He won't cope

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by katya02, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Upsetting conversation tonight. About a week ago when husband laid into difficult child over the stabbed message board and holes in the wall, husband told difficult child over and over that if he gets kicked out now, he won't survive - that he'll go to the welfare office, but he won't have enough to live on, and nowhere to live, and he just won't survive. husband was honestly thinking this and agonizing over it in his own mind, but he has a habit of saying things in ways that sound dire. So he kept emphasizing that difficult child just wasn't ready or able to survive out there, and he couldn't understand why difficult child was therefore choosing to go - doing things that would make it inevitable that he would have to leave.

    difficult child got upset with me tonight because he felt I wasn't giving him any credit for good decisions this summer. He had been saying that he had decided, on his own, not to go back to college this fall; that he had decided on his own to go to outpatient rehab; that he had done everything himself and it was good that husband and I were being educated in the rehab meetings and frankly he was disappointed with husband for not attending more meetings. I tried to point out that husband and I had also pushed him to go to rehab - more accurately, that we had made an agreement and difficult child had honored it, which was good. And that we also knew it would be bad for him to go back into a college campus environment so soon. difficult child took offense, feeling that I wasn't giving him any credit at all and went over everything he's done - given up old friends, gotten his job, gone to work etc. I agreed and said he'd made good decisions all summer but it wasn't enough. We both arrived home angry and upset.

    difficult child came to me fairly quickly to resolve the problem, which was good; but he said he had to do it because if I was upset when husband came home, he knew he would be kicked out. (husband said if difficult child screams at me or loses his temper again, it's the end.) And that he knows he can't survive out there right now, so if he's kicked out it's the end of everything. If he's kicked out, he says, he'll just shoot himself in the head or get something on the street and just overdose because he won't survive anyway. He's perfectly calm and quiet while saying this. He's very serious. When I tell him he WILL survive, that we don't want him to leave (i.e. do something that would make him leave) but if he does, he can continue his job or get another, he will find a place to stay etc., he says no, husband is right, he can't survive as things are and he'll shoot himself. So he wants to be sure to resolve things, and every day is torture to him because he doesn't know if he's going to say or do the thing that will end it all.

    I can't convey in writing how serious he is while saying this. And with his borderline personality, the damnable thing is, I think he would see killing himself as the only 'solution' to being kicked out. His thinking is so backwards, he talks about having lived with the fear of being kicked out since he was 8, when in reality I kept him home all these years in spite of advice to place him, and he's terrorized his sibs since he was 8, but he clearly feels a complete victim and hasn't a clue about the effect he's had on the family. He really thinks he's the victim and I don't think he'd hesitate to end his life if he were put out of the house.

    I can't convey how awful this feels. I feel like I'm watching the slow-motion runup to my difficult child's suicide.
  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    This is very tricky. I can feel your fears however, I can also see this as a way for difficult child to get you and husband on separate sides. difficult child is trying to get you on his side - trying to get you to say that husband was 100 percent completely wrong and that difficult child is once again a victim.

    And, the suicide threat always has to be watched. We never know for sure what our kids really plan to do. They could just be planting that fear to use as a tool but then again they could be planning.

    You did try to discuss what his options were to survive if he did find himself kicked out. He doesn't want to hear that because that will change his victim status.

    Maybe it is time for you and husband to sit down and discuss possibilities. husband doesn't want to abandon difficult child, however, he has set criteria for behaviors in his house. Maybe if the two of you can plan where difficult child might go, what he needs to do to continue to survive (work? - how to get to work - etc.)

    Then talk to difficult child again (together). As a team, talk to him about having a plan to follow for the time he does move out (rather being kicked out or his discission to leave). What are his options? How can he meet the rent costs? Try to express that someday he will be living on his own and he needs to start learning those skills now. Point out to him his strengths that will help make this happen.

    Time to turn that victim into a survivor. Hopefully this can happen before he is kicked out.
  3. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I know how awful it feels. I also know how awful it feels for your son. I've had those same feelings. They are extremely intense. So intense, you can't see around it to any other possible solution.

    That definitely sounds like a borderline moment. And I'm sure he meant it. At that moment. The reason the suicide rate is as high as it is with those that have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) (last I read, 10%) is because of impulsivity.

    If you really feels he's borderline, then the best tools he can get in order to survive on his own is from DBT.

    There is an upside - as hard as it is to see at the moment in your anguish. He's talking to you about this. But, he is also trying to do things in order to not put himself in the position (i.e, getting kicked out) to act on that impulse. He doesn't want to die. He just feels like if he gets kicked out he will have no other options. And it seems that he's trying to not put himself in that position.
  4. goldenguru

    goldenguru New Member

    One of the most pronounced symptoms for borderlines is their (real or perceived) fear of abandonment. He is obviously terrified to be on his own.

    I think Adrienne makes some very good suggestions. This situation doesn't have to be so entirely black (stay home) or white (eviction). Begin a plan TODAY in which you and husband will provide son with a step down toward complete independence. Find him an affordable room in a boarding house. Make him a part of his own solution. Show him how to problem solve.

    Bottom line - if you think he is serious about the suicide plan - I would petition him for care. Suicide rates are very high among Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)'s.

    Best of luck.
  5. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Thank you for your thoughts and suggestions. I do believe that suicide is the only 'feasible' option difficult child sees for himself if kicked out, I think he's serious. It's not an immediate threat though, i.e. something that would qualify him for admission. I think it would definitely be good if we sat down and looked at realistic possibilities for housing etc. in town here, in case things go south. I know husband would do better with it; he's so upset at the thought of difficult child having to leave that he assumes the worst. However, difficult child's fear of abandonment is real; I hope that, with a plan in place and not just an order to pack his bags, he might not see himself as totally abandoned.

    I think his behaviors at college reflected a sense of abandonment, to an extent. Not that anything excuses him using drugs, but he's said that by partway through the semester he had gotten an attitude where he figured it didn't matter if he lived or died, so he did things he never thought he would do. His lack of care and concern for himself, after having been pretty meticulous and health-conscious while at home, suggest to me a sense of being 'out there' totally alone and therefore not really existing. Maybe I'm wrong, it just seems something like that was in the dynamic.
  6. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    I think one of the problems here is that husband thinks that if he emphasizes how difficult child can't possibly survive on his own then that will keep difficult child from doing the things that will get him kicked out of the house. That can never work. Now we have husband in the position of either A) follow through on his threats of kicking difficult child out or B) back down. Either way husband is in a losing situation since he doesn't really want to kick difficult child out but he doesn't want difficult child to think he doesn't mean what he says.

    husband has to figure out where his own boundaries are and what he is capable of doing. There is no point in threatening difficult child with kicking him out if husband can't feel okay with following through.

    husband is now in a power struggle with difficult child and difficult child will win. difficult child will do something to make husband kick him out. husband's plan of getting difficult child to behave by making him think he can't survive on his own will not work. husband can't play these mind games with difficult child-difficult children are masters of mind games and manipulation, we can't compete on that level! difficult child will cut off his nose to spite his face in order to maintain control. He isn't thinking the same way that husband is.

    I wish I could write better--I know what I want to say but not how to say it! Hope this makes some sense, maybe someone else can explain it better!:)

  7. goldenguru

    goldenguru New Member

    janebrain makes a very valid point. What message is your husband sending to your son?

    That if son doesn't live in your home that he "won't survive". Not surviving may equate (in your son's mind at least) to death. Your son sounds very defeated.

    Perhaps your husband could reconsider the defeated message he is sending to your son. Perhaps husband could give him a message that empowers your son. Something like "These are our rules. You can choose to live by them - or not. If you choose to leave our home - this is what we are willing to do to help you (be very time specific - amount specific - activity specific, etc.) We believe you have the right to live your life the way you want to live your life. Yada Yada". See the difference?

    When we send people the message that they are powerless - even powerless over their own lives - they tend to believe it.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Is your son in therapy besides the addiction stuff? If he is borderline he desperately needs to be seeing a therapist for his borderline. He probably also needs to be on medications for that as well. I didnt check your signature to see if he is on medications so he may be.

    Borderline is a really strange disorder. I hate that name personally. From what I have been told the name is most likely going to be changed soon and it is going to go from an Axis 2 to an Axis 1 diagnosis. I think its going to be called Emotional Disregulation Disorder. That really makes much more sense because for borderlines its not that our personalities are broken or on the "border" but that we cant regulate our emotions. We really dont know what emotions are! Manipulation and fear of abandonment do play a huge part in there. If you cant figure out your own emotions, your world is pretty weird.

    However, this is nothing a layperson can deal with. Families cant be held hostage to the borderline. If your son isnt seeking therapy, then please seek therapy for yourself to help you learn how to deal with him.

    There are also websites for families of people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). If you want them let me know.
  9. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I agree, I really wish husband hadn't phrased things the way he did during that talk ... he verbalized his own thoughts rather than thinking out how to approach the conversation with a goal. I talked with him this morning about finding out about local housing possibilities etc., and having a Plan B for difficult child that was not merely 'pack and move out, and by the way you won't survive'. It's weird. husband loves our kids deeply, and he was in agony over thinking of making difficult child leave. But then he thinks in dire terms and not only thinks, but verbalizes them. To difficult child!! This verbal - ineptitude? awkwardness? disconnect between what he knows should be said and what he says? - is longstanding with husband. It has made family and extended family interactions very difficult at times over the years. Yet husband doesn't do it deliberately, it's like some sort of verbal dyslexia. He always thinks he's being clear and reasonable, and other people are offended and distanced. And he doesn't know why.

    Janet, I would love for difficult child to be in therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I have to look into resources some distance away because there's no one in our town. I'd love some therapy for me, too!! difficult child is on three different antidepressants at the moment, one for panic attacks, one for sleep and the last for depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I've been keeping the bottles in my room and filling a weekly dosette because difficult child was being so impulsive earlier in the summer, but now he's offended that I don't trust him with the medications bottles. It's hard ... he's twenty and should handle his own medications and I did give them back to him recently, but if he gets really upset they're like a loaded gun (the sleeping medication is Elavil). We've gone through a ton of others and this comb. seems to work best, but it makes me nervous. Do you know of any other medications commonly used for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)? It's mostly treatment of symptoms, isn't it?

    I'll pm you about the web sites - I know of a couple but would welcome suggestions.

  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I wish I had some advice for you. I think the others had some good suggestions. I wanted you to know you aren't alone.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Lots of docs are now using lamictal for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) along with a SSRI. If he is on elavil for sleep, I am assuming he has a sleeping disorder. I do too...sigh. I take ambien and klonopin and recently added seroquel at night to help with all that. I am finally sleeping decently. I take a very low dose of seroquel in the range of 25 to 50 mgs a night. It was rx'd to me on an emergency basis but I think I am going to rather urgently insist to my doctor that I think I need to be on this for the foreseeable future. I seem clearer. And I am one who really hates the AP's so for me to give in to take one...it is saying a lot!

    You can see my signature and figure out which medications are for what. Obviously pain medications are not for the bipolar or borderline...lol.
  12. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Janet - Let me know if that name and axis changes happens. I've been hearing that for 6 years.

    I agree with the name change. I don't know that I agree with the axis change. Axis 1 disorders are neurobiological and as such can't be worked through via therapy alone. The medications used for those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are typically for the comorbid disorders (depression, anxiety, etc) because Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) rarely stands alone.
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Heather...the thinking is getting to be more and more that borderline is less a "personality disorder" and more an Axis one disorder. Needless to say since I have a vested interest in this, I tend to agree with them...lol.
  14. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    difficult child has been on Seroquel, this summer in fact, but it kept drowsing him out. He wasn't on a really low dose though, so that might bear another look. He couldn't be on any of the benzos or similar (like Ambien) - too much addiction stuff going on right now. He just couldn't/wouldn't regulate his intake of the longer acting benzos, which he had while waiting for his Paxil to control his panic attacks. I'm not thrilled at all about having amitriptyline around the house so will likely suggest he continue searching for another sleep medication, though it's not up to me. He came home with a severe sleep disturbance. I hope it gradually disappears over the next several months because he really didn't have one before. But months of pot and coke and who knows what will destroy your sleep pattern, plus whatever intrinsic sleep disorder there might be.

    He's been on Luvox before and done well with it and it seems to be helping now. The Paxil worked like a charm for his panic attacks (never had those before either). He's been on risperdal in the past, and neurontin, and topamax; also depakote. None of them were helpful and the risperdal just knocked him out. He's never had lamictal.

    Some good news!! I checked with the rehab people today and there's a new therapist in town who sees Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) patients and dual diagnosis patients and uses DBT. Hooray! That's on my list for Friday, after we get back from the family funeral (husband's uncle).

    Thanks so much,
  15. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Well, here's my .02. This is what has worked very well for us and our son who has pretty significant anxiety and responds very poorly to ultimatums in general but especially to any threat that he's going to be "kicked out" which he sees as total abandonment as your son appears to.

    We decided to not go that route but rather to try to deal with the issues that bring us to the point of the threats to begin with and started weekly family therapy several months ago. This became a mandatory requirement for our son. He SAYS he hates it and it's like pulling teeth to get him involved. Nonetheless, he hasn't missed a session and will reluctantly admit that it's helping him.

    It's certainly helping my husband and me and all of us as a family to run through the day-to-day issues that have come up during the week with our therapist to get her objective viewpoint and suggestions.

    Through all this, we've all learned to communicate more effectively, and the anger that was simmering in all of us has died down to the point where, when my son does start getting hot and the tension begins to rise, we're all able to take a step back and start again.

    I just wonder if this might be helpful for your family?
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  16. Wishing

    Wishing New Member

    I see a lot of strengths your difficult child has; going to rehab and giving up his old friends that is huge, and getting a reasonable job on his own that is awesome. I can relate to your difficult child being very intense and worked up to the point you want to kick him out. This is exactly what I have been going thru as a single parent. Mine gets so extremely upset when he can't have his own way. I usually threaten him with "please leave" I see mine as having a restricted type of thinking or a very narrow focus. It is scary as I wonder when something will push him over the edge. Mine has decided to go off all his medications.So it is very volatile around my house. I take a lot of medications and it concerns me that he may get into my medications.
    I agree that your husband if at all possible should not bring up that difficult child can't survive on his own. Some people would want to prove him wrong but others may not.