Homeless son, 26, how do I cope with this?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by LucyJ, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hello All
    I just found this site. I live in the UK, but these problems have no national boundaries. My son is 26. He's had mental health problems, depression, etc since he was about 18 or maybe younger. He graduated from a good university but couldn't find a job. He drifted from one low-paid menial job to another and spent time dependent on benefits (social security). I've helped him out financially countless times. He's never seemed to be able to cope with any tiny bit of stress and gone downhill as regards self-esteem and taking responsibility. His personal hygiene has been an issue for many years. He's smoked pot on and off throughout his 20s but nothing stronger. It's not a drug issue. It's about wanting to opt out of society and not have to work or face up to anything. A few months ago he walked out of his latest job, left his rented house and announced he was going to "live in the forest" and be a self-sufficient 'eco-warrior'. Do you have 'eco-warriors' in the USA? The reality is that he is squatting in a derelict farmhouse with a group of other drop-outs. There is no heating or lighting and no running water. There are rats and mice. They live by scavenging thrown out food from bins behind supermarkets. He hasn't washed for weeks and his clothes are stinking and muddy. He looks and smells like a tramp (hobo?). He has no income at all. I feel as though he has fallen through the net of life, is lost to me, I can't support this way of life and I've probably enabled him to never stand on his own two feet or face up to earning a living etc.by always stepping in and trying to solve his problems for him. I feel so sad. How do i deal with this? My daughter tells me that there is nothing I can do and that I have to just let go, that he may find his way back and he may not but that I can't do anything. And if I do nothing will it lead to his death? It's deep winter here now, torrential rain and freezing temperatures, how can he survive living like this? I can't do anything and I can't do nothing. Just lie awake at night sad and sick with worry.

    Read more: http://www.conductdisorders.com/com...-detach-not-enable.50067/page-2#ixzz2sClUakU8
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I never heard of eco-warriers. I don't think we have them. Whatever that is, if that's how he wants to live...opting out of society...let him. That means he doesn't need his toys, which means he doesn't need money from you. Apparently, this is a movement to live off the land?

    His choice. He knew exactly what he signed up for. Why does he expect you to fund him while he refuses to grow up? I personally would not. Not a dime.Sounds like the kids sort of watch out for each other...our deepest fear is that they will die, but that rarely happens. Our kids survive, with or without our financial support, for the most part.

  3. Sabine

    Sabine Member

    He is choosing to "opt out" of society. I have no idea what sort of relationship you have (other than the financial aspect), but obviously he's out "doing his own thing", and it's best to just let him. Don't judge or try to change him, just tell him that you'll always be there for him for emotional support, but he's a grown man, and you are unwilling to financially support him from here on out.

    When you're no longer "funding his irresponsibility", you may find his alternative lifestyle somewhat less distasteful... and he may find it more so (eventually).

    It takes all sorts of people to make life as interesting as it is.
  4. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    Learning to ignore the behavior I don't like was one of the hardest things I ever did. I can't tell you not to worry as that is what us mom's do (we can't help ourselves) but know he's an adult and this is his decision; we are here for you and support you regardless of what you do (even if doing nothing is the right thing.)

  5. aud

    aud Member

    My son has talked for years of living off the land but that didnt last very long. If you try to rescue him then he will just keep saying thats what he wants but you ruined it by stopping him. Try to let him be for a little while anyway. Does he have a cell phone so he can call you if he needs to.? Has he ever been on medication? My heart goes out to you.

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  6. WaveringFaith

    WaveringFaith Member

    LucyJ, you are living my life right now.. Or at least, that is where I am headed. I, too, have a 20 yr old son who has suffered severe clinical depression the past 2 years. I have done everything in my power to try and help him, I've realized that I have been enabling him. He now, for the past almost full year, has lived with me basically as a zombie in my home. Never leaves his room, plays video games in the middle of the night, sleeps all day, very poor personal hygeine. He is now refusing to refill his wellbutrin and refusing to continue seeing his therapist.

    I have been enabling him, I think because deep down, I know he needs to go find his way in the world. They are making these choices for themselves. I have been affected deeply by my son's descent into darkness. It has changed my personality and my outlook on life. I have become depressed myself and there are days when I don't even know how i survived from the grief of basically losing the son I once knew and loved.

    I am at the point where I know I need to let him go. I have a younger son who doesn't deserve this type of household. I know that my older son will head into the streets. He cannot be around people, some type of extreme social phobia, so getting/maintaining a job is not something I see in his near future. The winters are cold here too, that is what I worry about also. But they are grown men and know we love the. We can't keep trying to protect and shield them from themselves. You must learn to detach yourself, as difficult as that sounds. You can't let this consume you, but I know this is easier said than done.

    I pray for you and your son and hope he finds his way to a safe place in his life, and that he eventually can come back to you as a healthy and stable young man., however long that may take. I wish that end result for you.

  7. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for your replies.
    I have always had a close loving relationship with my son and that hasn't changed. My husband became his step-dad when he was 19, so they have never lived together, but they get on ok and there have never been any major problems. My husband doesn't understand his behaviour at all, but he doesn't get involved. My husband is a professor and can't understand how my son, who is intelligent and well-educated, has thrown away any opportunities to 'make something of himself'. My son has strong views about things that he has gained from reading and talking to people, rather than through life experience. It is impossible to discuss anything with him as he becomes agitated and 'wound up' if you disagree with any of the twisted views that he has on life. He has become more and more cynical in recent years and distrusts anyone in authority and finds it impossible to keep any job as he is soon arguing with his colleagues and reacting aggressively to any managerial control. He has shared houses with others in the past and I get the impression that he is extremely difficult to live with. He is in his current situation with around 20 other drop-outs, and they may plan to support each other, but I know it is only a matter of time before he falls out with them all and wants to 'disappear' somewhere else. He refuses to register with a health centre or dentist and says that he will learn to take care of himself using natural remedies that he can forage in the woods. This is obviously not happening as he is painfully thin and living in extremely unsanitary conditions. I don't know what will happen if he becomes ill. I pay for his cell phone and he sends me occasional texts saying how much he loves me. Most of the time I can't get into contact with him as there is no electricity supply to charge his phone battery. He says he sometimes goes to a cafe or library and plugs his charger in. I worry so much that there will be some emergency and he won't be able to contact me. My heart bleeds but all the advice about trying to learn to detach is what I must try and follow.
  8. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Do you have family history with schizophrenia? What you write about last brings to my mind a sister of my friend who started to seclude herself during Uni, let her hygiene go and started to have argument with people and very strong ideas of how things should be. At first it was quite subtle in fact. Her parents and sister were amazed how she had just a bad luck to get so difficult room-mates and professors and so on. Real psychotic break came only bit later.

    Considering your son's age unfortunately schizophrenia is one, and quite common reason for such a personality change in that age. It is much more common illness than many realize and has better outcome when treated than most realized too. But of course, if he refuses to see a doctor, getting him evaluated and treated can be difficult. I would however advise you to do some research on schizophrenia and if you think it could fit, I wouldn't be above trying to bribe, talk or force him to get medical attention. With schizophrenia it is extremely common that people don't recognize their illness (it is in fact part of the illness) and need to be treated before they are able to make an opinion if they want to be treated. Same 'hit the bottom', 'has to be ready and want it' principles people talk with substance abuse issues are not working with schizophrenia.
  9. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Schizophrenia is something I have wondered about in the past with my son. His father had some odd mental health issues but was never diagnosed with anything. His father used to become obsessed with what he thought other people were thinking about him and cared more about people who didn't matter than he did about his own family, such as getting involved with all sorts of strange organisations and groups of people and spending time with them while spending zero time with his own children. He craved acceptance and wanted people to think he was a 'good bloke', so acted quite strangely at times as he tried to be seen as this great guy. His issues seem to be the exact opposite of my son's as my son doesn't care at all what anyone else thinks and seems to go out of his way to NOT fit in. My son despises his father and has refused to have any contact with him since he reached an age to have a choice at around 15. I have wondered if my son harbours a deep fear of 'turning into his father' and hence has chosen a path through life that's as far as possible from his father's obsessions and view of life. I will read some more about schizophrenia, and thank you for your input.
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I believe there are 5 different kinds of Schizophrenia. My brother is a paranoid Schizophrenic and lived on the street's of L.A. for many years. He was not aggressive or violent, but he had auditory hallucinations and felt everyone was listening and watching him. About 25 years ago, he was hospitalized, I am not sure why but he ended up staying with me for awhile after he was administered medication. Eventually we were able to get him a room in a boarding house in L.A. He did not want to stay with me because he said it was "boring." After living on the streets for so long I'm sure it was boring.

    The problem is getting your son to a Dr. to be evaluated. If he refuses to go, then it really doesn't matter what his diagnosis is, he will continue to live the life he wants to your horror. Mentally ill folks, for whatever their reasons, are very often not compliant with medications, either because they do not feel they require medication because there is nothing wrong with them, or the disease itself has components that they enjoy and don't want to give up. If you attempt to get your son on medication and he refuses, there is really nothing you can do, you still have to learn detachment in order for YOUR life to work. We can't spend endless energy trying to get another person to avail themselves to services or anything that they do not want. It sounds as if your son does not trust any part of society, so getting medications doesn't sound like something he will do willingly. Of course it is worth investigating and trying, but if your attempts to get him to help himself fail, you'll need to learn to let go. Having lived around mental illness all my life, trying to get another on medication is not easy and doesn't always work, so just prepare yourself for that.
  11. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    My son refuses to even register with a doctor so there is no way that I would be able to get him to agree to speak to one. He has seen a doctor and counsellor previously when he suffered depression at university, but he says they're all useless and he needs to rely on natural healing that he can do himself.

    I have to start looking after myself and that has to start with learning how to switch off and detach enough to be able to get some sleep. Insomnia has taken over my life.
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Acupuncture helped me to learn to deeply relax and it helped with sleep issues. Meditation works too. Amping up exercise helps with insomnia. Melatonin helps, as do herbal teas for sleep. Youtube has guided meditations you can listen to with earplugs before bedtime to relax you and clear your mind. Avoid alcohol before bedtime, it is a sleep interupter. Limit caffeine. It all helps.
  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It helps to have something you have memorized ready to repeat to yourself when you wake up worrying. The rhythms of the repetition of the verses, along with the imagery that attends especially the Shakespeare piece, are soothing enough to break through the middle of the night worrying cycle. Here are two things that I have used:

    God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
    the Courage to change the things I can,
    and the Wisdom to know the difference.


    "The quality of Mercy is not strain'd
    It falleth as the gentle rain from Heav'n
    upon the place beneath.

    It is twice blest;
    It blesseth him that gives and him
    that takes.

    Tis mightiest in the Mighty."

    William Shakespeare
    Merchant of Venice

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  14. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Good morning everyone

    Managed to sleep for a few hours last night, so that's an improvement!
    It was our youngest's 10th birthday yesterday so we all went out for a family meal. That's often when it hits me worst of course, that we are all together but someone's missing. She's worrying about him too as there are storms and floods here and she knows he's living rough with nothing. She wanted me to go and find him so he could come for a meal with us. SO difficult trying to explain to a child in an appropriate way. My eldest daughter brought a newspaper report from 2 days ago about the settlement where he is squatting. It basically said that eco-warriors on this site had been given six months to evacuate by the local council or they would be forcibly evicted. It's the first I knew of this. I actually found out some more information as the reporter had more information than me about where they are living! I haven't had any cellphone contact with him for a fortnight now, so you can imagine my worry levels are pretty high, but I'm still trying to focus on myself and separate from it.

    Thinking of you all and hoping you have a peaceful week.
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I know how devastating that kind of worry can be. Your son is out there living the life he has chosen, while you are sadly suffering on the sidelines. Do everything you can to minimize that suffering, remind yourself that you can at any time choose to stop.............I know that sounds absurd, but as the saying goes, "misery is optional." With practice, even under these kind of severe circumstances, you can still find inner peace and experience joy, regardless of what your son is doing or not doing.

    I think we have to experience the feelings, not push them down, however, we can adapt and learn detachment and learn to accept what we cannot change in life. Most of us need a lot of support to be able to do that, plus we need to put the focus onto us and take it off our adult kids. Every single day, do something very kind and nourishing for yourself, amp up your self care, make sure you exercise and get outside.........an 11 minute walk can change your brain chemistry. Taking good quality Omega 3's along with exercise has proven to be of considerable help with mild depression, along with B vitamins and Vitamin D. Sleeping is extremely important so put effort into making sure the insomnia is under control. Try to find a parent group, a support group, a therapist, a minister, someone or a group of someones who will offer consistent support and give you the tools you need to learn how to detach.

    Most of us here started in similar places and we've learned from each other, from our therapists, from books, from life.........to let go. To the degree that you can let go of your son's choices in life, your life will improve dramatically. You have other younger kids too, so do it for them so that you can be present with them rather then ruminating over your son.

    Sending you prayers for your peace of mind ...............
  16. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    What is an eco-warrior?

  17. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Yes, allow yourself to feel your feelings. For a long time, I avoided that. It just hurt so much I thought I would die from it. But we don't die from the pain, even though it is so so severe.

    It is beyond pain. It is suffering.

    Once I decided to again---try something different---sit with my fear and pain, let it literally wash over me, cry, scream, rail, whatever I needed to do as it happened, I learned something new. I didn't die from it. In fact, after my "episode" was over, I felt better. A lot better.

    That encouraged me to allow it again. And each time, the time I needed got shorter. It didn't completely wreck my whole day or even half a day. I could feel it deeply, move through it, get to the other side of it, and soon, go on with my day and my responsibilities.

    I remember one day I was driving down the road, and it all started to well up inside me. I was in the car alone so I just let it. I was making sounds I had never heard from myself before----deep moans. It was coming from my very essence.

    This pain of dealing with our own children making these choices is visceral. It is biologic. It is at the cellular level. It is the most fundamental thing I have ever felt. It is the deepest suffering I have ever felt, more than my sister dying, more than my divorce, more than other serious events in my life.

    Allowing the feelings is healing. It is scary at first, but it is ultimately healing. Allowing the feelings to come will help with insomnia, with depression, with the crazy, frantic feelings, with all of the emotions we are feeling, with all of our own crazy behavior, as our loved ones are spinning out of control.

    So, don't fight it. Sit with it. When you are the throes of it, look at it for what it is. It is grief at the rawest level.

    but it won't kill you.

    And, it doesn't require action toward your difficult child. It is action toward YOURSELF. Once you start getting that, you will start to get better, and you will start to let your difficult child go. You won't feel the frantic need so often to MAKE THEM STOP NO MATTER WHAT, and you will start caring about yourself more and more. You will see things more clearly. You will make better decisions. You will start to feel happy again.

    Prayers and blessings to us all on this day. This is the only day we have, this day.
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  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'd never heard o an Eco-warrior either. I can't imagine US kids opting out of life for a cause...lol. They opt out of life for drugs, not any environmental issues. I had to look it up. Kind of reminds me of the 60's hippies who lived on communes, but nothing really of late.Our kids are not that involved with worldly causes. They just want to make money, whether on their own (most of them) or by talking us into supporting them (most of our difficult children..lol).
  19. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    'Eco-warrior' is a term coined in the UK for anyone, (but usually idealistic youngsters), who drop out of society to live off the land by whatever means they can and at the same time fight industrialisation or urban growth over our decreasing areas of countryside and animal habitats. They often appear where woodland is threatened by a new road or new housing estate etc. In my son's case it's a derelict farmhouse and farmland that has been abandoned and they say they want to regenerate it and grow their own food in a way that's not harmful to the environment and they want to stop the land being redeveloped and sold for commercial profit. The reality is though that they have no funds or equipment or knowledge to do any of this, so I can't see any of it happening.
    You can google 'eco-warrior' and follow the wikipedia link.
    There's probably less of this going on in the USA as you have more huge areas of open land that we don't have here. But I think you still have issues about things like fracking and similar that people may campaign against.
  20. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    My son wasn't an ecowarrier, but he dropped out to live with the Occupy Movement, in two different major cities including our hometown, as well as visiting Occupy sites in other cities. Overall I would say he lived at their encampments for over a year on and off, but mostly on. He set up a cardboard box house. He had "friends", a feeling of belonging, he could adopt a stand on issues he really didn't know or understand but he could shout slogans, he could hang with a group of people who also felt like outsiders. HOnestly I can see how it was a great period for him...of course he was homeless, smelly, living on handouts, and ultimately when they all left he hung on with a few crazies till he was picked up by the cops and hospitalized...but I suspect that is sort of similar to your eco-warrior son's choices...it isn't the thing itself that has meaning, it is being with a group, and, critically, NOT HAVING TO DEAL WITH BEING A GROWN UP IN A WORLD THAT THEY CHOOSE NOT TO MANAGE.
    IN a weird way I"m kind of happy for him that he had that period...but he was 18, and I kind of hoped it was just a transition of being a young rebel...really it was just more opting out and more crazy..but still. He felt he belonged. I don't think he feels that way any other time.
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