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.


Claire said...

Depression in its myriad paradigms creeps up on all of us at various points. I see it in those around me. I see it in myself. I am not scared to stay there for a while but I agree fully that we need to retain that grip on reality to ensure that life goes on... with meaning that is.

Maria said...

Love the pics!
My 1st thought was wonder what he sees there in his mind, why is there more peace there, what is his perception of life on the meds that he prefers to retreat into his mind? This has helped me release my obsession with pointless thoughts, to want to be here now & my mind not stuck in neutral, as they say - life is good

in another lifetime said...

Well, that is the million dollar question that people try to answer with ellaborate scientific studies on the "neurotransmitters", whatever that means:)

I do know that he, and many other clients with schizophrenia, would become very wary of people who were constantly pressuring them to take their medication. I can understand that, I wouldn't like it much either I imagine (especially because of the awful side effects of most of these drugs). The wariness was often extreme, though, and paranoia is a very real symptom that can get in the way of someone's recovery.

It was a long time ago that I worked in that field,so I've forgotten a lot about the diagnoses and theories, I just remember the people and their stories. What a battle they have to fight every day.