Enjoying the Road Less Traveled

Rossa Forbes

When our son Chris began developing psychotic symptoms at the end of high school, the course of his life for several years became all too predictable. Hospitalized in Toronto in his second year of university, he dropped out and moved back home. On the journey toward healing we navigated a bumpy but interesting ride through Switzerland, England, France, the USA, and cyberspace. I kept a journal of our progress, which became a literary endeavor as time went on.*

We started out following the mainstream. Chris enrolled in an outpatient early psychosis program.

“As you can see,” explained Doctor R, “social integration is the principle preventive therapeutic treatment, but we also believe that the judicious use of medication is equally important. We prescribe different kinds of medications, but we have found, in the ten years the program has been operating, that one particular neuroleptic drug, clozapine, seems to be producing especially good results in the patient population.”

The problem with this approach? Chris wasn’t recovering. He took the pills. He dutifully attended the early psychosis program where a fleet of professionals were on hand to help him. But he wasn’t getting substantially better, nowhere near the point where I thought he should be. Was I in denial? If denial is not going along with the idea that schizophrenia is a lifelong disease that can only be managed, not cured, then yes, I was in denial. 

To extricate my son from the “patient population” as much as possible, Chris and I headed to wilder terrain. He finished up with the day program, continued with his weekly psychotherapy sessions, gradually, over the years and under supervision, lowering his medication to well below the lowest recommended dose, where it stubbornly remains today. By reading everything I could get my hands on, I learned about his condition — from everything except the medical model narrative, which I found depressing and not well informed. Authors I had only a passing acquaintance with before now felt like long-lost friends: Carlos Castanada, Herman Hesse, R.D. Laing, and Thomas Szasz. I had never heard of Joseph Campbell, but after wading into the waters that the schizophrenic is drowning in, I came away with a more optimistic view of my son’s future. I would accompany him on the hero’s journey. There is a literary precedent for this: the hero often has a sidekick who‘s there to assist him.

Chris and I were watching Superman. Chris’s eyes were glued to the screen for the entire film. As Superman struggled to overturn a crystallized landmass that threatened to end life on earth, I whispered, “Hey, I’m enjoying this movie, too,” but the roar of the continent being lifted up drowned out my attempts at small talk.

Watching the film, I was struck by the resemblance between Chris in his deteriorated condition and Superman when he was exposed to green kryptonite—helpless, enfeebled, stripped of his powers, hovering in a twilight zone between life and death. In my mind, Chris is a kind of superhero. He has exceptional intuitive capabilities and huge reservoirs of empathy and compassion that enable him to achieve oneness with All-That-Is. He understands that the destructive forces in the universe might cause the world to end—by fire or by ice.

As we left the theater, I wondered how I could help Chris return to earth, as Superman had done after a long absence from our planet. Chris would have to learn how to channel his gifts in ways that strengthened him. He would have to learn resilience so that he could cope when people, situations, and substances weakened him.

The non-medical people to whom we turned for help moved Chris forward in small, incremental ways and were well-versed in their Joseph Campbell. Crucially, in my opinion, they did no harm. The mainstream medical community might question the evidence base for what we did, but its incomplete and conflicting evidence for its drug therapy liberates some of us to try alternatives. I also have one important thing going for me that medicine overlooks: I’m the mother. I know my son better than anybody, and I observe and continue to take notes. I had an agreement with Chris that, as much as possible, I would undergo the same therapies as he. Admittedly, I did this partly for the material (an unusually good story!), but mainly because I didn’t think it was fair to slap him with the identified patient label, meaning that there was something uniquely wrong with him that needed fixing while there was nothing wrong with me. Our common ground is that we are both in this to strengthen our overall health. (The fact that Chris doesn’t have a driver’s license almost guaranteed that I had to be at many of those appointments with him. Make mine a double!)

Doctor B found that my assemblage point had travelled up the panic-and-anxiety line on the right side of my chest. After locating it, she handed me over to her assistant, who asked me to stand with my back to him. He told me to tighten my sphincter and hold my breath, and then he delivered one quick thump to my right shoulder blade, catching me off guard. I emitted a little squeak as the air left my lungs.

So, that’s the famous shaman’s blow! I thought as I recovered from the shock. With my assemblage point in its rightful place I hoisted myself onto the examining table and stretched out on my back. Doctor B handed me a large, heavy quartz crystal wand that I struggled to keep upright over the center of my chest for twenty minutes as the gem lamp’s transducer pumped emerald vibrations to my liver.

While lying in this ludicrous pose I asked her if she’d heard about Prince Charles’s keynote address that he’d delivered to the World Health Organization a couple of days earlier, in which he’d stated his belief that national health systems should take more account of alternative treatments such as homeopathy and acupuncture. Doctor B confided to me that there was growing concern among established Harley Street doctors because some members of the Royal Family were seeing homeopathic doctors and other alternative medical practitioners on a regular basis. I laughed, my mind flashing back to a tabloid image of Princess Diana smiling, and waving to the press, after having her colon irrigated at a London clinic.

The people that Chris and I continued to consult with over the years didn’t talk of mental illness as a brain disease, a chemical imbalance, or a problem with one’s genes. Depending on the therapy, they spoke in terms of restoring life force energy, changing cellular vibration, allowing the energy of our ancestors to enter our consciousness, learning to listen — and, therefore, understand — and building a self.

Here’s a small sample of where we went on our journey:

Family Constellation work was developed by Bert Hellinger (1925 -), a German psychotherapist and former Jesuit priest who spent many years living among the Zulu people in South Africa. It is based on the premise that patterns of behavior can be carried forward for generations, especially if an ancestral family member experienced loss or injustice. Constellation work is designed to help participants resolve these issues and thereby avoid perpetuating destructive patterns. It’s hugely emotional and therapeutic. Be prepared to cry — a lot. Accept what “is,” forgive, and move on.

The Alexander Technique was developed by F.M. Alexander (1869-1955), a Shakespearean actor from Australia who lost the ability to project his voice. His Technique is a process of self-inquiry that enables a person to release unconscious habits that put strain on the body. Alexander’s approach to self-examination required consciously stopping the movement pattern he was executing to decide whether he wanted to continue it, change it, or stop it altogether and do something different. The technique he developed seemed like an approach that Chris could use to address the “action/no action” dilemma he frequently encountered in relation to using both his mind and his body. He might finally learn how to choose.

The Tomatis Method: Doctor Alfred Tomatis (“tom-ah-TEECE”) (1920-2001), a French otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist), distinguished “listening” from “hearing.” In his view, hearing is passive, whereas listening is an active process. Listening ability allows us to focus, which has profound implications for spatial awareness and control of bodily movements. Listening is important for “most skills involved in communication, verbal as well as non-verbal, socialization, language and learning.” The ear charges the brain and nervous system with electrical energy, and its proper functioning is essential to motor skills, balance and coordination, and, of course, hearing. The treatment primarily involves listening to high-frequency music through headphones, e.g., Mozart concertos and Gregorian chants, for two hours a day. “Using both bone and air conduction to hear and listen is crucial for the development of a self,” the directrice said. “You will hear your true voice for the first time.”

Chris’s observations about how he benefited from his Tomatis sessions: Now, with this heightened emotional sense, he found that when he listened to people, they weren’t just “a body in space” anymore, but he heard the subtext of their concerns; their emotional presence makes them “people.”

Sound waves: This particular form of sound therapy is used experimentally on both plants and humans.

“The sound you are about to hear is produced by my invention, the Bioscope system, and is the frequency of the color red,” the speaker said as he flipped a switch on one of the components. A low, rumbling sound emanated through speakers positioned in the corners of the lecture room. After several minutes, I was shifting uncomfortably in my seat. Mercifully, the sound stopped before I felt compelled to run for the nearest exit. “The energy released in the Big Bang, which approximates the sound you just heard, continues to imbue human beings, plants, and animals with a unique harmonic resonance or life force,” the speaker said. “Exposure to sound waves and electromagnetic fields affects us in various ways — some positive, some negative. We may sometimes require rebalancing to stay healthy.” 

During Chris’s second sound therapy session with the inventor, he had the first of many out-of-body experiences. I asked him to keep a journal of these experiences, which occurred regularly during the year he was having his treatments. Here is what he wrote after his second session. (He was initially bothered by flies in the room.)

I began to fall into a trance, an aware sort of sleep; instead of relaxing into my body and dreaming, I left my body and began to experience the room while my body “powered down.” First I said to myself, this is just a sound, a basic unrefined sound but just a noise really, and then my head refused to make any noise, any comment or utter any “thoughts” as I was released into the space or “aura” around me.

I could see my body lying down from four feet away in any direction, and it was the best impression or image of myself that I’ve found in a long time, better than any mirror image can give. Those flies that I found so irritating I now realized were in harmony with my feelings of irritability that I had carried in with me, and I could fly around the room as if the flies were part of me. The only pain I felt was at the head level, when I could see that a big dark block at my head masked or obstructed this free flow of energy I experienced. To stand up in that state would have been impossible.

Rapportbuilding: By the time Chris was in his mid-twenties, I’d developed several coping strategies. I continued reframing my thoughts in order to stay positive about Chris’s recovery. In addition, I would occasionally imitate some of his behaviors, a technique that I later learned is called “mirroring” and is used as a rapport-building exercise in therapy.

I found Chris’s ghostlike presence unsettling, so I decided to try being ghostlike myself. Upon arriving home, I slid my key as silently as possible into the lock, opened the door, and stepped lightly over the threshold, taking care to oh-so-silently shut the door behind me so that nobody would know I was there. (If I could have slipped in through the keyhole like a “real” ghost, I would have.)

I glided past Chris without acknowledging his presence and quietly busied myself with whatever tasks I needed to do. I tried hard not to rattle the dishes as I put them away, and I spoke loudly enough to not appear conspicuous but quietly enough to achieve the desired effect.

My efforts seemed to make an impression on Chris. On several occasions, he tapped lightly on the door of my bedroom, where I had deliberately holed up to avoid him. When I didn’t immediately respond, he opened the door to check on me, asking “Is there anything I can do for you, Mom?” 

No, nothing at all,” I murmured as I continued my reading. “Please shut the door behind you when you leave.” The hoped-for results were not long in coming. I would hear Chris’s key turn firmly in the lock and then, “Mom, I’m home!” Bang, bang, bang went the pots and pans.

Homeopathy works at the conscious and subconscious levels to bolster the life force. It is the leading alternative treatment prescribed by doctors in Europe and is even more prevalent in India. It was once mainstream medical treatment in Canada and the US — a statue in Washington, D.C. honors its founder Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). Homeopathic remedies are based on the principle that like cures like, meaning that a substance (e.g., cuttlefish ink) taken in extremely small doses will provoke a healing response, whereas the same substance taken in a much larger dose would cause harmful symptoms to manifest. The substances are diluted to tiny percentages per million parts with alcohol or water, then vigorously shaken, a process called “potentization.” In its purest form, homeopathy is the antithesis of today’s polypharmacy. Classically trained homeopaths believe that the smallest possible dose of a single remedy is the most effective. When treating a patient, a homeopath takes careful notes in order to understand the whole person (body, mind, and spirit).

Chris returned from his first visit to the homeopath with a vial of potentized phosphorus. After reading about this remedy online, I knocked on Chris’s door.

The homeopath figured you out on your first appointment,” I said when Chris opened the door. “You are like phosphorus!”

He allowed me to enter his room, so I perched myself on the end of his bed and read from my notes:

Phosphorus types are characteristically pale and often blond. They like to please people and are so emotionally sensitive to others that they often inappropriately cross boundaries in an effort to be helpful. Similarly, others cross their boundaries until they learn how to say no. They attempt to avoid conflict and confrontation in an effort to keep the peace. They dislike being alone and can be overly attached to home and family. Easily exhausted, both mentally and physically, they need to honor their own limits.”

Is that you or is that you!” I said, putting down my notes.

I don’t know,” Chris said, irritated. “Is there anything good about phosphorus?”

I picked up my notes and continued reading. “Highly likable; poetry-loving romantics; infectious smile. They love to sing. Oh, and get this: They often have strikingly red lips!” I looked up and said, “This was something I noticed about you when you were born.” 

Chris was unimpressed at first, but soon he was grinning. (Having a sunny disposition is a phosphorus trait.)  

And then there’s this: ‘They are so light and airy they appear to float.’ I’m amazed at how well this description fits you!”

Chris is now thirty-four, living at home with his parents, and started spreading his wings several years ago through his music and stage work. Over the years I’ve learned to sit back and enjoy the ride. Had we not taken the scenic route, I might have given up on Chris early on because I would have fallen victim to mainstream thought, which “awfulizes” psychosis (as MIA author Ron Unger terms it). We’re not done with the journey, but it’s coming to a close. I’ve done what I can. It’s his turn to drive the car to places he wants to go. 

I’ll be there, cheering him on from the sidelines.

*Portions of this post are from my book, The Scenic Route, used with permission of Inspired Creations, my publisher.

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  1. Rossa, I love you. Your genuine interest in your son’s well being is evident. A good parent wants their kid to spread wings and become independent–not crippled by stupifying drugs and an infantilizing “support” group that only controls and holds back.

    A lot of parents get so exasperated by the outlandish behavior of these kids that they would rather turn the kid into a helpless drooling houseplant who won’t get in trouble and embarrass them. You point out the kid could likely recover undrugged and they don’t seem to care. Ruining the adult child’s prospects of a good life doesn’t matter. The drugs work RIGHT NOW (too tired and sick to do or say annoying stuff) and a diminished zombie child doesn’t bug them for some reason.

    My own mom wanted to help me. But to this day she swears my “meds” work because they have made me too sedated to do or say stuff that annoyed her. If she’s annoyed that proves I’m getting “sick” again.

    Unbeknownst to her after 25 years of psych drugs I tapered off my cocktail successfully. Been drug free for over 6 months. Unfortunately my digestion is totally destroyed; I may have Crohns now.

    Mom doesn’t notice any difference. When I snapped out of my decade long depression though she got irritated and yelled at me for being “too cheerful.” No I was far from manic.

    I no longer live with her. That helps. Sadly at 44 I am too old to make new friends and extreme pain/weakness makes it hard to get around. The bus system is horrible here. I wasn’t allowed to get my drivers license. So I’m pretty isolated.

  2. Thank you rossa for your brilliant article inspiring.i went to a workshop with Eleanor longden and she said her mother never gave up on her even when everyone else had. the role of the mother is downplayed in all forums including this site so lovely to hear what you both did and are still doing look forward to more articles from you as most Mother’s have no idea what to do . We feel that we know but we do not trust our instincts in a world that labels us as difficult and part of the problem. Thanks again.

  3. I’m always so moved to hear your story exploration and discovery with your son, Rossa. You both have invaluable things to share with the world, particularly needed at this time. I hope that one day Chris can feel the inclination to share his perspective.

    Thank you for taking the road less travelled and for chronicling it in The Scenic Route: A Way Through Madness, to share your discoveries, thoughts, and your heart. It is so beautifully written, clear and engaging, I read it in one day, cover to cover, could not put it down. I highly recommend this book to anyone, for many reasons. For one thing, it really shows how creative we can be when it comes to healing, there are always new things to discover.

    But it is your own truth which you continually voice as you take this journey which really strikes a deep chord and rings true, even though I am the other half of a mother-son relationship. Thanks for sharing this most powerful and intimate perspective. It expanded my understanding and compassion, and reminded me that we are ALL on a journey of healing, personal growth, and awakening.

  4. Hi Rossa,

    It’s so nice to meet someone else who understands the power of walking WITH someone in distress. My wife has d.i.d. and that’s what I’ve done these last 10 years. I didn’t dictate, but I also didn’t shy away from being 100% involved in her healing process or what I often call “our healing journey” on my blog. And we found what you found: most of her healing has been completely outside what the mainstream tells everyone is best.

  5. Hi Rossa,

    I’m a parent and I READ and LOVED your book. So happy to see your post, and I wish you would do a regular MIA column!

    ‘Lived-experience’ parents who are neither followers of NAMI nor followers of so-called ‘social justice’ have no community. I raised my child away from ‘experts’ who wanted to diagnose and drug him, and he grew and flourished (but it was very lonely for me as an outlier parent). I have ZERO interest in the natterings of MSWs, MDs, and PhDs unless they’ve really somehow earned their stripes. No paternalistic ‘expert’ doling out ‘helpful tips’ knows what we know, and lived what our families lived.

    ‘Lived experience’ needs to rule now for parents and families. I loved how you wound your way through the crowd of professionals and emerged to tell the tale! Your son is so lucky to have you as his mother.

    Liz Sydney

  6. Thank you so much Rossa, for this beautiful article.
    You are a very brave mother, and doubly brave for posting here, where so often the message family members of the “mentally ill” are given subtly or not-so-subtly is: keep away.
    Often it seems that the pendulum swings back and forth without knowing how to stop at a reasonable place in the middle. What I mean is that perhaps in the past, there was the argument that “mental illness” was the fault of the parent/spouse/other for inflicting trauma/causing autism/etc. and then it swung to the opposite extreme that it’s “just an illness.” Then, people who reject the drugs (rightly!) sometimes swing all the way back and blame the people in their lives for causing them so much angst that they “went mad.”
    I wish there was a forum for people like you and me who are living and interacting with close family members who have “issues” and either don’t have or don’t choose the option of walking away when it gets tough. If you know of anything, please let me know.
    My experience here on MIA has been that I should shut up about any of the challenges I face with my situation as “the other person” because it’s upsetting for some readers to entertain the idea that they create challenges. So I don’t know if I would dare to publicize my story, and in any case, I don’t think anyone is interested in reading it.
    Again, thank you, and wishing you much strength, wisdom, and mental space to keep going with a smile on your face!

    • Hi Gabi,
      I haven’t found any good sites either (there are a few bad ones out there that I have been run off). It’s a little frustrating, and as you’ve said MIA prefers to give voice to the victims over those of us who stay and fight in the trenches to keep our loved ones out of the system. I was happy to see they allowed Rossa to share her story despite the ‘nothing about us without us’ mantra that normally is chanted.
      I’m sorry for the frustration I hear in your reply. I do understand it. An internet friend and I have been talking recently about trying to start something for SO’s, but so far that’s as far as we’ve gotten.

    • “…it’s upsetting for some readers to entertain the idea that they create challenges.”

      It’s true, people can easily resist being mirrored as “challenging,” and often, quite vehemently and defensively (which is challenging in and of itself!). The thing is that this can apply in all directions. I don’t know anyone who cannot pose difficult challenges for another person. I know I have at times, for others, and others have been very challenging for me to deal with. I think it’s how we grow in life, depending on how we address (or not) our challenges, especially in relationship to others.

      When a group of people sit around and discuss how challenging one particular person can be (especially with a label attached), then you are duplicating the “mental health system” because it is based on exactly this dynamic–which is how marginalization occurs, which is exactly systemic abuse, and quite cruel and disempowering at that.

      Everyone goes through passages and transitions in life and can be extremely challenging to deal with at one time or another–kids, parents, patients, doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, presidents, and on and on. Being “a challenge to others” is not a trait assigned to people in one role or another; it is across the social boards and shifts on a continuum, I believe that is natural. Otherwise, you are creating an “identified patient,” which means that this one person will be expected to carry the burden for all that is off balance in that particular community. That’s the problem in all of this, because I don’t see how that can ever be the case, and really sets a person up for failure in life, easily, because they internalize this role.

      The real challenge here is healing this internalized identity, which would mean to find one’s own power and voice in all of this. It is most definitely possible, but it takes a commitment to the healing process as it relates to transformation, because this is what is necessary, I believe, to shift internalized powerlessness-making self-identities.

      I think it’s important to understand that we’re all on a journey of healing and growth, equally. How can that NOT be the case? For me, that is the point of Rossa’s book. At least when I read it, this is one of the main things I took away from it, and I thought it illustrated this perfectly. This is her journey, alongside her son’s journey, which is a separate process of healing and personal evolution. Although one journey does spur another, which is natural and how we are inspired–another way in which nature connects us.

      The assigned roles (patient, doctor, caregiver, et al) are merely different perspectives along the collective journey, which puts each person’s story into a social context. Everyone is healing and growing, that is universal. We’re all just doing it our own way, which others may or may not understand. I don’t believe that matters, in the end, as long as we each understand ourselves.

      • I hear where you’re coming from and I agree with a lot of what you write – maybe even all of it. I don’t know you, or your history, but you sound like a deeply responsible, insightful, and caring person. Please understand that some of us are married to people who for whatever reason choose not to take responsibility for their “mental health” for want of a better word, and actively choose to adopt the role of patient. In my case, my husband’s problems existed from years before we married and in many ways, he seeks in me a kind-of perfect mother. I think things would look very different if my husband were set on being on a healing journey of his own – instead, however, he is basically struggling to keep his head above water, or at least, that’s how it seems to me.
        I don’t deny that I’ve learned a great deal about myself, my weaknesses, own issues, own tendencies to run away from responsibility and so much more along the way. But when the other person is set on “othering” himself, then it is a huge challenge not to get sucked in and finding the right balance is so hard. I think all of us in this situation struggles to know how much to take on in order not to overstress the other person, and when to stop and say, “Sorry, this time I can’t, you’re going to have to manage whatever it is yourself.” On the one hand, my husband wants to feel like the head of the family; on the other hand, much/most of the time he is a figurehead and not only that, because he is personally struggling with so much that I can’t see or access (because he will not talk about stuff), he wants recognition for the little he does as it doesn’t come easily. Sorry for the value judgment that it’s “little” but if you could peer into our lives, I suspect you would agree!
        At the end of the day, the situation is one long reminder that we can never understand another person and have to judge favorably as far as possible. And that “we didn’t come into this world in order to lick honey” as the saying goes.
        Thanks for the thought-provoking words and I will try to internalize your ideas more.

        • Hi Gabi, very thoughtful reply, thank you. I appreciate your openness in hearing my perspective and for sharing from where you are coming.

          I’m a psychiatric survivor with my own complex and thorough story of many years drugged, then rugged withdrawal which took a few years, then really great holistic healing came my way, and I even pursued a legal action against the system, for discrimination, which I won. I had been a Marriage Family Therapist intern back in the late 90s, but I defected the field when I realized it was only crashing me–and because it was so obviously based on power dynamics and “othering,” which is what my awakening was really about–whereas subsequent years of energy healing and training worked wonders for me, and is based on radical self-responsibility. I found that in particular to be empowering, as well as opening the doors to radical healing.

          I’ve also been married for 33 years. I was the one with diagnoses and on drugs, but we both had our own demons to face at the same time. It was not a one-sided situation, not in the slightest. Our story of multiple role-reversals during this very intense time for us, that we tell together, opens a lot of eyes. I’ll just say that for now. Perhaps one day we’ll write a book together, when the timing seems right for us to do so.

          On the other side of all this, I’m a mind/body/spirit energy healing practitioner, meditation teacher, musical performer, and I’ve made a feature length film regarding stigma and discrimination in the mental health system which got passed around various mental health communities.

          My story, at the core, is of family healing. That is what I base my entire journey on, starting from before diagnosis, 36 years ago. I have since healed with my family, finally, and in order to do so, the roles HAD to change. Otherwise, I would have been stuck in the same role as always, and at my age (in my 50s), that’s not really an attractive prospect, so I did tons of work in this vein for years and years–involving a lot of challenging truth-communicating, and also shifts in my own perspective and self-perception, and it has paid off handsomely.

          I’m well-individuated from all that, and it’s hard for them, but I’m still there for them when they need support. It was extremely challenging to break the family system, but I believe everyone is better off for it, because at that point, our paths became our own, and I ceased to be enmeshed in that system. I know with certainty that this is what allowed me to heal in the way I had wanted to and that I envisioned I could, when no one else thought I would. Well, I did!

          I guess that, overall, each situation is unique and brings with it unique circumstances which we all do try to address best we can with what we know at that moment. I very much admire your insights regarding your situation, and your obvious fortitude. Not easy situations at all, but indeed, we learn and grow from them. My hope for myself and others always is that suffering can fall by the wayside to be replaced with enjoying life–at least some of the time!

          “At the end of the day, the situation is one long reminder that we can never understand another person and have to judge favorably as far as possible.”

          Love this, and yes I agree, we learn to deepen our compassion–for others and also for ourselves. If we allow ourselves to become drained and tattered, we are no good to anyone. At the same time, we have the opportunity to expand our hearts, and to me, that is what personal growth and healing are all about. It’s a delicate balance, and we learn as we go.

          • Thank you. I wish you would write that book – I would love to read it and learn from it.
            I just thought that I would also mention another trap that is hard to guard oneself from – codependence. For a long time (and still today, a lot of the time) I tried to heal my husband. That involved some positive things – wanting him to find his own path, getting him off the drugs – and also many negative – not looking at my own issues (which often mirrored mine) and making him, as you write, the one who carries the burden of “all that’s wrong here.”
            I still find it a huge challenge not to “understand” him when I really don’t and can’t, when something seems so obvious yet isn’t. And it challenges the modern idea of marriage – that it involves total understanding and openness etc – which is impossible and probably leads to so many failed marriages.

            As an aside, the first time my husband came off the drugs (lithium and risperdal) it was very grudgingly on his part because he had been brainwashed by his family to believe that they were saving his life. And he did have a terrible time withdrawing, with insomnia leading to psychosis leading to being dragged to a psych to be forcibly injected (yes, that was his family too).
            The next time I got him off the drugs I was smarter. This time he was on Geodon which conveniently comes in capsules. So I emptied them out, doing a slow titration that way. He never guessed a thing for 18 months. I told him after that – and guess what? He “went mad” soon after. Funny that he doesn’t suspect me again – but again, without his knowledge, he’s been off drugs for over a year and still doesn’t guess it. This time, maybe I won’t tell him for another 5 years or so.

      • Hi Alex,
        for you to make this simplistic equivalency argument makes me wonder if, whatever your issues are, they are pretty mild. And if so, I’m very happy for you. However, though “we’re all on a journey of healing and growth”, some people need much, much, much more help than others.

        When my wife and I started on her healing journey, it took our 17-year old son and me giving her 24-7 coverage to keep her out of the mental health system and off the meds. It was that way for the first 3-4 years until we got her and all the ‘alters’ stabilized and connected enough for things to calm down. Even now, 10 years later I work a 55+ hour job AND do the majority of the work inside and outside the house when I come home (even though she’s technically a full-time ‘housewife’) because the ‘littles’ dominate the outside, non-public time and never had anyone take care of them when they were growing up. And so I submit to their needs as I undo the trauma/neglect she suffered from her parents who didn’t actually commit the sexual abuse but were so wrapped up in their own issues that they didn’t realize what had happened to their daughter under their noses.

        So I respectfully disagree with your argument of simple equivalency and hope you are simply ignorant about how hard it can be for some families and SO’s. I love my wife. I love all her alters. I don’t think I’m a martyr, but sometimes I wonder if your attitude, that I’ve seen in others on this site, is the reason why some of the MIA bloggers are bemoaning the lack of progress in this movement. Many on this site act like those of us who give our all to support our loved ones should be silenced to chants of ‘nothing about us without us’ and treat us suspiciously like we should all be lumped into the NAMI group. It’s no wonder the movement doesn’t go further when that is the prevailing attitude.

        • Samruck, thanks for the response, although I do not identify with being ignorant about these issues. I simply offered my perspective from my experience. I don’t see it as “an attitude,” the way you put it. My only interest and focus is that people be allowed to heal by whatever process suits them best, and that is for them to discover and decide, along with, perhaps, whatever support they trust and with whom they feel safe, for feedback. Period.

  7. I’m following this exchange between Alex, Samruck2 and Gabi and find it fascinating. My son is currently in a very difficult transition period, and I take a lot of heart in what Alex writes. I’m impressed with Gabi’s ability to express what is going on with her and her husband (and I “get it” too). Samruck2, I’ve been familiar with Alex’s comments on this site for several years. Alex is the last person, IMO, who would seek to silence people like us.

  8. Gabi, your anecdote about your husband going mad only after you told him he was no longer on the drugs reminds me of R.D. Laing’s famous quote something to the effect of the schizophrenic is playing at being mad to avoid being held responsible for a single coherent thought or idea. Or this one: “They are playing a game. They are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.”