I don’t have any experience with running away. I do understand many many caregivers current and former often feel that way on any given day.
It is very rare that people who are critically mentally ill find stability and wellness alone without any assistance at all, it often doesn’t end well for them when left alone to fend for themselves.
I understand the many pitfalls and the deep fears and that he is your stepson.
If avoiding your stepson for all of the reasons you’ve stated, is the final decision for you and your husband then I would not waste anytime feeling bad about it unless you have reservations.
I would make the most humane and practical move (I can think of) at least on behalf of your stepson so that maybe during the years to come he will have maybe a chance to find some stability at some point.
I would kindly suggest that someone take the measure to contact the probate court or write a detailed letter and include all of the problems and reasons that you and your husband cannot help your stepson or have him live with you and also include his diagnosis, hospitalizations, his arrests, his homelessness, inability to abide by the law or inability to control emotional outbursts, inability to handle his finances, …etc, whatever applies and ask that the court please declare him to be incompetent and assign him a legal guardian (chosen and monitored through the courts) so that they can be responsible for finding him a safe place to live, make sure he makes it to his psychiatric appointments and make sure he takes his medications and gets whatever other medical help he needs on a regular basis and they will manage his disability funds for him if he gets social security, if he doesn’t they will get him set up on it (and food assistance as well as medicaid or whatever else he is eligible for) and be there to monitor him on a regular basis. He will have to meet certain guidelines and thresholds for the courts to remove the guardianship if he does improve over time. This is no guarantee of a positive outcome for your stepson, but, at least he won’t be completely alone in that regard. The process may mean at least one or two court appearances. If you don’t claim him financially then they will base court costs on his income and it is usually very little if anything. At least that is how it works in Ohio.
It isn’t the perfect solution but it is better than nothing at all. I am not making any judgement on your decision, I feel decisions of that nature are deeply personal. I am just a person who has been a caregiver for my son for the past 20 years and caring for him and also I must admit going to the NAMI classes really changed my point of view about the mentally ill -including my very own son. I felt like you more times than not and that it is a true fact.
I just knew he had no one else but me and I remembered the beautiful young boy I once had and in spite of all the complete lack of evidence that he existed when he was gravely ill over the years I refused to believe that there wasn’t some kind of correct treatment that would make him well enough to be “my son” again or at least close to the version I once remembered.
I didn’t have a husband to help me and I also had a slew of health problems that put me on disability myself so in one way that gave me all the time in the world to be at home with my son when he was very ill. So circumstances make a huge difference when you have to make hard decisions and what is right for one caregiver is not necessarily right for another -it doesn’t make anyone more right or more wrong.
Having said that I think even in the worst case, somebody has to be there for a very ill person to lean on even if it is a paid stranger through the courts. That’s just a fact. Even if it were a stranger to me personally, I would want to help any seriously ill person I knew to have some recourse knowing it could not be me as the caregiver. Again, just my suggestion and my thoughts and you ultimately have to do what is right for you and your husband. Your stepson has a serious brain disease that makes him impossible to be around, he has not found the right treatment or he wouldn’t be in the trouble he is in right now. If you manage to get him a court appointed guardian and keep him at a distance in the meantime, and then one day perhaps, he finds stability and a measure of wellness and wonders where his dad and step mom are. Would you or your husband want to know him then? Just a question that occurred to me. I absolutely wish you , your husband and your adult stepson the very best possible outcome for all of you going forward. If you ever decide to learn more about mental illness from a different perspective, the free Family to Family classes offered through NAMI (if there is one in your area) is a huge source of information, referrals and a network of support. I found it invaluable. Today my son is 35 and he is stable and he lives with me. It was a very long and very hard road, maybe if he were my stepson, I might not have had the strength to go the extra mile, I cannot say for sure, I almost quit many, many times. All I can say is I am grateful beyond words today, that I didn’t. That’s me though and that doesn’t make me more right or wrong, just different, a different perspective. Take care, and welcome to the forum-the perfect place to vent anytime.
PS> About the smoking thing, my son did the same --very angry -defiant …etc —I cant have smoking in the house-I don’t smoke, my son smokes outside today. It takes a measure of wellness for a mental patient to adhere to certain “sensible rules” or to understand basic “sensible concepts”, while ill, their brain cannot allow it, they cannot access the reasoning like you or I can.
My son only adhered to basic sensible rules once he was stabilized on the right medicine for a decent period of time. Even then, it took a couple of years or more to see the full positive results. In addition my son;'s doctor explained to me that at the onset of a serious mental illness a person’s emotional growth and maturity are often stunted, unable to continue to develop.
My son’s was stunted at 14, he was getting ill then, he was finally diagnosed at 21, he also had a drug addiction at that time, even when I got him on the right medication at about the age of 25 and he started getting better and stopped doing drugs, he had the emotional maturity of a 14 year old and I could see it. His doctor said the maturity can continue to develop once the brain is in recovery and it has for my son, he is 35 now and emotionally he reminds me of a 20 year old. However a 20 year old makes a far better roommate than a surly 14 year old, as many moms will attest. Anyway, sorry to write you a book, but my heart goes out to you, I hope my words come across to you with all the compassion I intended. Please feel free to ask any questions or message me if you ever want to. By the way, I still see a therapist, it is a wise decision when dealing with a family member with a serious illness. It helps a lot. Take care. https://nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-Programs/NAMI-Family-to-Family