uncomfortable, then his actions (or standing around)can make me and others feel uncomfortable. If others are uncomfortable, then how at ease is he going to feel? It goes round and round and round, doesn't it?

  4. Yes, I can definitely see how that can make you and your company feel uncomfortable, but have you asked your son what is happening to him while he's blankly standing. Is he trying to remember what he was in the process of doing? Was he in the middle of something and something else (psychosis?) happen randomly? All of which happen to me all the time.
    Maybe see if he can trying writing notes about what he is about to do? That way if something unsettling happens like that, you or him can go check the notes. And if you or don't find a note written down, it was probably something he decided to do in an altered state of mind, and realizing that might be enough to snap him back into reality.
    That usually works for me (for the most part, anyways). Quite helpful, because it helps me see my non-psychosis reality as more real.
    Keep up the good work!

  5. Aquosus,
    I used to ask him what was happening/what this meant, but I dropped that line of questioning for quite a while because I didn't want to harrass him (high expressed emotion) and make him feel uncomfortable. Now that he's more on "terra firma" most of the time, I might try out your idea. Maybe, like you and Kristy said, it's just the mind going blank.

  6. Hi,

    I'm studying Communication Design and I'd like to write a Graphic Novel about the experience of Schizophrenia as part of the course.

    I studied Biomedical Science before and my dissertation was about schizophrenia susceptibility genes. I felt quite uncomfortable approaching this highly emotive subject in such a rational and clinical way, and without the consideration of the subjective experience or the social factors that affect it.

    I'd really like to bridge some of the gaps between the scientific explanations, the subjective and emotional experiences and the economic, social political and perhaps even anthropological dimensions of the disease.

    I was wondering if it would be possible to interview you over email?

    My website is and my email is

    Please get in touch!



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