I’ve been a lurker here for a while, trying to educate myself about what I can do to help my son (if anything) through others’ experiences. I refuse to give up on him and it’s causing resentment and marital problems for me. I don’t have much if any support. I have not found a story similar to my own, your stories seem so much more tragic than mine, so here’s my dilemma - the good thing is my son lives independently. The bad thing is - HOW is my son living independently, and how can we get him in treatment if no one (but his parents and his Ex) recognizes his illness?
No problems in HS or college. Great kid, over achiever, football captain, very social and extremely well liked by his peers. Graduated in the top 5 of his class. He was a good son and showed tremendous love for us, thoughtful and appreciative for how hard we worked to put him through college, and give him the best we could. He showed no signs (well maybe 1 or 2 now that I can reflect with awareness) but basically, he was fine until…he wasn’t. His problems did not start until he was around 29 years old, married, exceling in his career in finance, working hard and living the young exec life. This momma exhaled and patted herself on the back…until…
He lived about 3 hours away, but according to my now Ex DIL, his life took a turn in 2017 when he became paranoid, hostile, angry, violent, and irrational. We learned he was abusing weed and Adderall and admitted to using cocaine once. We recognized these changes and witnessed the drug use, but mental illness and/or addiction was NOT even on our radar. He was a very successful young exec making +$120k annually, but this bizarre behavior started affecting his job performance. He believed all his colleagues were sabotaging him, creating elaborate conspiracies against him and his managers were jealous of him, and he even said he could hear them talking about him, laughing at him, calling him names while in his office. He would complain to his top-level managers, but they all told him (after investigating) it wasn’t happening. All his peers liked him and thought these stories to be incredulous. He states he was forced to quit 2 consecutive (very good) jobs due to harassment. This all sounded odd to me at the time of the first resignation, but I had no reason not to believe him at this stage. I too held jobs I hated and dearly wanted out of. I assumed he had enough funds to cover them until he found his next position. The wife only had a p/t job, and they were expecting their first child, but he refused to take lesser jobs that were “beneath him.” He had a difficult time finding another high paying finance job, so for over a year it spiraled him further each day; he neglected to bathe, smoked weed all day, grew weed in their garage, thought their neighbor was spying on them and working for the CIA. After quitting the 2nd job, he sold his lovely home to move his family 12 hours away, racked up huge expenses to live downtown in this major city only to quit 3 months later for the same reason - his collegues disliked him and made fun of him. His responded by stating he was going to create several businesses (all required huge capital outlays he did not have) and spent hours upon hours creating spreadsheets on his perceived new startups. He actually made cash offers to sellers on commercial real estate! all while having to “borrow” from family to just keep the lights on and the mortgage paid. He got tens of thousands from family during this time. We attempted two interventions, but it was a no go each time. We thought he was improving when he finally got another job, the last one in his field, but he lost it in about 2 short months. He was terminated for cause due to creating a hostile work environment. His wife had left him at this point, he then went into complete isolation for 4 months and hid out in an apt a friend put him up in. He ignored his baby daughter, no show for Christmas or birthday, (he was always a big Christmas guy) no child support, would not respond to calls, messages, even the sheriff’s dept. He cut all ties with family, we had to do welfare checks bi-weekly. He almost went to jail over custody and child support issues when he would not show up for court. He had his car repossessed and got evicted from the apt despite his friend providing him the funds to pay the rent each month. We sought advice from many professionals during this time, trying to figure out what to do. Although nobody actually saw him physically, since he refused our offers of medical assistance and rehab centers, these pros had various theories- addiction, MH diagnosis, or a combo of both, but nothing concrete. We sought legal help in getting a conservatorship, but evidence was not on our side, since he did not have a criminal record, or any history of arrests, violence, MH hospitalizations. However, this spring, I was referred to a psychologist PhD with whom we shared all of the bizarre stories and behaviors - side note: he’s accused us of heinous childhood abuses, (stuff he has seen on movies and TV shows) said his father was an accomplice to a local murder, he had caught us in drug deals, says we are all drug addicts and have been in a drug ring for decades. There is absolutely no truth to these stories. This Dr. very soundly, and without hesitation, told us our son had paranoid schizophrenia and we should just start the grieving process, as we would likely never get him back. She did not believe it to be a drug induced psychosis since his condition did not appear to improve when he was sober - he held tightly to his false beliefs and we were the ones he targeted. The Dr’s Prognosis - he was experiencing severe psychosis and without medical and drug intervention he would likely end up on the streets. She believed the sx came first and he was self-medicating with the drug abuse.
He has been no contact with us for 3 years now, so I don’t have first-hand experience with his day to day. I’ve used a PI, and other means, to check on him. He has maintained 2 p/t jobs for over a year. These are low-level min wage jobs, although he has several certifications in finance and is educated and very intelligent. He has couch surfed for several years for housing and lived in a local hotel known to be a drug and prostitution den for 6 months. This spring some customer he serves at the restaurant where he works, took pity sake on him and is providing him with a small apt over his garage and a car to drive. I’m grateful this man is keeping a roof over my son’s head, but it’s still odd to me. Maybe he really is just a good Samaritan. I did some digging and sources say he is a “good guy.” He stated he has a strict policy on smoking and drugs (including weed) on premises. He does not believe our son is involved in drug use. I do know my son lives an isolated life (not him at all, he was always the life of the party with his charming personality and cutting wit.) He works long hours every day and goes straight back to his apartment. No social life or friends as best I can tell, and has lost at least 25-30 lbs, which he attributes to being on his feet all day AND he now chain smokes. That’s so unusual b/c he always HATED cigarettes. I am also in contact with a HS friend he hits up for money sometimes, he will provide updates, but when I ask the response is always, “he’s doing fine” and “he’s just working hard.” These folks mean well, it’s just perplexing to me that he was so sick and delusional the last we saw him, but so far has maintained some semblance of normalcy to outsiders and has kept these two jobs for the past year. He also had the good sense to file for bankruptcy last month on all the absurd debt he racked up with his reckless spending. Most people (and some extended family) think it’s just a simple falling out over the divorce, and us taking sides with his Ex and he’ll come around when he’s ready. No biggie. Seriously, the only irrational behavior now, that I am aware of, is he still refuses assistance from us - told his HS buddy he would rather live in that filthy hotel or go to the homeless shelter than contact us, and an attorney friend who spoke with him in court, told me he had a very hollow and vacant stare and was expressionless when they talked in Feb., although he did not appear to be high. He said he was very articulate and could tell he was very intelligent.
My question(s) - God bless you if you’ve had the time and fortitude to stay with me this far…
I’ve attended the NAMI family to family, which was very educational, but I still do not have a good understanding of how he disguises this illness so well?.. which has me guessing if he really does have sx or could he have had an addiction he beat? I know these devastating conditions don’t just clear up on their own. There are just so many inconsistencies with what I read on the prognosis of addiction and sx, combined with all the trials and experiences you guys are going through with your loved ones,- how could he manage so well and be seemingly “doing fine” with no treatment, or medication when he was def in serious psychosis? Thoughts, questions, comments?