No clue how to save my adult son

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Brknheart, Jul 5, 2018.

  1. Brknheart

    Brknheart New Member

    My son was diagnosed with ADHD as a small child. He has always had problems socially and his behavior was always an issue but he was manageable. It wasn't until his father became an alcoholic and we divorced that my son changed for the worse. He began drinking a lot and using marijuana daily. He got a DUI recently and one of his friends drowned because of alcohol. I forced him to come live with me because his father is drinking himself to death and my son has no idea how to take care of himself. He was diagnosed with severe depression with psychotic features a year ago at a mental health facility. They pretty much kicked him on the street after one week. I can't force him to take medication so my hands are tied. After a few weeks of living with me I can't take anymore. He drinks and smokes pot and throws fits if he doesn't get his way. He goes crazy when he drinks and destroys anything in his path. He doesn't make any sense with most of the things he says. He hits himself and constantly talks about suicide. The outbursts are unbearable and stressful. I am so worried he will be homeless or end up in prison. He really believes I don't love him. It's my loving him that hurts so bad I can't hardly function. I really don't know what kind of mental illness he has because he hasn't been properly diagnosed. He has no one else to live with but his father and he is the one who has influenced him in so many bad ways. He has no money, car or a job. I'm not sure if he can even work. His ADHD is so bad he can't keep a wallet or a phone. He causes so much chaos and we never know what he is going to do. I know it's not his fault he has a mental illness, but I think the marijuana may have made him worse. If his father dies he will be homeless and my current husband is fed up and will not let him in our house anymore. Even though he is 22 he is a small boy and when I look at him I see my baby that I love so much. I don't want to let him go, but my health is suffering from the stress and my other son is begging for us to have a normal life. He loves his brother, but he can't deal with the craziness anymore. I can't let go. If anyone has suggestions please share. I am desperate to save my son. Thank you.
  2. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    Welcome. If your son has a mental illness the alchohol or pot could very well be making it much worse. If he is threatening suicide and you feel he is a threat to himself or others you can file a 302 for involuntary commitment for 72 hrs. If the hospital agrees he is a danger they can hold anather hearing for more time. However your husband is right to make him leave. You need to take care of yourself . HE needs to understand his behavior whatever the cause is unacceptable. He sounds very much like my difficult child who is now 36 and we went through the same behaviors. He has a dual diagnosis of bipolar and drug alchohol dependency. He has been in jail but it gave him a chance to sober up enough to make him realize that he doesnt want to go back. Others will reply soon. Please read the article about detachment on this sight. You also might want to contact your local nami they can give yoy many resources. Often the parent they love the most takes the brundt of their anger. Hang in there.
  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Although your son is mentally ill (I have a mood disorder and anxiety and at his age it was very bad,) he is not a little boy or your baby anymore at all. He is a man and will be seen as such by society. By his age many are in the military, finishing college, working full time and many many mentally ill young people are listening to their doctors, taking their medications, and thriving. Your son has made a terrible adult decision to not listen to the doctor and to drink and use pot instead. It is not his fault he is mentally ill, unless the pot caused it (look it up....pot can kick up psychisis in those who have latent genes for this). Alcohol does not help. I hope the DUI took your son off the road before he kills himself or innocent drivers, even children. My advice is to not give him access to any vehical, not pay his insurance, let him take a bus, use a bike or walk before it gets worse. At least nobody will die. Yes, he will throw a toddler tantrum. They all do. They are still adults

    It is hard to see our adults, all who seem so much younger, as their ages but the fact is that society will cut them no slack. You own your home. Your home/your rules. A suggestion is to tell him he can only live with you if he sees his psychiatrist, takes his medication under your watching gaze, and he can not smoke pot or be drunk under your roof or on your property. If he is, he has to find elsewhere to sleep. I made my 19 year old coke and meth using daughter leave and she turned her life around FAST! This isnt always the result, but your son has no motivation to quit if he has a nice cozy space to smoke pot, drink, abuse you, get no treatment and do whatever he wants. He wont change under those circumstances.

    I hope you dont feel this is too harsh. I want you to maybe see, from a third party perspective, that your son could do a lot to make his life better but that he is choosing to make it worse. He has the ability to do better but he doesnt have to and he wont.

    If you have his baby pictures or ten year old pictures on your walls, take them down. Think of him as a man who doesnt want to get well and grow up. Nothing will change if nothing changes.

    Light and love!
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  4. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    This was the single hardest thing for me. When I thought of my son (now 23) I thought of the little baby I nursed, the little boy who loved trains. The child who loved ME. I did not think of him as old enough to vote, to join the military, to get married and be an adult. Before I could think clearly about him, I had to get past that.

    I did as SWOT advised you. I took all the photos of him as a child and put them away. I had a lot in one room, my office, since I've worked here his whole life. The only photos I would keep would be those of him as an adult. It helped.

    I'm sorry I have no words of wisdom for you. But thinking of him as an adult may be a good first step to getting some clarity on the situation.
  5. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome! I'm so sorry for your heartache. I'm glad you found us here.

    In order for your son to be properly diagnosed he will have to be clean from drugs and alcohol as they alter ones moods. Much of what you have described in your sons behavior may very well be just from the drugs and alcohol.

    I know how painful it is to watch your sons life spiral out of control as I have lived it.

    My suggestion to you is your first priority needs to be the safety of you and your other son. If you do not have a therapist/counselor for yourself then get one. I also suggest you attend some Al-Anon meetings. While this site is a huge help and a great place to come for support, there is something very solid about having people physically close that know what you are going through. Sometimes you need to attend a few different meetings to find a group you are comfortable with.

    Now the really hard part. You cannot save your son. Your son has to want to make changes for himself. I know when you look at him you still see your little boy. I too used to look at my son the same way. I had to start seeing him for the adult man he became. It's much easier for our brains and emotions to hold on tightly to the little child, the one who was easy and loving than it is to see the difficult adult they have turned into.

    If you still feel that your son can live with you then I suggest setting some firm boundaries. The thing about boundaries, they are only as good as we hold true to them and that takes strength. Nothing sends a quicker message that you can be manipulated than not following through. If you make it a condition that your son has to see a therapist in order to live with you or he has to leave, then you have to be willing to follow through with that.

    Dealing with a difficult adult child is one of the hardest things a parent can experience but there can be life on the other side of this. You still have another son that needs you and your attention. You also need to guard your health.

    I've been on this journey with my son for close to 25 years. I can tell you that I was once in a place of total despair. I now live my life for myself and have a happy and fulfilled life. I will always love my son but I will no longer allow him to hold my emotions hostage or to have my life revolve around his chaos.

    Please keep posting. We are always here for each other.

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  6. Brknheart

    Brknheart New Member

    Thank you all for your responses. I know you are right about letting him go until he can make the right decisions to change his life. I'm not sure he is capable of making good decisions. He can be very manipulative to get his way and I have to try really hard not to give in. It infuriates my husband that he does that to me. He has seen how we live and how happy and stable our environment is so maybe one day he will decide that he wants that for himself. I said a lot of harsh things to him before he left yesterday and I have terrible guilt. I did call him and apologize for some of the things I said, but I told him he would have to get help before he could ever come back to live with us. That was really hard for me. I know how important it is to take care of myself and my other son. Our lives have really revolved around him and his troubles for so long it seemed normal to me. It's strange sometimes I feel like I have these premonitions that something isn't quite right and sure enough he was arrested or he would show up drunk at my door starving because he hasn't eaten all day and his dad kicked him out. He has totaled two vehicles in the last four years because he was drunk and then finally a dui. I live in a small town and I know what people think about my son. I am always defending him saying he isn't a criminal or a bad person, but it's just a matter of time before something happens that causes him to go to prison. I know I can't sit and think about that but it keeps me up at night. I feel guilty for being happy when I know that he is in pain. Being a mother is the hardest thing I have ever done and probably the hardest thing I will ever do because I will be a mother until I die. I can't imagine a life without worry and fear of getting that phone call that he is dead or caused someone else to get hurt. I have seen a therapist once, but I think I will try to find a local support group. I need a hug from someone who understands me and my pain. I have read a lot of posts here and I am amazed at what some of you have had to go through. My heart goes out to you. I should have found this place sooner!!
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    He is capable of accepting help and not smoking pot and drinking. He does these things deliberately. Just because he hasnt made good decisions doesnt mean he cant.

    Most of our kids seemed challenged about decision making until many of them turned it around and made good decisions. Your son can do the same.

    Remember, he is not a little kid anymore .The constant battle!
  8. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    I have to keep telling myself that mine isn't a little kid anymore also!
    I think of the quick smile, the dimples and the sparkle in his eyes and the constant hugs of my little guy. He turned into a manipulative brat and now and angry, lying, stealing manipulative MAN. He is 21. he is supposed to be and act like a man! Even though your son has different issues than mine they are very close to the same age. You and I are much a like. We want everything to be ok for them and we will / would do anything to make it ok for them. BUT WE can't make it ok for them. THEY have to make it ok for them.
    I am sending you warm hugs and a soft pat on your shoulder.
    I keep hearing my bff say, "This too shall pass". Probably, just not fast enough.
    Oh and.. I totally get the embarrassment of his horrible behavior being public knowledge in a small town. Don't be fooled all families have a difficult person in their family, a lot just don't admit it. You walk past a home and think, "Wow, I bet they have a nice life". You find out later: they are getting divorced, or someone behind those windows has cancer or someone is getting arrested for embezzlement, or someone is a hitter, etc... every family has something going on. Some of us choose to face it and try to find help rather than hide it.
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  9. Brknheart

    Brknheart New Member

    I know there isn't such thing as a perfect life. I was married for twenty years to someone who I believe is a psychopath. It took several years to realize what he really was. When he became an alcoholic his true self was revealed. That seems to be what is happening to my son. I have finally found my true soul mate and best friend. I didn't know what a healthy relationship was until I found him. He has been so patient and loving where my kids are concerned, but I know he is right to not allow my son to call the shots. He loves my son and wants to help him but there is only so much we can do. I just have to pray and put it in God's hands. Hopefully he will wake up one day and get away from his father and come back to us wanting to change and get help. I will always remember that sweet little boy, but I can't ever forget what is underneath the surface at all times. Life is so tough when dealing with mental illness.
  10. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Been there, done that, have the T-shirt. We have all said things that we later regret. We are human. Let go of the guilt as it serves no good purpose.

    What people think about your son is what they will think about your son. Nothing you can say or do will change that. Defending him to others only confirms to them that there is an issue.
    I have found it best to not discuss my son with anyone unless I know that I can really trust the person. When people ask me about my son I say "He's living life on his terms" I don't offer details and I never defend him.
    If people keep pushing I tell them I don't care to discuss it. Usually when people push it's because they have heard some "rumor" and they are just being nosy.

    You have no reason to feel guilty for being happy. Your life matters too and you should live it to the fullest.
    There is a term we use here, the FOG which stands for Fear, Obligation, Guilt.
    I believe you are in the process of coming out of the FOG. We live in the FOG for so long it becomes our "normal". It takes time to progress past it but it can be done, I'm living proof as are many others here.

    My son has lived a homeless wandering life for a long time. I would get calls from him telling me he was going to starve to death or freeze to death. I would direct him to get to a shelter. I spent many, many sleepless nights worrying and wondering and all that did was make me lose sleep. I had to address my fears head on! My worst fear was that an officer would show up at my door telling me my son was dead. Once I accepted that, I mean really accepted that could happen I was able to move on. I had to come to the realization that there was nothing I could do to save my son. I wasted too much time playing out different scenarios in my mind of how bad things could go for my son. Bottom line, they all could happen but again, my worrying and wondering serves no good purpose and only wastes my precious energy.
    One thing that really helped me was to grieve the loss of my son. Of course he's still very much alive but I grieved for the sweet little boy he once was. I grieved for the hopes and dreams I had for him.

    I will always love my son but he's a 36 year old man. He will live his life the way he wants regardless of how I feel. He is free to live his life just as I'm free to live my life.

    It's okay for you to be happy. Not only is it okay, it's a healthy thing to do.

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  11. Brknheart

    Brknheart New Member

    Well my son got arrested tonight for driving without a license. I am actually relieved to know that he is safe and not on the road where he can hurt himself or others. He didn't call me, he called a friend of mine which has no intention of bailing him out. Maybe if he sits in there for awhile I can finally get him some help. Here's to a good nights rest......maybe
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    For the moment your son is safe......use the time to focus on you and what you're exhausted and depleted from the chaos and craziness, there isn't anything you can do right now, so rest and be kind to yourself......remember that you matter too, your feelings and your needs matter.....take care of you now.....
  13. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Very sorry, Brknheart.
  14. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    Prayers are with you.
  15. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    You are not a loser. I said a little bit above but those are not the worst things my son has said to me. I will not say the words he called me or the threats he has made within the past year and month. I believe it is the disease or drugs talking. A week after saying some very nasty stuff i got a simple text saying happy birthday. They say these things when they are told no. They react to hurt us but it is a reaction. I know it is painful and hard but you are doing the right thing he will realize this in time.
  16. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Each and every time my son has been arrested I always felt some relief. I used to think I was such a horrible mother feeling that way but the reality is I was glad he was safe. I was glad I didn't have to wonder if he would break into our house while we were at work. I was glad to know that he wouldn't be getting drunk while in jail. I was glad to have a nights rest that didn't involve imagining him on the streets.

    Be on your guard as it's times like this that some of these difficult adult children will reach out to us telling us how sorry they are, how they promise they will change and that we need to bail them out, or how that can't survive in jail unless we put money on their account. One thing I've learned from my son is to be very cautious about believing what he tells me. I believe actions speak louder than words and my son has never matched his actions to the words he tells me. Being optimistically guarded is a good way to be.

    Take some time to recharge yourself. Take care of YOU, take care of your physical and mental health.

    Thanks for letting us know what is going on. We care about you.

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  17. Brknheart

    Brknheart New Member

    Thank you all for your support. It's very hard but just knowing I'm not alone helps a lot. I know I'm doing the right thing even though it hurts.
  18. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It's a hard road we travel here Brknheart. It does hurt. I'm sorry, I know how much it hurts. We all put one foot in front of the other, amp up our self care, learn about boundaries and learn how to accept what we can't change. It's a process, it takes time. You're coming out of the "FOG" as Tanya mentioned, which is where we realize we need to make a change, status quo is no longer working and we become aware that change is now necessary. We see how things really are, not how we want them to be. We are the ones who do the changing, we don't wait for our kids to change.

    I'm not sure if you're aware of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. You can access them online. Here is their website:
    About NAMI | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
    800-950-NAMI[email protected]
    M-F, 10 AM - 6 PM ET

    They offer parent courses which may provide you with information, resources, support and guidance. If it feels right, give them a call.

    It may be helpful to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. Many parents find solace and support at Al Anon or Families anonymous. Get yourself into supportive environments where you avail yourself to options, compassion, understanding & safety......many of us seek therapy so we have a place to vent and emote and feel seen and heard. It helps. If you want the names of local therapists you can look on The Psychology Today website and You may want to look for someone well versed in mental illness and addiction.

    Hang in there Brknheart, this is tough, but it's doable......get yourself support, keep posting and make self care the priority need to fill yourself back up to regain your strength & resolve. You matter too. Your feelings and your desires matter. As you care for yourself & receive support, you'll find your way through, you'll find options that work for're not alone......we're all here with you......
  19. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You may want to post your story on the Substance Abuse forum as well, they may be able to offer you more options specific to substance abuse (and mental illness)........unfortunately your experience is not uncommon and there is a wealth of info in that forum too.