Did you even wonder what would happen if you had no sleep for days? Our cover picture is a drawing my creative son drew when we asked him to depict what his thoughts were, during and after, his brain breaking traumatic experience. For he and all of us, it was an encounter with hell.
In trying to piece together what caused such an escapade I had to do some deep research to not only find out what was going on, but why. His first symptom was near complete memory loss. Can you imagine forgetting every password you have including ‘9999’ to get into your phone? He was also literally seeing fog everywhere, feeling like the walls were melting, imagining that a swat team was on the roof of our house, and hearing voices when no one was in the room, amongst other things. This stunning article provides a pictorial from Science.mic that describes exactly how and why this can happen.
Obviously it was time to get emergency help! But we had experience with this type of thing before, both personally and via our years of helping people who have been through similar problems. We knew that if we took him to the emergency room all they would do is slap a bunch of drugs into his system, keep him in the e.r. hospital for a day, make us fill out a bunch of questionnaires, and discuss sending him off to a Psych ward. Worst yet they would suggest, and could force him to be sent to a state ward, if we could not prove that all was safe. The cost would be several thousand dollars, and then they would tell us to go to our doctor for a follow-up. Been there done that, and the last thing we wanted was to have them put those drugs in his system and make him worse and prolong the agony for weeks.
Getting in to see our regular Psychiatrist (the prescription writing Psych) was not easy but we pushed hard and demanded an immediate appointment. In to the familiar setting we went as we had known him for years in getting help with the vomit phobia issues (if you did not read Part I of this story you will miss how we got here, stop and go back and read part 1 ). Easily recognizing the state of affairs we discussed the options and he agreed with us an E.R. visit would have been added trauma to an anxiety laced person that was not needed. With the way he was talking, they would probably ask him questions about being suicidal (which he was not at all) which would lead to the police being called in and handcuffs being slapped on. (that is what happens, we knew that as well)
But sadly, all our Psychiatrist could recommend were the same drugs they would have poured in at the E.R. The same ones we knew had awful possible side effects. But that is exactly what he prescribed.
We pleaded for other options, but he described what we had already read was the only known solution to this problem. Sleep meds to catch up his sleep and something to calm the nerves. We dreaded the option but took the advice of several church friends who worked in the medical field, and some non-church associates as well to be sure, and everyone seemed to agree there were few options for the state he was in. Solid sleep was the need and that is what we were convinced the three different drugs would accomplish.
Within minutes after taking them he was out cold, for 24 hours straight!
By this point in time I had informed my boss at work that I needed some time off to help with this situation. As our son had not slept for days, we were also at the deprivation point since he was waking us every couple of hours to see if we could help any. Having also been through this before, I knew work was not going to go away and the usual demands would build up. No one can understand, how bad can a little anxiety issue be? Since the feigned ‘sorry about that’ comments along with, BUT, can you take care of this problem and that one, I felt the need to cut off the circulation. For the first time in my 40 years of working, I called HR and applied for medical leave. I was set up with 1,000 hours of sick time that had never been used, now was the time to use it. We knew it was going to be a battle, and it was…
When he woke up we were not sure what was going on. Hallucinations were coming more frequently. Somehow in particular smelling smoke and hearing sounds that were not there. We tried to assure him it was just the medicine kicking in and it would get better as the doses increased. But he could not stop talking about how the re-occurrence of what happened in the hotel room. As I was trying to do all I could to help, my research led me to believe he was being hit with PTSD. Although it is atypical for military situations and other major trauma events, his symptoms all fit the same stories common with ptsd victims.
A few days into this the most heartbreaking and horrifying scenario took place. He was laying on the couch and was no longer tired but he was seeing, hearing, and feeling that our whole house was under some kind of attack. He was describing scenes as if they were straight from a horror movie. At one point, my wife and I were at a total loss when he reached up and said ‘HELP ME’.
I have never felt so helpless and hopeless with such a broken heart in my life. I felt like we were about to lose our son, permanently.
Although I have read about such things like healings and casting out demons and healing the only experiences I had personally were from hearing stories from church crazies, movies, and the negative discussions of how fake such things were in our modern era. But at this point I knew the Bible actually commissioned believers to not only talk about Jesus, but also to do just such things. In Mark 15 it says point-blank – “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”
With my son in a horrid state I said to myself I have nothing to lose, I’m not a priest, I’m not a Pastor, I’m just a plain old Joe. I had already called all the Pastors in our church, had people bringing us food, and everyone was ‘praying’. It wasn’t working. So I laid my hands on my son and prayed like I never had before. I gave him a neck rub and he calmed down immediately. I thought, o good, the neck rub is helping, but I knew more was happening. Peace seemed to come over the three of us. Soon he was calm and then fell asleep on the couch. Thereafter our exhaustion kicked in and we were ready for much-needed sleep as well.
I woke up the next morning refreshed and found our son still sound asleep. Now I was really focused on a mission to bring this to closure. I pulled out the warning label from the SeroquelXR we had been giving him out of doctors orders. I read the labels and could not believe the long list of side effects that were listed on the package. I called our doctor and told him what was going on and he actually discussed it with me on the phone. He said it was not unusual. I said really, not unusual to have all these side effects. His response was they were not side effects, that he was dealing with things that are prevalent with the anxiety attack and we ‘should have’ done this and that years ago. I was like really, we have been coming to you since the 2nd grade and now you are saying we should have done some other things to prevent this situation.
I set up a meeting to discuss things further. By now our son was doing better but his memory was shot and he was talking about things that made no sense. When we finally got in to the doctor he felt empowered (another side effect) and said he wanted to say something to Dr. B. I had been used to hearing some strange things so I knew this could be interesting. He said to him, I just want you to know that I don’t really think you are a terrorist and I think you are ok even though my Dad jokes about it sometimes.
I looked at the Doc and shrugged and remarked, you see what we are dealing with. We need to know what the exit plan is from this medicine that has turned him into something he is not. Dr. B said, you know we are dealing with Schizophrenia here which is not uncommon for people with a heavy anxiety history to develop in later ages. I looked at him incredulously and said, you know that one of the major side effects of SeroquilXR which treats Schizophrenia actually can cause the symptoms of it in and of itself?
I said, ‘we need a different treatment’. Dr. B said there is no other treatment, he is calm now, so the medicine is working. I said if you saw him last night you would feel differently. He said ‘he should be the same then as he is now, but he is not’ (I wasn’t about to tell him he’s calm because God’s peace and healing was the reason), ‘so it is working’! I said, so you have no other solution? ‘That’s right.’ I could tell from his attitude with me, he actually thought my son and I had talked about him being a terrorist. We had joked turning the word therapist into terrorist for fun, but when Dr. B then explained the difference between a hindu and muslim and the fact he was from India, it dawned on me, he couldn’t even recognize my sons’ words were coming from his current state of confusion.
I told him, well I disagree, we need to set up an exit plan for the meds. He told me, if you know so much, you come up with one yourself, ‘I wash my hands of this, go’. He picked up his folder and escorted us to the door. As we were leaving I knew this all was happening for a reason. My wife said, I can’t believe we just got fired by our own Psychiatrist. I said, ‘he’s lucky I am not where I was as a non-Christian 35 years ago or he’d be a dead one’. I was now beyond determined to do everything within our power and capability to get through this.
The next week we soon found that the sick mind business is very busy as no doctors, no Psychologists, no Psychiatrists were available with openings for new patients. But God, yes God, found a Christian Psychologist literally a mile from our home who had an opening. She was on the same page with us. We worked out a plan to get him off the very addicting meds and amazingly the expected withdrawal issues did not come into play. We found a partner not only with wisdom but also carrying our same Spirit. We had prayer meetings and Bible discussions instead of the usual. She suggested we have a catscan performed, blood work and other regular medical tests. Amazingly all was physically well now.
A month later we received the results of a report that was done by a psych clinic that cost us $3,000 out-of-pocket (we did everything to see what was wrong and do what was needed to make it right). The results stated he had a long list of issues that would require lifelong use of ‘psychopharmacological medication and continued therapy’. The report was devastating to us, but did provide the benefit of getting him the option to take tests privately, if needed, in school. We knew with his Emetophobia this would be great as whenever he took tests and took too long, the bullies would make throw up noises and distract him. We only discovered this when looking at some of his tests – he would have 40/50 of the first 40 questions correct, and the last ten all incorrect. All as a result of the jerks in his classrooms rushing him to hurry and finish up.
But God was not buying this report, nor were we. We continued with cognitive therapy and some basic anxiety meds for a while. Today, thank God, he is 100% without any of those ‘permanently required meds’, and his therapy has transformed from needing help with worry, to helping others who suffer with what he had. (Please don’t think I am advocating nothing but God like a C.S., without the meds and medical help for a while tied together with our faith, and dedication to working through every other issue as well, the progress would not have been made)
So when my son nailed his thesis speech in front of a group of people and a panel asking him questions for twenty minutes, there was no doubt, God’s healing of his broken mind was complete.
Why do we tell a story of such a seemingly embarrassing situation and not keep it inside our own four walls for no one else to hear? We know, millions of people suffer from anxiety, depression, fear, worry and various phobias. When God gives you stories of triumphs over a problem he calls us to go tell it on the mountains, as He is the healer. He does not want us to suffer in a pool of worry, but to live in His perfect peace.
The stories are only so good if they are told. Please share this on your Facebook page and like the Average Joe’s Portico Facebook page so this and others like it will be broadcast to others that may be suffering with the same things. We pray no one has to go through the deep hurts we went through, they are preventable with wisdom, mind and spirit care. You can find some great helpful sites and books on some of these topics here at JoesPortico.com. None of them are written by me, yet, but some day they will be. For now all my resources are at zero cost to you, and all for the glory of our God.
John 20:21 Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”