After 9 months a call from difficult child 1 from psychiatric hospital.


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2 days ago my difficult child 1, age 28, called from the psychiatric hospital where he has been incarcerated since being unfit to stand trial. I can't tell you the panic I felt when I saw the call was from the hospital. I thought for sure that something had happened to him because he stated in no uncertain terms that he wanted nothing to do with me or my "batsh** crazy" family.

He was loving, contrite, said he had been nervous to call and was glad his call was well received. He still sounded stiff. He said he hasn't had a real conversation with anyone he knew for so long that his conversation is stilted. It also gets very stilted when he is manic. He gets 15 minutes on the phone a couple of times per day and has called a total of 4 times. Today, at his invitation I went for a visit. He didn't want to see his dad yet, but my husband drove me down and waited for the 2 hours.

During the visit it was apparent to me that his mood was not stable. He says he is on medication and it was mandated by a court about a month ago. It has taken this long for him to feel a little better. This tells me that he did not take the medicine of his own free will. He is now fit to stand trial for an assault (see my other posts for details). I spoke with his social worker and he said that he was going to release him to a shelter where he could get his bearings and have a place to eat, sleep, use computers for job search, etc. Today, my difficult child 1 said he had no intention of going to the shelter and was going to get his link card and just camp out much like he did last summer before his arrest. The facility he's in just wants to cycle people through as quickly as possible.

His mood was labile. In one moment he was saying what good parents we were and the next he was taking me to task for riding him for his grades and saying I wouldn't bail him out if he got arrested. I told him that no parent EVER told their kid, don't worry...if you get arrested, I'll bail you out. He is also delusional and feels he is being punished for committing suicide in a past life.

Anyway, I feel this is one part his reaching out and 2 parts realization that he may need the resources my husband and I can offer. I told him he cannot live here. He wanted to know if I will drive him to interviews and help with "logistics" whatever that is. I told him that he needed to build a foundation, getting established with doctors, seeking a job near public transit, stable housing etc. I said I don't know what to offer given that at this point he doesn't know what his needs are. It seems many will be provided by the state. I will recommend that he apply for SSI. He has over $100,000 in school loans and even if he gets better as the medications have a cumulative effect, I can see he might be easily overwhelmed by taking care of himself and the obligations he has.

I walked out in tears and have been exhausted for the rest of the day. I did tell him that the one thing my husband and I would be willing to do is pay out of pocket for any specialists, therapists and prescriptions he needs. Where we live the Medicaid system gives you a 5 minute appointment. with a psychiatrist once every 6 weeks. He said doesn't want to go that route. He has a degree in psychology. He thinks he can heal himself through meditation and by healing the wounds from his past life. He doesn't want to see doctors. God help me. I know this sounds disjointed, but my mind is jumping from one thing to another. I was hopeful. I prayed that if he could just call and I could hear him say "Hi Mom" in his sweet voice it would be enough. It's not. I'm so sorry that it's not.

Where do we draw the line as far as help? Last year at this time I was having a true emotional breakdown. Our marriage was in jeopardy. We aren't flush. Between difficult child 1 and difficult child 2 we are out several thousand doctors. And the result? difficult child 1 is still unwell and difficult child 2 is still drinking. Special needs Grandson will continue to get all his clothes, toys and other things as we see fit. I am starting Al-anon and going to NAMI support meetings. Not quite how we envisioned our golden years. The good news is that it's just me and husband at home. Keeping our home as our sanctuary is our iron clad pact to each other and it helps. What a ramble! Thanks for listening.


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Help? I'm really sorry for your hurting mommy heart, honest, but he doesn't want help so you don't have to worry about paying for help. He is under the impression that he can heal himself and doesn't need medications and likely will not take them or go for therapy. If he doesn't want to go, don't force the issue. It won't do any good and will only stress you out and make him angry which will stress you out more.Unless he says, "Mom, I am anxious to get better and would like to take my medication and talk to a dialectal behavioral therapist to learn coping skills" you really have nothing to spend your money on and in my opinion you'd be foolish to do it. He isn't willing. Medicaid treatment is just fine...he would probably be much better IF he listened to what the doctor told him to do. He is, like so many difficult children, deluded into thinking he can cure himself and those with superior educations and knowledge don't know as much as he does. Common with our adult kids. Foolish, but common. Maddening, but we have to accept that this is who they are and why they don't get well.

The most gifted psychiatrist/psychologist can get nowhere if the patient is not willing to accept the treatment and do the hard work that is required to treat a mental illness. I have a mental illness so I have some experience here. You only get out of it what you put into it and if you don't comply, you get nothing out of it.Does your oldest son take drugs or drink? That makes things even worse if you are mentally ill and it takes away the good affects of prescription medication anyway. One day your son may have the light bulb go on, but he hasn't yet...and no guarantee he will...or won't. We can't predict the future.

As you have already seen, the adult kids are not one bit better even though you have handed out money like a bank. Who has custody of Grandson? Do you want to fight for custody or do you have it? It does not sound as if your son is fit. Is the mother fit? If not, no matter how much you pay to give your grandson the "must haves" he will still live in instability and you can't control that either. We can not make our families functional, only ourselves. Personally, I hand it over to my higher power and let them do what they must, even if I feel it harms them. I know that there is no way to control another person, even if it is a child we gave birth to. We have 0% control over anyone but us so I "Let Go and Let God." If you don't have a higher power, I highly recommend reading extensively on mindfulness to keep you living IN THE MOMENT and enjoying every second of your life!

Your golden years can still be golden. It is up to you what you do with the rest of your life. You do not have to spend it angsting over your grown children. Ruining your health, not taking vacations and enjoying one another and the other perks of being "golden" age will NOT heal either of your adult boys and unless you have custody of your grandson it will not make his world much better either.

Have you read "Codependent No More" by Melodie Beattie? Strongly suggest it! Also "Boundaries" by Townsend and Cloud is good. It has religion in it, but if you are not religious you can skip the religious part and just read the wisdom in between.

Remember, your life and the quality of it is up to you. Al-Anon would probably help you a lot. Your own therapist or yours and your husband's may also help. I'm sure you still have plenty of fun times ahead of you if you want to claim them. I would focus on building your relationship with your husband and functional friends and give up trying to fix your boys. You can't. You can't. You can't. And trying to doesn't work...just makes them even more dependent on you at an age where it's not healthy for any of you to be dependent on one another. Read the article above on detachment. Have a serene night. :)
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Thank you MWM for your reply. You are so right. You are so right. You are so right. We all have such challenges when it comes to our own difficult child children. It is so much clearer when you hear reason from someone who understands but can dispassionately express what is obvious and true.

As for my Grandson, my husband and I have discussed custody and sought expert legal opinion. Neither parent will willingly relinquish custody. In our state there are no "grandparents rights". The standard to remove a minor child from a birth parent is as difficult as it is to be involved in an adult child's mental health care.

Thank God for my marriage and my faith. I have wonderful extended family too. But this forum has been a lifeline for me. I have read parts of it over and over again. I have read it out loud to my husband. It sure is good to be able to vent to people who understand the unique challenges of raising difficult children. I'm done with that part. Now I have to work on myself.


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Welcome, Tishthedish.
My daughter is doing her internship at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in D.C. The "transitioning" side of the hospital truly does just get people "stable" and then out. They usually show up again in a couple of months. There are so many people out there who need help, there is not enough space and money for them all. on the other hand, it still makes me mad that so many people, like your son, who are noncompliant with-medications, are discharged when they aren't ready.
It's a tough call.
I'm sending hugs.
I hope that my son isn't in that position some day, but he's turning 18 in December ...


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Thanks TerryJ2. It is like an assembly line. Beds are needed for others and the process is flawed. I know that his thinking is still disordered and can only hope and verbally encourage him to take the next right step. That means he needs to be in a somewhat protected environment with access to doctors and medications. Whether he respects the recommendations of the social worker at the psychiatric hospital remains to be seen. He is still under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system due to an arrest for assault last summer. Maybe they will mandate mental health court or medication. He won't listen to us so either the system will work for him or he'll repeat his past behavior patterns. Time will tell. When my son was 18 he was on a full scholarship to college. I didn't know hurt and hell like this was even possible. Thanks for the hugs. I'll take all I can get!


one day at a time
Where do we draw the line as far as help?

Tish, welcome and I am glad you found this forum. It has truly helped me so very much in the past six months since I have been here, writing and reading and working hard to change myself.

I think you have to make a plan about help. Having a plan helps us not to react in the moment when the requests are coming at us fast and furious and we get confused and upset and scared.

Also, buying time. When the requests start pouring in, say, I'll have to think about that. I'll let you know later.

Also, it has helped me to make a list of area resources and give them to him. It's for me that i do this, because I know that shelter and programs he goes to also provide lists of resources. I have found them in his belongings before.

It helps me to know that help is available. It shows me that I don't have to be the source of help. I can detach with love and let go of him.

I also believe we have to live with ourselves. Sometimes I think about what I would do for a complete stranger. And I ask myself, wouldn't I do even this for my own son? But because I love my son, and I know so well his story and his history, I also know that whenever I do something for him that he can/should do for himself, I am setting him back. I am getting in the way of his true bottom that he MUST reach in order to be so sick and tired that he wants, really, really wants, to change. And so it is because I love him, and today I love myself as much I love him (through hard work on me, I have learned to love myself) that I say no over and over and over again.

It costs me to say No so many times to someone I love and so now, in order to help myself, I limit my time and connection with him. I don't want to completely cut off our communication (at least not yet) but I limit the time. I let phone calls go to voice mail, I don't allow him to come here without an invitation, I am not available to meet unless I have decided this is what I want to do ahead of time, etc.

It is a step by step, inch by inch process. A journey. I have learned the hard way and over time.

I am starting Al-anon and going to NAMI support meetings.

Great, right now you can't get enough good thinking inside of you. Soak it in. Write it down. Meditate on it. Read. Start thinking about yourself, your life, your peace, your joy. Start putting yourself at least at the same place you put your son, and start making decisions that allow you to take better care of yourself. Regardless.

Keeping our home as our sanctuary is our iron clad pact to each other and it helps.

Great commitment! I love this! You must have a source and a place of calm and peace. You must protect that.

Blessings and joy and peace I wish you today. Please do something nice for YOU today.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Keeping our home as our sanctuary is our iron
clad pact to each other and it helps.

This is key to your survival, Tish. When the kids are in crisis, we discount the passion that brought husband and wife together, that made each of us better, stronger, happier people than we were, alone. In the continual chaos, in the horrendous emotional pain created by one difficult child, let alone two, there comes to be a feeling of wrongness at the heart of our marriages, over time.

There is a tinge of shame to all of it, coloring even the good memories, coloring even the times of strength and passion something drab and dull and useless. Nurturing that fire, physical and spiritual, that should be at the heart of the lives we create together is put on hold until our children are safely launched. I think that need to see our children safely launched is a genetic thing, is something strung through our DNA.

Our difficult child children refuse to launch.

And that is the nature of the conflict we find ourselves in. We are fighting the genetic imperative, the parent's determination to do this thing right, to see it done.

For a time, everything else pales into insignificance.

husband and I had that focus for so many years, for decades. Everything was forever about the kids. One would fall apart. By the time we got her up and running, our son would move home. Money, time, energy and effort, along with that sense of celebration come of a hard thing well done...all of that energy went into the kids.

And none of it made a lick of difference. All of it, sucked up and out of us and drained into some bottomless place where whatever we did, whatever sacrifice of time and money and effort we made, it was never enough.

At some point, that fire that needs to burn brightly enough to forge relationship between husband and wife has been squandered elsewhere so many times that there is nothing left of it but a memory, a broken dream of all we'd meant to one another, of all we'd hoped for our children and for ourselves.

So, that's what we're fighting, Tish.

That, and that the kids blame us. They blame Dad to Mom, and Mom to Dad.

That's really tough. Every marriage, every family, has times when things weren't perfect. It is so hard not to focus on that wrong thing you did, or your mate did. After a really long time, after years of trying to get it right, of trying to address whatever the shortcoming was that resulted in the kids' lives turning into what they turn into, we finally get it.

It was never anything we did.

So, that pretty much sucks too, to realize we've been manipulated like that for all those years.


It's really hard to come back from that place where everything has turned to ashes. That is why so many of us lose our marriages, I think. It isn't so much the stress of the difficult child. We are strong enough, committed enough, to do that. It is that taste of hopelessness, that taste of ashes, that swamps the fiery passion that forges that incredible bond between husband and wife.

Both husband and I wonder sometimes what it would be, to live lives of wholehearted celebration; to live lives without that sense of regret, without that taste of ashes.

My advice: Get away with your husband as often and for as long a time as you can. Go for a weekend, go for a month, make a morning coffee date for every Saturday ~ whatever you can afford in terms of time and money, do it.

Last year at this time I was having a true
emotional breakdown. Our marriage was in

Where do we draw the line as far as help?

Between difficult child 1 and difficult child 2 we are out several
thousand doctors. And the result? difficult child 1 is still
unwell and difficult child 2 is still drinking.

It helped us to realize that if the kids had a plan, a set of goals, that they were working toward already, and they needed money or advice to keep doing those successful things successfully, we would help. Anything less, anything having to do with "I need rent money." (Again) Or "I need money for fines or licenses." (Other than professional licenses ~ and even there, we have paid enough times that we probably will not spring for those anymore, either.) Or food. Or even the things for the grandchildren that they should have (braces, extra lessons, Prom dresses....)

That would be no.

And then? We realized that if the kids were doing those right things? They wouldn't need either money or advice.

So, there you go.

Okay. I lied about the Prom dresses. That, we do.

I am starting Al-anon and going to NAMI support

Will husband attend with you?

Mom, I am anxious to get better and would like to take my medication and talk to a dialectal
behavioral therapist to learn coping skills" you
really have nothing to spend your money on and in my opinion you'd be foolish to do it.

Yes. I agree. MWM nailed it in half the words it took me to do it.


Good job, MWM!!!

Maddening, but we have to accept that this is
who they are and why they don't get well.

And accepting that is the nature of the battle we need to fight.

We can not make our families functional, only

It is hard to do this. We feel guilty when we have enough and the kids have nothing.

Especially when there are grandchildren involved.

I hate my kids sometimes, for that.

I would focus on building your relationship with
your husband and functional friends and give up
trying to fix your boys.

That is where it has to get to. Might as well be sooner as later. What it feels like to me is that I made a decision to survive. I go back to that decision to make any decision about how to respond to the kids.

I'm sorry this is happening to you, Tish.



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thanks all for the posts. i will read them over and over as difficult days continue. you have all helped more than you could ever imagine. what an awesome group of women. COM, hubby goes to NAMI stuff with me but al-anon so far is only me. he is able to keep the difficult child issues at arm's length better than me, but if I need him or want him to come with me anywhere he will. He's that good and I am that loved by him. Lucky me.