I told myself I will not think about the dots when I am collecting them. I gave myself 100 days to collect enough dots so that I can look back and connect them. Today, it is exactly 100 days since I expressed about Tectonic Shifts.
Taking a break has never been a part of my ethos. I live an absolutely not-boring life. At home front, I love my people. It never felt like work or chores. At work front, I love my work and it doesn't feel like work at all. At self front (if there is a word like that), I am my best friend so I never felt lonely or depressed or anything in the last few years (especially from 2018). I humm and buzz with energy at all times. How you see me at 6 am is how I am at 11 pm as well.
For someone who is watching me from outside, feels like a ton of newtons (energy loss) but for me it is lot of fun. I love my life. I still do. I hope it will stay that way forever. So taking a break from everything to focus on something is a big deal for me. It must mean so much more that I was willing to let go of everything.
What came to me this time was a tsunami. It was big. It still is. Everything had to come to a grinding halt. It stunned a lot of people around me. They just couldn't comprehend what was going on.
A lot of my close friends asked what was so big that I am totally changing every walk of my life? They know for a fact, I wouldn't dull down even one moment.
I gave my answers in parts. At one end there was stigma that made me answer in parts and at another end there was no clarity from doctors so I couldn't answer confidently. But I know that the pain and suffering is real for my son. Whatever it is called (in terms of labels), I could see it in front of my eyes what he was (and is) going through. I felt absolutely helpless. Even today I feel a little helpless.
At a bio-physcial level, we were able to watch his struggles with digestion. The symptoms of chronic digestive disorder was supr visible. We could see how his stomach was struggling to digest food. He ran to the restroom immediately after eating. No wonder he lost 6kgs in a month. He lost so much weight that we could see his stomach touching his spine.
He was hungry but couldn't eat. He ate but couldn't keep it inside him. He wanted to go out with his friends but he can't touch any food items. Out of peer pressure he has something and he struggles for the next 20 hours. It was a torture. So we had to restrict him in every possible way. He was staying all alone in a confined space.
Chronic digestive disorder was one aspect. Non-social confinement is another. It started affecting his mental health in addition to his physical health now. He was delirious. He started talking to himself. He was laughing, arguing, crying. It was so real for him. From outside we could not comprehend what going on.
We were forced to consult a psychiatrist. They threw a bomb at us. They doubted early onset of schizophernia. Looks like it happens between age 17-19. They started asking about family history, genetic correlation and more. We didn't know what to say or what to do. I just couldn't digest anything. I was in denial the whole time. I was in shock for many weeks.
Slowly, the neuroscience student in me started seeing the dopamine disorder that is going on inside him. By this time, he was so happy in the room. He was ok not eating anything. He had conversations with his imaginay friends all day to a point he started liking his imaginary friends more than his real friends and his family. That world was so real for him. As a mother I didn't know what to do or what to say or how to support.
I just stood there frozen. My mind was running faster than ever and was wondering about his future. I started thinking about his partner (at a later stage) and how their life will change if what the doctors are doubting is true. What sounded like a 20 year old project (parenting), now suddenly became a lifetime project in my heart.
I didn't know where to start and what to take care. The stomach or the brain or both? I needed a break. I couldn't think straight. I couldn't be present anywhere. Design was not exciting me. I couldn't teach with the same zeal anymore. I couldn't read books. I stopped walking. I stopped talking. I have no account of what I did the whole day.
My husband couldn't see me this way. So he made a decision to take the kids out of town for a few months. He followed his heart and he went back to his roots (he was born in ooty). He booked a place in Ooty for 2 months. He paid for the stay and then told me. I felt it will be a good break for the boys (who never went out during the pandemic). We just went with the flow. I was trying to wrap up life around me and he was taking care of kids all by himself. At that point we both decided to dedicate our life for children whatsoever. We started doing everything for them more than ever. Big decisions like taking up trading (giving up engineering director job), me picking up a job (giving up entrepreneurship), allowing a gap year (if need be) etc starting rolling in. Our heads were full of thoughts and confusions. We decided to allow it to sediment for sometime.
Looking back, those 2 months are the best. Nature did its magic. Slowly, my son was getting better at his stomach. He was able to eat simple food (rice and dhal). He started feeling hungry on time. He started eating more than usual. He ate, he walked in nature and he slept. That is all he did for 2 months. Slowly we started seeing improvements. He was present. Delirum reduced to a large extent. Talking to self, started coming down. He started getting fit as a side effect. He ran up a hill in 4 mins and came down in 2.
He started feeling better everytime he walked. In this period, I shared every thing I know about human brain and how it works. I encouraged him to do more physical activity. I explained about the gut-brain axis. I showed him the function of the vagus nerve. He seemed to be more interested in the human mechanics and he was absorbing everything.
We focused on the gut, his microbiota and his sleep. Slowly things started looking up. We stopped worrying about things and started doing things. We focused on making tiny changes. We iterated on what worked. We kept up with the journey for 60 days. Post 100 days, I see that he is so much better compared to where we started. He is in his best shape of his life. He even started bulking up a bit. He is motivated to look good and heal himself. He hasn't missed his gym after we came back to base.
We still don't know what the label is for what he is going through but we decided to focus on what matters the most. We are not caring much, if it is digestive disorder or scheizophernia or psychosis or delirium or crohns or whatever. He is getting better slowly but surely. We have a long way to go but we are progressing. I have built some grit and resilience in the process. Parenting is also like product making. We learn on the go. We goof up sometimes but life has its way of making us learn lessons better. If we are good students of life looks like we can handle anything that is thrown at us.
🥂 to betterment!