Don't think I can do it anymore.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Zin, Aug 4, 2016.

  1. Zin

    Zin New Member

    My 23 year old son was diagnosed last year with bipolar with anxiety and depression but tends to stay manic most of the time. He also has a substance abuse problem. He was admitted to the hospital again today for the 7th time in the last year and a half. He has been in and out of our home and in and out of jail for the last 5 years. He's been homeless. Lived in shelters and with strangers. My husband and I have been through it all with him.

    I visited him this evening at the hospital and he confessed he found keys to my closet and has been drinking alcohol we keep locked in our bedroom closet. After visit I checked closet and discovered all of my valuable jewelry that was hidden in the closet are gone which includes my wedding rings. I'm sure he sold expensive jewelry for a little of nothing. There were items I was saving for my two daughters wedding day. The sentimental value is irreplaceable. I am angry, sad, hurt. I would have never thought he would do something like that.

    Since he is in the hospital for another psychotic episode, I don't know how to handle this. He's done so much to our family and I am tired but we have always told him if he is trying to get help we will be there to support him. This time I'm numb. I feel like I can't do it anymore or at least not for a while. I don't want him to come home but he has no job, no money. He doesn't have anything and he's never been medicine compliant on his own. I guess he's never been compliant or accomplished much of anything even living at home. He confessed last week he spits out medicine after I leave the room. He's still drinking and getting high. He doesn't work. He has only worked for 1 month of the 9 months he's been back home. He does nothing around the house. He's really not getting any better except he doesn't have the uncontrollable violent behavior he used to have.

    What do we do? There has to be a consequence to let him know what he did isn't okay and will not be tolerated. He will probably be released in the next couple days. I feel like this time I can't be there for him. Help!
  2. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    Hi Zin and welcome to the forum. I am so sorry. Bipolar disorder coupled with substance abuse is such a hard diagnosis. I don't know how long his substance abuse has been going on, but during my son's 6-year "train wreck" all of the experts told me that there was no way to diagnose any kind of mental illness until the substance abuse had been successfully treated. Today my son shows mild anxiety but nothing more in terms of mental illness. That may not apply to your son, but wanted to share that.

    So....what to do? There has been some progress with him living at home, like you said, in terms of the violence.

    Here is what I did---and this may or may not be what you want to do or can do. I had to completely let go of my son. I had to establish boundaries---and he immediately went way past those---and then I had to do what I said I would do if he went past them. He had to leave. It was very very hard to do and to endure. Once my son stole from me---and he did---that was a deal breaker. I couldn't live in my own home with him and breathe easy for a single minute. My ex-husband---his dad---came to the same conclusion. Our son stole from him as well.

    They steal to support their substance abuse habit, and it is not personal. It has nothing to do with you or me. They will do what they have to do to get their substances. Period. It doesn't matter who it is or what it is.

    Our son was homeless multiple times---in between homelessness he would be in jail, couch surfing or in rehab or a halfway house. He didn't come back here (after dozens of chances) at all during this period of time. My exhusband took longer to set that same boundary because he had a lot of guilt about our son due to his own alcoholism (now in recovery).

    In my humble opinion, the more we enable their behavior that you describe, which amounts to no change and little to no progress, the more we are hurting them. In fact, I came to believe that my so-called "help" was killing my son.

    Now...please understand...watching him live on the street was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. Listening to him beg to come home. Watching him go in and out of jail. Listening to his threats of suicide. Seeing him high and lying on the ground. On and on. It was almost intolerable.

    I say "almost intolerable" because I had to work and work and work to get to the point that I could tolerate that kind of pain, watching someone I love self-destruct. But I had come to the point over many years of realizing that nothing I had ever tried to do had helped at all. I had to completely let go. This was a spiritual, mental, emotional and even physical process for me that took a long time to get to.

    There are people that don't agree with this approach, and I respect that. But I will tell you that, in the midst of the pain of it all, there was a relief and a certain kind of peace that came with letting go. Not just of him, but all people, places and things. I learned most of this in Al-Anon and I would recommend you start going as soon as you can. It's free, and it is a lifesaver.

    Please know we are here with you, no matter what you decide to do. We understand that this is a process, and it's the hardest thing in the world. We get it. We care. We're here for you.
  3. so ready to live

    so ready to live Active Member

    Hi Zin. I'm so sorry for your pain. "No fair" as the kids say. I totally agree with COM's words. This also helped us-it didn't change our son's behavior-but it changed us. We slowly felt safe again in our own home as we developed boundaries.
    This is the crux in my opinion. You are exhausted and we all get that. Try to take a little power back, set a boundary. I'm sure you have expressed to him multiple times what was expected to live in your home (we had 3 rules, no one else in, no alcohol/drugs, no taking what isn't yours) Our son broke all these. I think finding that he'd gone through my dresser for $ was the worst. So violated. So when he came home, having been gone for a week without contact, we had his things packed up. It was ugly and within 24 hr. all the begging started. It was the hardest ever. But, our house felt a bit of peace if we just tried to ignore texts/calls. The peace grew and I got less crazy. The PTSD of the previous years will remain but through counseling and al-anon and mainly this site, I'm getting better. You can too. You said what you've been doing is not working. Maybe it's time to try something new? I know how totally enveloping this can be, but you matter too. It seems YOU have been unable to save him but you can save yourself...and just maybe if you draw a line, HE will figure it out. Hugs and more hugs to you today, there are so many who have been where you're at and we lived. We did. Be strong today. Prayers.
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  4. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Welcome and sorry you have to be here. I read the other's advice to you and I need it myself too today. I am going through a lot with my son also. Same but different.

    We moved our son to Florida (1500 miles away from us) into an intensive outpatient program after rehab. (This after five years of crap). He did good for four months then relapsed. He just relapsed again since being there - I found out today. Naturally I feel sick. I really thought moving him so far away would help him to SEE how he needed to change. Apparently not.

    The advice from COM and So Ready is award winning. I hope that it helps you to at least get through today. It did me!
  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Hi Zin. I too am sorry you have to be here, but glad you found us.

    My oldest - Belle - was exactly there. Bipolar, self-medicating with alcohol and other drugs, stealing, violent... It goes on and on, as you know. She spent some time homeless, some in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and some hospitalized, some in jail and finally a year in prison.

    I was ready to throw in the towel. Being here really helps. Sometimes you set boundary after boundary and they just violate them... So you finally have to detach. And that was the hardest thing I ever did!

    I'm here, off and on. But we're here to listen.
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  6. Zin

    Zin New Member

    A tremendous thank you to everyone who replied and for your encouragement . You have helped me get through the day. We have a tough road ahead but it helps knowing others have been through it and have survived. Thanks again
  7. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    Wednesday I had a doctor's appointment with my internal medication doctor. She and I are friends, and we both are involved with helping those with substance abuse and mental illness here in our community.

    We talked---once again---about the irony of rehabs and halfway houses who throw out their patients/residents when they we all know, relapse is part of the disease.

    The whole maddening part of mental illness is the denial and the relapse and the "not knowing" they are sick and "not believing" they need help. That is part of the disease itself. It's circular: you can't get help because you don't believe you need help when you need help the most.

    You can't help somebody who isn't ready to be helped. But they can't be helped unless they are at a place where there IS help.

    I don't know the answer to this. I know that my own son had many many chances for help that he rejected. And then finally, he was ready to stop and has basically done it on his own. I would rather he go to NA or AA or some type of program. Clearly, it's not about what I want. I had to give up the idea of the "perfect recovery" just like I have had to give up so many of my Cinderella ideas about him, about other people, about life in general.

    Things aren't going to go the way I think they should.

    RN, Zin---just remember, they get it when they get it. You have offered help many times, and I believe that is a good thing. We never know when they are going to be ready.

    Warm hugs.
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  8. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Thank you COM. My son is at another place now that has 5 days IOP instead of 3 where he was at. I heard from his (young) old house manager today and he said he set him up at the new place; it's his good friend. That my son can't stay where he was any longer because he thinks it's a "joke". I'm sure he thinks this all is a joke. Sometimes I wonder if he has a screw loose or it's just the addiction talking or just age. My son would have been homeless.

    I'm sure it's a matter of time before he starts to :censored2: about this new place. Maybe that he got so close to being homeless will give him a bit of a jolt. Who knows.
  9. Zin

    Zin New Member

    My son was released from the hospital today and taken to a dual diagnosis residential program. After he completes the program, he will be placed in a group home. After much prayer, we have decided to still support him but he cannot live in our home. He's reaching out to me for support and I'm struggling with being there for him after he stole from us.
    I think I'm finally realizing just how sick my son really is. I've been in denial about how seriously ill he is; how far his illness will take him; what all he can do without feeling any remorse and he still insists he doesn't have a mental illness. I'm so numb inside. I feel like the walking dead. I'm going about my daily routine but inside I'm not here. I don't know how to deal with being so hurt by someone you love so much. He said he's sorry again so I'm supposed to continue to love and care for him like nothing has happened. Of course I will always love him but I need time to heal. Since he is in a rehab and recovery program, they say a strong support system makes a huge difference when they're in recovery which I believe is true but I'm struggling with dealing with him right now. How do you continue on when you feel like you are torn in pieces inside but your duties as a mom and a wife still continue. We do have 4 other children even though our son has always required most of our time. I know I'll get through this but this is tough. I feel like I need to separate myself from my son until I'm better but I don't know if it's the right time to do it. When is the right time?
  10. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Zin, warm hugs and welcome to you. I am so sorry for the troubles that have brought you here. You have received some good thoughts and advice.
    The right time is when YOU need to. YOU matter, your health and sanity matters. Your son is where he needs to be, to get the help he needs. You have been in a long uphill battle and need to rebuild and strengthen. It is not selfish to take care of yourself and your needs. After all, it is what we want our d cs to be able to do, to take proper care of themselves.
    Model that behavior to your son. Take some time to recoup and breathe.
    There is a very good article about detachment that helped me.......pasted below, if you wish to read it.
    Keep reading and posting. The good folks here have been through just about everything and are so helpful.
    Be very kind and gentle to yourself.
    You need support and time to recover as well.
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  11. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    Zin, RN, it is so hard and long and filled with pain for you when they are struggling and relapse and continue to "go down." I so understand because I was right there for a long long time, with my son.

    Right now both of your precious sons are where they can get help. This is good. This is what you have wanted. Relax into that. Something good has a chance to happen here---not a magical turnaround---that isn't reality, but a step forward. Maybe multiple steps forward.

    Right now, when they are both being treated, take the time to treat yourself.

    Zin, I hear in your post the struggle about "stepping away." I think as Moms we see this as abandoning our own children---something unthinkable to all of us. This is not abandonment. You love him and you are his mother. That will never change.

    Stepping away from another adult is a boundary. It isn't a cruel or mean thing. It is setting a healthy boundary with another adult human being. We all need boundaries with all of the adult people in our lives. Boundaries is a concept I never understood---in fact I had bad boundaries with a lot of people all my life because I couldn't see where they and I began and ended. I thought my care and love for them meant I could be "up in their business" to the detriment of being "up in my own business." As I went to Al-Anon and started reading and studying---reading books like Boundaries by Cloud/Townsend and CoDependent No More by Melody Beattie---I began to see things I had never seen before.

    And seeing these things helped me in all my relationships but especially with my own son. Before that, I thought I was going to save him. In fact, I thought my love---surely stronger than any other person's love ever for their precious child---was strong enough to save him and if I just tried harder, it would surely happen. I was not going to be denied.

    Over time, with new information and new thinking...I was able to change my own thinking and my own behavior. My feelings lagged much further behind, and that was a distraction to my own recovery from enabling. I enabled a lot of people. I grew up the oldest of four in a household with a terminally ill child. I learned to be "strong" and to handle things, and boy was I good at handling things. I was your go-to girl. I didn't need anything, and I was always available to help you solve your problems. In fact, I knew what was best for you. I didn't see this as arrogance, just care and with the best of intentions. Over time, I came to see my own behavior as arrogance.

    Today, I am more able to let people go. I still have to work at this---I don't have it all figured out and have myself all together. Years of practice take time to unravel.

    Today, I have so much compassion for all of us. For myself. For you. We are doing what is instinctual---the mother/son/daughter connection is primal and visceral and such a wonderful thing. But as they grow up, we have to learn to let them go. We have to let our healthy children go, and we have to let our children who are not as healthy go. Yes, we can help people---we can help our own children---but with many boundaries in place. We have to be able to see when our "help" becomes enabling and gets in their way of their becoming adults. For most of us, this is a process and there will be lots of missteps.

    I say these things because I finally learned that the best way to help him...was first to help myself. The direct route of "helping" him never changed anything in my own situation with my precious son. He just kept on.

    When I finally stepped away---not abandonment, not giving up, not being mean or "never seeing him", not cutting him off completely---just setting physical boundaries for a long time---seeing him only at certain times and under certain circumstances and with limits, giving him no money at all, sometimes washing his blanket when he was homeless or taking him for a meal, staying no longer than 30 minutes, for example, or even just seeing him on Fridays when he was homeless, sitting in my car talking for 10 minutes. This is what it took, for me and for him to separate in a healthy way from each other.

    Then, my son had a chance to see what he wanted to make of his life. For a long time, things went further down, during this. Then, finally, the last night he was in jail, he decided "no more." And since then, there have been more than 2 years of steady progress. Not everybody's story is like this. There are no guarantees that stepping away will result in a turnaround. I know that. But that is my story, with my son, today, and I believe my getting out of the way was a major factor---not the only factor, but a major one---in my son's turnaround.

    Please know that whatever actions you decide to take, we respect that. We know this is a process. We know that every situation is different, and every person is at a different point in the process. We are here for you no matter what you decide to do or not do. We know how hard this is. Warm hugs this morning.
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  12. worried sick mother

    worried sick mother Active Member

    Welcome Zin,
    You have received excellent advice. It's wonderful that your son is in treatment and I agree with the others that you need to do what's best for you. Keep posting here, go to a therapist and Alanon.
    Is it possible for you to find out where he took your things he stole? It could be at a pawn shop and you could buy it back. I know that's terrible that your in this situation but maybe you could get your sentimental items back. I'm so very sorry for your hurt. Sending you hugs, keep posting
  13. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis


    Zin, welcome. Great news he's in treatment... breathe. Your healing will not be overnight, nor will his.

    Truly, all we can do is offer love and support. That does not include loving his choices or glazing over his deeds.

    I had the most peace when our son was in residential...2 1/2 months....I know now he will need more recovery help and therapy 6 mos out.

    He will be on medications I assume as that is the only way they can really adress everything.

    Take time to enjoy your children, ours were ignored in the early times, but I now put them first. Don't let his bad choices bleed into every aspect of your life. You deserve joy as does the rest of your family.