Life out of balance--emotionally drained from son with mental illness

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Mama5, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. Mama5

    Mama5 New Member

    I am new here. My journey began last year when my son was diagnosed with a mental disorder, schizoaffective with bipolar. Prior to the diagnosis he had two assault charges from fighting with roommates. Since the diagnosis he has had multiple hospital stays and medications. He is currently on an injectable. He told the hospital last week that he was not hearing "the voice" anymore. They let him out. On the way home he admitted he still heard the voice and he was going to have to call 911 because the voice told him to. He is currently in jail for calling 911 multiple times a day after being released from the hospital. He has threatened suicide before, also. He pulled out all the stops yesterday and begged me to bail him out yesterday. He is getting some disability money finally and I have met every need he has for months. I've taken him to court and gathered documentation to get him out of jail/trial for the charge of going into a post office multiple times to ask the same question. I have used the medical documentation to help him with one of the assault charges. I have taken him to multiple medical appointments. I have set him up in an apartment, bought his things, set up all his bills that I pay, and been there everyday to help and give him company. This recent event occurred after he got out of the hospital and called 911 again nine times. He warned me he was going to do it because he was still hearing the voice on the way home from the hospital. I told him this time for the first time if he chose to do this he would accept all consequences including no bail out. He did, and I did. I am trying to do something different because what I'm doing is NOT working. I feel like I'm enabling him and he is taking advantage. He does have a pretty severe mental issue, but I've told him he needs to not listen to the voice. I asked him what he thought would happen when he called 911 multiple times. He said he thought he would be transported to the hospital even though this has happened before and he was jailed for it in another city, too. His mental illness is adding an extra, extra amount of guilt. He is currently not in the general population but in a medical section of the jail. They say they are watching him closely and he is doing o.k. Any advice would be appreciated. My heart is breaking over this son My stress is through the roof. I feel like I've been close to a nervous breakdown multiple times in the past two months. I am still working and trying to manage him. I never have a moments peace....:(
  2. pigless in VA

    pigless in VA Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Mama5. He's in jail and he's relatively safe, so take some time to regroup. Have you been to see a therapist for yourself? I think when we go through extremely stressful situations, it's a good idea to take care of our own mental health. Certainly, a serious mental illness for a loved one qualifies as extreme stress.

    I wouldn't have bailed him out either. I had to send my late husband to jail over his craziness, but his father bailed him out after one day. Sometimes jail is the best and safest place. It isn't ideal, but neither is the hospital when they discharge them too quickly. It sounds like your son knows what to say to the doctors in order to get out.

    Warm hugs for your aching heart.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  3. Mama5

    Mama5 New Member

    Thank you, pigless. The jail assured me he was in good hands with lots of mental health staff checking in on him. I have not been to a therapist. A friend has suggested antidepressants. She said they really helped her. I am 54 years old, too, and have never taken anything, but have been close to taking her advice. I just signed up to take an 8 week community NAMI class at the local hospital beginning in September. My emotions are constantly evolving. I feel a tiny victory in saying no to bailing him out. The old me would have run to pay the bond. Just not wanting to answer the phone if he calls because I'm afraid this new "tough shell" will crack and cave. Yes, he withholds information to get out of the hospital. Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated!
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • List
  4. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    Al Anon will be a tremendous resource for helping you to detach with love.

    You have learned that you cannot control him, fix him or cure him. He is an adult and mental illness or no, he is capable of complying with medication, going to therapy, and participating in society to whatever extent he can.

    It is his life, we learn the hard way that we usually just make it worse when we meddle, and all our worrying changes nothing (except making US upset!).

    Keep on posting, this is a wonderful and very supportive community.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
    • List
  5. Mama5

    Mama5 New Member

    Thank you, culturanta. Trying to control, fix, and cure him was my first response. That stage lasted a few years. Meddling, worrying, and all the above have been the things I've done the past year of this journey.
    Detaching with love is the next chapter. I'm feeling myself headed in that direction now. Wow, this advice you all are giving is as good as what a therapist would give. I truly am feeling better reading it. Thank you all for taking the time to help.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  6. StillStanding

    StillStanding Active Member

    Welcome to the board. It sounds like you have done a lot of amazing things for your son. Having a family member with mental illness is overwhelming and exhausting. I don't have any advice. But, you are not alone.
  7. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    Sorry about your son. I am surprised they actually put him in jail. We have people in my city who do that all the time. The police usually come talk to them and continually threaten to arrest them but never actually go through with it. Other times, the police just take them to the mental health hospital. I agree that going to counseling would help you. Maybe you could also talk with your son's psychiatrist and ask how you should respond when he behaves this way.
  8. Littleboylost

    Littleboylost On the road unwanted to travel

    It is so difficult. I am glad he is in the medical wing of the jail. Jail is I place for someone with mental illness as severe as your sons. I definitely think cousleing is a good step in the right direction to help you plan new strategies of dealing with your son. Hang in here there are a lot of amazing and helpful people!
  9. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome Mama5,

    I'm so sorry for what you are going through. From what you have shared it sounds like you have a very good handle on things. It was a very wise choice to reach out to NAMI and sign up for some classes.

    Mental illness is such tough thing to deal with but not impossible. Your son is aware of what he's doing otherwise he wouldn't call to tell you. You handled the last situation well.

    You are really doing the best thing for your son and yourself by working on detaching.

    Something that has helped me is to keep in mind that I will not be around forever and to continue to assist/enable/help my son only prolongs the inevitable. It's much better for difficult adult children to learn as best they can to navigate through life without us. The image of an 85 year old woman with a 60 year old difficult child still expecting mamma to bail him out and take care of him is truly sad.

    None of this is easy but you are on the right path. I also agree with the others that finding a counselor for yourself will be very helpful.

    I'm glad you found us here. Keep posting and let us know how things are going.

    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  10. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    So sorry you are dealing with this and running yourself ragged. Do you have any emotional support from a spouse or other family members?

    You have gotten great advice here.

    I just wanted to offer my support to the support pool!
  11. Nessie

    Nessie Member

    I too would like to offer my support. Wish I could say something to give you peace but there is nothing. Keep on posting and reading from this site as it has helped me a great deal over the last six months. I have been trying to come to terms with the fact that my son has chosen his own path and I can't tempt him away. One thing I have learnt is to accept this, doesn't always stop the tears or soothe a broken heart but strangely helps.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    With all due respect, your son cant stop listening to the voices. They are real to him. He has trouble telling fantasy from reality, thus the serious diagnosis. This isnt depression. This is hearing voices. Psychotic. Schizoaffective is a combination of the very serious schizophrenia and bipolar. Schizophrenics can not tell fantady from reality even if told to ignore fsntasy. If it were that simple, psychotic people could easily deal with voices by just ignoring them.

    But you cant take care of him. He needs to be in a home for the mentally in where they can give him medications and monitor him. I know of a few places like this around here and we are a small community. Im sure if they are here, they must be everywhere. Is your son on Disability? He should not have trouble getting it with his serious mental ilness. Disability and Medicaid should cover the costs of special needs housing.

    Psychosis is not rational. You cant just expect the patient to ignore hallucinations. They cant.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
  13. Mama5

    Mama5 New Member

    Thank you everybody for such wonderful advice! This site has been really helpful to me to hear everyone's perspective on whether I'm doing the right thing. He did not call from jail again today, so I know he is accepting that we are leaving him in there until Monday when he has his court date with the judge. Someone mentioned why didn't they just release him. They did release him two hours after the post office incident. They released him from jail, but we still had to go to court two weeks later. The court in this particular city is having us come back in October to review it and see if he has stayed out of trouble and the post office. The police officers in all cases have been kind and understanding, but he has been arrested for these three incidents (post office, calling 911). He was also arrested for assault for fighting with his roommate about 18 months ago just prior to his diagnosis and before medications and his first psychotic break. When he called 911 a few months ago in another city, they "retired" his case when I told them about his diagnosis. For this lateste 911 arrest, he had an arraignment on Tuesday by video with the judge and will have a trial on Monday. He does get disability money now. I was funding everything on my credit cards and from financial help from my mother for two months before the first disability check came in. I have wrestled with this decision and have questioned myself all week. I have wondered if it is possible for him to learn to control himself when the voice commands him. My thinking is that I will never know unless I pull away the crutch of not rescuing him and imprint it on his memory. If he does it again, then I will have my answer and know he has no control at all. I wish he had strategies to help him learn to cope with the commands. As for putting him in an institution, the mental hospital says he is capable to make his own choice if they can get him stabilized. Each time, they say he is stable. He tells them he doesn't hear the voice commanding him anymore. For me to get him in a group home, I would need to go to court to get conservatorship. I was told by a mental therapist that even if I were able to get him into a group home, they could not force him to stay. The hospital keeps telling me each time they are ready to release him that he is able to make this choice for himself and is stable enough to decide. He does not want to go, so he tells them he is not interested in a group home.
  14. Mama5

    Mama5 New Member

    Forgot to answer the question about emotional support from family. This has been improving with my husband, but for a while I was going it alone. It has taken a big toll on my marriage. I've been running around most days this summer for my son and not home much for my husband and two daughters still living at home. It has caused lots of arguments and my husband has not been very supportive at times. On reflection, maybe I was too involved. Anyway, he resented me for being over involved. I resented and accused him of not loving his son enough to be more involved. It has not been pretty. My other adult son is the one who did the paperwork months ago for disability, and gave us a break for a few months by funding a camper in a campground for his brother and checking in on him weekly. That didn't work out too long and he was kicked out of the campground. Now I'm the primary caregiver. I've been going everyday to his apartment I found for him, and taking him to appointments, courts, jails, and just running errands with him. This summer it has been on me. Now I'm going back to work and am praying he can be more independent....
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am involed in a mental health community. I have a mood disorder myself but am stable and like very much to encourage the young people who come.

    You can ignore the hallucinations with therapy and medication. On your they are loud, intrusive, and persistant. medications quiet them or silence them. Therapy helps patients cope. They learn how. Some cant, but many do. All are in antipsychotics.

    Command hallucinations are very compelling. He will not be able to ignore them without proper treatment. He may not even know if they are real or not when they are happening. Have you ever read up on schizoaffective disorder?

    It is true that legally you cant force your son to get proper help. I think its a bad law, but psychotic people have rights. Thats why many schizophrenics are homeless. Often they get paranoid, and think the world is plotting against them. Then they are terrified of getting help.

    Your son is sick, not being deliberatdly difficult. That doesnt mean you can live with him. This is actually a very sad situation. I am truly sorry.
  16. Mama5

    Mama5 New Member

    Thank you for your insight. He has been on multiple different medications. He said none of them have gotten rid of the voice. He seemed most stable on clozapine and lithium. However, he stopped cold turkey on the lithium because he said it made him sick. He weaned off of the clozapine to the point of going psychotic again and was hospitalized again. This is why they have him on an injectable. I wish the clozapine had an injectable available. I know the psychiatrists and social workers talk to him when he is hospitalized or going for his appointments to outpatient therapy. I hear from them that he won't open up much to them. I'm not sure the strategies they teach him to ignore the commands. He doesn't seem to know any when I ask him. I always bring that up to them to please teach him how to deal with the voices and give him strategies. I don't really get a good answer on best strategies to cope with voices. It seems to be that medication is the main course of action in every psychiatric hospital he has been in. I've read things on the internet that I share with him to try to help him manage. The psychiatrists tell me that he may always hear the voice (it is one main one he says), but they are trying to get it quiet enough that it is manageable for him. Yes, I have read about his disorder. Thank you for sharing. :)
  17. Hello Mama5, big hugs to you. My daughter is bipolar and hears voices too. I asked her why do you talk back to them? She said because they are her friends. Asked why can you not make them go away, really fight against their talking and not answer them....even gave helpful suggestions on how to do so. Her answer was she does not want too because most times they are the only "people" she can talk too as she has no friends at all. How do we help them fight that when, at least in her case, she enjoys them?

    You are doing the right thing! After my daughter got out of jail she came to live with us. She found a homeless shelter that will keep her until she finds a job and has chosen to go there instead of following our few house rules here. I called the cops on her the night before she left and this man really put it to her and made her think. As I drove her to the shelter we talked. She said in fact that she has used us all these years and she is very sorry about that. Confirmation of what I already knew.

    Many years now I struggled with her behavior, the abrupt mood swings, hitting me one time because I blamed it on her bipolar. Felt so guilty because this runs in my family and was not her fault. But what I realised, finally, that they use this to their advantage. Oh, they are smarter than we think!

    Hang in there, focus on you. Even if you had a chance to help him in a more positive way...your having a nervous breakdown will be the end. My thing with my daughter now that she is not here is that if she continues in a positive direction, I will be here for her but not as before. No money, food, bailing out of jail, ect. But as an ear to listen, to give advice....nothing more. If she chooses drugs and alcohol again to deal with her bipolar instead of the lithium she is supposed to take, and refuses...we are done.

    It's so hard to be strong with our children, I cried buckets yesterday. But let me tell you how good I feel today for doing so.
  18. Mama5

    Mama5 New Member

    I also told my son to talk back to the voice and tell him "No, I won't do that." He said he feels pins, needles, and shocks over his body when he doesn't comply with the voice?? My other son read that medications can cause a pins and needles feeling. My son also has no friends. I have been super involved, too, because I feel like I'm all he has sometimes and I want him to not feel like he is alone in this world. He says sometimes the voice is nice and I see that the voice makes him laugh. Other times he says the voice says mean things. The voice has even told him to jump from a bridge. That is why I convinced him to go to the hospital the last time. We also had years of odd behavior prior to the first psychotic break-lack of hygiene, lack of teeth brushing, moodiness, sleeping all day. The psychiatrist called it the prodomal stage of the illness. I have tried to save him from himself. I have talked till I'm blue in the face, raced to bail him out or pick him up when released from jail, begged him to give me his phones to not call 911, been at the post office when it opened so he wouldn't go in and be arrested again, counseled him, told him some strategies I'd been reading about to try to handle the voices, etc. It has been exhausting....He stays in the hospital and is learning how to better control his behavior to let them see what they need to see to say he's stable, then he gets out on his own and gets in trouble. It's amazing how far I've come in accepting how he is now. Last year when he had his first psychotic break and the police picked him up and committed him, I wailed. It was true grief over what was lost. It felt like a death in the family. Ever since, I've lived hoping every time he loses his mind he could get closer to what his normal self was; praying this new medication will work and then the next medication. Leaving him in jail is one thing I haven't tried. I don't know if it will have any effect, but as someone said earlier I won't be around forever and he will need to learn to exist in society to the extent he is able. I have had terrible guilt over this all week. He pulled out all the stops on the phone and told me I was abandoning me, he couldn't believe I would leave him, the voice made him do it, and he cried and begged. It was torturous. I too have cried buckets the past year. It does feel better to get it out. Only time will tell if this had any positive effect.....Thank you so much for your thoughts and sharing your story, too. This has been very therapeutic and safe for me to anonymously share my story with everyone.
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
    • List
  19. Aw Mama5, I feel as if I wrote that myself... BIG HUGS! I did the same, research upon research on these voices. She told me that when she tried my suggestions the voices get really loud and very nasty, she covers her ears and listens to very loud music to try and drown them out....says it never works because they will then touch her. Oh, did I freak out over that! Touching her? Gave me the chills...

    I lived the life your going through of my daughter acting totally sweet towards others, her voice is so syrupy sounding and childlike who would not appreciate a person that nice, to get her way. But in the very next minute, and I am not exaggerating, the switch flips to this horrible, destructive girl. Most of this side of her is always directed towards me, totally undeserved, as I do the most to help her.

    She self medicated with alcohol first, which lead to pot, them tried a few pills such as molly at a club, snorting cocaine, to her admitting to me that if she had not been arrested that night...she would of used a drug that's injected into the arm. She has been raped by going out to bars and clubs, getting so drunk she remembers some of what happened, not all. She has gone to strange places to meet people on the meeting apps like plenty of fish... I feared daily that a call would come in telling me that she was dead or in the hospital. Funded everything during this time for her as well. Rent, food, antibiotics, cat food and litter. She had jobs and admitted to me she used her money, enjoyed...buying drugs and alcohol.

    But my friend...where does it stop? How much more can we really do that has not already been tried?

    She was in jail for 2 weeks. Intoxicated and caused a disturbance in a public place and the biggie....felony for battery on an officer. She was charged with licking his upper arm. For real??? We were not going to bail her out this time. This was her second time being arrested. Because she was honest with intake at jail when they asked her if she ever cut herself, she said yes. Did it a lot when she was young but not anymore. Well they put her in medical which is on watch 24 hours a day, they don't let you out of the cage at all, they shut the lights out. My daughter told me she flipped! Was having out of body experiences like floating. Am thinking this is where they would place your son until they knew what they were dealing with. Even with my daughter clearly not going to hurt herself after the first 24 hours, they held her there for 3 more days. To someone with mental disorders this is torture! My daughter is also very cold all the time. No blankets as she could hang herself. She was flipped out the entire time in medical before being released into general population. The first time she put her hand through someone's window. She suffered the most damage for her actions by slicing muscles and a tendon which needed surgery and physical therapy. All taken care of by me driving her here and there. She was only in a holding cell for 8 hours as I bailed her out.

    So I let her come live with us after the 2 weeks in jail. At first she was a changed person. It looked like she was in shock to be out. She agreed to every rule I set, this was life changing for her. We got her into therapy, she started the medication lithium, stopped a lot of the voices, she was a sweet, wonderful girl and not doing it to get something, she got and held a job. Finally, I was happy! Then they fired her from that job. She stopped taking her medication and she started going back to the person she used to be, the voices started again too. It's scary listening to them laugh and talk with no one. It was hard but I had enough. Tried to get her back on the medication, she refused, slept in all hours because even though she applied to jobs, no one wants to hire a felon. Although the court thought it a bit silly the charge of licking his arm, it still was unwanted contact so was downgraded to a misdemeanor. When jobs do a background check all they see is felony. She has to show them a paper, if it gets that far, that it was downgraded.

    I was at my wits end. Tried all I could think of, researching all sorts of stuff, taking her everywhere, spending major dollars that we did not have. She began breaking the house rules we set. Hard as this was...I cried my eyes out for days, went to a lawyer to evict her out of our home. She decided to go to a homeless shelter yesterday, I dropped her off. Only she can do the right thing now...or not. I am no longer involving myself into her drama. And you know? It's been one day of her being her till my last breath...but it's been a stress day. So happy I stuck to my guns and did this. Could she kill herself? Get into a situation where she is really hurt or dead? Yes. But as you said, we won't be around forever... we may of kept them from it while we were alive, killing ourselves in the process but, I always felt soon as we are gone, nothing will hold her back. If it's going to happen, no matter your best intentions, it will.

    Please be kind to yourself and help not him, but you, to lead a stress free life now....while you still have time to do so.
  20. Mama5

    Mama5 New Member

    Michelle, thank you for sharing your story with me. Our stories do sound very similar. Last fall he had quit taking the medication that he was prescribed from his first hospital stay back in June, got into a verbal argument with his dad over a video game controller, left the house, then returned at one in the morning to get the controller. He broke the back door lock to get in and scared us half to death. My husband called the police. They came and talked to us, I tried to smooth it over that the lock had been broken before, we had recently fixed it, and he probably thought it wasn't locked. The police returned him to the hotel room he had gotten earlier with unemployment money and he stayed there for two weeks. When the money ran out, my older son took him to a homeless shelter in a city close by. He got into a fight the first few hours he was there and ended up on the streets of that city for three days. My other son who has better finances than we do bought him a camper and he lived at a campground until he got into an argument with the other campers over not dumping his septic system. He had a psychotic break, went into the hospital involuntarily at the order of the police who were called to the campground, and has been in and out of mental hospitals multiple times since March of this year. They think they get him stabilized, but he lasts about one to two weeks and ends up back in. They have tried multiple medications. His best medications were clozapine and lithium, but he flushed the lithium and was noncompliant on clozapine. That medicine causes rapid withdrawal psychosis if you come off of it too fast. He stayed stable on this medication about a month. This is the longest time he was stable since March. I got him an apartment. He has been in it about twelve days since June 1st. The rest of the days this summer he's been in the psychiatric ward or jail. I'll admit, knowing he's cared for at the jail, as I'm starting back to work, has made this week so much less stressful. My job is full time with lots of take home work as well. I will not be available to him like I've been all summer. I am trying to detach myself. When he gets out, I am sticking with the plan. I'll reiterate that I will help you all I can, but I will not be involved in bailing you out of jail and suffering the consequences of your choices along with you. Hoping this improves things. I have been living a very unbalanced, stressful life this summer....I'm just hoping I can not worry about what he might do next when he gets out, possibly Monday.... Thank you for the words of encouragement. I am trying to destress and detach more. :)
    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
    • List