Pretty sure 33 yo son has schizophrenia, but he lives 1000 miles away

and I’m pretty sure he won’t get go to a doctor. How do I help him?

Phone calls…

I call him and he calls me. This is how I came to the conclusion. I’ve tried calling NAMI both here and where he lives, but only get answering machines. I left a message two days ago, but haven’t heard back. I know federal mental health funding was cut back in the 80s, but isn’t there someone or some group I can turn to?

Things are more challenging from a distance. I have a parent o/s with the and constantly have to assess condition either via Skype or phone, so perhaps I can offer some help.

Firstly, I am not sure whether you have seen symptoms prior to this or not. Schizophrenia tends to have its onset earlier than 30s, so I wonder if his current state is ringing alarm bells for you due to prior behavior or is it entirely new? If the former, then I wonder if he has sought treatment before this?

It is very difficult to make someone who is unwilling, go to a dr, and people can’t be generally forced into undergoing mental health treatment. The exceptions are if they pose a danger to themselves or another person, and even that requires observation. Do you have a relative, friend or professional (your son’s GP, for example) who you could reach out to pay him a visit, or make a call to a professional on his behalf?

How you present the suggestion to see a Dr also makes a difference. If you think he would be resistant, could you suggest seeing the Dr because he’s “not feeling well” and go from there? An intuitive GP may pick up on any psychosis that may be going on.

Perhaps call a mental health service (hotline, local hospital social worker dept etc) and see if they can suggest a referral service that is local to your son? They may at least be able to point you in the direction of what local help exists.

Once you have care established, it is much easier to be a source of support to your son from a distance. I, for example, have regular email contact with my father’s psychiatrist following each of his visits to him. As his next of kin and as my father does not object, he is able to do so and I can at least be following his care.

I hope I helped some.

Keep trying NAMI.

Yes, HC15. That does … some. Thank you.

He’s lived away from me for the bigger part of the last decade. He has had depression. But … suddenly, … about a year and a half ago, he “got over it”. I thought maybe he was manic depressive, but as he wasn’t suicidal and was able to function, I didn’t … over react.

About a year ago, he had some hallucinations, and began having delusions. I was still in denial until two nights ago, on a phone call, he was telling me about an incident in which some guy approached him and took him to an isolated area (being purposely vague here). At that point I stopped listening and could only think of the movie A Beautiful Mind where one of Nash’s voices took him into an abandoned warehouse.

My son has been anti pharmaceutical for many years - long before I thought he had any symptoms of any mental illness. I don’t know how to approach him to get him to seek help.

I’m not going to claim any more knowledge than that as a carer would have here, other than to say, delusions and hallucinations are more than just depression (as you probably know). From my personal experience of 33 years living with a schizophrenic, they do not just go away without medical intervention either. I am sure I am telling you nothing new.

It’s a long shot, but I will copy you some info from the NAMI’s “Where to get help” page. See if that helps. They suggest the types of people and/or places that you can turn to for help.

The most drastic shot you have, if you are willing and able, would be to pay a visit and see if you can take him into a hospital emergency department yourself. That’s a big ask, but I do know from personal experience that they can transfer to a mental health facility directly if they feel he needs to be monitored.

Good luck!

If unsure where to go for help, talk to someone you trust who has experience in mental health—for example, a doctor, nurse, social worker, or religious counselor. Ask their advice on where to seek treatment. If there is a university nearby, its departments of psychiatry or psychology may offer private and/or sliding-scale fee clinic treatment options. Otherwise, check the Yellow Pages under mental health, health, social services, crisis intervention services, hotlines, hospitals,or physicians for phone numbers and addresses. In times of crisis, the emergency room doctor at a hospital may be able to provide temporary help for a mental health problem, and will be able to tell you where and how to get further help.

Listed below are the types of people and places that will make a referral to, or provide, diagnostic and treatment services.
Family doctors
Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
Religious leaders/counselors
Health maintenance organizations
Community mental health centers
Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
University- or medical school-affiliated programs
State hospital outpatient clinics
Social service agencies
Private clinics and facilities
Employee assistance programs
Local medical and/or psychiatric societies

Additional Resources for Getting Information and Assistance:

Find Behavioral Health Treatment

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 
CMS is the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicare, Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance (SCHIP) and several other programs that help people pay for health care.

Locate Affordable Healthcare in Your Area 
Within the Federal Government, a bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) provides a Health Center Database for a nationwide directory of clinics to obtain low or no-cost healthcare.

Locate NIMH Clinical Trials currently seeking participants.

Mental Health Information and Organizations  from NLM’s MedlinePlus (en Español )

If You Are in a Crisis and Need Immediate Help

Thank you! That is a lot of help and at least points me in … several directions. I would go there, but I have a full time job - overworked as most people are who are still employed in this economy, and have an 11 yo son at home. Money is tight. I was hoping I’d be able to find a support group I could contact and talk to someone personally.

I will reach out to some of the sources you mentioned to see what help I can get. Thank you.

**I know you said you are working and have a small son at home----but can a family member watch the 11 year old, and will you job accept a family emergency situation so that you can go and take a look for yourself? Maybe bring him back home?
I know it`s scary when he is so far away.
Wishing you luck :four_leaf_clover: **

Thank you, bridgecomet. I … don’t know what I’m going to do at this point. What I do know is that he is 33 and I cannot force him to accept the diagnosis, nor treatment. I can only talk to him and … slowly … try to help him want to get help. He says when this first started he also thought it was schizophrenia and read up at a bunch of websites. Maybe he … did the opposite of what most people do and instead of convincing himself he has a disease, he read enough to convince himself he doesn’t have it. I don’t know. But, aside from having him committed against his will, I can only talk to him and try to convince him to seek counseling. So, going there - even if I were completely free to do so - is not an option at this point.

It’s a tough situation. But as you say, you cannot force him to accept a potential diagnosis or seek help. And he’s an adult, and (like me), you have a younger child at home to look after and need to make yourselves the priority. I’m going through a process right now of trying to break contact with my dad, at least for the time being, because of the emotional toll it’s having on me listening to him sometimes (mind you, he is being verbally abusive at present, not sure if that’s the case with your son or not). I was there seeing him last month and honestly, the visit affected me negatively far more than it did my father. So I am not sure going there would necessarily help you if he’s resistant anyway.

It sounds like you are accepting that he’s a grown man and you can’t force him to take treatment. I applaud you for that because it’s not easy to let go when it’s a close family member. The hope is that either he sees the need for help, or someone geographically closer to him does. Often and unfortunately, it takes a crisis before someone with a mental illness seeks help. As someone who was hospitalized with depression after the birth of my son and almost lost my marriage because of it, I can say that with honesty. It’s not like a physical condition. There is so much stigma attached, especially with sz, and a lot less is known about conditions like these even among the professionals who treat them.

Meanwhile, please continue to take care of yourself and your young boy. I always tell myself that I cannot change the kind of parent my father was and is to me, but I CAN affect how I parent my own children.

I’m sorry to hear about your father. My son is not verbally abusive - not until I try to tell him what to do, like go to a doctor. It’s taken me several years to figure that out, but I’ve really been working on that lately, over the last couple months. I finally got a hold on that, then this realization. Now, all I want to do is drink until I can’t think about it anymore.

My son is about to be evicted at the end of this month. He has been verbally abusive and hard to deal with. Its almost like he is pushing all help away. He has been off meds for 6-8 months now. I dont think he trusts anyone-and maybe living mostly in his bedroom.
When I was living far away from him, it was easy to let go.
But how do I help him when he pushes away? How do i watch his decline and suffering?
He has gone through some unspeakable things in the last 20 years–from the police, to the hospitals and their stupid Hippa laws, to being involved with people who took advantage of him in every possible way.
Sorry-I am literally falling apart…my daughter is getting married in 1 week, sister is coming in, and I will probably have to skip my trip with my sisters to the east coast.
i will have to use my 2nd week vacation to help find a home for my son…
Both of our lives are slipping away…

Does your son want to move away? It sounds heartbreaking to both of you. I think it is compassionate and responsible of you to stay home with your son to help him move. I wish him healing and recovery. I’m sorry that you are going through this @Bridgecomet, but you are doing the best you can. I hope that you can reconcile things with him. The thing is with my mom, once she passed that darkness of madness she lost the conscientiousness to realize she is hallucinating and behaving strangely. I’m very sensitive, and many people think I was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia-but I had all the symptoms of psychosis. So I don’t think they made a mistake. I feel like I have always been who I am, throughout life before and after I developed psychosis. It wasn’t chronic after it went away, and it hasn’t resurfaced but I had complete psychosis. I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing, and it warped my personality because who I was before, became tangled up in between the webs of hysteria. I suffered through it and it never returned. If I were aware that I was becoming psychotic again I would tell my support system or contact an ER but most likely I would just call my doctor or psychiatrist first to ask their advice. So far no one has considered me in need of being hospitalized, but during a stressful time I did go to the ER and talk to someone. I thought I might need to go inpatient and I really tried to convince them I needed it, and they were really supportive. They actually got me a bed at a hospital, but then I realized someone else probably needed that bed more than me and I went home.

My mom is listening to Green Day upstairs, she actually seems happy. I hope someday she really can be happy with herself and her life, but the psychosis splintered her perceptions. I think staying home and talking to her has helped her a lot. But she attacked me yesterday, she lunged at me for cigarettes. In retrospect it’s kind of funny, but it really upset me. Especially since I have been getting her food and stuff from town while her car is out of service. She said that she’s going to call tripleA to get it repaired haha.

@bridgecomet, I am so sorry to hear that your son is and has suffered. I know how heartbreaking that is for a mother. All I want for my son is to be happy.

The thing is, this psychosis is new - only started about a year or year and a half ago. I … I think it was January or February last year. Prior to that, I knew he was depressed. He’s an artist and living in Vegas. He’s anti-greed/money, so he was always broke and never had the money to pay all his bills, let alone do anything fun. It was stressful and I believe that is what triggered the psychosis. I’ve been in denial until 3 days ago when he relay a story that reminded me of the movie A Beautiful Mind. That’s when the pieces fell into place.

In some ways, it’s a relief - I have a name, a reason for what he is going through. But, I’m only half way there. Now, I’m stuck between worrying over getting him treatment and allowing him the freedom to make his own decisions.

Unlike other stories I’ve read here, he seems to be getting better - better than he was before the psychosis. He has an apartment, and a job, he exercises and eats healthy.

How old was your son when he was diagnosed? Is there someone else on this board who’s child developed schizophrenia as an adult?

@StarryNight, Are you saying that looking back you wish someone would have forced you to have treatment? Would you have accepted the treatment? Or do you wish they would have forced you to take pills and kept you locked up in a hospital?

**Thanks @StarryNight!
My son doesnt live with me. He has been asked to leave his own place. I cant let him live with me because of past abuse from him (physical). I THINK he is trying to do it all himself.
Sorry that your mom did that to you.!
I have a sister that works with a lot of disabled kids and she has been giving me a lot of tips on how to deal with my sons behavior. one of them is to NOT to tolerate any abusive behavior. If you live with your mom-it might be hard, but you could always leave for awhile. I do a lot for my son and the thank yous are getting fewer and fewer. **

I know that giving something a name is helpful-then you at least know where to start…I am also going through the same thing with my son. I have a little more support now, so i can sit back and 'think"!
I am letting my son make his choices now, but from long experience, he always ends up in jail or the hospital. I guess I am trying to avoid another crisis before it happens, which always happens anyway!
He was 19 when he was diagnosed-he is now 38.
Sounds like your brother is doing pretty well.

I hope he’s doing well. For all I know, I’m still in denial - and choose to accept what he tells me. I can’t confirm what he’s telling me is correct - he has a history of telling me what I want to hear. And, that also may have contributed to the problem. I was very young (18) when I had him. I was a child myself, even at 18, I was … naive and … irresponsible. I think that must have been stressful for a young child to grow up like that. I still feel guilty now. About his childhood, and now that he probably has this illness. and now I feel guilty because I don’t know whether to force him into treatment or let him work it out on his own.

I … just don’t know what to do.

**So much like me! I had my son when I was 16. The only thing i feel quiltyabout is that I married his father.
I think-as a mother-there is always guilt, you know?
Your son sounds pretty well, and I would guess that if anything happens, you will hear about it. As long as he feels he can talk to you-that`s half the battle right there!
My son has always been secretive about what goes on with him.
Maybe the only thing you can do is wait—hard, I know :persevere: **

It’s very hard. I am grateful that he talks to me. But … sometimes, I don’t want to hear it - I know, that sound awful and just another thing I feel guilty about. I don’t want to push him off on someone else, but I’ve never been able to handle stuff like this - not even a cold, let alone THIS. But, as I said before, I feel better now that I have a name for it.

I used to worry that I would have to support him for the rest of my life, I wire transfer money to him often. Now, I know I will always have to support him financially. and even that is somewhat of a relief. I just don’t know how to support him … emotionally, mentally, psychologically being so far away.