Hi, I would like to get some input regarding my son. From around 8-11 he had violent outbursts. He went into counseling and improved but has suffered with significant depression and anxiety. There is a family history of mental illness on both sides of the family.
About 6 months ago, while he was living with me he had a violent outburst which resulted in a threat to harm himself (which would be my fault) and a threat to set my apartment on fire (and God would be pleased).
I had him petitioned which didn’t go anywhere and he moved out and then called the entire family to let us know he was recording the conversation and would be filing restraining orders against us all. Of course that didn’t happen although he has not spoken to anyone in the family for over 6 months. He refuses therapy and medication.
Over the weekend he reached out to me requesting childhood photos. I complied. Then yesterday I got a call at 430am and he was asking me for a ride. I asked a few questions and it turned out he was outside in his car at my apartment and needed a ride to a Greyhound bus station to travel to Mexico to see his gf. Keep in mind I haven’t heard anything from him for months. Long story short, I complied and took him to the bus stop. We didn’t talk at all during the drive.
My daughter (26) thinks I am letting him use me, and that simple respect would demand he actually communicate with me.
My thoughts are that he is genuinely hurting (there is significant legitimate childhood hurt) and any movement towards me is at least possible process.
I think you are doing fine, helping him when he needs help. He seems to be doing OK if he gets on for months at a time without help from you.
Thank you. He has not received a diagnosis but he is functioning, living with friends, working etc. It is a difficult situation to navigate and my daughter hounded me for even driving him to the bus stop and not having all the details as to where he was going etc. She was pretty harsh and aggressive with me.
Siblings can be really harsh on parents and their siblings.
Some of the best decisions I have made regarding my son were made by following my instincts as his mom. I would have done the same as you, I would have given him the ride he requested. By being there for my son over the years, I learned that he will always contact me when he needs me.
I am sorry that your daughter is being harsh with you for helping your son. It doesn’t seem fair or right to me, but I don’t know all of the details. Perhaps she feels odd about help you are giving to him because she isn’t asking for your help but is self-sufficient?
Thank you. I think she is being protective of me and feels he is taking advantage of me. But her aggressive response was unnecessary. Thank you!
Hi, I need some more input regarding my son. He is talking to me on a daily basis again which is wonderful as he cut all ties with the entire family for about 8 months. He is hurting and has biochemical imbalances of some kind but refuses medication or therapy and does not have a diagnosis.
He regularly calls me and shares with me the hurts he experienced during childhood throughout my divorce and his dad’s remarriage. He will tell me I was a bad mother, shouldn’t have put in him therapy at 11 years old and that his dad and I should have been the ones getting help not him, that I wasn’t good at marriage etc. etc.
Both my boyfriend and my supportive oldest daughter feel that I am tolerating abuse from him and that I shouldn’t be allowing him to speak to me the way he is and should have far stronger boundaries related to him.
My thoughts are that there are some legitimate hurts, some not so legitimate and that having a stable listening ear could help him. He doesn’t allow me to give any objective input and he is very set with his own opinions so helping him to see things in a different light is impossible. He goes around and around in circles and obviously isn’t letting go of the hurt. The phone conversations are extremely intense on his side, exhausting and one sided. At this point I can manage the “abuse” and not take it to heart in an effort to be there for him, but do I need stronger boundaries?
Our family members with scz can be in irrational states. During those times, any sort of objective input is useless. Being rational with irrational won’t get you anywhere, but will frustrate both of you.
You can respond to his emotion, empathy is the best route to helping him feel heard in these mentally fragile moments.
As parents we need to learn how to distance ourselves from their emotions. If we get caught up and respond as though the situation is real, we can, over time, affect our own mental health.
If your son is mentally ill and you are getting caught up in these conversations (trying to change his opinion or emotion and/or becoming emotional yourself) you can risk losing touch with reality. Think of it as getting too close to a tornado - you get drawn in and beginning spinning with your family member. Your boyfriend and supportive oldest daughter can help you by authenticating reality for you. If you feel a need to talk/vent about these conversations with them, they can remind you that your son’s emotions and accusations are not real and proceed to talk about something else.
Dr Amador’s book “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” featuring the LEAP method of conversing with our family members, would help you a good deal -whether your son has a mental illness or not.
I second what JAZ wrote. My experience with an unmedicated loved one is similar: they are often in complete denial that they have an illness. Or they insist that the medical community has it all wrong, and point to “studies” that support this claim. Then, literally minutes later, they switch to desperately wanting to talk about why they are the way they are. They examine in minute detail every possible physical deformity, behavior of others, or event that might had caused their problem. In addition to blaming others or fate, they also delve inside to blame themselves or assert that they are just a bad or stupid, unworthy person who deserves this fate. There can be an OCD, paranoid or manic component to this disease; SZ rarely arrives alone. The incredibly frustrating thing for caregivers, as you point out, is that we can’t help but take the abuse to heart sometimes. It is hard to keep reminding ourselves that it’s the disease talking, not the person we love. And just when you think you have reached a breakthough moment where he seems to respond rationally, the rules change and you encounter another person. That may be why some people in the past erroneously thought SZ was a multiple personality disorder. In a way, it can be. I sincerely hope you are able to use the LEAP method and/or find a good therapist who can persuade your son to get help. My loved one had a bad experience on antipsychotic and other drugs some decades ago and now refuses any treatment or even seeing a medical doctor, and they claim therapy is a waste of time. They no longer have parents to support them, are completely isolated and in terrible physical shape, and I fear for their life.
There is still no cure, but these days there are newer treatment methods that don’t have the same side effects as the older ones. With luck and tremendous patience, you may find a combination of treatments that help your son gain insight and modulate his reactions so he can lead something close to a normal life. Your love and support will help. There is no cure for this disease but there is hope, and he is young. I get some comfort also from this Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@LivingWellwithSchizophrenia
Thank you both for your input. I appreciate it very much. I will definitely order the book and check the youtube channel out.
He seems to have some manic episodes, long depressive times, anxiety and possibly some paranoia. It is challenging to navigate but he is extremely intelligent and working a full time job and communicating with me again which is huge.
Thank you both!!!
@JAZ, if it is schizophrenia, his symptoms and issues will worsen over the coming years. My son also suffers from anosognosia (lack of insight) and he is unmedicated for scz. Dr Amador’s method of communication has been key in keeping our relationship alive.
The hallmark of schizophrenia is the hearing of voices. For us it took a long time to realize our son was hearing voices.
Good luck to you and your family, hope
Thank you HOPE. How did you determine your son was hearing voices?
My son has also had violent outbursts, verbalized suicidal thoughts, and has made threats of violence against me.
@JAZ We don’t know when he started hearing the voices. He didn’t live with us after high school. He went to university and lived in various places after graduation. We had an unusual incident when he was 27, but we didn’t recognize that incident as him hearing voices until years later. When he was 31, after his lost his job, he came home to live. Our Family to Family teacher was trying to convince us he had schizophrenia and we were watching him closely for a sign of voices. One day I walked into the back of the living room and he was talking to someone in the chair next to him, but no one was there. My son was quite delighted with whatever had been said as he looked at the empty chair and laughed and exclaimed “How do you know these things?”
Once we believed, we eventually realized other incidents where he reported that people had said rude things to him were also times he had heard voices. He always attributes the rude voices to whoever is closest to him. Because he thinks this, he believes that people in stores and on the streets and on the phone are calling him names. This is problematic because the name calling can get quite rude. He lost a job when he became angry with a coworker who he believed had called him a name.
There was a long period of time, after we moved him away from our home, when I would only communicate with him through texts.
Now I can see it when it happens. He will suddenly give someone a sharp look and his demeanor will change.
Has your son ever accused you of saying something you know you didn’t say?
@ZAZ, I have reoccurring bad thoughts that I’ve only thought if I’d have closure on them they would have been put to rest. If the perpetrator of whatever the bad thing was is dead or gone forever, you can’t have closure.
So I think you would be helpful to your son to explain what you did and why you thought it the best thing to do at the time. When the thoughts bother him he would have this new information and it might soften the thoughts, which should include some forgiveness of you.
Thank you hope … very tough I am sure. My heart goes out to you. Those are good things to watch for with my son. He hasn’t ever accused me of saying anything I didn’t.
The other day he told me that he ever had a son and ended up divorced he would hope that his son would come to hm with a gun and shoot him for putting him through divorce, so my divorce from his dad still affects him greatly.
The intensity of his emotions and words are extreme.
Thank you for your input too. That is super enlightening and helpful. Great information and ideas.
Thank you both. I very much appreciate the support.