Ts family story

Supporting our young adult through psychosis has been heart-breaking exhausting and at times overwhelming. But I am also very thankful because psychosis has bought our son back to us.

During his late teenage years he started slipping away from us; becoming more distant, difficult and disengaged. Although I had managed to get him to his GP on several occasions, I was not aware of the extent of his distress or the speed at which his life was spiralling downwards.

Our story began on a quiet Sunday evening 21 months ago when suddenly “all hell broke loose”. Without warning our 21-year-old son emerged from his bed room highly agitated, paranoid, delusional and dripping a trail of blood from self-inflicted wounds.

Thankfully we managed to coax him to ED and to our huge relief he was admitted.

Although I felt relief that he was getting help and was safe, it was also heart-breaking to see him broken, exhausted, and so vulnerable and I hated walking out every evening and leaving him behind.

I think that grief and relief are odd emotions to experience together and yet they have become quite familiar to me over the last 2 years

When he was discharged I was concerned that being back home might retrigger his psychosis. I wondered how I was going to keep him safe and drug free.

As his father was to be overseas for 2 months the weight of responsibility I felt for him was heavy but, I was soon to discover that I was with not so alone. That I would have the support and guidance from the team every step of D’s journey to recovery.

And I was to need it... In those early days D was irritable, intense despairing and desperate. It took all my energy to stay positive for him. I was unable to talk about what he was experiencing to family or friends as it was too hard to explain when I didn’t even understand it myself... and I didn’t have energy for such explanations.

I was very aware that I had to be D’s “rock”. Many times I didn’t feel so “rock-like” ... such as the nights he would not turn up and not answer his phone. After many hours of worry I’d eventually track him down and drag him home.

Throughout all of this D’s caseworker was my lifeline. He answered the phone when I most needed him to. He listened with much patience, offered advice and always ended the conversation on a positive note. He enabled me to give D the support he needed at that time.

The individual skills of each team member have enabled him to get through his personal darkest days.

The skill of his psychiatrist in finding the right balance of medication for his particular struggles to give him the stable platform from which to climb out of his distress.

His psychologist has taught him much about himself and how he responds to life... how to get out of his head to a more healthy state of mind... these skills that he can use his whole life, if he chooses too.

And his caseworker has been a constant influence, patiently supporting, mentoring and bringing him back when he has fallen by the wayside and not turned up for appointments!

Throughout the 2 years there have been many ups and downs, for him a bizarre game of snakes and ladders and for me a Big Dipper roller coaster ride!

Many moments I am overwhelmed with sadness at the loss of so much of his spirit, his potential and personality.

There are times when he is still so vulnerable and that scares me.

At times I am incredibly frustrated and disappointed when he can’t or won’t follow through with helping himself.

But then I look back to 21 months ago and see how far he has come, and I am so thankful.

I too have learnt some valuable lessons... to listen without judgement, even if it’s stuff I would rather not know, and be grateful that he can share it with me.

To stay strong when inside my heart is breaking. To be patient, that recovery will not happen as fast as I want to, to just be grateful for every small step in the right direction.

That although this was not what we wanted for our son, through it he has learnt a great deal about himself, his strengths and vulnerabilities.

The power of hope... there were times when D lost hope that he would ever recover and that’s when I was the most scared... so I learned how essential for me to confidently give him hope of recovery (when sometimes I had my doubts).

That to give him the support he needs I must look after myself; And for me the hardest lesson of all; that I cannot fix him, as his mother all I can do is to offer him unwavering support and unconditional love, which occasionally has not been so easy!

And so now 21 months later as we leave the EIP service we find ourselves at the end and the beginning. Still feeling a little shell shocked but incredibly thankful that we have dodged a bullet... I shudder to think how close we came to losing him.

I know that nothing is certain but that through EIP he has been given the best chance to get on with living a good life. He is substance free and has finished his apprenticeship.

He has found a job he loves doing... after several false starts.

He has learnt positive coping skills that he can take forward.

He is aware that recovery is a lifelong process and that he will always need to manage his mental health carefully. He is still working out how far to push himself and when to pull back and reset.

He is ready now to move on with his life knowing that he has the strength and the strategies to push on through to a better space and to live his best life.

Ts family story 2