22 year old son with bipolar still living at home makes us miserable, what to do?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by MrMike, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. MrMike

    MrMike Member

    Hi, I'm new to this forum. We have a 22 year old son, who has been to a mental hospital once already for hitting
    me and doing it again the next day. He most likely has bipolar. The diagnosis when released from the hospital was mood
    disorder, which I've been told by a therapist means depression or bipolar. He displays many symptoms of bipolar, manice
    episodes where he says dilusional things, grandiose attitudes and thoughts, says nasty things to me and my wife, etc.

    He wont get a job because its below him. He says he just wants to stay home and "develop" himself. All he does is read
    stuff on the internet, eat "superfoods", and mess up the kitchen. He makes everyone in our house (me, wife, daughter, other son miserable). We never feel secure with him around. It's like walking on eggshells living there, trying not to **** him off, which happens at the drop of a hat.

    He refuses therapy, refuses to take medication, and vehemently denies he has a problem. He blames everything on other people, never himself.

    We are in the process of getting counseling for me and my wife in an attempt to get clear direction on what to do. We have kicked him out several times due to his nasty behavior and disrepect for everyone in the house but he just keeps coming back. He has nowhere to go, as he has most likely alienated his friends by this time.

    He also has punched about 6 holes in our walls. He does this when he gets mad about a conversation he has with either myself or my wife and he gets frustrated and angry.

    We have also contacted NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and are getting help from them. They told us to apply for state health insurance for him and social security disability assistance for him first. But he has to sign those forms, and he will probably refuse because he'd have to admit he has a disability from a mental disorder. But the purpose of this would be to get him independent enough where he could get assisted housing and expenses.

    Dont know what to do at this point. Need to get counseling for us first to be confident on the actions we take regarding him. Last resort is to kick him out again and get restraining order so he wont come back. Sort of all over the map on this post, sorry, but this whole thing with him tends to make us this way.

    Any suggestions on what to do and on what we are already doing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Mr. Mike, welcome. I'm glad you were able to find us. Like many of us here, you're in a difficult situation, I understand where you are and how it feels to be a parent of an adult child who has mental and emotional issues, won't admit them and makes everyone around him miserable. You are doing all the right things, getting support for you and your family is crucial so I'm glad you are doing that. Contacting NAMI is a great choice, good work.

    Often what we are forced to do is evict our own adult kids and get restraining orders, so you are not alone in that thinking. Do some research into eviction in your state, here in CA. you have to go to court, there is a wait and you can if necessary have them escorted out by a sheriff. Get all your ducks in order. It appears you are doing just that. A trained professional can help you with detachment tools. There is a great article at the bottom of my post on detachment which you might find helpful.

    This is a treacherous path, we love them but we cannot make healthy choices for them and letting go of that illusion of control over their lives makes us feel powerless. However, it's in the acceptance of the reality that you didn't cause this, you can't control it and you can't fix it, only your son can do that. He may indeed opt out of signing the papers that will ultimately help him, there isn't much you can do about it. My own daughter has all the help she could need at her fingertips at all times and refuses to acknowledge any problems or the need of any help. There is nothing I can do. I have had to learn to accept it, as you are doing. There are no easy answers, we all go through this process in whatever way we do, it can be harrowing............there are many mine fields to negotiate, but it can be done.

    I think you are on exactly the right track. I think you are tackling this from a healthy realistic vantage point. It's hard, no doubt about it, these are our children, we love them, we want to help them, but for many of us here, there comes a point where we recognize that we cannot help them and we are likely enabling them. That is when we decide to let go. There is no 'right' way, only YOUR way.

    You have every right to live in a safe environment which offers you and your family peace of mind, quiet, enjoyment and mutual kindnesses. You do not have to put up with this bad behavior, regardless of your sons diagnoses, he is who he is and he has to face up to the reality and change...........or not. He may live on the streets. What he does is his choice. You and your wife will learn how to set boundaries and rules in your house and when he doesn't live up to them, then he needs to leave. End of story. You have the right to choose the kind of life you want to live. I think you are in the middle of doing that and I support that choice.
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  3. MrMike

    MrMike Member

    Thank you so much for your kind and supportive words. I really need them at this point, as this situation has taken over our lives, and tired us out immensely. I'm sure you've had much pain yourself dealing with your situation, and for that let me say I am sorry for you, and hope you are getting along better as time goes on. Thank you again, and I will be praying for you and everyone else on this site.
  4. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hello and welcome! You are already ahead of where most people are in your position. Seeing a therapist to learn to set boundaries and contacting NAMI was a great start.

    My husband and I went through the NAMI Family-to-Family course and found it very helpful. They would be the first to tell you that you should not accept violence in your home. You need to call the police each and every time that your son hits you, threatens you, or damages your home. Let them know that he has a mental illness so that they know what they are dealing with. You need to let your son know that you have a firm line drawn in the sand when it comes to his abuse against you or anyone else in the family

    Next, tell him he has to sign those forms or leave. Period. Don't let him bully you. I would also tell him that he has to accept that he has a illness and needs to start therapy and take medications. If he refuses, then tell him that if there is nothing wrong with him then there is no need for a 22-year-old man to be living off of his parents and that it is time that he gets a job and moves out.

    Set a clear time frame for this to happen and stick to your guns. It won't be easy and it won't be pretty but it needs to happen. Have your therapist help you create a plan. Our therapist told us the most important thing is to do what you say that you are going to do. No gray areas or your difficult child will take avantage of them.

    Your son is mentally ill and that is sad but it is not an excuse for him to make the rest of you miserable. Many people with mental illnesses do get to the point where they can function in life. You need to help him get there.

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  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    He could be found incompetent. Bipolar is serious and if he has the type where he gets manic and psychotic he may end up with disability, like it or not. Bipolar is a very common reason for an adult to be on disablity and with disability comes adult services/help.

    There have to be group homes for the mentally ill who can handle him better than you if he gets violent. You have a right to be safe in your house, even if he is mentally ill. If he hits YOU, he can get angry and slug a cop and end up in jail. I'd try to find a group home for him and go to court to get guardianship over him.
  6. MrMike

    MrMike Member

    Thank you Kathy, I really appreciate your supportive words and your understanding of the situation. Any your right, making him sign the forms or leave is the right way to go, as well as sticking to our guns and following through on what we say. That has been the difficult thing because several times I have kicked him out, one of them was at 11:30 at night when he started throwing stuff our of anger. That particular time I felt horrible sending him out into the darkness with his backpack and a few clothes, telling him not to return. He broke stuff on the way out, which made the whole experience gut wrenching and scary at the same time. I thought that was it, but he was back the next day, in the house before I knew he was there. So, it's that whole violent, guilt-ridden, scary experience of kicking him out knowing that he has nowhere to go, that rips the you know what out of me, that is the hardest thing. I know, however, that if he wont comply with our reasonable rules of the house that it is the right thing to do, however painful it is. But with the help of a counselor, and this forum, we will come up with a plan that we will follow through with. Thanks again for the help. Mike
  7. FlowerGarden

    FlowerGarden Active Member

    You've gotten great advice from the others. Before throwing him out, you need to see if you have to give him an eviction notice. My son was a teenager when he was out of control and doing damage around our home. We finally took the advice from his doctor and therapist to call the police. It took a few times but he finally got the help he needed by being court ordered.
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I'm so sorry. Our adopted daughter has bipolar disorder. It has been very hard.
    I read very quickly your post and some of a few others. I would say that you have done a great job so far. Getting therapy for yourself and contacting NAMI are things I would have said to do as well. I agree, a boundary has to be set regarding violence in the home. I would give him fair warning that continued behavior will send him on the fast track out the door and might even cause you to call the police.
    I would also set up requirements to remain in the home. They might include: seeing a weekly therapist and/or completing the forms for social security disability. However, should he get SSD, it is highly likely he will NOT be allowed to stay living in your residence (and that's a good thing).
    You might double check your legal rights in this situation, as he might have some sort of right to be given "notice," in terms of terminating his ability to stay in the home. (I'm NOT sure I would tell HIM about what you discovered). But, first things first. Set up the rules. No violence, therapy (by the way, pay for this if you can afford it), SSD forms. Maybe medication if it is determined he needs to take medication. Consider helping him with the costs of medical necessities. Put it in writing saying that if any of the rules are broken, he has x number of days to find a new place of residence. Stop xxxxx footing around. He is over 21. Times up. Move forward with YOUR lives. Especially if you offer to help with his medical needs, you have absolutely no no no no no reason to feel an ounce of guilt. Sending good thoughts. I KNOW this is hard.
    by the way, even if in the extremely unlikely chance he does abide by the rules, I would still encourage him to move out (might need the SSD to afford to do that).
    PS Our daughter is on disability, lives in a nearby apartment, gets very very very minimum help from us and is usually respectful to us. She knows full well that if she is not respectful, we will cut off the minimum help we do provide for her. It has been extremely difficult, but she has grown (albeit in teeny tiny increments) over the last few years.
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  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    You're getting some excellent advice here. I think when our kids are older and acting out, we know deep down what it is that we have to do. It's not always the same for everyone, but with very few exceptions our kids have left our homes, one way or another. We have to give ourselves permission to do what is right for everyone.

    If your son is not acting out violently right now, it is a good time for you and your wife to explore possibilities for the two of you with your son's best interest in mind. When he acts out violently, whether against you or your property, you must call 911. If he believes he can get away with violence with you, it will intensify, and he will assume he can act out violently with others and get away with it. If he harms someone else or their property they won't have to be as considerate of his mental health as you are. There are all kinds of ways for this to go bad. Do your best to keep yourselves strong and healthy.
  10. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Flower garden is correct. I should have mentioned that. We were shocked to find out that we could not kick out substance abusing, lying, stealing adult difficult child out of our house. The police came and told us that we had to start the eviction process to get our difficult child out of our house. I explained that she wasn't paying any rent or contributing in any way and they told us that didn't matter. If she had established residency, we had to go through the eviction process to make her leave.

    However . . . we were able to force our daughter to leave immediately by going to the family court and asking for a temporary protection order. We had to state that we were in fear and give examples of her abusive behavior. We were warned it was hard to get but once we got in front of the judge, he said that just her bringing heroin into our house was reason enough to be granted a TPO and deputies were sent to our house and she had to leave immediately. Since she has nowhere else to go, she finally agreed to go to a residential treatment center.

    That is one reason I would call the police every time that he gets violent. It is good to have that documentation if you need to go that route. It would also help if you have to get an involuntary commitment order.
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  11. MrMike

    MrMike Member

    thank you Nomad for your feedback, very helpful. People on this site are really awesome. It's such a hard time in our lives, and in everyone's lives on this site, and to have caring people send back words of wisdom and comfort is just incredible. So glad I joined here. It is also good to hear your daughter is in a safe place, and growing, even in tiny increments as you say. Thanks again for your very helpful feedback. MrMike
  12. MrMike

    MrMike Member

    Yeah, I definitely hear what you're saying. I just went to our first counseling session today to talk about why we haven't kicked out our son yet (Actually we have, but he keeps coming back, and we keep letting him stay). But just to talk about why we haven't officially kicked him out was eye-opening. I realized that there are three reasons: one, we'd have to admit that he has serious mental health issues (and that is hard to do), two, what if he didn't admit he needs help, and became a street person, and got worse and worse, and three, what if he got angrier and came back and did something really bad like set the house on fire or hurt someone in our house. These are scary things to have to worry about, but they seem so bad that allowing him to live with us and trying to keep his stress to a minimum to keep him from having episodes seems like a better option sometimes. Obviously, longterm, its not a better option. But its just been real difficult to cut the cord, and kick him out. It almost seems like it's gonna take another real bad outburst to do it, but obviously, that's not
    a desirable way to do it. That's why we're getting the counseling ... to figure out what our demands should be for him if he wants to continue to live with us, to have confidence that they are reasonable and fair (not just for him, but for us also), and present a united front
    to him that these are the rules, they're fair, they're reasonable, and if he won't comply with them then that's his choice, and therefore he
    has CHOSEN to move out himself. The last thing I need is to be guilting myself on this, when he is the one that is doing all this stuff that is unreasonable (breaking stuff, verbal abuse, etc.). So, I think the counseling will give us the strength of a having a professional behind us, advising us, helping us write our "house rules", making us feel more confident that what we are doing is fair for everyone, and reasonable. Then it will be up to our son to decide what he wants to do, follow the rules or live on his own.
  13. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Mr. Mike, you are in the same process most of us here are in as well. It is very difficult but you and your wife are absolutely on the appropriate course of action. I think you are doing a very good job of thinking this through with a therapist and coming up with suitable options which you can live with. Boundaries are an essential part of the process for all of us. And, one thing my therapist always said to us parents about detachment is this: "you get there when you get there." You needn't add guilt or judgment to the mix, it's hard enough on us, we do the best we can and it takes as long a it takes. And, remember also that this is not a linear process, it doesn't follow a 'usual' nor straight line. Since so much emotion and letting go is involved, we as parents go up and down and sideways trying to navigate a path none of us want to be on. It's in many ways against our parental instincts to protect and nurture and support. But, with help and time, you can learn to let go, incrementally, as it feels right to YOU. We all go through this differently, but in the end, the final experience is acceptance. Not of their behavior, but of exactly what it is we can and cannot do to help them. Accepting what we cannot change. The Serenity prayer so common in the 12 steps really works in this world too.
  14. MrMike

    MrMike Member

    Man, I gotta tell ya, just hearing you say that line that your therapist told you "you get there when you get there" (with regard to detachment) is so helpful. I've been feeling pressure about that ... from myself, and from others. As you say, it isn't easy, and getting to that place where you can be detached from all the emotional **** ripping you apart is not easy, hasn't been, and I'm sure won't be. I wish I were there right now, so I could do what I know is the right thing (he follows the house rules or leaves), but I'm just not there yet. The natural parent instincts are so strong to be the enabler, forgiver, nurturer. He has done so much to us that is unjust, unfair, disrespectful, the list goes on and on. Hopefully, soon, my wife and I will be at that point where we will be able to do what is right for us (and him) by stopping the enabling. But, in the meantime, thank you for your helpful words.
  15. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    There is often a final action from difficult child that makes us see we have no choice. We let Daughter stay home while she swore that she was clean, although there were things that pointed to this not being true. We wanted it to be true. She seemed to be better for a while. Lots of times our difficult children seem to cycle...they do better, they fall again. We pick them up, they get better, etc. Until we realize they really aren't doing better or trying. It's just an act.

    For us, we wanted Daughter to know we believed in her so we let her stay home alone for two nights, supposedly to watch the dogs. The thing is, we came home a day early without telling her. It wasn't to trip her up. We tried to call her, but nobody answered the phone so we just headed home. The younger kids were tired of the water park and wanted to go home so we did.

    We were greeted by a drug party in full swing. And that was when I admitted to myself, the gut-wrenching truth that I couldn't live this way and she wasn't doing anything to try to get better. In fact, she was lying to me and had trashed our house. It reminded me of one of those drug houses you see in the movies, and my two very young children were there, staring with round eyes. The boyfriend she swore she'd broken up with was there too with his weird contraption that he was sucking on.

    That was when I knew, she couldn't live with us anymore. It wasn't helping her. She was bringing criminals into our house (dangerous ones, I might add) and the my two little ones had seen the cops at our door one time too many plus seen her drug-infested explosions, and once saw her lead out in handcuffs. Enough.

    I cried for three straight weeks after she left and she wouldn't talk to me for a long time. It was not easy. We had been very close until she started the drugs.
  16. MrMike

    MrMike Member

    Quick Update: Wife and I saw a counselor yesterday, and she was very helpful. Listened carefully to our description of our son, and gave a preliminary observation of what disorder it could be. It had some Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), some bipolar in it, even could be schizophrenia possibly (but she wasn't real sure about that). I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and that is strongly bloodline-related, as is bipolar (my wife's brother has it). So, next session, she is going to get some more info from us on our son, and make a stronger opinion (as my son is not going for counseling, just my wife and I). And she is going to work out a short and long-term plan for us on how to deal with our son. She is very knowledgeable about all these possible things (psychological disorders) that my son could have, and so as continue to tell her about my son's behavior and thoughts, we are hoping that she feels she has enough of a picture of him (i.e. most of the pieces of the puzzle) that she give a pretty good guestimate of what he has. That will be a big help in and of itself, as up til now, the few counselors my son has seen all seem to have different opinions. Also, the plan that we will develop together (this counselor and us) will be a big help. I feel better about the whole situation already.

    One other thing I want to point out is that it's important to try different counselors until you find one that is a good match for what you want to accomplish through counseling. We saw another counselor last week before this one, and he is not even in the same class as this one as far as knowledge of the psychological conditions involved and how to deal with them. All he did was ask me how long I wanted to have to deal with my son before I kicked him out. Although that may come in time (kicking him out), he gave me no way of attacking the problem (how to help my son), and was not knowledgeable enough about the possible conditions to offer any insight into what it might be, or how to deal with it. We are not ready to give up on my son yet, and if we can help him, or steer him in the right direction by seeing this new counselor, that's what we want. We don't want to give up on him without feeling like we did everything in our power to 1) gain understanding on what he has 2) learn how we can relate to him in the most psychologically-healthy way possible (for him and us), and 3) take the most appropriate actions in relation to him as possible to do right by him and us. I mean, we believe his is a sick young man (i.e has a serious psychological condition), and if we kick him out (again), and keep him out, we feel he won't get the help he needs and will spiral downward, and we aren't confident that will cause him to get the help he needs. It may come to that, of course, if he just wont get help, and refuses to change at all, even while we are doing all the right things based on the advice of our counselor (if there are even "right" things in this case), but we're taking it day-by-day right now, in an effort to understand the best we can what he has, and how we should be approaching it in order to give him and us the best chance to get psychologically healthy. In the end, it may not work, and he may not get any better, but we feel we at least have to try ... at least for now.
  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    There will always be "right" things... not that these will have the impact you want on your son, but because you will know that you have done what you could. You are going through this process for you, in hopes of helping your son. But whether or not he takes the help, YOU will still benefit. You're definitely doing the right things!
  18. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Great post MrMike, I completely agree about finding the right fit, sometimes we have to shop around to find someone who can give us what we need. I am very happy that you found someone like that. You have all the right ducks in order, I agree with your plan, you've got a level headed approach which is caring towards your son and at the same time realistic. I think we parents have to turn over every single rock, look in every single corner and once we've done that, if our kids seek help and get better, WONDERFUL, however, if they do not, we can then begin the process of detachment with the full knowledge that we have done EVERYTHING we could and now we have to let go. I applaud you for the healthy way you are dealing with this. Good job!
  19. MrMike

    MrMike Member

    Thanks recovering, you've been very helpful with your insight and support.
  20. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Hi there, sorry I havent responded to your post before now but I have had a few problems going on myself.

    I am awful with detachment. I always want to believe the good in my son and that has allowed him at times to manipulate me. There are also times that he can manage to triangulate his father and me. Part of my problem is that I see so much of me in my son and that makes it hard on me to give up. Also my son isnt violent or Im sure we would have parted ways long ago.

    We have to get to the point that we do feel we have done our level best. I will always try to make life okay for all my kids. That just feels like what parents are supposed to do.