Well, Friday finally arrived. It always does....but in some small way it feels like a major accomplishment to make it to the end of the week. I haven't written for a few days, just took some time off; and had quite a few emails to address directly. The boys are being hit with either a cold or allergies, so they've been a bundle of fun......but still: really awesome young people who are growing so rapidly. 

I had my therapist appointment yesterday......I find it amazing that after so many of my insiders stood guard and had to check her out thoroughly that I actually attend therapy now and can be present for the entire session. We had an interesting discussion as to schizophrenia and DID, it's related symptoms, and again: how does a psychiatrist determine one diagnosis over the other? I mean: they both "hear voices" (we all know the standard answer: voices inside versus voices outside), flashbacks could be interpreted differently as hallucinations, etc. She said in all the years she has worked with DID, that she has learned to sit back and listen for quite a while. A client with DID will always come back to a main subject, or stay focused, where with schizophrenia the subject can be obsessive or all over the place. Hmmmm, I think I've been like that a few times. Nope, she replied, I'm too clear, lucid, and have a definite change within my insider states. Still, they all come back to the same linear thought. She has had a few clients were thought they were DID, but instead had transient hallucinations, so they weren't schizophrenic either.

And when I think about it, schizophrenia is certainly not like this. I know what schizophrenia is like.....and there's the kicker. Until I finished reading "Stalking the Irish Madness", and conducted some research for my second book, I never truly looked at the impact that schizophrenia has had in my life. I was trying to explain to the therapist: it took years to recognize the "in your face" dangers, incoherent thoughts, and violence of living in an abusive home environment, but I never really considered the schizophrenic portion. I never felt or even contemplated the role this disease has had in my life. 

Strange, one would think that being 40, and diagnosed with DID for almost 20 years, I would have considered this subject at some point. Nope, it was always a second subject, not important, something that was as easily overlooked as the parsley they stick on the side of your dinner. You know it's there, you almost expect it to be there, and sometimes you have even tasted it. BUT, it's not part of the dinner. Not technically.....I mean, if someone asked you what you ate at the restaurant last night, you wouldn't mention the parsley now would you? That's how schizophrenia has always been in my mind. A side issue.....yes, I've had to include it when I talk about my family of birth, as I've learned that to leave it out confuses therapists and anyone who is listening. After all: the television talked to mom and she was "god's emissary". But, in my mind: brother, uncle and mother were abusive.......oh, and they had schizophrenia. 

Even my son's diagnosis of schizophrenia made me wonder at the way the psychiatrist wanted to "prepare" me for the news. News? I saw the signs......and when he was violent, yeah, it was hard. He has schizophrenia, I get it, I know a lot about it. But do I really? 

It's odd that this subject has come up, while the therapist and I are working on "how I feel"....since I have become so disconnected in many ways to the emotions naturally felt by human beings. They are compartmentalized, within each of my insiders, and for daily functioning, this system works. Yet, the emotions still exist, they are just individually wrapped up like glasses prepared for packing. I have to unravel quite a few things in my head before I can even recognize what is tucked away and hidden. Then, unfortunately, it feels like a punch to the stomach. 

So, I'm sitting in my session, discussing the studies that claim the Irish have a higher incidence of schizophrenia running through their genetic makeup than other societies, and whether this was due to nature or nurture....all sorts of hypothesis on the subject....when it hits me: I've never really looked at the impact schizophrenia has had in my life. 

I never had a mother. I had a "mom", and she was schizophrenic. So: what did I have? I was raised by schizophrenia with manic phases (or bi-polar), auditory and visual hallucinations and religious compellations. My brother had schizophrenia from such a young age, he was never a brother, he was simply "Richard".......which, in a way, was not his name but a description of all that he represented. The boy child and the schizophrenia combined. The same with my uncle, and grandmother. They were almost non-people, as they never existed as individuals in the first place. When I interacted with them, I interacted with the schizophrenia first, for the person was buried somewhere deep inside: unmedicated, and on the outside: raving. I don't think I ever have met them as people, individuals, real humans; as I always interacted with the schizophrenia. 

It hit me first hand later that day, as my son told me that: 1) he no longer has schizophrenia 2) he no longer needs his medicine 3) I made it all up, he never heard any voices and he's angry that I told the doctor what "they said" and 4) could I take him to the bathroom as there is a huge bird in there with wings that says he will pounce and scratch his eyes out if I'm not along? I asked if he saw the bird? "NO, I don't see things anymore, you made that up." Okay........so how do you know there is a bird in there? Oh....he knows, and further will describe even more about the bird (which is rather terrifying to say the least). Well, did he say he was going to pluck your eyes out? "NO, I don't hear things anymore......but he said he'd do it." Alright, at this point, let's just get to the bathroom. "Thanks mom, you're the best". Uh huh......so glad you're on medication, and no, you're not coming off of the medicine if I have anything to say about it. 

You know the parsley that sits on the edge of the plate? Every once in a while I would take a bite of it......and generally it would be bitter as can be. Harsh and twiggy, without the enjoyable flavor of the bitterness that a dish of collard greens conveys, but simply torture to endure. I've always suspected that restaurants simply wash the same sprig and reuse it over and over since no one seems to eat the parsley. Perhaps, like me they tried it and realized it's not part of the dinner. 

And whether I like it or not, I have to admit that the "parsley" was there all along. It impacted me, and I have to acknowledge it. The big family secret that was not to be talked about in public or even at home. We had all sorts of cover excuses: Mom was in a car accident and incurred whiplash, so her "neck was out". Richard was "uncomfortable" around people because he couldn't hear when he was young. Uncle "drank" and was "deaf", that's why he was the way he was. Then the subcategories of cover up stories, let alone the outright denial and clean up of events so no one would know. 

I question: who decided that these events should be covered up? I don't remember a family meeting to determine if we were to all participate in hiding what was obviously an elephant, several really, in the room? I remember reading about one member of the family being considered the family "secret keeper" years later, and recognized myself, Obviously, I was that person....but I don't remember volunteering. When was all this decided? Who laid the foundation of secrecy? I have no answers....it just was how things were to be done. 

Sadly, it appears that many people have treated mental illness this way. Hide it, cover it up, and find another reason to explain the events you cannot prevent from becoming public. This attitude goes back generations, and still continues today. As far as my stand: I will not keep it a secret, something to be ashamed of and hidden away. I know, and I know far too well how much damage this course of action creates. 

So: Aramis is "fine". Hmmmm, glad he's feeling better. Also made an appointment as apparently we still live with monsters, they may not talk to him (really?) and he may not see them (again: really?) but they are a part of our lives just as much as that twig of parsley is present next to a delicious steak dinner. 

It's only when you look that you see it. 
It's only when you taste it that the reality becomes clear. 

Well, those are my "linear thoughts" for the day. Honestly, it makes me laugh to be considered able to do so. What did the therapist say? Oh, I'm also "sophisticated and highly intellectual".....still makes me giggle......I told her that's high praise for a girl who came from pure white trash. Her reply? "And someone who was taken out of school in the sixth grade". Oh yeah.......so I could take care of the problems at home, which didn't exist in the first place whenever anyone asked. 

Looks like another hot day today in TX......husband will be home early, and the boys have a play date with a co-worker and his PS3. Ahhhh, I'll have quiet for several hours later today. Better be off to get some homework done then.........if you listen carefully, you just might hear the wails from two boys in TX when they realize that they still have school today. 

Have a good one, and please: stay safe. From the emails I've received, several are really struggling. Stay safe, take care of yourselves, and surround yourselves with positive support. May we each find a bit o'peace today. 


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    Shelly Dowen-Johnson

    I am currently traveling with my husband across the United States, due to the nature of the work he does. 

    I am the mother of two boys, one who has recently been diagnosed with Early Onset Childhood Schizophrenia (Schizoaffective Disorder). 

    It appears the Dowen family gene sequencing contributes much more than the darling dimples both boys have inherited!  But, as always, with love, tender care and support....we will thrive! 


    June 2012
    May 2012
    April 2012