Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

My son moved into an apartment...ideas welcome

#1

First time posting in this forum. After 5 years of living with my husband and I, my 36 year old sz son moved into an apartment that he is sharing with another man who has a mental illness. Although we have longed for him to live independently, we have been experiencing a variety of mixed emotions. He has come a long way in five years and I hope that this will be a positive experience for him. My son receives a monthly shot of Ability and can supplement with pills, as needed, towards the end of the month. It seems like his roommate isolates in his room and doesn’t use the common spaces in the apartment, including the kitchen. I plan on making sure that my son keeps his mental health appointments and encouraging him in his recovery, but want to give him space to success without my prompting. I need to figure out how closely should I monitor and support him. Although I think he is capable of successfully living on his own, it feels like his recovery could be at risk. I must say, it’s nice to have him living elsewhere, for now.

Thank you to everyone who participates in this forum. I am not sure if I will be a regular contributor or not, but I definitely appreciate getting emails from this forum that remind me that I am not alone! Just knowing that this forum exists brings me comfort. Mental illness can be so isolating for everyone involved. Prayers of love, comfort and support to everyone in this community.
Love,
Dawn

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#2

Hi Dawn,

Welcome to the forum!

My first question would be: Is your son’s housemate a friend or a random person who was paired to live with him? Do they share any interests? Do they communicate? Does your son seem disappointed that his housemate is in his room all the time?

If it seems that the housemate is a stranger who doesn’t have any interest in participating in a household with your son, perhaps he could find someone else to share an apartment with. I would say, cautiously, that that person doesn’t necessarily have to be mentally ill, as long as they like your son and understand/are sympathetic with his condition.

I am thinking of my husband, who is unmedicated and has spent many years in institutions. Now that he’s out, he wants nothing to to with other mentally ill people. Although he will talk with them occasionally, they usually make him depressed because he sees a lot of what he considers zombie behavior (because they are medicated and he is not - only his opinion! lol). He would rather live with a “normie,” so you might need to consider that with your son as well. Is he high-functioning? Does he leave the apartment much? Work? As long as he is stable, he might do OK with a “normie” housemate.

Long answer short: I would consider how your son feels. If he is OK with his housemate, let them do their thing. If he is feeling awkward, see if they can work on improving the housemate relationship. If he really doesn’t like the guy, see if you can find him another situation. Keep a vigilant eye for signs of discomfort if he doesn’t talk about it willingly with you.

It sounds like he’s doing well, though. That must be a great relief for you and your husband.

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#3

Sometimes we focus so much on the MI aspect we “forget” the person.
Roommate issues exist whether MI or not.

The question is how does he feel about his roommate? If he is ok with the roomie isolating then you should be too. Just let him know you are willing to be a sounding board if he has issues. If they become serious (violence, substance abuse), then step in, otherwise let him work it out.

At 31 my son started living on his own. At first he was concerned my control issues (his words) would overlap into controlling his home. I assured him that was not the case–although the OCD in me cringes at some of the housekeeping ideas he has. I let a lot go and just try to help when asked.

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#4

A thought from someone who successfully made this transition a long time ago. Consider offering to pay for a cleaning service every other week or every week.

It achieves multiple goals: Keeps the apartment reasonably clean and orderly, both from professional cleaning and pre-cleaning. Provides regular social contact, as cleaning people are often quite chatty. Gives a point of contact if something is amiss, without being overly intrusive. Disorder and messiness is a good indicator of mental unrest.

In my case, I was the one who hired the cleaning lady as she also cleaned my workplace at the time, in many ways it was therapeutic and life changing, yet relatively inexpensive. Eventually she ended up cleaning both my parents house and my brother’s house (who has BPD)

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#5

Thanks for your reply.! The apartment my son shares is owned by an local agency that serves people with mental illness. He met his roommate once and decided it was a good match. It was the first opportunity available to him and he took it! The roommate continues to isolate in his room and that doesn’t seem to bother my son much, if at all. I wouldn’t say my son functions at a high level, but he does okay and living on his own will be a more accurate assessment of what he is capable of. My son doesn’t work - yet! He is applying for jobs and we’ll see where that leads.

My husband and I getting used to having our home to ourselves and pray it lasts a long time!

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#6

Maggotbrane,
Thanks for the idea! That seems like a wonderful idea for all the reason’s you listed. I had an overwhelming urge to clean before he moved in, but my son didn’t want me to. Maybe he will be more open to a professional, rather than his mother?
Thanks again!
Dawn

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#7

Thank you for your reply! I need to remember to have healthy boundaries with my son and not overly manage his life. I say “overly” because he NEEDS some level of management and oversight. Finding the right balance is the slippery slope for me.
Thanks again!
Dawn

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#8

It is hard. My son is currently in jail for misdemeanors that stem from delusions of freeing the oppressed. I have gone to his home to check on it weekly and the urge to straighten and clean overwhelm me. It is not trashed but just not as neat and tidy as I would like. During times of relative stability he has commented on my “control issues” so I know he thinks about me crossing boundaries! I have been good and only did what was asked…ok maybe a bit more. But I fessed up to it.

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