New here. “Loaning” rent and buying food for nearly 19-year old who just squandered $30,000

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by pandora404, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. pandora404

    pandora404 New Member

    Hi all, this is my first post. I’ve been reading through these threads for a while now, and so many bells are going off regarding my own difficult child.

    I’ll try and keep this short. (Re-reading this now I see it got pretty long. Apologies.)

    My son will be 19 in March. He finished high school in November 2013. Since about the age of 15 he had become defiant and oppositional at home. There were many issues: not doing his schoolwork, verbal abuse, general destructiveness of the home, garbage in his room, his nocturnal sleep pattern, a lot of lying. In particular we had terrible battles over his excessive use of the internet and electronic gaming. We also had battles with him because he was smoking cannabis in his room. Despite promises that he had stopped, I kept finding bongs, lighters etc. in his bedroom.

    He was verbally abusive to me in particular. (I think he is somewhat scared of his father.) He also intentionally broke various items of my personal property, such as my phone and my reading glasses. (He still has not expressed any remorse for breaking my things.) I feel like I have always been the particular target of his anger, which is quite a painful feeling.

    He acted strangely entitled. He wanted to us to pay him to study. He wanted us to pay him for the privilege of teaching him to drive. He seemed (and still does seem) to have the delusion that he is destined for great success and riches. After he dropped out of uni in July 2014, he told me he was planning to become either a music producer or an entrepreneur. Either way his main objective was to “have subordinates”.

    The one thing I could say in his favour is he had been a very bright child. Although at school he was mainly lazy and often inattentive, he had a sophisticated sense of humour for a child and was unusually quick-witted. He could charm anyone and make anyone laugh. He was also unusually gifted at maths. But he seems to have peaked at 12.

    This is hard to explain but around the age of 17 he started to use the threat to fail as leverage to get what he wanted. Eg. in the weeks before his final exams at high school, he threatened he would not attend his exams unless we allowed him free access to the PlayStation. Around that time, he also told me he was considering failing academically and “going off the rails” intentionally to spite us, or, as he put it, so we couldn’t “boast about him to friends and family” and “people will think there is something wrong with you”. Believe me, we his parents were never particularly invested in his success at all. (Maybe he was confusing us with his friends’ parents. I still don’t know why he seemed to believe we had such expectations for him. If anything we were now getting worried that he wouldn’t even be able to live independently.) I included this information as an example of how oddly manipulative he is and also how twisted his thinking is. We often felt like we were dealing with a terrorist.

    He left home in February 2014 and moved into a boarding house near the university where he enrolled. His being gone from the home was such a sweet relief. He received a government allowance to study. Of course he did not attend classes, do his assignments or even attend his exams, so failed the first semester and dropped out. I believe he was smoking cannabis pretty heavily for all of 2014.

    In July he tried unsuccessfully to share an apartment with a normal working young adult, but was pretty swiftly kicked out, and found himself briefly homeless in August 2014. He left Sydney for a while for a country town where his sister lives, but made no effort to find work, although she, feeling sorry for him, had busied herself setting up job interviews, etc. besides performing many other services for him. But in October 2014 he returned without warning to Sydney even on the day she thought he was attending a food preparation course. He moved back into the boarding house he started out in in February, and lives there now.

    Back in May 2013 when he was 17, he had been hit by a car crossing the road. Although the accident was his fault, ultimately he was awarded $30,000 in compensation, on top of his medical expenses. The insurance company had to pay the money to him since then he had legally become an adult, but advised me because of his young age to open a joint signature bank account with him. In the end his father was the one who became the other holder of the joint account. The amount was $30,000. We hoped the money could be wisely invested or even used as a deposit to buy a place he could live. But that conversation never happened.

    He harassed and menaced his father for the money as soon as it was transferred, and eventually when it became too painful, his father caved, saying once he took that money he could not return to the family home ever, and that he (the father) would be cutting the difficult child out of his will. Difficult child then went on a silly, Pretty Woman-style spending spree buying himself brand name clothes and luxury goods. (I could track some of his spending because I was a signatory to one of his bank accounts.) Certainly also a lot of the money went on drugs. He revealed recently he has been smoking 3 grams of cannabis a day, which I’m told equates to $50 a day.

    However, dear Parents Emeritis, he had also decided to embark on a career as a sports gambler, gambling mainly on British football through an online gambling site.

    He had also started suffering delusions of paranoia. He even texted me a couple of times to ask if I knew why people were following him.

    I tried to stay in touch with him, meeting him about once a month for coffee in the city. In December, I was also sad about his decision not to come to Christmas lunch with our extended family, so I invited him to come to lunch at my apartment on Boxing Day for a small Christmas celebration with just his sister and me, which he accepted warmly. But something must have changed in his brain between that day and Christmas day.

    At 5 am on Christmas morning he sent a barrage of hate-filled text messages to my phone, starting with the sentence: “You and Dad are s*** parents and always have been”. Also in the end he did show up very late and unexpectedly for my family’s Christmas lunch, disrupted everything for about five minutes, shoved some food in his mouth and walked out the door!

    I proceeded with the Boxing Day lunch despite all the crazy behaviour the day before. Unfortunately at 11 pm on Christmas night he chose to take crystal meth, apparently for the first time, had stayed up all night and had also not eaten for a long time. While his sister was driving him to my place, he started screaming violently in the car, endangering both of them. When he arrived he seemed angry and was verbally abusive. When I left him alone with his sister, he started ranting to her that she should kill herself, just kill herself now, she should cut her wrists, it wouldn’t hurt, etc. What she told me he’d said to her was very creepy and disturbing. When I came back, she’d climbed the wall of my courtyard to try and escape from him. Then he left pretty abruptly, but changed his mind and buzzed my intercom continually for about half an hour to get back in. My daughter, who was in a state of shock, said “no” so I didn’t allow him back in. He kicked and shattered the glass security door, which was caught on video by security cameras. The building manager called the police. In the end no one seemed to want to charge him. Everyone was only concerned that the damage be paid for.

    Not long after he sent me an email wondering whether he could be Asperger’s. In a follow-up email he stated that he thought he was half Asperger’s, half sociopath. The Aspie thing had to be wrong as he was a very sociable child. (He just started acting like a jerk at about 16.)

    The sociopath thing does kind of chime with my experience, and disturbs me. On the other hand, I felt that email was also a kind of breakthrough, as he himself was wondering what could be wrong. When I dragged him to family therapy back in 2013, he acted all reasonable and agreeable during the session. The social worker assessing our family saw no reason for us to return. :blue:

    About two weeks ago he contacted us that he was broke, would be unable to pay the rent when it fell due, and was hungry.

    In my reply I attached a list of soup kitchens near his boarding house. After more emails, I told him I would buy him food if he agreed to see a mental health specialist. In the end he did go to a hospital with me. He’s been interviewed by various medical personnel, including a psychiatric registrar and a psychiatric nurse. So far there hasn’t been much of a result. Except for this one perceptive doctor who thought he was very disturbed and wanted to admit him to the psychiatric ward, but got overruled, I keep getting told “It looks like a personality thing”. Still he has an appointment with a psychiatrist this coming Tuesday, which is better than nothing.

    After we came home from the hospital, to my fury and disbelief, he said he intended to continue to gamble. He said he’d learned from his mistakes. He now knew how to do it right. He’d given up taking drugs so he could gamble with a clear head. He was planning to live in different houses around the world, a lifestyle he saw himself easily affording as a successful gambler.

    His father is currently loaning him rent, which he (the father) is paying weekly directly to the landlord. His father also collected some items belonging to my son for security, which honestly have no resale value. My son has very recently again applied for a government allowance to study. He has got himself a place in an IT course at a technical college which is almost next door to his boarding house. He has promised he will repay the loan for the rent when his allowance is paid, which he said would take four weeks. I have a suspicion he will gamble with any lump sum deposited in his account. I also have a suspicion that the point of doing the course is simply to get that payment, and again he won’t attend classes or do the required work.

    Please parents out there (if you’ve read this far)! I’m stressed and can’t stop wondering where this is going. I’d welcome anyone’s feedback or advice.
  2. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome Pandora.
    I'm sorry you had to find this group but so glad you did. You will find support, advice and coping skills within these pages.
    The "entitled attitude" is so very common with our difficult adult children.
    It's good that you have had some medical evaluation of his mental state. It may very well be just a personality disorder and nothing more. I think sometimes it's easier to have someone put a label on the situation, as if this will negate them from any personal responsibility. "See, I'm not blame I have ..........."
    Little do they understand that even with a label of Asperger's or something else they still bear the responsibility of going to therapy and or taking medication.
    I too have been on the receiving end of very ugly hate filled messages. My son on more than one occasion has blamed me for everything wrong in his life. I once told him "wow, you sure think I have a lot of power over your life especially since I have had no say in what you do"
    They just want to blame someone because they don't want to accept the fact that their poor choices have led them down a road of destruction.
    Gambling can be an addiction just like drugs and alcohol. He is playing in very dangerous waters.
    His father is not helping him by paying the rent. The only good thing is he is paying it directly to the landlord, that way you know he's not using it for something else.

    What I can tell you is this; you have to stay in the moment in the here and now. Expending energy on the future what if's will gain you nothing. Your son is grown now, he has to forge out his own path. You have done your job in raising him the best you can. I'm sure you did all you could for him and I know this because you are posting on this site. If you did not love your son and care about him, you wouldn't be here. Don't buy into your son saying you were a S*&^ parent. I'm sure you taught him right from wrong but at some point our little darlings start making their own choices and there is nothing we can do to change that. What we can do is detach from them and go on living our own lives.

    I am a veteran of this, my son is 33 and I've been dealing with his messed up life for a long time. I have limited contact with him which is healthier for me. I will always love my son and will continue to pray and have hope for him. I have had to come to an acceptance that it's his life and he will live it the way he wants to. I don't like it, but I accept it.

    Know that you are not alone here. Others will also chime in with their support.

    ((HUGS)) to you.............

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  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Well, one word: DRUGS

    Clearly his moods are being aggravated by drugs and that is probably why he got paranoid. It's probably the main reason he wanted money for everything. The habit is costly. Eventually they sell drugs to take drugs (my daughter who once was an addict tells me this) and they can steal as well and be VERY abusive when on certain drugs. If your son was always delusional about being special and gifted and above everyone else he may also have narcissistic personality disorder. These are NOT fun people to live with and they rarely change because they don't believe there is anything wrong with them. However, along with drugs, you have somebody who could be dangerous to you. Meth is very serious. My daughter took it. Miraculously, because it is so hard to kick, she quit using it. It was not the only drug she used. Of course, being a mother who wanted to believe, I thought she was only smoking pot. Of course, I was also wrong and heard about it AFTER she quit. What a horror story. Oh, the things I didn't know and now am glad I didn't know!!

    I don't know much about gambling. We do have one member whose son had a gambling problem and perhaps she will check in. It's another addiction, showing he has an addictive personality. He could have been hoping to win money to pay for drugs too. Again, know nothing about gambling addiction.

    I do not know what resources you have where you live. I'm confused as to whether you are in Australia or the UK. Either way, do use all the resources you have for yourself and be good to you. You did not deserve this and you can not help your difficult little sweetheart. He is what he is and at his age (if the legal age in your country is over 18), he is on his own to try to change. We have 0% control over another, even a grown child we love. But we have 100% control over how we deal with it. We can enable and feel guilty forever...some 80 year olds still pay expenses for 60 year old "children"...or we can learn coping skills and go on to enjoy and live a full and happy life and let our grown kids learn by natural consequences.

    I do not know if Al-Anon is used much where you live. It is huge here and it helped me a lot. It wasn't so much the religious part as I am very spiritual more than religious, and there is a big difference, however the friendship of others and the understanding was paramount to my survival and my own recovery from enabling and rescuing my grown children. And my life is peaceful and happy and so good and every day I count my blessings because we all have blessings.

    You may consider possibly not always answering your son's texts or not reading his FB as it is often upsetting and there is no up side to being unhappy. We don't help them if we are in a bad place, and we are no good for ourselves or our kinder loved ones and friends.

    I am sorry you had to come here. I hope you will stay. Try to do something nice for yourself tonight. This is not your fault and since your son is now a man, it is his path of life to walk. You can't force him to do anything he doesn't want to do. It's impossible.

    Please, if you have a good relationship with Daughter, beg her on your knees, if necessary, not to go near him while alone. He is obviously capable of extreme anger, violence, and is probably a danger to all of you, but has shown he is a danger to her while driving with her. She may decide on her own to give him lots and lots of space!!!! Your son is lucky he lives where he lives. In the U.S. he'd definitely be arrested for kicking in the door and possibly be put in jail. I think it's a good thing that we don't let stuff like that go.

    One last thing: If he is friendly and comfortable with others he isn't Aspergers. My son has high functioning autism and it is all about social skills, obsessing over certain things, and most are very socially inappropriate and prefer being alone once they are your son's age. Even if he did have it, he himself is responsible for getting treatment. You can not make him get is up to him. I think the personality problem thang is probably right. There are personality disorders and they are serious to others more than to the person, but they are not very treatable and usually the person afflicted does not accept help. So I actually think they are saying personality problem so as to not have to say personality disorder. But in my opinion he sounds like that's his problem. That's common with the adult kids on this forum.

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    Last edited: Feb 8, 2015
  4. Childofmine

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


    Yes. Most drug addicts and alcoholics have above-average intelligence.

    Yes. My son told me he had to have a dog one time because "having a dog will make me not be lonely and then I will be okay." I said no. So then he called me a couple of months later and said: "Well, I already have a dog now and so there's nothing I can do so I'm bringing it home." I said No you are not. Back and forth and back and forth, and of course I was a horrible person because I wouldn't let him have this most "perfect dog in the world, the one I've always wanted, blah blah blah...."

    And once when he was still in junior college he had an accounting exam and instead of doing the work (shock!) he was on craigslist advertising for (get this!) an accountant he could pay $20 to, to take his exam for him.

    On and on and on. The grandiosity is startling and never-ending with addicts. They and only they can control the world and they spend all of their time trying to do just that.

    This is a great sentence. They ARE terrorists, of everybody around them. But it's the disease that is the terrorist, and it resides in the bodies of our adult children. They are completely taken over by the disease and the disease is in charge.

    Regarding your thoughts about your son's possible diagnosis, I so understand your angst around that as well. I would spend hours and hours and all night long parsing in my own head and with all kinds of professionals: well maybe he has this. Maybe he has that. And THAT'S why he is acting this way.

    Finally, a mental health professional looked me in the eye and said this: You will not be able to determine what he has or doesn't have as long as he is using drugs. There is no way to tell. Drug addiction/alcoholism is a primary diagnosis. It requires treatment, and until he gets it, there is no way to know what other possible primary diagnosis he has. For many addicts, once they stop using and learn how to live life/change their thinking and behaving (both must happen), voila! There is no other primary diagnosis. It was the addiction all the time, and only that.

    Your son will do what he is going to do until he hits a rock bottom. Staying out of his way as much as you humanly can and letting him feel the consequences of his own decisions---no matter what---is the best way and the fastest way to allow him to discover his own rock-bottom.

    It may take years. It has taken years for my son, and today, I am very cautiously optimistic by his behavior for the past six months.

    I had to completely let go. I had to allow him to be homeless in the dead of winter for months. I had to put slide locks on my doors and face his wrath and pain when he discovered them. I had to allow him to stay in jail multiple times without bailing him out. I had to turn him away from the front door at 3 a.m. when he would get out of jail and walk straight to my house.

    I had to completely stop and set boundaries like these: do not call me except on Saturday mornings between 10 and 11 a.m. and I will talk to you for 10 minutes at that time. This, after receiving dozens of phone calls in a row and hundreds and hundreds of text messages in a row...complete harassment.

    See, I had taught him well. I taught him---over the years---that if he just kept on, I would cave in. So he did exactly what I taught him. I have never seen anybody so persistent in my life.

    Every phone call, every text message, every middle of the night pounding on the door, was like putting a knife inside my body and twisting it, because I didn't respond, finally.

    I have had to let my son go. I love him very much and today we have a much better relationship. He is 25.5 and he seems to be making progress. Well, he IS making progress. Is the he_l over? I have no idea. I maintain my boundaries with him and I pray without ceasing for him.

    Warm hugs for you. Hang in there. We are with you. Keep posting.
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  5. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately this is very likely. Even when the gambler actually believes their promises, it tends to end up so, that when they have a money, they will gamble, because that way they can both pay back and have money for something else and have a nice gambling bankroll (no, losing the money is not something they think at that point.) Gambling issues are often comorbid with mental health issues (bipolar, personality disorders, PTSD, depression, anxiety, though latter two are often the consequences of gambling as much as the things that makes person more likely to develop gambling issue) and substance abuse issues.

    My older son used to be a compulsive gambler (more the poker and other online casino games than sports bets, but also those) and through his treatment, and word about his issues getting around, I have come to known quite a few families of gamblers. Some gamblers do not seem to have other problems but many are troubled also in other ways and need comprehensive help. Your son seems to be after that lifestyle gambling industry sells to young men (rich quick, more clever than others, live fast and be cool) but that of course almost never comes true. But try telling that to young; they seem to think, that when someone fails to reach that lifestyle through gambling, it is because they are too stupid. And who thinks they are too stupid themselves? Especially if they actually are reasonably talented intellectually.

    Your son seems to have three different issues: gambling, drugs and mental health and it is all out of control. Targeting to only one of those things does not do much good for him. Unfortunately, as an adult, you can not force him to get help, except maybe through involuntary commitment if his psychotic symptoms peak. One way I can think to maybe help him to be more likely to seek help would be pointing him to very low threshold treatment options. I don't know what you have available, but for example here we have wonderful resource for problem gamblers, that has very low threshold, you can just call or walk in and you are not required to consider yourself a compulsive gambler, problem gambler or want to quit. They advertise themselves both for those who want to quit and those who want to learn to control their gambling better. The client decides what is their goal. While many contact when they want to learn to control it better, and some do learn to do so and are happy customers, many during the course of treatment end up noticing, that they have to quit instead. But it is their own choice and that makes it much easier for the person with the problem to sign in. And because it is well known that gambling is often so co-morbid with other issues, they do refer their clients to get help with both substance abuse and mental health issues.

    There is also similar, low threshold treatment options for substance abuse issues, but in my experience many substance abuse treatments take more militant approach (which many users do not find appealing) and are also less inclined to look for comorbidity and some treatment options held a believe, that it is all about substances and being substance free would solve also the other issues or that getting totally substance free first is necessary for the treatment of other issues. Usually mental health, and in my experience evidence based gambling (not so sure about twelve steps etc. based) treatments are more used to deal with people with comorbid addiction and mental health issues.

    Do not give him cash. If you want to help him financially, do it so, that he will not get his hands on that money. And keep yourself safe, he seems to be really out of control.
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  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    What was he like as a young boy, pandora?

    These were the same kinds of changes we saw in our son. We would learn, years later and after much grief and soul searching on our parts, that he had begun using drugs at that time.

    But around 15 was when the spiral began. By the time he was 16, he had changed so horribly, in every way.

    He had been meticulous about his appearance, about his room and belongings, about his grades and his friends to the point that at one time, we had believed he might be gay.

    Everything changed so quickly.

    We had an older child with problems, already.

    Drug use was involved there, too.

    We knew there was drug use, but we did not know that everything we were seeing was a result of drug use. We began that whole, hellish process of blaming ourselves and trying to find and address where we had gone wrong.

    Twenty years have passed.

    Me, too.

    None of that fit with the boy I had raised. It took me forever to put the pieces together. In fact that is only happening now, here on the site. I just could not see it, before.

    And my son is in his late thirties.

    That is a tragic story for my son. But. Understanding that the heart of the freaking problem my life has revolved around had so little to do with our family or our parenting changes everything for me.

    Just lately, I am beginning to believe that I am, that my husband and I are, the ones who have been victimized, here.

    I don't know what to do with everything I feel about this new way of seeing our family's story.

    It has all been so pointlessly ugly.

    How sad, for us all. And how rotten, for the innocent grands.

    And for our children, and for the waste of it.

    Ours, too.

    Both of them.

    An invaluable insight.

    It is not easy to say what we see.

    I am learning, from you.


    The course of events you describe is similar, not only to my story, but to so many of our stories here. Because of those similarities, I agree with those who have already posted that the heart of the problem is drug use. I have a pet theory that drugs wring chemicals needed for proper function out of the brain to create the high. It is (according to me :O) lack of those chemicals that creates the addiction as the brain attempts, ever more frantically, to come back into balance. Given that our stories here are so strikingly similar, I believe it is the capacity for empathy which drug use eventually destroys.

    So you have the addiction part, and you have the destruction of the capacity for empathy.

    Our abusing or addicted children turn so cold we hardly know them. It's like they have been kidnapped and are being used to harbor someone who hates us and seeks to destroy us and shame us and hurt us just for the sake of doing so.

    Our son was into cocaine, at first. And then, I think it devolved into anything he could get. He was so unlike himself when we would see him.

    I can see this now, but when it was happening, we did not understand that empathy piece in relation to drug use.

    Something similar happened with our son.

    It was gone, and he was deeper in debt, in three months.


    If your child was loving and compassionate and if that has changed since his drug use began, then my take on it is that the mental and emotional changes you are seeing have to do with drug use and not with mental illness or personality disorder. That is a priceless thing to know. You are in a position now to use that lever to help your son find his way into treatment. You have every answer you need. You know you cannot help him in the traditional ways loving parents help their children.

    You can say:

    "No money."

    "I love you too much to watch you self destruct."

    "Drug use is the source of your problem."

    "You behavior does not surprise me. It is typical of addicted people."

    "I will never help you destroy yourself or deepen your addiction."

    He will hate that.

    His behavior toward you will escalate.

    Be ready.

    Before you determine that this strategy is the one you will use, be certain, in your own mind, that the problem is drug use. Review the literature, read here on Substance Abuse, whatever you need to do to clarify any remaining questions as to cause and effect. This certainty will not be for your son's sake, but for your own. I think we are in a very different battle than the one we all thought we were in. It is going to take everything we have to survive it.

    As you read with us here you will be shocked, like I was, to learn how similar our kids' behaviors, accusations, and vocabularies are. The things they demand from us, the things they accuse us of, the way they seem to relish destroying any smallest parental joy...that cannot be coincidence.

    Terrible things are happening to all of us, and to our children. Drug use does seem to be the common denominator.

    How awful, for all of us.

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  7. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    I hesitate to declare Cedar's response "winner" because it is so terribly terribly sad. But it is true.
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I doubt he's just smoking weed. He's telling you it's weed, which along with his behaviors tells me it's more than weed.

    I got so lost in your story and responses that I sort of lost track of whether you were asking for advice or not. If you are, I would advise you to not "lend" him anything. If you want to give him money you should do that but you're never going to see it again.

    Our son M told us (and therapists and guidance counselors, etc.) that he wanted to become a pirate or a gangster after HS graduation. He could con trusting adults into most anything and come through with none of his promises. He was couch surfing for 6 - 7 years. I believe that my father has left him a pittance on the condition that he have no contact with us (my father was pretty twisted), so we won't be hearing from him again for years, I think.

    I wish I had some real advice for you. It's really hard when they're that age. They're not kids and they're not really adults. All I can say is that deep down you know what kind of a person he is. If he weren't your son, what would you do for him? That's what I would do for him. Help him help himself if he asks, but I wouldn't give him anything but a referral to a clinic. That's just me.
  9. pandora404

    pandora404 New Member

    Thank you all very much for your thoughtful responses. You’re all the support I’ve got at the moment, and I’m deeply grateful.

    Just an update. The only help I am offering my son is food in exchange for presenting himself for treatment to a mental health specialist. The good news is: that seems to be working.

    We went together to see the psychiatrist they assigned him at the public hospital. This is a free service. This guy himself was a character. He was an older man close to retirement age. He was very relaxed and friendly. Also, oddly, shabbily dressed. He blathered on about himself too much I thought, and also dropped a lot of f-bombs. Still my son felt comfortable talking to him and has agreed to go back. Unfortunately the psychiatrist decided not to make the next appointment until two weeks from then.

    The main issue that seemed to concern him was the psychosis, ie. my son’s belief that people are following him, that every night at about 1 am people who know him somehow yell abuse at his window from the street, that someone is tracking his internet use, etc. He gently introduced the idea that my son might benefit from taking medication, but just to think about it.

    He told my son if he has a problem in the meanwhile he can call the mental health team. My son said “okay”. I said, “His phone doesn't have any credit. He can’t call anyone.” The psychiatrist said “Good. Don’t forget you can call the team” (ignoring what I’d just said.)

    I got a few minutes alone with this guy at the end. I told him quickly just a few things it turned out my son hadn’t revealed in their private session. The shattered door on Boxing Day. The breaking of my property when he lived at home. The hate-filled text messages on Christmas morning (sent when he was sober). He changed his demeanour, becoming more serious, then went out into the waiting room, and said “I want you to call me anytime. Anytime you have a problem. Please call me, okay?” My son said, okay. As we walked back to the car, I said, did that doctor actually give you his phone number? My son said, no. (How fake was that guy!)

    Afterwards, as was the deal, we shopped for him in the supermarket. Actually first we sat a table in a park, drinking takeaway coffees and negotiating a shopping list. I refused to buy any sugary snacks or junk food. Also, although he hadn’t requested it, I did buy him a few packets of beef jerky, and some protein bars and protein drinks from the bodybuilding section. This was on the advice of our dentist, who warned me that if he wasn’t feeding himself with enough protein, he would start suffering brain damage. (She also told me to get the protein supplement foods in Costco because they’re so expensive in regular supermarkets. That tip was also worth heeding.)

    I’m not planning to see him till the next appointment in two weeks. He’ll run out of food before then. I reminded him about the charity-run free restaurant in his area. The idea seemed aversive to him. I also told him about how, last year when my daughter went through a dumpster-diving phase (this is its own subculture in Sydney and there’s a Facebook group to share information) this one time I happened to be with her while she was doing it, I discovered those dumpsters behind food shops are mainly full of relatively fresh bread. Even good artisan bakery sourdoughs, for example. And it was all clean and individually wrapped in cellophane bags. (Unfortunately I don’t think dumpster diving is the way he rolls. Being a parasite is his MO.)

    The problem is definitely drugs (as you’ve all pointed out) but not just drugs. I believe he is one of those--10 % of people according to Russell Brand--who have an addictive personality. (You can chant, “all things in moderation” to them till the cows come home. They’re not listening.) I believe his first and worst addiction is the internet and electronic gaming. I believe that that overexposure to violent games and some online content (eg. the website 4chan) also hardened him or somehow damaged his capacity to have empathy, along with the cannabis. I also believe his mania for online gambling is a kind of sub-behaviour of his internet addiction. I don’t believe he’d bother catching the bus to a racetrack or casino, say, to gamble. And I believe if online gambling disappeared, he could stop gambling in a heartbeat. Confusingly, he’s had a lot of bad behaviours going on concurrently. Right now he has no money at all so, fingers crossed, it looks like he can’t get into much trouble. I shouldn’t have written that—just tempting fate!

    Other (small) positives are he went to his classes on the first day. In the supermarket, he asked me to buy him exercise books for the course, and I did.

    Thanks for that Tanya. I think I'll use that exact line in the future!

    Sorry, MidwestMom, I should have made that clear since most of you are in the US. I live in Sydney, Australia. The education system, health system, legal systems etc here are a little bit different. But the kids and their problems are just the same!

    Yes, thank you for that suggestion. I believe there is Al-Anon here. In December 2014 I did attend a related group, Nar-Anon, (Narcotics-Anon) but that particular group seemed to have fizzled out with only one other member that day. I've also attended a parents support group called Tough Love, which I believe has ceased to exist in the US and is just limping along here. That has also been very helpful and I learned a lot through them (but for complicated reasons, I've stopped going at the moment although I keep in contact with individual members who can give me the wisdom of their experience.)

    I am also confused about why he wasn't charged. The policemen said, he was so young at 18. They didn't want to give him a criminal record. The next day I rang the national Mental Health Advice line and spoke to a psychiatric nurse. He sighed and said, "Oh that's typical. The police don't actually care whether your kid gets a criminal record or not. They just didn't want the of bother dealing with it." I did kind of want my son to get a wake up call. Also I'm pretty sure a lawyer would have made him consult a psychiatrist for his defense. He was flying below the radar for so long. At least I have now got him into some kind of mental health treatment.

    Childofmine, thanks, this is a great example of a boundary. I think I will be able to put something similar into practise myself.

    Thank you so much for this comment, SuZir! You totally get my kid!

    Cedar, that's nice of you to ask. Very physically active, but gentle, a dreamer, played solitary imaginary games with his set of robot toys, liked drama and dance class, liked to laugh and had a contagious laugh that endeared him to others. Never cruel to animals or other children. When he was 3 or 4, I asked the doctor and various teachers if he was ADD, they always said, no, he was normal. For example, he could concentrate through a story reading. Now I do believe he was ADD inattentive type and wish I'd tried harder to have him diagnosed.

    Oh same! I couldn't get the signature thing to work otherwise I would have written a sentence about my daughter who is 2 and a half years older. She seemed to have had every teenage girl problem at about 17: running away, both anorexia and bulimia, destroying her own things, experimented with cutting herself, binge drinking, taking an overdose, etc. She dropped out of high school. Family therapy and dialectical therapy ultimately worked for her. (Or did she just somehow grow out of all that dysfunction? I don't really know.) Today she's 21, doing great in a university course, is productive, happy and healthy. In 2011, I wouldn't have bet 5 cents on her being a success story! It just shows there's hope.

    In 2011, she seemed like the difficult one, and he seemed like the decent easy child. (In fact he was the one who urged me to get psychiatric help for her.) Looking back I think when she went off the rails, my son became gradually more and more self-pitying and angry, with accompanying bad behaviour. She seems to have brought herself back from the edge of utterly failing at life, but he somehow got started on a trajectory in that direction and now can't seem to turn himself around. I can't blame her exactly. It is bad luck though. I do wonder "what if?"

    This makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks for that insight.

    This is EXACTLY how I feel about my son! It's like he's a zombie, or a victim in those "Body Snatchers" movies, and has been replaced by a particularly nasty alien.

    That was my original plan witzend--maybe I got carried away. It's such a long stupid story.:blue:

    That is a very interesting and useful point of view. Thank you. I'm still pondering the answer right now.

    Thank you all again.
  10. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    My opinion is that you are dealing with a child that has some sort of personality disorder. As a parent of a personality disordered child, what you write is so familiar to me that after only getting through the first parts of it my thoughts were screaming "sociopath' however I am not here to diagnose. Here is a link to the Mayo Clinic on personality disorders:
    It was later for me, around my daughters age of 33-34 that I discovered through my own therapy what was wrong with my daughter. She displayed so many similar personality problems, though mainly grandiosity, manipulation and control (hallmarks of being a sociopath). Going to private therapy for yourself definitely helps because it leads you to answers to what is wrong with your child through description of behaviors. Even your son thinks that he may be a sociopath. This is not to say that I do. There are other personality disorders that could fit your son, only you, who has dealt with him for a lifetime can accurately figure out what "fits". What I would look at : Anti-social PD, Borderline PD and Narcissistic PD, Sociopath . A lot of the issues you wrote about go hand in hand with the personality disorders such as drinking, drugging, gambling, grandiosity, manipulation and control because people with these types of personality disorders do not believe the rules of life apply to them. They literally can not learn from their bad experiences, they are blind to the consequences. Most therapist won't treat certain types of personality disordered individuals because they believe that unlike mental disorders, personality disorders are untreatable. (they do treat other mental issues that are co-diagnosed with PD's) Example I like to use: it would be like you trying to change your personality to be more grandiose, manipulative and controlling. Probably that could not happen because that is not who you are at the base of your personality.
    Also I want to point out, it was only recently, in therapy, that my therapist asked me a very important question that I will put to you here: Who, in your family (or his fathers) does your son's behavior remind you of? If you can answer that question you know then that these problems are in his DNA and there was nothing you could do to change the outcome of who your son has become. I know this helped me a lot, because I put myself through such guilt and blame for many years before being asked this question.
    Again these are just my ideas and opinions. Take what you like and leave the rest.
  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    You have behaved with strength, a kind and open integrity, and dignity in a very difficult time. We need to hear these good things about ourselves from others because to us, outcomes are not generally the successes we envisioned.

    You behaved beautifully.

    Good job!

    There are two good things happening here. One is your willingness to accept and work with what is. The other is that your son is responding well.

    It is a hard thing to discipline ourselves to give only what will (potentially) make a difference, but doing so provides us a place to stand.


    Thank you, pandora.

    This is also true for our son.

    I don't know how to think about that, don't know how to hold both pieces of that part of our family story together, either.

    It is what it is.

    I am learning how to do this, too.

    I had just gone through a thing where I could not stop hearing the phrase "Ours is an ugly story." It made me very sad. But as I came through it, I found that I was stronger. I would say not that the stories of our broken families are stupid, but that they are ongoing tragedies. I think it is crucially important that we see ourselves correctly. We are their mothers. (And their fathers. Men see it differently. I know that is not politically correct. But I believe it is very true.)


    It is crucially important that we understand the living horror in what is happening to our families. If we do that, we can see the truth about ourselves in a correct way. We can see and accept and admire our strength and our courage in the face of almost insurmountable (and stupid) loss.

    That is what is stupid about our stories.

    There is an element of choice here, for our children.

    For a time, there is an element of choice.

    Soon enough, even that is taken from them.

    We can draw strength from recognizing and acknowledging and celebrating what turns out to be a kind of towering, unchangeable, unflagable love for ourselves and our children and our families.

    We can take courage there. If only we can learn to see it.

    We are surviving, loving and living and trying to hold our families, and our family identities, together in the face of something overwhelmingly destructive.
    Our stories are not stupid, but outrageously courageous. We are learning to respond correctly. We are understanding and accepting that we may have to put our children at risk to do it.

    And we are doing what needs to be done.

    We may not win. Still, we are brave. We are no longer arrogant, but we are not frozen in place, either.

    We are doing something impossible and we are doing it well.

    It is crucially important to understand these things about ourselves and our stories and our children.

    Though I believed myself fraudulent or cowardly or somehow lacking, the truth turned out to be that I have (as we all have, here on the site) stood right up again and again against impossible odds.

    I stood right there, all by myself. And I protected my children and I didn't know what to do, but I did the best I knew to do.

    I lost, anyway.

    But that does not change the courage it takes for each of us to open her eyes and accept what the day will bring.

    It's such a hard thing, what we do as a matter of course.

    We are amazing mothers, amazing human beings.

    Honoring ourselves is part of our healing.

    I am deeply honored to have been able to hear your family's story.

    And to be part of this site.

    And to be able to see some things I could not bear to look at, before.


  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Yes. We can be strong enough to stay present, for our kids and for ourselves, when we have made our ways through guilt and shame and the kind of self sabotage that occurs as we bargain for the lives of our children.