Son is now homeless

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by poppy, Jun 8, 2019.

  1. poppy

    poppy New Member

    I am full of sadness and grief at my son's choice to reject help from my husband and I, and instead become homeless.

    I used to come to this site years ago to read and find support. Here is my story. Son has been severly bipolar since age 15 and is now 28. He had been doing well recently, living at home, working part time, taking a couple of college classes, generally pleasant and helping out around the house, participating in extended family events. He was fine at Easter.

    Then suddenly one night at the end of April he was manic and psychotic. He wouldn't go to the hospital and law enforcement wouldn't chapter him. He ended up with disorderly conduct charges due to an altercation with my husband which we were shocked at because he never acted out that way before. He was sent to the local detention center then after a week to the state mental hospital for suicidal reasons.

    After a month in the psychiatric hospital the DA dropped the charges because it was a mental health not a criminal issue. So yesterday he was released from custody. My husband was there to take him to the local shelter, I arrived also. Son refused to get into either of our cars and instead took off on foot clutching a huge bag of prescription medications he was released with. He wouldn't talk to husband at all and only had negative disparaging comments to me. He is still very manic.

    We have seen him through many hospitalizations, college semesters that turned into manic episodes, periods of recovery at home when he couldn't work or go to school. Always with a lot of understanding and support from husband and me.

    But this time is different. Episode was sudden and severe, son wouldn't voluntarily go to the hospital as he often has, and he acted out against my husband who was trying to prevent him from destroying property in our home.

    I cannot save him from himself. Until 6 weeks ago he and I were very close, now his bipolar mind is in contol worse than ever. You moms who have been at this point longer than I are so strong. It is a fresh wound for me and I don't know how to cope. Thanks for reading this long, sad tale.
  2. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Well-Known Member

    I have been through many such episodes with my bipolar son. It is scary! You did nothing wrong. Right now my son is quiet and i feel guilty detaching but never know when that will change. You are doing the right thing. My son was much more violent if he took drugs could this be part of the problem?
  3. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    I was going to ask about drugs too. Even pot. People with mental illness should not use anything.
  4. poppy

    poppy New Member

    My son does not do street drugs or drink alcohol. All his problems are from mental illness and I suppose low self esteem as well. It helps that you say I did nothing wrong.
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Poppy, I'm so sorry you are experiencing these struggles with your son. The sheer powerlessness and lack of control is scary.
    While at the moment there is little you can do for your son, you've made a good choice to come here for support. You might try getting in touch with NAMI if you haven't already. They have excellent courses for parents which may offer you resources, information, clarity and guidance. Here's NAMI info:
    800-950-NAMI[email protected]
    M-F, 10 AM - 6 PM ET

    If you haven't already sought professional support, it may be a good time to begin, you can check on therapists on these sites: Find a Therapist and Find Counselling, Therapists, Psychologists - Psychology Today Canada

    I grew up with mental illness in my bio-family...... and my only child struggles with some sort of issue (undiagnosed) I understand the fear & powerlessness & sudden unexpected changes......I'm so didn't do anything wrong, it sounds as if you've done your very best for your son.....and now may be a time to work on acceptance......acceptance of what we can't change. To that end, I would encourage you to find as much support as you can for YOU, not for your son, but for you to find ways to create peace within......there often comes a point when we realize there is nothing else we can do but to surrender to what is......and believe me, I know how hard that is.

    I put all of my energy into finding that peace within once it became apparent that there was nothing else I could do for my daughter but worry myself to death. Pema Chodron is a Buddhist nun who has written many excellent books on living with uncertainty....her books helped a lot. Meditation and prayer are very helpful. Relinquishing your son to your perception of a Higher Power is helpful. Youtube guided meditations for peace and calm help too. Develop a "toolbox" of ways in which you get yourself back to balance when your son is off the rails.......and use it.

    Put the focus on you now, nurture yourself, be kind to yourself, you matter too. When we've put another's well being above our own for a long time, it's easy to forget what self care really means. Put your needs first now. Out of that commitment, changes will naturally occur which will give you a much better handle on how to cope with your son's choices and behaviors and allow you to accept what you can't change.

    This is hard stuff. Keep posting it helps. I'm glad you're here.
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  6. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    It sounds like he was doing well. Did he stop taking his medications? I don't know what help you offered him that he rejected, but if he's still psychotic, he doesn't have the ability to think clearly. If he takes the medications prescribed to him, his mind may start to see things more clearly in a few days. He's responsible for taking his medications. You can't force him to do so, so there is only so much you can do.
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I read quickly...apologies if this has already mentioned.
    First off...I’m so sorry.
    This is very sad
    But don’t give up hope.
    It sounds as if a big change has occurred. Perhaps drugs or drinking. Perhaps stopping his medications. Maybe both.
    Check out your local chapt if NAMi and Oarents Anonymous. They might know of local good resources.And offer YOU support as well.
    Make sure folks know he was doing well and then suddenly NOT.
    Are you paying for his cell phone?
    It would be good for you to reach each other. Perhaps if you are communicating ok you can double check that he is at least taking his medications and start from there.
    BUT...within this...don’t let him abuse you. Abusive conversations should be halted.
    It might be time for some short term therapy for yourself. This stuff is hard.
    Please take extra good care of yourself.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  8. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    I'm sorry you're going through this. It's so hard to watch our children struggle. I have struggled with mental health issues, as has my daughter, though not as severe as your son's. I have worked as a teacher both in public school and the prison system so I am acquainted with these types of situations. I also have a nephew who has very similar issues to your son's. At one point he disappeared from MIT (this was when the schizophrenia first appeared) and couldn't be located for quite some time. He is currently medication compliant, living on his own and back in school. But his parents know there are no guarantees. As others have said you need to put your energy into your own health and wellness. It is obvious you have tried everything to help your son, and if your help were enough it would have worked by now. Please treat yourself as you would a friend going through this same experience. Be kind to yourself and find things to keep you busy. Sending you peace.
  9. poppy

    poppy New Member

    My husband and I took the NAMI family to family course a few years ago. And I've texted the 741741 helpline a couple times. You have a lot of good suggestions.

    I definitely don't put myself first when it comes to my son. I am starting to recognize that I have spent so much time and effort in trying to soften his blows in life, to make everything okay as you would a much younger child. That hasn't done either of us much good.
  10. poppy

    poppy New Member

    He was doing well, yes. It's like he is rebelling against husband and me, why I don't know. He was reducing his medications under care of his psychiatrist so that is a factor. medications were probably below therapeutic levels for him. He decompensates quickly when he gets manic.
    And I think he is still psychotic though he was on high doses of antipsychotic zyprexa in the state hospital for a few weeks. They even gave him a shot of thorazine once. While there son called us and told us about his treatment. But now that he's out, he has turned against us and severed communication.
  11. poppy

    poppy New Member

    I do pay for his cell phone. But he walked away from the detention center with a dead phone and no charger. All he has is the clothes on his back and a bag of medications. Everything else is in our house and he hasn't been here or contacted us. It is a big change. It wouldn't be drugs or alcohol, he doesn't do either. But medications were probably too low, and when he gets manic, it's always severe, and this episode has been the worst. When he got out of the detention center, he talked to me in a mean way before running off. He was so angry at husband and me for the incident that sent him to jail, though while in the hospital he called us to apologize for his actions. I'm so conflicted about everything.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I’m so sorry.
    Our adopted daughter has this illness.
    She is in her 30s now.
    I have health issues and that combined with caring for her completely changed the trajectory of my life. Big time.
    When she was in a special pre school )she got kicked out of regular ones) a teacher told me to “run interference” for her.
    I think (if course) she was trying to help. I gave it 110 percent.
    It almost wrecked everything I hold dear in my life.
    Today, our daughter is on disability and can’t work. My husband says if I had not done all that I did it would of been worse. I just don’t know. Who knows?
    There are still many issues.
    I had to go to therapy off and on.
    Heck, my husband and I had to go together off and on because we were clueless on how to handle her care.
    Our bio son was negatively influenced too.
    We have learned not to let her be mean to us. We simply won’t tolerate it.
    Last Xmas was the first in like 30 years that was peaceful. She opened her mouth and was snarky and we sent her to a hotel.
    I have cancelled her phone for a couple of days when she has been mean to me on the phone. That is one thing she is terrified of. I hate doing it, but manic and will stop the abuse.
    I have found when it comes to verbal abuse she often has at least a tiny bit of self doubt hard...but a tiny bit.
    Hard as heck...all of it.
    It sounds like he is having bad mood swings. Hopefully he can get steady enough to want to and actually will get back on his regular medications.
    Hopefully he will borrow a charger.
    But, you don’t ever have to take abuse. Take care of yourself.
  13. poppy

    poppy New Member

    Sorry you've had such a long and rough time with your daughter since preschool. My son had a normal childhood until his freshman year of high school when the bipolar hit. He is generally a nice, funny and gentle person when not in an episode. I need to get better at not taking the abusive talk when he's manic. That is, if he ever contacts us. Right now I feel like he's punishing us by running away. He knows how much I worry about him. How can I heal my worrying mother's heart? It is the most cruel punishment.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
  14. poppy

    poppy New Member

    I also have two married daughters leading normal lives with careers, childen, houses, hobbies, etc. who I'm regularly in contact with. I can't take credit for their successes the same as I can't take blame for my son's problems. They were all raised the same. This is the first time I am working on acceptance of my son's condition without losing myself in the process. I've only ever let myself feel as good as he does, riding that roller coaster right alongside him. I've been enmeshed in his life for so long. Did it help or prevent any of the episodes? No, they flared up just the same. Detachment is a new skill for me. I've always been a nuturing mom, and detachment does not fit in with my natural instincts.

    I do have a counselor and my husband has one for himself, and we've got family counseling lined up to include my son in order to put our ripped apart family back together, if it ever happens that we reunite. We have decided that our son will no longer live with us and right now he has no interest in that anyway. Social services was supposed to get him into a housing placement when he was released from jail/hospital but because charges were dropped he was released to the streets. I was glad charges were dropped, but with that went the services that were getting set up for him.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Dear Poppy

    I am very sorry for what you are going through. My son is homeless too, and mentally ill. I have been struggling as to how to respond to you. I don't know the words to say. I have been here four years and I don't know.

    I don't feel strong. I want my son home, too. Even though every time he has come back it has not worked out for us. But still I struggle to tolerate his being "out there." He is exploited over and over again. Now he's living in a garden shed for which he pays I think 450 dollars a month, with no place to go to the bathroom to shower or to prepare food. He feels this is a step up. He expressed to me, "now I have a place to stay." For 8 months he slept in his friend's pick up truck. When I tell him I worry when he sleeps in an urban forested area, he says, "don't worry, Mom. I am very alert. Only two nights did I not sleep. I hear people coming."
    When I am out of contact with my son and worried (actually, it is more accurate to say, "beside myself"), I find it unbearable too. But he always, eventually, calls.

    For some of us, there is no place to stand. Others here have found a way to bear the unbearable by detachment. I think we each of us differ in our capacity to do this. I am singularly unable to do so. But the silver lining is that I keep seeking ways to heal myself. This is helping me to live in my growing edge, spiritually. Emotionally, I just seem to want to curl up in a ball.

    I love my son. I guess that's one thing more I know. That I don't know how to do this, and that I love my son.

    I just wanted to respond to tell you welcome. That you are not alone.
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    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
  16. BusynMember

    BusynMember Well-Known Member

    Homelessness has been such a fear I had and my husband too that we didnt allow it. We paid for Kay's housing or assisted her and Lee, but as soon as we made part of the cost their responsibilities, they didnt pay their share. This was with us paying half or more. We never let our girl and family live homeless.

    Today we are too tapped out to help them so they ask Lee's parents, who pay but are thinking of stopping. I know that if they become homeless, I have to allow it. A family member will house the child, but nobody wants either adult.

    My daughter has undiagnosed mental illness and is a chronic pot smoker who has done hard drugs and has not been totally sober for twenty years if you include pot. I suspect bipolar or borderline or both. She has no survival skills. Neither does Lee. So if I think about this very real scenario, my heart flips in panic.

    I so feel for the parents of homeless kids. I am pretty certain to join you one day. And just the thought terrifies me. I can only imagine the reality. Kay often says she would like to live in a state that is totally pot friendly so if homeless I can see her and Lee going to such a state, leaving family far far away in case of emergency.

    Prayers sent.
  17. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Poppy, I am so sorry you are experiencing this sudden breakdown. My son was diagnosed bi-polar and was inpatient for a month as an adolescent. He refused to take the medications, ever. There were some tense times, but we made it through. He is now very successful, happily married, talented, and 45 years wise. There is hope.

    That said, it is my 40 year old daughter who I am presently detached. Try as I might, I could never find the right response to avoid a tirade of horrific verbal abuse, manic and depressive behaviors, behaviors suggestive of borderline personality disorder, manipulation for thousands upon thousands of dollars, and her alcoholic liver disease. Much has transpired over the last 12 years when she moved to Las Vegas. She was in two abusive relationships with very wealthy men, the last one for 5 years. Has your son developed any new friends?

    It took me a long time to realize all I was doing to "help" her was only crippling her more. It's not easy to be estranged, another story on that for another day. But, at some point I had to accept that if she is not willing to get help (and it's been offered by many, many times, one hospitalization for detox from alcohol), nothing any of us do will matter. My daughter doesn't work, because she is too sick, I don't think she has many sober moments. I don't know how she gets Adderall and Xanax, because she has never had an official mental health diagnosis other than alcoholic. my daughter gets really mean when she is misusing the prescriptions. Could that be possible with your son?

    I try to read as much as I can about how to help if and when that time comes. It breaks my heart, it is breaking your heart. I, and so many others here, know what that is like. The unknown is scary and our mind can imagine all sorts of untrue things. Staying mired down in a deep, dark place will not change the outcome for our child. My best friend shared a message of hope on a daily calendar because she knew I was having a difficult time in response to a recent event. It's based on scripture, but it can help anyone. It's about peace trying to land in our life, but when our mind is in utter chaos, peace can only hover, waiting. First we have to release what we can't change. Then, and only then can peace reside in us and help us make healthy decisions.

    I agree with all of the responses you have gotten. I gain strength knowing I am not alone. I hope you do to.
  18. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    Poppy. I’m sorry for your heartache. I have 2 sons that are homeless and although the 30 yr old hasn’t been diagnosed most definitely has psychological issues. The younger son 26 has ADHD and smokes pot regularly. When married and our family was altogether we had altercations with the law too and son arrested etc. it is just heartbreaking because we morn the loss for which we hoped we’d have. I agree with what others have said in that it’s important to take care of yourself. When people started telling me that I thought (with all due respect) they were nuts. But it’s the truth. You’ve taken some good steps to getting yourself back in balance by talking to healthy people. Try to find quiet time to meditate and connect with God asking Him to help you accept the situation and turn your son’s care over to Him. If like me you may have to keep doing that over and over. Ask God to change you so you have the courage and strength to do the right thing. Be gentle with yourself. From personal experience I feel we are so hard on ourselves always feeling we should have done better after all we’re the Moms and a lot of times we have pretty high expectations of what our responsibilities are supposed to be. Sending good thoughts for your wellbeing and your son.
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  19. poppy

    poppy New Member

    We would pay for housing too but son rejected our help and took off and now we have no idea where he is.
  20. poppy

    poppy New Member

    I am trying to take care of myself. My husband keeps saying, we'll get through this. He is strong where I am weak.
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