Can we chat about Matt?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Steely, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I am heading down another fork in the road with this kid, and I need advice.

    In the last month he has re-connected with his best friend from his Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in Idaho. His attitude has dramatically changed since their first connection. I know this kid, and I think he has the capability to be a positive influence as well as negative on Matt - and I think Matt has the same capability with him. I don't know if the attitude change is because he is done with this small town with no life, or me - or that this kid is filling his mind with nonsense.

    Regardless, Matt has a one way ticket to go see this kid for a month. From there, he wants to move to Oregon. I am OK with this concept simply because I know he has to get out of here. The one and only psychiatrist in this town got fired, there are not any tdocs, and he has back issues that he needs to see a specialist for, and again, there is no one here.

    On the flip side - I need to disconnect from this whole deal. I cannot be Matt's liaison for life anymore.

    HOWEVER, he has serious executive functioning problems. We go to doctors appts and he doesn't hear half the conversation. It is not that he is not smart enough, it is more like he literally just missed half the conversation. The same thing in any situation where he has to function - he does not absorb all the information - and then he walks away mis-informed, and usually mad because the pieces of info that he missed he inserts his own negative assumptions into. I don't know how to explain it better - it is like his own self hate dialogue gets attached to the missing pieces of the conversation.

    In addition he comes across as a VERY smart, entitled, bully. He is 6'4, 180lbs, hair down to his shoulders - with a permanent scowl etched on his face. His bravado keeps him from "wanting any help of any kind", and his appearance causes people to assume the worst.

    So when I think about him moving to OR I think - well if I can't be there to interpret some of life's obstacles, maybe wrap around services could work? But yet, I just know he would never allow some "dude" to help him. It would have to be someone who is more a "friend". My mom who lives in OR has flat out told me she does not want this responsibility - and so I am kinda left scratching my head.

    It is obvious that because of his Learning Disability (LD)'s and mental illnesses he sees and processes the world through a kaleidoscope of his own colors - and more often than not his evaluation is inaccurate of what is going on. In addition he has a lot of medical needs. And the medical world, as we all know, can sometimes take a masters degree to navigate in this society that we live in. So what should I do?

    There is not any family other than me that can help. I can try to get him hooked up with some org - although I am not sure who he would accept into his life. It would need to be someone that came across as a "buddy" not as someone who is helping the "challenged". Then again, I guess if he refuses to let others help him, than it is what it is. He will live life in a sku'd vortex.

    The thing that is hard for me to piece out is how much do we as parents intervene when our kid is disabled and mentally ill - and how much do we just let them go? I mean, if they are so disabled that they cannot see they are headed for the cliff, do we intervene and stop them - or do we hope they see the cliff in time. If you go with the latter, than we have to be prepared that they might die - and that is where I stumble.
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Sweetheart... I read your post earlier, then came back to re-read it.

    I can't tell you what to do, of course. But... It seems to me that you have a pretty clear picture of your son. And I have to say, from hard-won lessons with Onyxx... Who hasn't even been in my life as long as Matt has in yours... Sometimes they don't hear everything, are very negative, and come across totally wrong.

    And you have to let them do it.

    Yes, you have to be prepared for the possibility of the absolute worst than can happen. But... He hasn't really been "alone" his entire life. He's got an idea what it takes... But not the whole picture. And maybe he never will have the whole picture. But there are very successful people who don't see everything they should.

    Right now? You're reeling, from your Dad's death, the job thing, your sister, and to me it sounds like your Mom is pretty needy right now too. But you've got to live your life - not theirs.
    :hugs: We're here for you, no matter what.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    I'm going to be direct. I hope it doesn't come across harsh, because I don't mean it to be. It's been a long stressful exhausting 2 weeks for me.

    Here is the question you should be asking yourself above everything else:

    Who is going to be there to fill my role with Matt when I'm gone?

    The answer is no one. No one is going to go the above and beyond lengths that you do for Matt, regardless of his dxes.

    So. If you continue to fill this role for Matt where is that going to leave him in the future? Odds are high he's going to be still in a similar place he's in right now because he's not been forced to learn differently. We all know society isn't going to care much if he has LDs or executive functioning issues or mental illness. He has got to learn to face the world on his own two feet. He can only learn to do that by doing it.

    He is a grown man. He needs to make his own choices, right or wrong. He needs to make his mistakes and learn from them, just like everyone else does. He needs to learn that he can accomplish things on his own and feel the pride in those accomplishments. Unfortunately, he tends to cling to you instead of seeking out independence.

    You can look at my sig and see Travis' dxes. And to be honest those are just the high points as he has cognitive and executive issues as well and some big sensory issues. I don't "do" for Travis. The day he turned 18......well I just don't. I don't call docs. I don't call schools. I didn't help him fill out loan forms and applications ect for college or work. He works around the house for his cigarettes. He's working with his dad to get disability going. He works making computer games online. Travis is treated like and expected to act like an adult regardless of his dxes. If he needs medications and he doesn't call a doctor.....well, then he doesn't have medications. If he needs cigarettes but doesn't want to work around here to earn them, he does without. If he doesn't register for classes ect he doesn't go to school that quarter.

    Now that may not sound like a huge deal. But I now share many of the same cognitive issues with Travis. I can tell you without shame that I can't make heads nor tails out of college loan forms or applications. I had to have help. Actually I had to have my girls fill them out as I got "lost" in the process. Now Travis had to do those things on his own, of course he could ask for help like I did, but he had to make sure they got turned in on time ect.........But HE managed to get them filled out by himself, when I couldn't. Ok, so it took him 3 yrs to understand the process enough to actually make it into class.....but HE did it. And he learned a TON while he was doing it. Mostly though he learned if he wanted something bad enough and kept trying that he could get it.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is......ok, Matt has these dxes. But if you're not careful, you could enable him to the point where the dxes become crippling while trying to do the opposite simply because you're doing all the work and he's not learning anything. People used to think I was a cold hearted witch because I expected Travis to live up to the same expectations of his sisters regardless of his dxes. Rules weren't modified for him (actually in some ways they were stricter on him until he could prove he could handle the responsibility of freedom and privileges) chores weren't modified for him. He had an IEP at school but was still expected to be responsible for his own homework and grades, getting up in time to go, ect. I did it because that is what the world would expect of him. I did it so he would learn and grow and adapt to the best of his abilities even with his dxes. Sometimes that learning to adapt was a mountain.....because he had to find ways to do things that other people take for granted that to him were a monumental task....

    A person with disabilities can't learn to adapt to their environment if there is always someone there clearing the trail for them. And during times when others made me doubt myself I'd think well what about when I'm gone? His sisters would help, no doubt. But as much as they love him and would be willing to help they have their own lives and their own families........and let's be honest, no one is gonna do what a Mom does. And that would scare me. Because when I'm not longer here, he's got to be able to survive and thrive in the world around him regardless of his dxes.

    Bottom line is that Matt is an adult. He needs to make his own way through life. I think you're starting to see this. And while it may make you feel a tad guilty about letting go and letting him learn to stand on his needs to happen. It doesn't mean he can't come to you with questions or discussion or what ever if he wants or needs to. Just means it's all up to him.

    And that let's you focus on you. Which you've needed to do for a very long time. You need to take care of Steely, and let others learn to take care of themselves.

    Like I said, I hope this didn't come across sounding harsh. I'm tired and my brain is in stress mode shut down so I'm not wording things very well. I really do understand your concern for Matt. And I understand your worry. But with an adult child you really have no control of the choices they make anyway. So if you can learn to step back and let him just DO and will find yourself MUCH less stressed.

  4. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Yeah, what Lisa said.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Steely, Cory also has both physical and mental health issues. He would love it if I could take care of dealing with the problems that arise because of those but I cant. He has to be the one who makes the doctor's appointments for those problems and actually goes to them. He needs to step it up. So far all he does is complain about it. I keep telling him he needs to get on this if he wants to feel better but I cant do it for him. He isnt a little boy anymore. Actually, you cant do this for Matt anymore either. He has to do it for himself. You can provide some loving guidance but that is it.

    We want to see them do well and when they do, we will be thrilled for them. When they are in distress, it hurts our hearts but we have to let them struggle so they learn to climb up that hill.
  6. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    You guys are right, I know. Matt has been the one pushing me away for the last month, and telling me I am controlling and smothering and he is right. I got it.

    Now I have to make the mental shift to disconnect. Because as much as he tells me I am controlling, he will turn back around and become needy again - and it can't go both ways.

    I thought about this today as he took off to Idaho - the only way to learn is to do it. He is not going to learn, or grow if I run interference.

    I just thought that maybe some of you had experience with wrap around services, or someone that comes to the house to check in on the mentally ill person to make sure they are doing what is healthy. Maybe that too is enabling? I don't know - that is what the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) had - "aftercare" is what it was called.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think aftercare and all that stuff works for kids that are just a bit more severe than ours are. Ours are just a tad too aware to accept the help that is available to them. They dont want to feel different or odd or "stupid" or any other word that meant they rode the short bus in school. As adults they want to be normal so they surely dont want anyone telling them what to do or how to do it.
  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Janet is right.

    There is lots of help available to Travis. He won't take it. It took him a long time to just use his cane.......and there are times when he doesn't.

    In all honesty? I think sometimes this can be a very good thing, as they'll need that stubbornness to learn to adapt. Sometimes it makes me want to rip my hair out. But now that I also have issues........I sort of get it way better than I ever did.

    It's scary at first when you cut those apron strings. I was scared to death when Travis went to Dayton to college. I didn't let it show and I didn't discourage him. But that doesn't mean I didn't have some stray thoughts of latching on to him and telling him he couldn't go. lol But that was MY issue.
  9. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    I admit up front that I don't have enough experience of what you're describing--I have some, and I'll to that in a moment--but basically: what Lisa said.

    My limited experience: my nephew difficult child is type 1 diabetic. Otherwise, quite intellectually gifted (although just about all of that has been whittled down to sub-normal via indolence & neglect from about 14 to present--i.e., 5.5 years), physically well-coordinated, etc. In other words, no deficits of any kind other that GFGness (which I admit is a HUGE deficit) and his diabetes. But his mother has been so ultra-focused on his diabetes as the big threat to his life and health that she has let that concern completely disable any possible wisdom that might've let her let him suffer the consequences of his mistakes and maybe, just maybe, begin to become an adult. She would not ever throw him out, despite huge reasons for doing so--because "he's diabetic and he won't take care of himself and he'll die if I don't look after him." She never made him fend for himself, live on his own, deal with the legal and social consequences of his actions--because "he's diabetic and if I leave him to his own efforts he'll just take drugs and not take his medications and then he'll die," etc etc. So she now has a 19-year-old emotional *infant* who has zero willpower, has never done anything to be proud of, never had any real adversities to measure himself against, and who's completely incapable of looking after himself, staying out of trouble, or solving his life's problems. And he's mean and heartless and amoral and violent and addictive and remorseless and manipulative and dishonest and lazy and unreliable and irresponsible and wildly immature and unlikable. All because of a) genetic inclination (whoever said it here was dead-on: GFGness is largely genetic and beyond the reach of upbringing or environment) and b) his mother let his diabetes justify her never letting him grow up, learn to be independent, learn life skills, learn to solve his own problems, etc. She never got out of the way and life do its work.

    Don't do that. No matter what his deficits are. Let him slip and fall and hurt and learn. Otherwise your love and compassion for him, totally laudable and understandable, can kill him. I used to tell my sister, "His diabetes is not his most dangerous and potentially deadly condition. His lack of character is his his most dangerous ailment and is much more likely to kill him than his diabetes. You need to work on *that* with him *first* if you want to save his life. The diabetes is a minor ailment in comparison."
  10. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I get it. But just to clarify there is a big difference between mental illness and physical illness. I am far less concerned with matts physical issues, and far more concerned about his mental deficit. I mean let's face it if he had downs syndrome this thread would not even be relevant. So let's not compare the physical with mental because those 2 issues are not comparable. Physical issues still allow you to reason and deduct - mental issues make the waters of life not clear - muddy.

    Janet, I agree. Our kids get it just a bit too much to make aftercare or wrap around ever work.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2011
  11. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I don't know if you read my recent post about little difficult child getting accepted by The Volunteers of America program locally. Via this resource he has available to him a studio apartment for under $300 a month with a staff person on duty until 11pm five or six days a week. There is a common room where others can meet to talk or play cards or whatever and a Job Coach on site. For him, if it works out, this will alleviate alot of my concerns. Just knowing there will be a chance to socialize and a qualified adult(s) nearby just in case he needs support has brought me some peace of mind. Perhaps you could see if there is something similar that would be available for Matt..IF he chooses to explore it. DDD
  12. AHF

    AHF Member

    I hear you about the physically threatening aspect. Robin Hood has exactly the same stats, 6'4", 180 lbs, and a tendency to intimidate. My sense is that it takes many years for such young men to realize that they are gaining no REAL power by flexing their muscles and staring people down. So don't be surprised if he drifts back, having scared away a potential network of support. and then you're back to practicing what you've mentioned and everyone here supports--not disconnection, really, but detachment.
  13. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Steely, I understand exactly where you are comming from. You said that he is not willing to let others help him and he wants to be away from your influence. Until he is ready to admit that he needs someone to oversee his life there is nothing you can do. It is hard on us moms. Especially when we know that they likely will fail or at the very least that life will be harder for them than it would be if they let us manage things for them.

    I have lived through this with my son. I repeatedly got him plugged into services, got him a place to stay, got him medical and dental care etc. He repeatedly walked away from the help offered. Like you, I have also dealt with the fact that one day a policeman might come to my door to tell me he is dead. But I cannot stop it from happening. At some point we have to accept that we really do not have any control over their lives. They will mess up or not whether we are active in their life or not. The reality is that any control we might think we have after they are of legal age is just an illusion. The only other alternative I can think of is to have them declared incompetant to manage their own life by a court . However to accomplish that we must prove it without a doubt. Only way to get proof is to let them try and ultimately fail.

    If we get caught up in the worry cycle that this scenario sets up we loose our health our happiness and our life. As I see it, just for survival, we must step back. We raised them up, tried to teach them, tried to give them the tools they need to succeed, tried to hook them into the services that could make their lives easier. We have given it our all and it is time to give it over to them and God. -RM
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Steely...if he had downs...he would comply...thats the point. Oh I wish that was the issue! You have no idea how many times I have sat in my room and cried by myself saying that I wished either Cory was worse off or had nothing or even...god help me...dead. Any of those situations is better than the reality because the way he is makes him unable or unwilling to seek the help he needs to make the changes he needs to make to make his life better at this particular time. Will he always be this way? I dont know. I hope not. I used to have more hope that he would change faster because I compared him to me and the fact that I have done a whole lot of changing since my difficult child days but then I look at the me at 25 and ummm...he isnt me at 25. At 25 I was taking care of 3 kids and going to school full time. Whats he doing? Not a whole lot of nothing.
  15. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Yes RM and Janet - I totally totally agree. Janet, exactly if he had Downs then any help I gave him would be received.

    I know all of this in my mind, and that is really a step in the right direction for me. For the last 20 years I have been ever so hopeful that "he would get it". In fact I need to change my sig - because perhaps giving up hope if the very first step to healthy detachment. I just have to apply what I "know" to my heart/soul. And that is a process involving many huge deep breaths, and in my opinion many walls that need to be constructed around my heart. They are building however - I can feel it.

    We will see. It is very hard for me not to ask the "W" questions - who, why, when, where, how etc. Instead when he calls I am just listening, and saying neutral "interesting".
    Just like when he texted me his new tatoo of a pot leaf.:stopglass:
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I read the original post again and want to share a concept. I don't know if you have read about EQ (Emotional Quotient or intelligence). It says that ability to handle a situation is largely dependent on our emotions at the time. That is why even an otherwise intelligent, normally functioning person can go to a doctor and not remember half of what was said and not ask the important questions he really needed to ask. it is a reason that for any big medical thing I have my mom go to take notes, or when we didn't live near her I had a friend go, took my own questions written down into the appointment, and often took a voice recorder. The stress of the appointment and the health issue leads to not remembering what was said and done.

    Had I not had my mom there, I might not have been able to react fast enough to keep that one awful neuro from sticking a safety pin from his front pants pocket into my hands to test my nerves. Every other doctor either used a different tool or took a sterile needle out. But this guy took a safety pin out of his front pants pockets, having NOT washed his hands before or after he came in, and wanted to stick me with it. The hands were enough of an EEEEUUUWW but the safety pin truly grossed me out. The shock of it almost kept me from being able to speak up! But not my mother - she started and it got me going and that guy got so angry with us because women are NOT supposed to say he is doing something wrong and how dare I accuse him of having germs in his pocket! (And gee, he wondered why I didn't come back and schedule the surgery he wanted to do!! His office actually called me to ask that!!)

    Anyway, add the exec function issues and other MH issues and it makes appts even harder for Matt. Esp given his anger over past MH treatment.

    I don't think you can fix this, but you may be able to see wehre maybe it isn't just the MH causing the problems, that some is the emotional stuff. This might help you detach and let him learn to figure out how to handle things.

    You are on the right track with working on detachment. As for you mom and relatives not wanting to be involved, you need to stay out of that also. IF he watns help and is near them, he may want to call them. That is up to HIM. What they say is up to THEM. There is no YOU in that relationship. His relationship with your mom and the other relatives needs to be what he and they work out and totally separeate from you. NOT that you cannot talk about him with them, the way family does, but you shouldn't be running interference for them. Let your mom and relatives either tell him they don't want Occupational Therapist (OT) be involved or let them go ahead and do what they want/agree to when he asks for their help. IF they cannot say no and want to, well, that is NYP. NOT. YOUR. PROBLEM. Regardless of where you live.
  17. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I would greatly and big time limit involvement...perhaps helping A LITTLE with the first month's rent and the first few weeks food money. Offer to help look into wrap around services...but if he doesn't want be it. Tell him if he changes his mind, you'll give him the number (s) to get it back. He needs to want the help. You might tell him that you'll help him with any of his medical care, including medicine and psychological services if and only if you can prove he is going, etc. But, I would greatly limit paying for anythign else. It's important on a variety of levels that he knows that he MUST learn to take responsibility for his health concerns, including mental health problems.

    Ditto to Rejectedmom and Mrsammler's posts...last paragraphs in particular!!!! It is hard as anything, but let him fall ....make sure he knows that he can always go to an ER if necessary...but HE AND HE ALONE should take the proper steps to try to avoid that situation.

    Have you read the book called "Boundaries" by Townsend?
    Please look into or continue going to Al Anon or FAmilies Anonymous.

    If you have a moment...please re-read the last paragraphs to Rejectedmom's and mrsammlers posts....ditto ditto ditto
    Lasted edited by : Jun 19, 2011
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    It doesn't sound like Matt would accept it, but there is PLENTY of help for disabled young adults, even if it's mental illness.

    We are already planning supports for Lucas because it is possible he may need others sort of looking in on him all of his life. Of course, he accepts this and is ok with it. And I guess that's the difference...

    Hugs and good luck!!
  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member hope and think he will accept it. He hasnt left the home yet. It can all change when they leave. Often once they get on their own, they feel that they are able to do it on their own and they dont need any help until things are really bad and then they still dont want to accept that they have a part in it.
  20. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    Also, in school Travis didn't mind the help. When he turned 18......that stopped. For many people it's ok to accept help as a kid, but once you're an adult, uh no. A pride thing. Males are worse than females, but females do it too. So don't be caught totally off guard if you discover him suddenly non compliant at 18-19 yrs of age, even if he hasn't left home yet.

    I had lots of support planned for Travis. It just didn't happen because he didn't want it. He was determined to "do it on his own". Which like I said, is not always a bad thing.