2013 and our "Silver Linings Schizophrenia Playbook"
In the book Silver Linings Playbook (just finished listening to the audiobook version, highly recommended), Pat Peebles believes in silver linings as he watches the "movie of his life." Despite four years in "the bad place"(i.e. mental health facility) for reasons he cannot recall, despite a reluctance to take the meds that are helping to stabilize him, and despite the lessons that reveal to him that happy endings are not always guaranteed, he persists in optimism (“If clouds are blocking the sun, there will always be a silver lining that reminds me to keep on trying”) through a great deal of emotional pain as life continues to throw lessons of reality in his path.
[caption id="attachment_1660" align="alignleft" width="161" caption="Each Family Has its Own Version"][/caption]
Pat has been released to the care of his family - mostly his Mom. Yep, sounds all too familiar. Although the book is told through Pat's POV (Point of View), it is the character of his Mom that also intrigues me.
Family Optimism and Actions re Mental Illness
One of her sons is successful, the other (Pat) could be deemed a failure in the eyes of the world. Family and friends are split between shame and blame on the one hand, commitment and hope on the other.
We know the feeling.
Sure, Pat is 35 years old and has no job, four lost years, a shaky past, a need for medication and therapy. He spends his days running and working out - yet strives for more, and achieves more.
Slowly. Very slowly.
Boy, can we relate.
And his Mom (along with a few select others) keeps on keepin' on. She buys him clothing, arranges "playdates", supports his workout regime, believes in him. Loves him.
My son Ben is 31 now, and currently lives with us after nearly a decade of separation in a group home. He is maturing, his silver lining is appearing, but often the clouds do still get in the way.
Our 2013 in review, with Four Qualities for Silver Linings
- Patience. Ben is showing more signs of stabilization, and I believe his brain (aided by stabilization, thanks to medications that restore some balance) is rewiring itself a bit. I see that he is capable of clearer thought, more focus, and socialization. But this does happen at a snails pace. We must be careful not to expect too much.
- Watchful Gratitude. This year Ben held down a part-time job, and has reacted to the usual seasonal layoff (it's a tourist place, not much need for help in winter) by applying for unemployment on his own - and applying for another job as well. He also has, for the first time in ages, a social life of sorts. He has made friends at community college (usually younger than he is, but not weirdly younger....Ben is 31, his friends are in mid-20's), and has a roommate (well, actually the whole family has the roommate technically) that has given him the chance to truly be a friend to someone, and to have friends. Some even know he takes meds, and that seems to bother Ben less than before. Progress. But- and here is the "watchful" part - in May, there was a six-week period of relapse. Still don't know why, but the most important medication was not working, or not being ingested, but not showing up in Ben's bloodstream when tested. And the symptoms almost cost him his friends, his job and his college credits (he did actually lose 3 credits for non-completion). It is all so delicate. Still, we learned to keep that particular medication in a lockbox and so far so good. Live it, learn it. Take no good days for granted. Re school - well, Ben is actually trying to earn an Associate's Degree now, ehich means some standard textbook classes. His grades this semester? One A with honors, one F without warning. His teachers have no idea he has schizophrenia. should I have said something?
- Creativity. "Solutions" are sometimes in weird places - in a lockbox you buy at Staples, in a cooking class you sign your kid up for, in risking taking in a "boarder" who is like a new family member, in bribing your son to agree to getting his tooth extracted. Whatever works. No one has the right to judge.
- Optimism. Whatever happens, we will handle it somehow. That has been one of the mantras that gets us through times of clouds. So Ben will meet with that Psych 101 professor, and if there is nothing he can do to help his grade, so be it. He is here, he is making progress, we are grateful. And watchful.
Just like Pat Peeple's mother and the rest of his family (well, the jury is still out on that father, but you have to read the book)
for, as Pat says: “Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly.” Happy 2014! I wish you patience, creativity, optimism, and watchful gratitude. Here's to you!
Kaye, R. (2013, December 31). 2013 and our "Silver Linings Schizophrenia Playbook", HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, May 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalillnessinthefamily/2013/12/2013-and-our-silver-linings-schizophrenia-playbook
Author: Randye Kaye
Beautifully written although i still can't bring myself to see or read Silver Linings. My son is 23 and it has been 1.5 years since diagnosis. He lives with us and all he does is eat, sleep and chain smoke (we pay for cigarettes). Meds take care of delusions but I am hoping to see more progress in 2014 as far as acceptance of disease. We keep meds locked up too. He has stolen $ from us so we all have lock boxes for wallets, etcetera. Just a fact of life right now. He is safe.......
Randye, so true, again. After more than 4 years separated from Tim in inpatient/residential care (between ages 11 and 18), we are seeing some silver linings in schizophrenia as well. Slowly Tim has shown optimism and humor. He is in an excellent work study program that provides him sheltered, part time work. We have guarded optimism and watchful gratitude as well. Thanks for sharing this!
so glad to hear that, Chrisa!!!