Mental or Behavioral Issue?--Not able to understand and is really scaring me

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by sunr, Mar 14, 2010.

  1. sunr

    sunr New Member

    My difficult child is completely oblivious to any consequence of what he is doing. He is not able to fathom what has he done wrong. As mentioned in my previous posts, he stopped going to school and watching TV in the basement. No regrets and no sign of understanding the future consequences. He says he wants to go to college and he will succeed but he doesn't understand that he needs to work towards that. We have caught him several times with tobacco in his room and severely warned. He brings them back again and no regreets. Leaves trail in the computer and doesn't worry about parents or others looking over. If I leave some wine or beer finishes up without worrying about the obvious fact that he is the one who has done it. Takes the car without license even after was caught by cops and was given dire warning. Gets aggressive, breaks stuff and doesn't feel that it is wrong. I can go on and on. Basically he doesn't think that any of these are wrong. If we have to call cops he gets upset and asks what did I do wrong? It is like a kid going into a shop, picking up whatever he wants to and not knowing that you have to pay for it.

    I am really concerned about this. Not sure whether this would fall into behavioral issue or mental disease. If it is former we can punish him (which we tried). If it is later, has anybody encountered this kind of behavior and so what category of mental disease this would fall into.
  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Is he being seen by a mental health professional? It sounds like your difficult child may have a combination of mental and behaviorial problems going on. But until you get the mental health piece addressed, you're going to be banging your head against a brick wall with the behavioral part.

    Sounds like he's had lots of warnings but few immediate consequences. Have you communicated to him what will happen if he breaks your rules? He's old enough that there should be no warnings if the rules have been clearly explained. The consequence should be definite and swift, with no wiggle room. Takes the car without permission or a license? Call the police and press charges. Breaks stuff during tantrums? Has to repay or replace it. Caught with tobacco? Has to do a really yucky, dirty, nasty chore for a week. Refuses to comply? Strip his room of everything but a mattress and a box for clothing. Heck, I've removed my difficult child's door from the hinge when he wouldn't stop slamming it in defiance. No law says I have to provide him with a door, or any form of privacy for that matter.

    I'm sorry he's being such a PITA.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If he is using drugs, which sounds likely, that isn't helping matters. Is this the 17 year old? Has he always been this way?
  4. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    If he's abusing drugs, he may need to be admitted to a dual-diagnosis treatment facility where they treat both the substance abuse and the mental health issues. That may be the only way to get at the heart of the problem.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I tend to agree with SW. IF he has a diagnosis of Conduct Disorder then all of what you have listed falls under what that diagnosis states. He really wont respond well to normal consequences unless they impact him in a way that he feels are dire enough to him.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I agree with-the others.

    My son has a somewhat similar issue, but he's not as old as your son.

    Your son hasn't had the right conseqences yet. He knows that the police are a bigger deal than Mom and Dad, so that's a start.
    Does he get scared or angry when the police show up ? That's a step in the right direction.
    Sit him down and outline consequences for certain behaviors. For example,
    Watching TV and skipping school = calling school, then calling police (or whatever enforcement group you have for truancy)
    Smoking in the house = not allowing him access to "fun money," and scrubbing all ashtrays, walls, and curtains and anything affected by the smelly smoke
    Ignoring your rule to clean up after smoking = get rid of TV.

    In fact, I would get rid of the TV anyway. Don't do it in front of him. He'll try to stop you and at 17, he's probably big enough. Wait until he's out of the house.
    This also means you cannot watch TV. Don't worry about it. You and your wife can slip out to a local restaurant and watch TV there while you have a date night. :)

    You want to make it NOT FUN to be at home during the day, and make it GOOD to go to school.

    Bringing home homework = movie tickets

    Get the idea?
    Clearly, something is missing in his brain and it's not going to be rewired using regular parenting methods.

    He may also be depressed ... so what kinds of drugs is he using? Is he self medicating, or is he giving into peer pressure or both?
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    P.S. It's actually good that he leaves a trail on the computer. That way you can keep tabs on him.
    Don't teach him to erase his history yet! He'll figure it out sooner or later. :)
  8. compassion

    compassion Member

    In my expereince it is th mental illness (bipolar) that contributres to the behavior (conduct disorder) no linking consequences with actions. Read all you can on bipolar. CABF is excellent and Nami has great info too. Ill not bad is the perspeictive I choose. My daughter,now nearly 17 is 100s times better that she is on antipyctic/mood stabilizer. After mania was under control , Stratera weas addedfor focus and today she did 15 minutes of 11th grade wor4ld hisorty with me. She has her pernit an dis drivng. I do have to guard my stuff very vigiantly. The impusle contorl is so bad that I have to dole out oney by the day, avoiding much cash. When very unstable, could not reason. Detrachment helps a lot. We ahve been through the stealing,drivng without a license, even taking a jail tour then forgin checks. She also wants to ive very large (expensive house), identifies with being a college student (part of the grqadiosisty that goes with bipolar) but still is in 11th grade. I have to brqak stuff way,eay down for her. I have to majorally choose my battles. She smokes cigs . My boudnary, I donot buy them for her. I do not allow her to smaoke in my car. Boundaries, boudnaries, boundareis. Rules do not apply , in their way of thinking. That is shy the computer trail stuff. She regualy posts on her Facebook page about beer bongs, keggers,etc. I detqtch and support prosocial stuff like getting through high school. The aggresivley braking stuff is part of th bipoalr rages. We have been through smashed laptops, holes in wall, etc. etc. My saftey comes sfirst. If she is raging (seldom now), I will not engage but protect myself number one. Before I had support, she was beating me up. I am so glad we got diagnosis and medication from adolscent/child p-doctor. Yes, we did neeurospych too but it just substantiated the diagnosis.
    Take care of you. Al-anon, FA (TABW) are good support groups. Thi sis exhauting, get enough rest,etc. Compassion
  9. sunr

    sunr New Member

    Thanks, Compassion.

    Sending chills in my bones. Strikingly similar. Also went through CABF foundation. All the symptoms point to your analysis. I am reading that there is no cure for bipolar, which makes me sick. Let me take this and discuss with the psychiatrists and tdocs when I get a chance. In my parent report to the court I had summarized all the symptoms and looking back all of them are falling in place.

    One thing I do not get is that difficult child acts out only with us (parents) at home or even outside or in the car. He seems to be reasonably OK with others.
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member would rather your son have bipolar than conduct disorder. There is treatment for bipolar disorder with the right medications and therapy. For conduct disorder which most likely will lead to ASPD if he wont admit he has a problem and receive exceptional therapy for a good long time, there is not a good outcome. Most likely in and out of jail.

    I hit the lottery and got a son who has both bipolar and a personality disorder. Thankfully we dont believe it is true anti-social. Lucky us.

    I am bipolar. Im not upset about it. I would much rather be bipolar than all my physical disabilities. They are much more difficult to live with for me.
  11. sunr

    sunr New Member

    Thanks Janet. Let me keep my fingers crossed and see what the doctors say. Though I am not sure whether they can figure these out easily by talking to difficult child and not knowing the full history.

    You mentioned your were a bipolar. How did you recover from it?
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I wouldnt say I have recovered from it, I dont think you recover from a mental illness like bipolar. It is a lifelong neurobiological disorder that can be managed with the right medications and therapy.

    I would say I am fairly stable these days. Finally after a few trials of some medications and years of therapy, I have learned to manage my symptoms fairly well. I still have some days or weeks where I am not well. I have a pretty good support team around me that helps when I have my moments. My SO (Tony), my therapist, my kids, even this board have all been there to help me hold on and make it through the tough times.

    Im stronger today than I have ever been. Its a work in progress.
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Ah, Janet beat me to it!
    Better to get it from the horse's mouth, so to speak. :)
    I know several people who are varying shades of bipolar and some who work FT. with-the right medications, diet, and family support, things can be fine. It's no picnic but it doesn't have to give you chills.
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Whinnny! Im not a horse .... pout:tongue:
  15. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    While bipolar is a rotten disease to have (I speak personally); it can be treated with the right medications. I am unable to work anymore, but I did for many years mostly due to having a husband who supported me emotionally and physically. For me, sx came to a head when husband died after twenty five years together (high school sweethearts)

    I've tried to work and no longer can. I draw SSDI these days. BUT, I can go out and function in society. It was a case of finding the right medication cocktail and being compliant with the medications.

    Bipolar is a lifetime illness. You don't get over it or anything like that.
  16. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I should add that were there the right kind of part time work available, I'd be out and working. I'm limited in what I can do, more from the anxiety (I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)) than the bipolar itself.
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    GN and I are quite similar in some ways. We both have the bipolar and the fibro/arthritis issues. Where we differ is she has some aspie-lite issues and I have the borderline pd issues. Though my therapist says Im the less typical borderline she has seen in a long
  18. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Who knows what I am (probably just a big-mouth), but bipolar, and many other mental health issues, are health problems no different than diabetes.

    With proper support (lifestyle, therapeutic, medication, etc), one can have a full and long life with BiPolar (BP) just as they would with diabetes. There will always be issues and always be medication checks, etc, but really, they are much the same. The key, to both, is education, acceptance, and compliance.
  19. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    It's sort of funny. The concept of having to take medications for the rest of my life, and worse yet, to have to get bloodtests every few months to make sure my medications weren't damaging my liver...that really hit me.

    Until I spoke with my mother and found that she takes cholesterol and diabetes medications and has to have HER liver checked every few months just like I do.

    One other thing about medications. I found therapy to be USELESS until I was stable on medications. That was for me.

    But, I'm doing things I never thought I could do, and this is coming from someone who used to be so anxious sometimes that husband had to pay for the groceries or talk to clerks because my anxiety was so bad.
  20. sunr

    sunr New Member

    Thanks for the replies and education. My difficult child is still in detention and is scheduled for a psychiatrist evaluation next Tuesday. We will know more by next Thursday. Drug tests came positive for marijuana and nothing else. This is not surprising as he admitted that he does pot and not a big deal as everybody does that.