Dina Al Qassar of the National Alliance on Mental Illness gives The Fog of Paranoia a glowing review this week.
It's about time I filled you in on how Pat is doing this year - wow, is it March already?
We've had a quiet winter. Pat seems to have broken the cycle of bad winters this year. As usual, he's more active and and social, but there has been a total absence of delusions.
Winters normally look like this:
- December - Pat's more active and talkative. Inquisitive. Catches up with everyone he hasn't spoken to in a while.
- January - Pat's phone calls and emails revolve around suspicions he has, delusions of persecution, of being spied on.
- This trend continues into the warmer spring months. By May it levels off, he sleeps more and the delusions attenuate.
Keep in mind, these are all while medicated. Pat has been largely unresponsive to antipsychotics since his relapse into active psychosis in 2008.
This winter looked like this:
- December - Pat's listening to a lot more music, just like he did before the onset of his illness. He sends me emails with songs and music videos asking if I ever heard it before. He wants to introduce me to new music, like he did his whole life before he was diagnosed.
- He wished me happy birthday for the first time in many years.
- January, February, March - I get emails and messages from him every day. He's more talkative than usual, but none of it has turned the paranoid corner.
He's very sharp - the keen, clever Pat everyone remembers so well. No, he's not recovered, but he works hard every day. He seems to want a little more out of life every time we speak, and he works hard to get that satisfaction.
Tinkering with a careful cocktail of medication has been a full-time job for Pat. He takes it all in stride, never expecting too much. Unfortunately in the past year, he's gained quite a lot of weight - a very common side effect of long-term antipsychotic medication. He sleeps a lot and doesn't get much exercise. When he does eat, he has carb cravings. Lots of pasta and rice dishes. Lots of frozen meals, too, because he doesn't cook. High in sodium.
Of course, Pat's never much liked hearing advice from his little sister. And as far as weight goes, I'm not the model of perfect health anyway. I almost have to dangle an eggroll in front of my head to get myself on the treadmill.
Maybe new problems need new tactics. What's a good way to approach someone when you're concerned about their weight? Maybe I should teach him how to cook some lower-carb dishes?