It is funny how one moment in the midst of hardship can change your perspective.
Yesterday, my husband and I went to the psychiatrist for his first follow up since he was hospitalized. On the way there, my husband was having a rough time. He was saying that my family and I were out to get him and wanted him dead. He started smoking a cigarette, and said that as the cigarette was burning he was burning my mom and me. He kept saying pretty awful things about people I love, including himself. I stayed calm, but inside, my heart was breaking.
I tried to ponder on the day prior instead. It was the simplest things that made that day special. I got home from work and my husband really wanted to go to Wawa to get a mashed potato and chicken strips bowl that I had gotten a few days before. He said that he had a craving for it all day. Wawa is literally 2 minutes down the road. However, that day had so much traffic due to a huge car chase resulting in weapons being fired and large accidents (no one was seriously injured). So everyone was rerouted. A trip that was only two minutes down the road ended up being a 35 minute traffic adventure filled with dancing, singing, and great conversation. When we finally got to Wawa, we found that they were out of potatoes. We both just looked at each other and laughed, hard. We continued to laugh throughout the process. I loved that moment. It was so simple, yet so needed. the thought of that day got me through the difficult car ride to the doctor.
When we got to the doctor’s office and he was doing better. The doctor saw him and decided to increase his medication dosage. He said that he thought my husband was improving and that he could even see a physical difference in the way he was carrying himself. I was elated. Being in the thick of it, I can see the baby steps but not always how they are adding up.
We then discussed different episodes my husband had over the past week or so, including when my husband decided to open the car door as I was driving because he no longer wanted to go to my mom’s house, how he will wake me up in the middle of the night to show me flying saucers, how he thinks the results of the election are solely on his shoulders, how he thinks people are messing with our money and tapping our phones, etc. That is when the doctor changed my entire perspective.
He said, “You can think whatever you want, you can say whatever you want and there is nothing wrong with that. You just think differently from others. The only thing you need to worry about is your actions.”
I realized in that moment that during this entire time I have been waiting, hoping, praying for my husband to think differently. I have wanted him to be “normal” again. I was measuring each day by how “normal” he acted. Yes, the medication will help curb this “odd” behavior, but at the end of the day there is nothing wrong with thinking differently. The only thing we need to worry about is safety, not if the majority of the population thinks his thoughts are “normal”.
No, I don’t like it when he gets paranoid, or when he thinks I am dead, or when he changes his mind every few minutes, BUT he is entitled to his thoughts. He doesn’t verbally or physically abuse me. He may think I am trying to kill him but he always says that he loves me, that it isn’t my fault and he is trying to rescue me. I get so impatient because I don’t understand. I get so worried about what other people are going to think. I should not worry about that or get mad for not understanding.
I am now trying to shift my focus. I shouldn’t be trying to make him think differently, I should be encouraging good decisions and thoughtful actions. Safety should be the concern, not that he has a mind uniquely his own. I also have to stand strong in my thoughts. I can’t get caught up in his. This is not to say I should feed into his delusions and hallucinations.
By allowing him his thoughts while maintaining my own, we will create an atmosphere of balance, safety and growth.
Our life isn’t just good, it isn’t just bad, it is just plain different and I am perfectly fine with that.