Feeling Torn, No Win Situation

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Laker16, Feb 19, 2018.

  1. Laker16

    Laker16 New Member

    Our bipolar son is getting out of the hospital in another town 3 hours away today. We had decided that we didn't want him to live with us for our own mental well being and I have been trying to come to terms with it. I've gotten strength from many of the posts here. However, a lady from our local NAMI group called me and as we were talking she in so many words said that we as parents are the only help our kids have now that there aren't state hospitals and such for the mentally ill and that she had accepted that it is what she will do for the rest of her life.

    Am I a horrible selfish mother to not want to live every day I have left caring for my mentally ill son? I felt that way when I hung up. I feel so torn, there is no good solution. If we leave him in the town where he is now he will soon be homeless in addition to mentally ill and most likely will stop his medications/treatment. If we let him come home for a month to try to help him get his medications regulated and get a job and place of his own, then I lose the peace in my home and there is no guarantee that this time will be any different than the other times we've let him come home to "get on his feet". He is a hard person to deal with, feels that this is as much his house as ours and that we have no right to expect him to respect rules or boundaries here. :(

    I read in a post that enabling is doing for our adult child what they should do for themselves, and I agree, but a voice in my head says "but he can't do it for himself when he is mentally ill and not getting treatment." I feel such hopelessness today.
  2. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    I am in a similar situation except my son is in jail at the moment. When he gets out he is going to set something up with his uncle who has rentals to work and live I don't know if this will work out and if it doesn't he has no where to go. I have enabled him by paying rent buying food etc. He would not admit that he was bipolar and I tried to get help with a 302 but treatment has been inconsistent. When I paid his rent and helped him he did not need to admit that he had a problem. He was out of control taking drugs making his bipolar worse and getting into trouble. Wasn't on medications . He needs to bottom out just like an addict to realize that he needs help.

    I can not let my son stay in my home even if I allowed it my husband would not. I suggest you read a book called Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. I go to a private councilor who tells me I have to detach and I specially chose her because she had worked with bipolar people. As far as the woman at NAMI was she a councilor or a parent ? Everyone has to do what they can live with as so many people on here have told me. If she was a parent I suggest you talk to a councilor and see if she is of the same opinion. My question would be if he doesn't learn to live on his own now what happens when she is gone?

    Several people on here have mentioned an acronym called FOG fear, obligation, guilt. It sounds like she is trying to guilt you. I have not attended NAMI so I do not know their total philosophy but many on here have and will probably answer you as well. There are ways we can help that are more appropriate, you can set boundaries such as you can not stay with us in our house but I will pay your rent for one month until you can fend for yourself. An extended stay hotel might be a start. You could give him a list of organizations that would help him. NAMI could probably help you with that.

    We need to have a place where we are at peace, a sanctuary or we will not be any help to anyone. I was reading about famous people who are Bipolar and very sucessful I am pretty sure they don't live at home. I hope you find the answers you are looking for and hang in there more people will respond I am sure.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  3. Laker 16 - you are in no way selfish to not want to care for your son for the rest of your life. It would be exhausting for you and wouldn’t allow him to develop independence.

    I’ve been a mental health nurse for almost 30 years. Most adults aren’t discharged from hospital to their parents address, nobody would expect you to give up your life to care for him forever.

    You deserve peace in your home and it is YOUR home, anyone who lives there should always adhere to your rules and boundaries.

    I understand how you feel. I put my son out last April after many warnings and 4 years of hell. I too feel guilt and question myself, he has mild autism and ADHD which makes him very vulnerable with the kind of people he chooses to be friends with. However, he became a drug user and stole from us and smashed my things to intimidate me when I wouldn’t pay off debts that he still hasn’t stopped running up. I couldn’t live in the chaotic home he created anymore and In the end I put him out as it was affecting my then 17 year old daughter. My son was 19 at the time.

    Try to enjoy your peaceful home now. You sound as though you’ve been through a lot and deserve to have your home back.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  4. Laker16

    Laker16 New Member

    Hi Tired Mama,
    Thank you so much for responding. I am in a very low place right now.

    The woman I spoke with from NAMI was a parent of a mentally ill adult child who has taken training to teach classes for teaching families how to cope. Unfortunately that class won't begin for a couple of months. It just was hard to hear her say how caring for her son was a responsability she had accepted for the rest of her life since there are no longer mental hospitals and that her son needed her to monitor his medications and make sure he was getting help or he wouldn't have a chance at a good life. She told me she has flown her son to Boston to get treatment from Harvard that isn't available where we live. It made me feel like such a selfish mom for not wanting my son in our home, and we just don't have the financial means to send him for the "best treatments"

    We've tried having our son live here, but in the past he didn't continue treatment/medications, gots drunk and/or smoked pot with friends (although he has very few of those left now) and is difficult to be around (yelling/cursing). I know I can't cure him, but it is hard to not feel somehow responsible.

    I will definitely look for the Co-Dependent No More book you mentioned. I have to find a way through this.

    I appreciate your kindness so much.

  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I wonder what this woman who is devoting her life to helping her son expects him to do when she is gone. The vast majority of the mentally ill can take their own medications and receive adult services for housing, jobs and government services. This mindset always puzzles me because we can't live forever and this woman's son will not be at all self sufficient. I feel it's a poor choice for both of them.

    Also no guarantee Boston will be the answer. If it was he would be able to live independently.

    About the money, I am always shocked by how much money is spent on our adults. Maybe most just have a lot of money and that is not a bad thing, of course. But truly I believe it is up to the person whether or not he or she gets well. I dont think tons of money is needed. I speak as one with mental illness who never went to Boston but tried very hard and am quite well. My daughter went to no rehab yet quit meth and cocaine. Mental Illness/addiction is a lot how hard you try and less where you go or how much is spent on help. The alleged best can not force a mentally I'll person to comply with treatment and live a normal life. The best can't make anyone quit drugs.

    Do not feel bad. Not at all. That mother is not thinking about her son's long term needs. Did she say what her plan is for him after she dies? in my opinion it is best we treat them as normally as possible. That's what we did with our autistic son.
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
  6. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    I feel your pain this is a terrible struggle. Ask yourself what would it change to have him with you in your home again. And would these changes be for worse or for better.

    There are many other ways for you to support your son.

    Mental illness is indeed an illness and if he chooses to not take his medication and get the help he requires there are consequences to these actions.

    You are not selfish at all just realistic. It is an impossible choice we are stuck with. Damned if we do famed if we don’t.

    Do what feels right for you.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Laker, my heart goes out to you. I'm so sorry you find yourself in this difficult choice with your son. There are no easy answers. It's not hard to have our resolve shaken when confronted with another parent who is making the choice we likely are believing we SHOULD make as well. Then the guilt comes barreling in. Push the guilt aside for now and ask yourself what is it you truly want and what you are willing to do without resentment.

    The big red flag for me in your quote is that he feels you have no right to expect him to respect your rules & boundaries. For that reason alone, I would not permit him returning to my home. It's not just the peace in your home you will forfeit, you forfeit yourselves to someone who doesn't respect you or your rules. And, he is also a "hard person to deal with." You already know exactly what is in store for you if he stays with you.

    You said you had decided to not allow him to live with you for your own well being and that you are trying to come to terms with it. It sounds to me as if you already made the choice and then after you heard what the other mother said, you began second guessing your choice. Your well being matters. Your peace of mind matters. Your home as your sanctuary matters. You and your husband matter. Whatever you decide to do Laker, make you and your husband the priority....take care of yourselves. Do whatever you need to to ensure your well being stays intact.

    I'm sorry, I know exactly how hard this is. Do what is best for YOU.
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  8. Laker16

    Laker16 New Member

    SomewhereOutThere, apparently she has engaged a lawyer and had him draw up provisions to care for her son after she passes. Her primary advice to me was to get a lawyer and have him draw up papers to give my husband and I control over our son's medical decisions. It is great that those are things she can/is willing to do, but we can't and to be perfectly honest I don't want control over our son's medical decisions.

    I appreciate your sharing your recovery and that you are doing well. It is refreshing to hear from someone who has taken responsibility for their own health and been successful.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to listen/respond. It means so much.

  9. Laker16

    Laker16 New Member

    Littleboylost, that is really helpful. If we let him come home will he be safer? Maybe in the short term because he will have shelter/warmth/food & we can watch his every move while nagging him to stick with his treatment, but does that get him any closer to being able to take care of himself? I don't know that it would. I am going to discuss that very question with my husband this evening...thank you!

    You are right, our son has had some tough times, but has never really had to own the consequences of his denial. I think the hardest part about that for us is the mantra we keep hearing from NAMI and books on mental illness is: "his mental illness prevents him from accepting/realizing that he has a mental illness". With that in mind, it excuses him from ever being responsible for himself...it is maddening!

    Thank you for your words of understanding and support.

  10. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Thanks SWOT. Its always an advantage to have someone who has "Been There, Done That" respond. Laker 16, one thing you have to remember is there is NO one size fits all. If this woman has the time and resources to set this all up then fine. I think its a pretty good guess that the vast majority of us don't have those resources. Besides, like SWOT said, with someone always taking care of his needs he will never become a functional adult.
  11. Laker16

    Laker16 New Member

    recoveringenabler, you are exactly right. We had decided after the last disasterous attempt last summer at having him live here that we would not. It is definitely the fear, obligation and guilt that shakes that resolve when we feel we SHOULD sacrifice our comfort/happiness to give him a chance at a better life. I'm guessing that this waffling and self doubt is something every parent struggles with when making the decision not to rescue their troubled adult child.

    I liked your suggestion to do what I can without resentment. I'm sorry to say I have a lot of that towards him and although I love him, I have a very hard time liking him. I do know I am willing to do what I can to get him SS benefits, Medicaid and whatever other government help I can because not only does it give him a little help, it would take away some of the worry and helplessness that I am feeling. If he chooses not to take advantage once I've done what I can, I need to let it go.

    What you said last is I think what I really need to focus on. My husband is a wonderful supportive man and he deserves better...we deserve not to be miserable and in turmoil all the time. My husband is checking with his insurance to see what kind of mental health counseling we can get.

    Thank you for your enduring kindness.

  12. Laker16

    Laker16 New Member

    Jabberwockey, thank you, you are right. I need to remind myself that there is no one "right thing" for a parent to do. I think what is shaking my resolve is something called Anosognosia, which NAMI explains:

    "When someone rejects a diagnosis of mental illness, it’s tempting to say that he's “in denial.” But someone with acute mental illness may not be thinking clearly enough to consciously choose denial. They may instead be experiencing “lack of insight” or “lack of awareness.” The formal medical term for this medical condition is anosognosia, from the Greek meaning “to not know a disease.”" Anosognosia | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

    That idea that he ins't in denial but rather can't recognize his mental illness makes me doubt our decision not to take him in and try to help him out of fear that he is incapable of realizing/accepting his bipolar disorder. However he isn't a stupid man, he can argue and manipulate like a master...can it be true that he can do that but not recognize that he is ill and take responsibility for his own well being?

    I don't expect you to answer those questions. :) I guess I'm just verbalizing the conflict that I am caught up in in my own mind.

    Thank you so much for your time and support. It makes a difference to me.

  13. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    No you are not a horrible, selfish mother.

    You are accepting that you cannot fix, manage, control, or cure your son.

    Your son is an adult, not the sweet, vulnerable little boy of so many years ago.

    Nobody understands unless they've gone through it.

    My home life is dramatically better without either of my troubled stepsons in it. So I understand somewhat, but being a stepparent is of course very different so I can't say I understand completely. But I think I understand enough.

    Try not to live in the future, after all none of us have crystal balls. Your son will eventually have to learn that noncompliance with his medications means terrible consequences. One day you will be gone from this earth and he will have no choice but to fend for himself. He may surprise you and handle his situation, whatever it may be, with some responsibility.

    Blessings to you, this is horrible and not what a family is supposed to be. We ALL get that much.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  14. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    I recently decided to attend NAMI meetings in my area. This conversation is making me doubt that decision. The first meeting is tomorrow but i have a meeting with my councelor in a couple of hours I am going to discuss with her. Several people have put doubts in my mind about different things lately but i know he can not live with me. They say God gives you only what you can handle . I wish I new how he wants me to handle it.
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Laker.

    I disagree with that quote. Two of my siblings are schizophrenic, schizoaffective and bi-polar, my father was likely undiagnosed bi-polar, same with my daughter, a couple of cousins and more......not one of them knew/know/accepted that they are mentally ill.....even as they express their obvious delusions which can be completely out of touch with reality.....yet each one of them in some fashion, has managed to handle their lives. Not always what I would have chosen or felt good about, but they all managed. My dad supported his family all his life, my sister got her Masters in Fine Art and became a successful artist. Folks can be resourceful and find meaningful lives even if they don't know they are mentally ill. Mental illness in my opinion, does NOT excuse people from ever being responsible for themselves unless they are psychotic or completely removed from reality.

    Absolutely. A huge struggle for most of us.

    I think trying to get your son government help is an excellent idea. I tried that with my daughter too, but she would not follow thru on her part.

    Yes, you deserve your own life, with all the peace and joy you can muster. My husband is a wonderful guy too and at our age now, we are looking at OUR fun and OUR joy..... my daughter continues to struggle somewhat, but without me enabling her, she has taken her struggles onto herself and is doing okay with it all. She's moving ahead on her own terms.

    In my experience YES, he can. I've observed most of my family do this throughout my life. Lack of insight and lack of awareness of their conditions has not stopped those in my family from surviving and at times thriving. Mental illness like everything else is different for each individual. The other part of it is manipulation. The only one in my family who specialized in manipulation was my daughter. I think it is a part of how she has survived. However, I stopped allowing her to manipulate me and she actually stopped. She may manipulate the rest of the world, but she doesn't try it with me anymore, she knows I won't allow it. My family members are exceedingly bright, high IQ's, very creative, brilliant in some ways........they have all been able to learn how to treat others and now to adapt to the world they live in in spite of their mental illness and in spite of the fact that they are not aware that they are mentally ill.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • List
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Most mentally ill know it and some just want to use it as an excuse to do bad things, be lazy, not work hard to get better (it IS hard) and frankly it is often an excuse to smoke weed legally, although there is no proof it helps mental illness and plenty of proof it can trigger latent schizophrenia.

    In the end, in the U.S. the laws say that we can't force anyone to get help for mental illness, cancer, MS, etc. We are legally allowed to refuse treatment of any kind, even if we don't understand we are sick (although I am guessing this is most common with psychotic disorders. There is denial but that is not the same .

    I am not sure that even a lawyer appointed by simeones parents can force an adult into mental health treatment. I doubt it.

    in my opinion if we expect our adult kids to do better and refuse to do everything for them that is far more apt to give them life skills. I know your son has been diagnosed with bipolar. So was I. Then it was changed to mood disorder not otherwise specified. Bipolar I is the only mood disorder that causes a lot of psychosis and that is usually in a manic state.

    I was in a hospital for ten weeks at 23 and I saw true mania. Trust me, it is not just being angry. You get psychotic. Is your son that bad? Does he get so depressed he can't function or enjoy anything? I know what that is like. You don't get admitted to a hospital long term unless you are very sick. I went in voluntarily to get better and I learned and saw alot. There are milder mood disorders that are sometimes called bipolar or are milder forms. They are very treatable. But some doctor's don't explain the various types of mood disorders and scare us with bipolar as if we all have the serious kind. In fact even obvious mania and depression is highly treatable. You do need correct medications.

    to me as a patient, Bipolar seems to be the flavor of the day. As a patient again, I dont have the feeling that a label from a psychiatrist is 100 percent true. Psychiatry is inexact. Every diagnosis is a crapshoot.

    The most honest mental health professional I met was diagnosing my autistic son and was from the renowned Mayo Clinic. I remember every word he said. It was the first time in all my years talking to psychiatrists, psychologists and therapist that I felt I was being spoken to as an equal and told the truth. He was actually a neuropsychologist. He said:

    "Every diagnosis is just the clinicians best guess. There are no blood tests. Mayo makes wrong diagnoses all the time."

    He is right. I have had a slew of mood related diagnosis. I have come to believe I am just me. I know my abilities and how to take care of me. A diagnosis is a subjective opinion only. Everyone is different. Labels can be wrong.

    You know your son. You know if he knows he needs help or is denying it for other reasons. You know if he has insight to life or not. You know if he is so sick with bipolar that he is psychotic at times. You are smart and can make good decisions. I have enjoyed self help groups to help the mentally ill as well as to help myself all of my life. For every one person who doesn't know he is sick, I would guess there are twenty others that understand they are sick but don't want to do what is necessary to get better. Some don't like legal medication, often for good reason. Some don't want to work hard in therapy or quit illucit drug use or drinking too much. Some believe they are sick but truly don't believe they can get help. I was that person once. I didn't think anything would help me,but I was emotionally alone and had a baby and I had to try. My parents would have held me back for sure if they had stepped forward to make my life easier. I needed it to not be easy. Yes, we are all different but mental Illness is hard and only the person can ask for help and try hard. I was very suicidal. But I am still here and my life turned out GREAT. I feel good that I did it.i feel good that I am now mentoring people with mental Illness, mostly young. They listen because I was there. I mostly encourage them to never give you on themselves. I go to a really cool club house for those with mental health issues. If I take a few weeks off they ask me where I have been. Their hugs warm my heart. Sometimes I am brought to tears. I am a crybaby!

    So many people helped me, none of them family. I want to give back what I got. That is partly why I stayed here. Yes, I know sometimes I sound harsh and I am sorry. I may be thinking of my own path. If I ever get too harsh, take what works for you and please leave the rest. Or call me in on it soo I can apologize. None of you deserve to be hurt. I very much care for the mentally I'll. And for you struggling parents who DO care! You are heroes. You will be all right. Your kids do have to do this alone. But your love and emotional support....they will remember this in days when their heads are clear. Believe it or not I am grateful my parents walked away. It helped me a lot. I thank them, although at the time I didn't and, of course, they showed no compassion and called me "bad." This actually was just my mother. I didn't need her kind of help. You are not like them. You are angels.

    Love and light.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
  17. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Tired mama, I did not have the same experience at my NAMI meetings. You may not either. it may be worth a try to see if they can offer you support and guidance and resources and info. If anything is said which you don't agree with or abide by, then leave it. Only take what has meaning for you, here or at NAMI, leave the rest. We all take different paths......you'll know what is the appropriate support is for you.
  18. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is not my experience. There may be some who fall into this category but I doubt it is "most." There are so many mentally ill folks in my family, they are in fact, the majority! Not one of them knows he/she is mentally ill! They are strange, odd, eccentric, bizarre......but no one admits to anything beyond that.

    There is still a stigma to mental illness, even depression. I was talking to a good friend who recently realized she had PTSD from the California wildfire evacuations. She told me that in her family, depression is a sign of "weakness." Therefore she had her own issue admitting to even depression and ultimately requesting help. For those of us here who may be well versed in mental illness, this may be a subject not only more accessible to discuss in this environment, but we don't generally add the judgements to it....but in the real world out there, there are still massive judgments and stigmas, which I think plays a role in folks being willing to admit to their mental issues. It's very difficult to be "different" in our culture.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    RE, it has been my experience in the hospital and self help groups that they were very aware. Maybe it was your family or those I met. Who knows? I do know I was very aware from age six that something was different about me and not good. I was looking up mental illness at age thirteen in encyclopedias. Remember them???

    Regardless, it is illegal to force treatment so it is up to the person who is I'll. Or not. I know so many who did well. Again perhaps most dont and I met people those who did. I just know it is possible and that in my life the mentally ill I met knew it. Of course the ones I met were also the ones voluntarily getting help. So of course they knew and wanted to do well. The ones who don't know don't get help. And some that do know are also in denial that they need medications other than pot. And they may not get help, although aware.

    I believe your experience 100 percent, RE. We all have different experiences. As for the stigma, I have seen it get much better. It is still there and may keep some people in denial. I was very ashamed of this when I first was officially diagnosed, even though I knew. Seemed the diagnosis in hospital made me think "No way to deny it now. I am officially crazy." But I got over it and am not embarrassed about it at all anymore. Most people have issues!! I will talk about it if the topic comes up. I actually think my whole family had mental health issues and that one still does and not sure they knew. So maybe we did have similar families.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
  20. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    • Winner Winner x 3
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List