FOUR WALLS

Our son is not doing well. He gets angry, and he hits himself in the face. It really scares his little sister, and she cries and begs him to stop, but he can’t hear her when he is like that. He only hears the voices in his head, God bless him. And now he is getting his feathers, you know, becoming a man, and he has a lot of hormones. He has a lot of aggression and energy. If I try to hold his arms or hands when he is really enraged, I could get hit. So sometimes I have to send her to her room for her own safety. And then she thinks she’s in trouble. I try to explain, but she’s too young to understand.

His Dad took some days off to try and help me when our son first got worse, but he had to go back to work. He doesn’t want to lose his job, and we need all his income. And of course I can’t work because no one could watch our son. Yes, he’s taking his medicine. But it doesn’t fix things. He yells at the top of his lungs, I think to quiet the voices, bless his heart. But it scares his sister a lot. And it breaks my heart to see her crying and begging him to stop hitting himself, to stop yelling. He will call out all of a sudden and we all jump in fear. It is really a family disease, isn’t it? Mental illness, I mean. It hits us all.

I try my best. When I can catch his hands safely, I try to grab them. I try to pat or rub them. I sing or hum a soothing song. I try to drown out those nasty voices, the devil in his ear. I want to help him rise above it, and come to kinder thoughts. I tap my feet or rock with him. Once he calms down some, I can massage his ears, or play with his hair, and that seems to calm him for the moment. Yes, he takes that other pill for sadness besides the Haldol, but I don’t know if his kind of sadness can be dissolved.

More medicine? Well, I don’t know. Maybe. If you think it’s because he’s growing, and needs more now. I myself think it’s mostly these four walls that are driving him crazy. The pandemic, you know. We used to take him out every day, and his Dad would take him running or to a park and kick a ball around or to the grocery store. But he won’t wear a mask. He pulls it off. He saw those guys on TV saying it’s fake news and we don’t need masks and the masks are a trick to fool people and he got stuck in that thought. He’s suspicious of the masks now and he worries when we wear them, too. And we can’t convince him. He won’t believe us.

So we can’t take him anywhere because people scold him to wear a mask, and then he yells at the top of his lungs. He’s loud and now he’s tall, a man’s size, and he scares people. They don’t know him. He yells about the masks, like those guys on TV, and I’m afraid someone will call the police and then God forbid they might arrest him or even shoot him, you know. You know how things are. So we never take him anywhere like a grocery store at all, and now we don’t dare take him to parks either. I wish there were a special park for people like him where he could run free. They have parks for dog but not for people like him. It’s sad. Heartbreaking, really.

Maybe he needs more medicine. Maybe. But mostly it’s these four walls. He’s just trapped inside our little trailer, staring at the same walls. He has all that young male energy, you know, getting his feathers now, and he needs to run and exercise, and work it off, but we don’t dare take him out. He’s been stuck inside these four walls for months and months on end. We are too, but we’re not trapped inside our minds, not in the same way. It’s the pandemic, and who knows when it will end? Sometimes I just wish he were little again, before he got sick. When I could comfort him and keep him safe and happy. But we don’t get what we wish. We just don’t.

I appreciate your idea about taking him out very late or very early, before people are around. But with all due respect, I think you don’t know the area where we live. People won’t understand. They’ll be scared of him. They see a big, dark-skinned guy at dusk or dawn or the middle of the night who is yelling or thrashing his head around, throwing off his mask, or running and talking to himself. And his Dad can’t keep up with him when he runs because remember I told you he hurt his leg at work and it never got better. We can’t put our son on a leash! So they won’t be side by side. Our son will just be this random guy all by himself, acting scary, and someone will call the police. We don’t want him to end up on the news. So no, it’s gonna be these four walls. These four walls, for a while.