It's a good thing we don't celebrate Christmas, because Benjy will spend at least part of it in the hospital. Just like he did Chanukah. We thought he'd have been sprung by now, but his dysregulation clings tenaciously to him. So every day I drive to the hospital, take him on his school pass, when there is school, and then home for a few hours before driving him back to Unit One.
These days he is home for eight hours a day but sleeps away, his cocktail of meds -- and his mental state -- still in flux.
We had no idea just how unquiet Benjy's mind is, until he burst forth at a meeting with his psychiatrist and case manager and me, and told us so. A chaos of thoughts zigging and zagging through his brain, jibs and jabs of scenes, words, parts of his day. Truncated thoughts of people he loves and people he hates. Songs and video games and notions that are dark and off-kilter.
Then there are the pictures of things. "Messed up," he calls them. A car, bent in the middle, Dali-esque. A pencil curved, not straight and true as pencils in this world are. I ask him if he imagines people in this distorted way.
Yes, he says. I do.
For how long have you? I ask with dread.
I wonder how, in his mind's eye, he pictures me. I think I will not ask.
This distorted thinking does not appear to be psychosis in the usual sense. These are not bent cars motoring down Commonwealth Avenue. They are cars recollected in tranquility, as Wordsworth said (but not about cars).
It is the entropy in Benjy's head that makes the world too much for him. That makes school a torture, and video games an oasis (gaming is the only pursuit that seems to quiet the chaos for a while, although his doctor has told me that it may, in a heartbreaking vicious circle, also be exacerbating the problem).
So we will have to wait and see what happens. If the chaos in his head is a feature of mania, then the Lexapro he 's been maxxed out on for a couple of years is making things worse. If it's a matter of OCD, then it will get worse when the Lexapro is reduced. Right now he's down five milligrams and seems to be doing better -- he talked to me, in a lively way, when I picked him up from school on Friday. Taught me some new stuff. That hasn't happened in eons. And he told me about Hawaii, how it was formed and how it was found. He'd learned it in school just that day. He hadn't learned anything at school for along time, but on Friday, for the first time since last spring at least, the teacher's voice found a point of entry, spoke louder than the rogue thoughts raging in his brain.
Of course, we all have brains prone to restlessness, and pone to occasional disorder. My own dreams, last night, took my breath away with their audacity.
Dogs hanging from trees, my own dream-puppy, whose name I cannot get straight -- Maeve? Maude? Gretchen? -- running away from me, always fleeing, leash trailing, leaving me behind in my desperate, seeking despair. "Come back, Maeve/Maude/Gretchen!" I scream, but she is only a diminishing point of desire, smaller, smaller, and then altogether gone.
I woke up from that one feeling wretched. But in an hour or so I will pick up Benjy; that is my consolation.