Hello to all -- Introduction

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Sleepymom1, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. Sleepymom1

    Sleepymom1 New Member

    After months of reading your posts, I am finally ready to introduce myself. I can't believe there are so many others out there like me! I'm sorry we're all here, but it's such a comfort to know I'm not alone. I am the mom of a 20-year-old difficult child son, and a wonderful 17-year-old easy child daughter. My son has been a handful for me since he learned to walk and talk, honestly. I remember calling his pediatrician when he was 4, basically begging for some help. They made me an appointment, but much to my dismay, called me back a few hours later and said after looking at his age, they realized he was "too young" for any type of ADHD evaluation. They advised me to wait until he started school and see how that went. I don't think I had ever cried so hard!! Fast forward to elementary school.....his Kindergarten teacher praised his good behavior in class. I couldn't believe it! So, we muddled through the next few years. He was always difficult for me.....I often had to make him do his homework.....it was difficult to get him out of bed in the morning, etc. But we managed. Some minor school misbehavior started about 5th grade. But, it was in middle school that everything really fell apart. Unbeknownst to me at the time, apparently he started smoking marijuana in the 6th grade, and from that point on was hooked. He managed to graduate 8th grade (barely). Freshman year of high school was a nightmare. He missed so much school.....simply wouldn't get out of bed on time. After arrests for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia, he ended up in juvenile detention for 6 months. Looking back now, that was such a peaceful time! I would go visit him every Saturday afternoon. He did well in the program there. I was able to focus on my daughter and my new husband while he was there. When he got out there was a brief honeymoon period, but things quickly went south again. He brought drugs into the household. My new husband (understandably) said he couldn't live like that. We looked into sending him to various rehabs or boot-camp type facilities, but unfortunately cost was a factor. difficult child's dad (my ex) was no help, and my husband and I couldn't afford it. So, out of desperation, to try and save my second marriage and provide a peaceful home life for my daughter, my husband and I put difficult child into a cheap apartment. It was close by, so I checked on him often, took him food, etc. He turned 18 while living in the apartment. Unfortunately, he completely dropped out of high school. No GED or anything.
    Fast forward to present day.....difficult child is now 20 and has been living with us since August. We could not afford the apartment anymore, and being that he truly had nowhere else to go, he moved back in. As I'm sure you predicted, it's not going well. He worked a few weeks for my husband, who has his own business, but of course that didn't work out long term. (difficult child has had 3 short-lived part-time jobs in his life.). Also....I think it's a combination of years of drug use and some pre-existing mental conditions, but difficult child's behavior is erratic and scary sometimes. He has these occasional "breakdowns," where he will yell and cry loudly when things don't go his way. It's like an adult version of a tantrum. In the past, he has punched holes in walls. He hasn't done that since moving back in with us (thinks he knows we'd kick him out), but he has broken his own cell phone and thrown/broken a couple of candles that he bought. Last night he threatened suicide. He said that he'd never hurt anyone else, but he might hurt himself. I was very close to calling 911, but he started calming down after we talked. I should probably mention......we took him to a psychiatrist when he was 14. He was diagnosed with definite ODD, and possible ADHD/Bipolar. I am starting to think the bipolar diagnosis was right on. But, of course, he doesn't think he has a problem. So, my question to you wonderful, experienced ladies is, what do you do with a grown child who is most likely mentally Ill, but refuses to get help? I am scared for us and scared for him, too. Really don't want him living here, but hate the thought of just putting him out on the street with his bag of clothes. Thanks for reading this novel, and thanks in advance for any replies! Glad I found y'all. :)
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Sleepy. I'm sorry you find yourself here with a troubled difficult child, but I'm glad you found us. You may also want to post your story on the substance abuse forum here since your son has been abusing drugs for a long time. That way you'll get support from us and support from the warrior parents over there too.

    You've been at this a long time. It's depleting and exhausting and takes a lot out of us. I know. We all know how you feel right now.

    Have you tried contacting NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness? They have wonderful courses for us parents and can provide you with various services that may be beneficial to your son as well as to you. Another source of help are the 12 step groups, Al Anon, CoDa, Narc Anon and Families Anonymous. Many parents here get a lot of support and solace from those groups. I believe it's important for us to get as much support as we can since this is a very difficult path we find ourselves on. Some of the choices we have to make are extremely challenging.

    It sounds as if your son living with you is not a healthy situation for anyone in the family. With drug abuse and mental issues your son is not faring well, however, if he is not willing to get the help he requires, go to therapy, take medication, then you're faced with what to do when they don't admit to having a problem, they act badly and negatively impact the rest of the family. You might make him going to therapy and perhaps being open to medication if that is something that comes up, a stipulation for living with you until you can find an alternative.

    You're in between a rock and a hard place...........I think it may be prudent for you to get yourself support, to find avenues of help so that you can look at options, talk about your concerns, get guidance, get information and find alternatives that will work for your family. The choices are not always just the two you are looking at, he stays or he has to go, there may be other options a professional or a group or NAMI can suggest for you. And truthfully, you may end up with those two choices.

    Hang in there, this is hard stuff. Find support for yourself, keep posting, do kind things for yourself. I'm glad you're here.........
  3. Sleepymom1

    Sleepymom1 New Member

    Thank you recovering enabler! I haven't contacted NAMI yet, but I plan to. Funny....this evening difficult child was acting "normal," almost as if last night's episode didn't happen. Unfortunately, I know it's just a matter of time 'til the next episode. Thanks again for the warm welcome. :)
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. A warning.

    You have earned a happy life from here on out. If this were me (and I know it's not) I would not let grown son, who refuses to help himself or get a job and who uses drugs, ruin my marriage. My take on it is he knows what to do that is RIGHT and is choosing not to get help, not to quit drugs, and not to try to get better by living life. I have many mental health issues too and going home, laying around, and refusing help never crossed my mind. Everything he is doing is his choice. I felt suicidal at times too, but I pushed myself and got past it or sought different types of help and I'm doing well now. This is his own battle. However, I am guessing a huge part of it is his substance abuse. I didn't use substances.

    Since your son won't help himself, he probably won't get better. You have a new hubby and a sweet daughter. Don't neglect any of them for your son. That's my advice, at least. Don't live in chaos if you find yourself doing so. I personally think it's ridiculous to pay for his own apartment, although it is painful for him to become homeless. Try making him apply for Disability (after all, your house/your rules). That way he can get Section 8 housing. That's one step you can take. Another is to insist he work at least part time and get mental health help and comply with the doctor or else he has three months to find a place to stay and put the onus on him. That way, he has a choice. He can stay, if he follows your rules in your castle.

    I'd say the vast majority of our adult kids have personality disorders which looks like bipolar because of the emotional ups and downs and many do have bipolar with it, but what most of us (maybe not you) are dealing with is borderline, narcissism and in some cases even antisocial personality disorder. Without extreme intervention and hard work on their parts, personality disordered people don't get better and usually they won't even admit they have a problem. They are nearly impossible to live with and keeping them happy requires us to support them as if they were little kids rather then men and women. Example: Bet you were paying for that cell phone that he broke, as if he were a two year old having a tantrum. He isn't working or in college...why pay for a cell phone? Are you funding his driving escapades? Does he have any responsibility at all? Is he coming between you and your husband? Is he taking precious time away from you and your daughter who is living the right way?

    Your son knows right from wrong. You taught him that. His choices are his own. Nobody can live his life for him and you can't save another person, even your own grown child. This is all just food for thought. You do not have to answer here. It is for your own thinking. Although we can't change another person, we can change how we react to that person or the boundaries we set, if we don't like the way things are going. We do have THAT power.

    Have you ever gone to a Twelve Step meeting for loved ones of substance abusers, like Al-Anon? I will humbly recommend you be good to YOU and get help for YOU. YOU matter as much as him. YOU need to take care of yourself and get some help in coping with this overgrown Peter Pan. (Most of them are Peter Pans).

    I am sorry you felt the need to post, but very happy you found us. Try to have a peaceful night and count your blessings...and don't neglect those blessings either ;)
  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi sleepymom and welcome.

    Your story has many similarities to my story with my difficult child.

    He was hard even as a baby (colic and formula intolerance) and then as a little boy he was precociously cute (red hair and freckles, smiled all the time), toed the line in elementary school, except was a Mama's boy and shy and didn't like new situations then in middle school started getting into trouble with grades, not doing homework, "just holding" a classmate's ipod, etc. In high school he played soccer for four years and really wanted to do it, so toed the line again. In college, first semester, completely flunked out and lost his lottery scholarship. It really went downhill from there (you can read my signature). The past five years have been a living H___. He is now 25.

    A few thoughts:

    1. People are still responsible for their behavior even though they are mentally ill.

    I first heard that thought at my therapist's office during an appointment. She was referring to my husband (now ex) who had depression, anxiety and alcoholism. Three mental illnesses. I was continuing to make excuses, feel guilty, modify my behavior drastically because I thought it was not fair of me not to do that---because after all, he was sick. She set me straight right quick. She said people always have choices and they are responsible for their choices. Now maybe she and you and I would make an exception for somebody who has completely lost touch with reality and never "comes back" into the here and now, but that's not your son. And it's not my son.

    2. You can't fix him or rescue him or make him all better or protect him from real life. He's a full grown adult in the eyes of society. He will have all of the rights and responsibilities thereof. Whether he's ready for them or not.

    3. If people won't help themselves, they will stay the same or get worse.

    Today, my son has been out of jail for six months and is now living in an apartment (since the end of October) and is working two jobs. That is progress for him and I celebrate that. on the other hand, he broke his hand last week hitting a wall because he was mad at his girlfriend, who is now pregnant (as she told me in a FB message Saturday night).

    My son insists he doesn't need the help that comes with a true recovery program. As long as he does not have a "day of reckoning" with himself, which by that I mean getting honest and humble, and getting help and actively using the help on an ongoing basis, I believe his life will continue to be filled with chaos.

    4. Like someone here said so memorably: Not my monkey. Not my circus. That phrase has been echoing in my brain for the past three or four days. I believe at some point we have to let them go. We have to release them to the Universe, to a Higher Power, to the world. We can't be their Mommy anymore. Not really for us, because as mothers, we will give beyond sanity. For them. It doesn't work. It really doesnt, and you already know that, and so do I.

    5. We have to accept what is. We have to work on ourselves relentlessly, we have to have that "day of reckoning" with ourselves, getting honest and humble and getting help and actively using that help on an ongoing basis. Otherwise, our lives will be filled with chaos because we love a mentally ill person and we believe our love (surely it will) will save them. But it won't.

    I know how hard your path is right now. By your post you have tried it all. You now are dealing with it full time in your face and you see no way out.

    Here is my best thought for you: When you believe you can, give him a deadline to move out. Make it reasonable. When the day comes, stick to it, even if it means he is standing on the front porch with a suitcase and has to start walking down the street.

    I have done that, and it requires a huge cost. I cried the entire time as I watched him walk up the street but I didn't go out and call after him. I was past done.

    I love my son, and I know you love yours. The only person we can save is ourselves in this life. Warm hugs to you.
    • Winner Winner x 4
    • Like Like x 2
    • List
  6. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    Hello, Sleepymom! I just wanted to welcome you to the site, where you will find many wise words from members who can definitely relate to you. I have no advice beyond that already given, but wanted to put in my two cents since it sounds like your son and mine are so similar. Mine is almost 18 now, and school for him was impossible since grade 7. He dropped out of high school twice (started 9th grade twice) but had so many absences that we finally gave up on the morning drama of trying to wake him up, getting him out the door, only to find out that he either didn't get there at all or left early, simply walking past the security guards. He's doing some better now after spending over a year in therapy.

    Hugs to you, and please consider all the advice given, even if it seems a bit harsh or like something you're not ready to think about now. I've gradually come to terms with the fact that I'll have to make some changes in my own life (boundaries, what I'll accept, etc.) to reclaim some peace and happiness. It's OK to seek help for yourself from different sources and to not spend all your time and energy trying to keep your son happy, which probably won't happen until he makes some changes of his own.
  7. Sleepymom1

    Sleepymom1 New Member

    Thanks to all you wonderful ladies who replied. I still can't believe there are others out there like me! It's so nice to find a place where I can "talk" about all of this. I'm sure my co-workers wonder why I hardly ever talk about my son. I am a very private person, and it's all just so embarrassing and sad!
    Midwest Mom -- yes, I have paid for multiple cell phones that he has broken. There will be no more. He currently doesn't have a cell phone, and oddly seems fine with it. He never even got a driver's license, so no car. I have thought about disability for him before. Think I will have him look into that.
    Childofmine, glad your son is doing better. In spite of the broken hand (ouch!), it still sounds like he has made good progress.
    Origami, thanks for your kind words, too. Yes, our sons' school experiences sound very similar. It is awful when you start getting the court notices in the mail, because you physically cannot MAKE your child go to school!
    Have a wonderful evening all. Until next time..... :)
  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi Sleepy,
    Oh boy does your story sound all to familiar, my difficult child started having trouble around 14. I'm sorry you had to find this site but glad you did. My story is so very similiar to yours only my difficult child will be 34 next month. My husband and I too paid for an apartment and even purchased a small home. Over the years we have paid thousands of dollars for counseling. He has been in and out of jail and is currently homeless. He did have a brief period where I thought he had changed in that he got married but it was all an illusion, he abandoned his wife and 2 children. I have also dealt with the threats of suicide and I have learned it's a way for them to manipulate you into doing something for them.
    I understand you want to help him but don't help him in ways that will cost you your sanity, safety or happiness.
    It is time for your difficult child to take care of himself. Continuing to allow him to live with you is really not helping him. Only you can make the decision of how much you are willing to put up with.
    Oh how I wish I would have found this site 15 years ago, I could have saved myself from so much chaos and pain.
    Wishing you peace as you traverse these troubled waters.
  9. rush

    rush New Member

  10. rush

    rush New Member

    Gee you just described my situation to a T. My daughter finally got another evaluation from the head Dr and is doing well on the new medicinal regime. Wish they had a pill for ambition, but fortunately there is an alternative for me that comes in the shape of a foot.
    • Funny Funny x 3
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  11. Sleepymom1

    Sleepymom1 New Member

    Tanya M -- thanks for your reply. It sounds like you have really been through the ringer with your son, too. Kinda nice to know I'm not the only one who has actually paid for housing for my difficult child. Now he is back under my roof, and we still owe the apartment complex money for damages. :/
    And Rush, you crack me up! Thanks for the laugh. :)
  12. HeadlightsMom

    HeadlightsMom Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Sleepy! I'm glad you've decided to come on board more openly. Good to see you here! Yes, much of your story sounds familiar to me, too. And, yes, isn't it a rather amazing sensation to finally run into a whole group who can relate? I mean really relate? Sad, yes. But helpful, also. We're all in this together. We're here for you!

    CoM --- True that! The range of options may differ from diagnosis to diagnosis, but the fact is that Free Will remains to some degree -- usually a fairly large degree, in my opinion.
  13. Sleepymom1

    Sleepymom1 New Member

    Thanks for the welcome, Headlights Mom! Yes, I am still just amazed to have found this group. Wish we could all get together in person somehow!!
    My difficult child has had a good few days.....he cleaned the house, said that was his Christmas gift to us, as he couldn't afford to buy us anything. Just praying we can get through the holidays without another incident, but I don't feel certain about that at all.
    Nice to know y'all are here, no matter what happens! :)
  14. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    Sleepymom your son's current behavior and difficulties sound alot like my son's as well. The emotional dysregulation and accompanying behavioral dysregulation sound familiar. Check out this NAMI brochure about borderline personality disorder and see if it resonates:


    I asked my son if he'd be willing to take an online survey, and sent him this link. He said it sounded spot on and was actually relieved that what he was suffering from had a name and that there was targeted treatment to help him to deal with his powerful out-of-control emotions and to help him control his often resultant out-of-control behavior. He didn't like his being out of control any more than we did. The intense shame that people who suffer with this often causes them to look outside themselves for blame as well. Maybe your son would be willing to take a look at it as well. Whether or not this happens to be the issue, it may at least open up opportunity to talk once again about real professional help, instead of simply enabling and rescuing from crisis to crisis.


    You are not alone.
  15. Sleepymom1

    Sleepymom1 New Member

    Hi Hope Floats -- thank you so much for the links! I actually got tears in my eyes reading the symptoms of borderline personality disorder. It sounds so much like my son. The part about one negative comment from another person ruining that woman's entire day, wow.....that really hit home. The last "fit" that my son had was brought on by a few negative words from his sister. He even made the comment, "I was having a great day until she said that!" His reaction to her words was way out of proportion. Scary and sad at the same time!
    It sounds like we have a lot in common. I am 48 as well. I believe my son is also depressed, and marijuana is definitely his drug of choice. He spends a lot of time talking about it, and why it should be legal everywhere. Sigh.... :/
    I will approach difficult child at a calm time, and see if I can get him to take that survey. Thanks again! :)
  16. Hope_Floats

    Hope_Floats Member

    You're quite welcome. After spending years of going from crisis to crisis, always waiting for the next one and always wondering what the hell was wrong with him (it always seemed more complicated than simple depression or a drug addiction), I wish I had found that information sooner.

    I have another couple of books that I will recommend to you, that have completely changed the way I perceive the interactions that we have, and helped me learn to be more validating so that I don't feed the meltdown flames. They ALSO helped me to more fully realize how "helping" too much was actually enabling him to stay unwell, and that if I didn't change something, I would be one of those 80 year old women who take care of their 60 year old useless sons. And that by doing things for him that he should be doing himself that I was actually reinforcing his self-defeating idea that he was incapable (I think that, based on prior history, I really did believe that he was not capable - but he WAS). I found different ways of structuring the conversations so that he was able to come up with his own solutions and be given responsibility to follow-through on them (or suffer the natural consequences of not doing so).

    Another thing that helped me was that for about six months I took advantage of my company's EAP (Employee Assistance Program) that offered, in addition to the normal 6 free annual counseling visits, an unlimited number of phone consultations. I had a counselor that I had twice weekly, and then weekly calls with on the phone, so I could talk in the evenings away from work, who held me accountable for taking care of MYSELF and for not enabling HIM. That was helpful because, for a while there, any time someone who knew me well asked how I was doing, the answer would depend on how HE was doing. A good day for him with no meltdowns or crises, was a good day for me. A bad day for him, in which his latest crisis had become MY emergency, was a bad day for me. I had to STOP that. It was driving me crazy, and straining my relationship with my SO because he was SOOO tired of my only talking about whatever was going on with difficult child that day, and SOOO tired of having to work around whether I could or couldn't be available for him instead of difficult child.

    Here are the two books. They are available as kindle versions as well, if you'd rather download them and have instant access. Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder: How to Keep Out-of-Control Emotions from Destroying Your Relationship by Shari Manning, PhD and The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living with Borderline (BPD) by Alexander Chapman, Phd and Kim Gratz, PhD There's another popular one called Stop Walking on Eggshells, but I haven't read it. I sincerely hope that this helps. I started highlighting the texts that resonated with me, explained things to me, and that I thought would be helpful, but then I found that I was just coloring the whole book, lol!!!

    On another note, the marijuana issue is such a difficult one to deal with as well, because they THINK it helps them. They THINK it helps them calm down and numb some of the out of control emotion that they feel. The problem is, that is very deceptive because in the long run, the marijuana actually makes it WORSE. It actually CAUSES depression and anxiety symptoms, and can trigger other psychiatric problems as well, such as schizophrenia, especially in young males. AND, as you've probably seen mentioned here many times, it is a MAJOR de-motivator. They more they smoke, the more they just want to lay around and smoke. Making something legal doesn't make it good for you. Just ask any recovering (or non-recovering, for that matter) alcoholic or their family members.

    May I gently ask, if he's still smoking weed, and not working, where is he getting the money from to buy it?

    Many hugs. We're here.
  17. Sleepymom1

    Sleepymom1 New Member

    Hi again Hope Floats -- thank you for the book suggestions! I can't wait to read them!! :)
    I don't think difficult child is smoking weed very often.....he simply (usually) does not have the money for it. The times he has been able to get ahold of it, I believe, have been when: he was working part-time for my husband and actually making money; when he has received birthday or holiday money from his dad or other family members; or (my bad here), when I have given him money for groceries. We have a grocery store within walking distance of our house. Sometimes he asks for funds to walk over there when he wants to get something in particular to eat, or he will offer to go and get whatever we are out of (example - dishwasher soap). Silly me, sometimes I will put maybe $15 or $20 on his card so he can walk and get the items we've discussed. (Side note -- that is sometimes his only outing all day.). I am always thinking it will do him good to get some fresh air and get some exercise, as he seems to have slight agoraphobic tendencies as well. Anyway....I have come across a few of his receipts showing a "cash back" amount. Sigh....guess Mom needs to stop doing that. :(
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Weed is easy to get, money or not. Friends share their weed freely. My daughter started using weed a lot at age twelve and she didn't have a job obviously and had no trouble attaining it. They used to smoke it to and from school and all the kids were young so none of them worked.They often steal. My daughter would take just a bit at a time and I'm sure she and her friends put the $$$ together. She went on to more advanced drugs before finally quitting, which I thank God for every day. She could have died, seriously.

    Sounds like your son is being deceitful, for whatever reason. My daughter did stuff like that too. You're not alone.
  19. halfquarter

    halfquarter New Member

  20. halfquarter

    halfquarter New Member

    Well, I can empathize with you and feel your frustration and pain, but I don't have any answers.
    I am so sorry you are going through this, I am a new member here as well and everyone is so supportive.