Where do you draw the line on safety?

Hi everyone,

My son (23) has SZ. He has done some things which really scare me such as going into the backyard naked, leaving the house to buy drugs (and smoking marijuana in his room), and one time he left the unlit gas burner on which filled the home with natural gas. I do not want to commit him, ever.

I already have video cameras in the front and rear of the house. Is it okay to place a video camera inside his room and in the living room? I really struggle with this bc I respect his privacy. However, I worry about him all the time and often go to check on him to make sure he’s okay. I am very anxious and fearful when I leave the home and he stays home. If I phone call him when I’m away, he often does not answer. I would like to be able to check on him for his safety. I do not want to “watch him”, I just need to know that he’s okay - especially if I visit a friend for a half day. Is placing a camera in his room okay? He plays on his computer most of the day in his room.

Where do you draw the line on keeping him safe? He’s 23 but acts much, much younger and is low executive functioning. He does not drive, work, and does not have any friends. Thank you.

Hi! I think if your son doesn’t object to putting the camera in his room it should be fine and it would give you a little peace of mind. My son would never want a camera in his place and if I put one up and he saw it he would most likely rip it down. He is very paranoid and thinks sometimes that I stand outside his window and watch him. He also thinks that I tell neighbors to watch him. Uggg Hopefully you can go ahead with the cameras because it could give you peace of mind. There is constant worry with this illness, I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. As time goes on, I am realizing there is very little I can control when it comes to my SZ son.

Thank you for your thoughts. When I’m away, I think I’ll just have to encourage him to answer his phone. It’s a much better option.

Your safety and sanity are extremely important. How do you set boundaries in this situation? You mentioned ‘draw the line on keeping him safe’. Unfortunately we can’t make someone change but we can set up boundaries in a relationship that help you. Work with a trained therapist or counselor in this area.

Are you able to have a conversation with your son about things that concern you? Does your son have a therapist who can help him?

Often with a mental illness ‘isolation’ is a result but makes things worse. You said he doesn’t have friends. Are there any other interests he may have besides being on his computer? You say he has ‘low executive functioning’ so I’m wondering did he finish high school? if so, what areas did he do best at?

Connect with NAMI or other mental health support groups. DO NOT do this alone. You need others whether a therapist or someone who understands your situation to help you know how to proceed.

I realize all these suggestions can be overwhelming. Take one step at a time in the process of dealing with your difficult situation. You can do it!

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I have cameras inside and outside my home. It’s the only way I felt better away. I didn’t ask my son I just put them in. There are a few hidden cameras out there like one that resembles a smoke detector. I understand completely how you feel. I was worried all the time away from home. He started a fire in my house once. Having a camera helps. Of course if things we normal I would never do this. They are not so I have to do what I have to do.

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Thank you for sharing your experience, Ihavethevictory. It’s not an easy decision by any means. It sounds like it is common to have a SZ individual do something that can harm themself or others. As a caregiver, I’m constantly asking myself, “where is the line between protecting my son and respecting/treating him like a 23 yr old?” SZ has made that a difficult question to answer.

Julie1, my son sees a psychiatrist and I’m currently looking for a psychologist. Yes, I’ve talked to my son about my concerns. I’m not sure that he completely understands because he just has a blank stare. He’s not angry or anything. He does talk to people online with whom has plays videogames. He has a lot of fun doing it and I think he hears fewer voices when he’s gaming. So I bought a bunch of videogames that we are playing together in addition to his individual online play.

One of my biggest worries is that he will do something that can harm himself or that the police could be called and he may be shot/killed. So I guess the camera idea is intended to monitor that boundary to protect him. He has gone outside in his underwear many times (and gone outside naked at least 1x) and when I witness it I explain to him that he shouldn’t do it because the neighbors may become alarmed and call the police. I explain that the neighbors have little children and his action would alarm them. But he still does it sometimes. He doesn’t seem to understand the implications. He doesn’t really ever get angry (like me) and he is very sweet. I hope you can understand why I worry so much when I leave the home and he is home alone. Thank you!

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@Galaga, is your son taking meds? That made a big difference in my son’s life – as in returning him to normal functioning. The drugs are slowly being tapered down. I don’t know what the future holds about him ever getting off of them. I hope some day it will be possible.

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Yes, he’s on zyprexa and caplyta. He just started the abilify shot.