Twin sons flip flop - from easy child to difficult child

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by galadriel, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. galadriel

    galadriel Guest

    Haven’t been on the site for a while. My twin sons are turning 20 next week! They are both living in our closest city, about 40 minutes away.
    difficult child is at community college and maintaining, does tend to drop courses but what he stays with, he does well in. Has a goofy girlfriend who doesn’t help him (she’s a drinker, a smoker, weed, etc.) but all in all he’s doing OK. Has his own cheap apartment and busses to campus.
    My other son is the reason for the post. He’s working full time as a line cook in a busy restaurant. Has his own studio apt. The job takes advantage of him by working him double and extra shifts, sending him in his own car to pick up co-workers who missed the bus, etc. He was recently told he’d be moved to shift management and then was passed over for someone older with more experience. He had a long running girlfriend who ran around on him and he put up with a lot of abuse until finally giving her the heave-ho in fall 2011.
    He has been talking about wanting to die since the romance went south in late 2010. At first when he talked like this he put me into panics and I had him picked up on a mental hygiene arrest. They found him to be dehydrated, have some level of ADD and something else, but the whole “I want to die” thing that I reported was largely passed over. Since then, it comes up whenever he is frustrated, upset, overworked or out of money for weed. He only says it to me, his brother and his dad are like, “What?” as he never tells them this. I go back and forth between feeling manipulated and thinking he’s going to follow through.
    Now he has stopped eating. Periodically he shows up at the family home with stomach pain and then says he hasn’t had anything but cola, coffee and a piece of pizza in the prior three days. He is rail thin at 5’6” and 128lbs. It’s horrifying to me, so last time I ran up to the city and spent $250 on groceries and a microwave for him. I’ve also enlisted his brother in checking on him.
    They both came out for their birthday dinner last night and he did eat steak and a little pie, nothing else. Today he has been texting me all day about wanting to die, nothing makes him happy anymore, he wants a quick end to a meaningless life. It was so bad I transcribed the messages. I know he hasn’t eaten today, and low blood sugar isn’t helping his thought process.
    We were supposed to be going out of state this weekend for the first time in ages and now I’m afraid to leave. (We are missing their actual birthday but both claimed it didn’t matter.)
    So what do I do for him? He will NOT seek a doctor’s or therapist’s help, I have recommended it over and over. He’s an adult. He doesn’t say he wants to die to anyone but me. I have offered to have him move back home, but when he was at home he hated the commute to his job in the city. He may have to, because apparently he did not pay his rent for March. I have no idea where his money is going, I assume for cigs and weed.
    Sigh. Any feedback would be appreciated.
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. Sorry I don't remember your earlier posts (I'm old so forgive me) but want you to know I've read your post and am truly sorry you have such serious concerns. There are others in the CD family who have dealt with suicide threats quite recently and I'm hoping they'll log on and provide the right support.

    I have not been there done that and truly am not qualified to offer advice. I do know that some young people use the threat as a manipulation. Sadly, of course, some are sincere. The main problem I see is that he is refusing help. If he will not see a professional and he will not take medications and he will not check into a facility as a very experienced Mother I feel your pain. on the other hand, my gut reaction is that you personally need to detach as much as possible from the situation. If you get absorbed by his problems (whether real or not) then your level of functioning will be diminished and likely your health will suffer. I "think" that is what I would do. I "think" I would tell myself and my son "I've been stressing out worrying about your problems and it is effecting my health. Always I am ready to help you when you decide to seek professional help. Meanwhile I need to focus on my physical and mental health which may include professional help for me."

    I hope things get better and sending caring thoughts your way. DDD
  3. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It really does sound like his suicide talk is manipulative, especially since he only says it to you, but of course it's still disturbing, and there's always the possibility he's serious. Has he ever actually attempted suicide as far as you know? There are so many factors to consider here.

    I've dealt with threats from both of my children. My Oldest used to do this quite often after she moved out, usually when she wanted something I wasn't giving her. It sounds very harsh to say, but I eventually became pretty hardened to it. My canned response ended up being, "well you know what you need to do if you truly feel that way.. please call 911 and get help for yourself. I love you and don't want anything to happen to you." That response was after going through this for some time, however, and being fairly convinced that she wouldn't actually follow through, it was absolutely pure manipulation. She never made any actual attempts as far as I know. It's not a response for every situation, though, that's for sure.

    I think another appropriate response, if he makes overt threats to you and you know where he is, would be to call 911 yourself and tell them that he is calling you threatening suicide, and ask them to respond with a crisis unit. When Youngest lived with me, and made threats like this, a therapist told me to call 911 every single time... to drive the point home that I would not be manipulated by her. Three times, she did purposely overdose.. and while those were also manipulative attempts, they weren't any less dangerous than a serious attempt. I used to worry that she'd "accidentally" succeed at some point. But the bottom line was, she knew she couldn't make those threats lightly, I'd take them seriously. Completely different approach from dealing with her sister.. but they were (and are) completely different kids.

    So, there is no one approach to this for everyone. You have to decide what this actually means, in light of all the facts, and how serious to take it. If he's been texting you those things all day, I think I would call 911 to either get him help immediately, or call his "bluff." I wouldn't chance it. Let the experts decide if he's serious enough to commit him involuntarily.

    I also think DDD's response is a great one. It makes it clear that care about him, but you won't be manipulated.
  4. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hello Galadriel,
    The way you describe it, your son sounds depressed, which may be the cause of his apparent eating disorder. It must be extremely distressing to hear that he wants to die, and he tells/texts no one but you. That's a lot of manipulation to lay on you, esp. when he refuses either a doctor's or a therapist's help. My recommendation is the same as yours: see a medical doctor, and get a blood workup and tell the Dr. you're depressed and overwhelmed. The Dr. can rule out a physical cause, then perhaps refer to a therapist/psychiatrist. That's it. If he won't go, he will surely end up in the hospital at the rate he is going. Just do all you can to encourage him to seek help now. I agree that it's difficult, but I wouldn't change my plans for the weekend at this point. See how things progress. I'm sorry your son is having such a hard time, it's so heartbreaking.
  5. galadriel

    galadriel Guest

    Thank you! He went to work last evening and once I knew he was there, I felt better. Today he started to text again but it was about how bad work sucks. I came up with the idea of going to see my sister in Seattle for a week or two and he immediately started thinking about going to community college out there, and it lifted his spirits. His job is steady enough for a vacation and my sister has a great rapport with my sons (for being five hours away by plane!) So we shall see. Thanks again.
  6. galadriel

    galadriel Guest

    Update: one day before our trip, kid totaled his car rear ending someone. No injuries TG. He's now walking to work. We went on the trip with no bad result. He texted us a lot while we were out of state. Since then (two weeks) he appears to be eating better. His brother is at his place every day. There was a set back when we explained that to save for a new car wasn't enough, he would have to get his own insurance. (Ours was sky high, now normal with him off it.) So thanks again for feedback!
  7. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm so glad things are looking better, and that you had an uneventful trip! (Hope it was fun, too!) Try to breathe easy for awhile :)
  8. Giulia

    Giulia New Member

    As a person who could be your difficult child, I am most concerned by his refusal to seek help.

    About the "I want to die" statements, I can personally say that it also happens to me. When I say that, I feel such a suffer that I wish I could die to end. But what prevents me to get for it is that I have people who rely on me, my cats and such.
    So I am not 100% sure that it's manipulative.

    I will abound with what the other say. Detach yourself from him and focus on yourself.

    I will also add to set your priorities. Like he has absolutely no choice to get the care he needs, and you won't give up from it whatever he says or does.
    But he has the choice on the practitioner, you don't impose him a practitioner as long as he treats himself.
    So not letting him the choice to treat himself, but letting him the choice of the person he feels most comfortable with.

    Seems silly, but it may be a solution.