Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I worked as a mental health clinician for awhile after I graduated from college. Jason was one of my clients who struggled with schizophrenia. This warm, genuine and intelligent man is someone you would never know is ill. When he would miss a few pills in a row, however, he would start to withdraw into himself. He would become quieter and quieter as he retreated from his surroundings, then gradually his body would stiffen and he would spend the next 48 hours confined to his favorite chair. This is called catatonia. His father would call me, with such alarm in his voice, telling me that Jason wouldn't eat, drink, or speak. I would go to the home to find a man with the face of a boy, still as stone, completely non-communicative. I would arrange for him to go to the hospital, and would then help him pick up the broken pieces of employment and other areas of his life upon discharge.
He would tell me "Sheila, everyone gets so worried about me when this happens, but to me I just start to feel very cozy and peaceful, and I pull back into my own mind for awhile. I prefer to be alone when this happens, and yet my parents try to move me around, they just won't leave me BE".
The doctor and I would try to educate him about his symptoms but he remained convinced that we just didn't get it.
Lately I've been settling into the warm, quiet darkness quite a bit myself. I write of Jason to remember to do what I need to do to take care of myself, to take notice when family members start buzzing around, and to resist the lure of thick, black, sleepy solitude.