Our son hallucinated and suffered delusions during psychotic incidents: It took me a while to fully understand the difference between hallucinations and delusions.
Hallucinations are sensations that appear real, but are actually created by one’s own mind.
Delusions are false beliefs that are persistent and organized and that don’t disappear after receiving logical information. For example – my son believed that I was poisoning his food and even after we proved by eating it, that the food had not been tampered with, his delusion remained.
He also believed that the military were working against him and planting microphones in our house to broadcast his every word and thought. No amount of explaining managed to banish his delusions.
We learned to speak slowly to him and use short, simple sentences.
We learned to give him space to avoid making him feel trapped.
We learned to avoid sudden movements.
We learned to give clear instructions and directions.
And this was how we managed to live together in the same house for so long. Eventually, two psychiatrists assured us that he would do better on his own. We tried, but it didn’t work.
When he spoke about his hallucinations and delusions, we learned to talk about his feelings rather than the content of what he was saying.
We tried our best to really listen.
During this same period of time, we also learned WHAT NOT TO DO.
We learned not to take control if we didn’t really have to do so.
We learned not to argue with him when he was psychotic.
We learned to look elsewhere and not to stare at him.
We learned to interact with him rather than confuse him.
We learned not to touch him without prior warning. After all, parents like to embrace their children, don’t they? Even when they are no longer teenagers.
We learned not to give him multiple choices.
We learned never to whisper, to joke or to laugh in his presence as he took it all personally. But, if he questioned us, we learned to be honest at all times.