Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Children who live far away or in another state

I’m reading on here stories from mothers whose children live far away or in another state. How did this come about? Were they placed in group homes far away from home? Did they run away and just end up in another state? Was it because of a divorce? It’s unfathomable for me to imagine my son living really far away from me because I know he needs me for things. He has his own apt less than a mile away from me, and sometimes I think thats even too far and sometimes get anxious. I’m sure there are extreme circumstances where the child and mother cannot live in the same household (if the child is a danger to others in the household), but was curious as to how they ended up living so far away.

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I first started on this board last year, because I was in that situation - my 20-year-old son was away at college, very far away and had become very withdrawn. Unfortunately we had just signed a year lease that started in June. The plan had been for him to stay there over the summer and work, but he ended up just sitting in the house and withdrawing from everyone and everything. I flew to his city, and went to his house, but after seeing him for just a few minutes, he pushed me out and locked the door. I got his University involved (they called him in for counseling), but he was so angry about this that he basically told them he’d kill me if I came back. I now think he was just blowing off steam, but this alarmed them enough to say he had to have a psych eval before he could come back.

I tried to set something up for him from afar, but of course he wouldn’t go (he never left the house that I could tell - I could track his phone). I finally did a wellness check on him and the police officer ended up taking him to the hospital, where he stayed for a few days. In late August I went to that city and convinced him to come home for the fall. He lived with me fall of last year, got seen by a First Episode of Psychosis program, and was cleared to go back to school in the spring.

So I let him go off again - we still had the lease on his place down there. He went back and then… just didn’t enroll. And withdrew again. So once again, he was far, far away. I could also surmise from regular Venmo transactions that he was buying a lot of pot. At that point, I went and talked to the FEP director who knew him from his time there. She agreed that it was OK to just leave him alone for awhile. I know that may sound bad, but I felt that rushing down there and trying to force him to come home again would be counterproductive. Also, he’s an odd case - he hears voices but is mostly aware that they are not real. It gets a little unclear at times when the voice is of someone nearby, but mostly he can tell. He is a little paranoid, but not really delusional. So he can function on his own pretty well, and actually IMO does better on his own.

After awhile, he seemed better. He stopped buying so much pot. He was texting me for the number of the therapist, and was actually telling me he wanted to go out more. Unfortunately this burst of confidence led to another hospitalization - he heard the voice of his female neighbor inviting him over and he kept showing up at her door (he was high at the time, sigh). She called the police and they took him back to the hospital. This time I came down, although I’m not sure I did any good by doing so. He refused to let me visit him, and barely talked to me once he got out. He was feeling very angry and bitter about being hospitalized again. Everyone was urging me to get him to come home again, but he didn’t want to, and you can’t force an adult into your car and make them leave with you… Yes, I could have held him financially hostage, but I felt that a good relationship with him going forward was more important. At this point there was only about a month left on the lease anyway. In the end, I didn’t try to force the issue.

When the lease was up, he actually asked for my help moving, and of course I helped. He came home and stayed with me for a few weeks, and then he went to live with his father (my ex) in another state. So he’s away from me again, but now only about a 3 hours drive. I didn’t really think he was going to be able to get along with his dad, but I am so happy to say that it’s actually going well. He’s taken some classes, is running again, and even got himself a job waiting tables. I don’t think he’s getting high right now. I know it may not last, but right now the situation is as good as it could possibly be.

If he does decide to come and live with me again, I think I would do as many of you have and get him an apartment nearby, or buy a house with a detached apartment. I love him dearly, and actually enjoy his company, but like I said, I think he functions better when he’s taking care of himself. When he’s with me, I tend to swoop in and baby him.


@soworried, I can totally relate to this

I love my son but he’s very independent, and I think it is healthier that we live apart. He just turned 25, and often tells me I baby him too much. And it’s probably true. I just have to step back, but it’s hard to do. If I overdue, it seems to make him angry, and I don’t want that. Thank you for sharing, I’m so glad he’s doing a lot better than how he was.

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First break often happens around the age some kids go off to college and I know of several situations like this - some with positive outcomes and some not.

My sister had a very gradual onset over years. She struggled in college, moved back to our home town and finished school, and then moved out of state again in her early 20’s. We did not realize it was a severe mental disorder until too late.

She actually was wanting to move back at one point and my parents flew out to help but she changed her mind and no showed on them. I was pretty sure she had schizophrenia by then but my parents still thought she was just troubled.

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My prodrome was in a far away state. There’s tendency when developing SZ to think you need a fresh break, to go off on your own. If only I could escape my hometown, my parents, my problems that things would be different. The problem is problems tend to follow you and magnify, and the distance facilitates covering-up failings.

I remember also having dreams of going off into the woods and disappearing, what people might call living off-the-grid today. I’d escape people and my problems and not be a burden to others. I thought having a low social footprint would be easier on myself and others.

There are discussions in other threads about delusions and paranoia increasing as one stayed in the same place, since more and more ‘evidence’ gets collected the longer you stay there. I think there’s some truth to this, a nomadic or transient lifestyle might appeal to people in prodrome or psychosis. People tend to run off or disturb transients, so constantly moving can be a successful strategy to avoid discovery.