In a recent discussion with a psychologist, we were discussing psychotic breaks. He called a scenario I described as my son’s “first break.” I had never heard that term, so when I returned home, I looked it up. Symptoms of a psychotic break “can range from harmless delusions to violent outbursts and major depression.” I suspect he was dealing with bipolar disorder. He cried a lot. One of the last times I saw him, he walked in the house and stood in the middle of the living room and stared out the window. I had the feeling he wanted to talk, but then I had the feeling he didn’t want to talk. He just wanted to stand there. Maybe he was looking for a comfortable place to be for a while. His eyes were swollen red. I wondered if he had been drinking the night before, but now I think back and I know he had been crying, probably all night. He could not sleep. He had suffered with insomnia probably for years. When he was angry with someone, he would destroy his cell phone – smash it. I’m sure there were many other symptoms that point to psychotic breaks. Towards the end of my son’s life, he seemed like a different person, and I wasn’t the only one to notice that.
My son refused to see a professional. “It’s a stigma,” he said. You could not convince him otherwise. He was a Navy veteran and was working in the funeral services business when he died. He heard stories of individuals who died of suicide and their experience trying to adapt to medications and adjust to the dullness they experienced as a result of the drugs. That was not the way he wanted to live his life.
What could I do for him? Nothing. We had many conversations, some where he sat and cried. All I could feel was his hopelessness, a very uncomfortable feeling. Hopelessness on my part as well, because I could not convince him to get help.
The fourth anniversary of my son’s death is fast approaching. What will this year’s anniversary be like? Only time can tell. My plan is to keep busy and spend time with people who are supportive and loving. And my son? I’m sure he’ll be walking by my side, guiding me through this anniversary.