What We Didn’t Say: A struggle — parenting children with mental illness — is finally shared

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Morning Zen guest blogger ~ Robin Herman

I’d seek out my friend — standing in the crush at the edges of the Parade — the one classmate I could talk to each year at Reunions who would understand. We’d turn our backs to the line of marchers and whisper under a tree the latest updates about our young-adult kids. I’d tell him how my daughter, at the mercy of dark moods, periodically would overdose on prescription medications and how my son had suffered an unexplained breakdown at college. Some days my son couldn’t get out of bed, yet he had resisted engaging in treatment. My friend would tell me about hospitalizing his son to pry the young man away from the grip of alcoholism and underlying depression.

We’d been meeting discreetly like this for nearly a decade, since the first hints of our kids’ troubles, whispering our fears, our desperation, our sympathies, and then leaving one another with a big hug and hopes for a better year ahead.

When we’d turn our faces again to the crowd, you would hear my friend say how well his business was doing and, from me, what a grand transition I’d made from a high-profile journalism career to being a dean at one of Harvard’s graduate schools. We had great spouses, great families, great lives! Doesn’t everyone at Reunions?

I did not expect that my biggest and most painful challenge as a parent would come so late. I thought the hardest years were behind my husband and me: the toddler tantrums; the worries over childhood diseases, school progress, sexual relationships and health; the tamping down of terror as we watched our daughter and then our son drive away in the family car for the first time. 

Measured against the mental illnesses that have struck each of our kids in young adulthood, those earlier tests now seem problems of limited magnitude with straightforward strategies and solutions. Where we are today is a foreign land with no markers or exits, and where we question our own competence.

I know my family’s experience is not an aberration. The major mental illnesses — bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression — typically manifest in the late teens and early 20s. According to the National Institutes of Health, just over 4 percent of all U.S. adults aged 18 to 25 have a serious mental illness. 

It is thought that the biologically based illnesses, which produce a vulnerability in mood regulation and thought processes, are stirred to the surface by external stressors.That young adults may break down in their first year or two of college or graduate school is no accident. Away from the safety and structure of the family, presented with distractions and choices and enormous expectations to succeed, any student with a vulnerability may falter. Many students with incipient mental illness can be propelled by the chaos and pressure into a frightening struggle to maintain their stability. 

Also unsettling, especially to parents, is the fact that our kids are no longer minors, and the health-care system allows them to choose whether to participate in their own treatment and medications. (Try making a 20-something take a pill!) Every developmental instinct these young adults have tells them to push aside authority and go their own way. Only with maturing may young adults be better able to accept responsibility for their own health and act on it.

In the early years of my daughter’s struggle with a mood disorder, I did not talk to others about the turmoil. At the office I became immersed in work and proud of the creativity and effectiveness of the unit I led. I felt competent. But part of me was always on alert, never knowing at what moment a crisis could hit and I’d be summoned to the high school or hospital. Or perhaps it would be my daughter herself calling, crying for me to help her. Whenever I heard a ringtone — anyone’s ringtone — my adrenaline would spike, my heart pound, and my brain freeze. At night I began to have panic attacks, waves of feeling that something terrible was about to happen. 

My husband and I are educated and resourceful people, devoted to our children’s happiness and well-being, and yet we couldn’t protect them. We are financially secure, I was well connected through my job, and we were able to provide my daughter with top doctors and facilities in Boston, this renowned epicenter of medical care. But it didn’t matter. Still she wrestled with her moods and her self-destructive impulses. I began to question my competence and worth as a mother, as a person. I was failing, and I was scared. My daughter’s life was at risk.

A psychiatrist helped me talk about my distress and learn to manage it. Anti-anxiety medication was effective. Strategy sessions allowed me to feel less helpless. After awhile I was able to tell my work staff why the boss sometimes had to drop everything and dash out of the office. Even then I couched the situation in euphemisms: “My daughter is having a bad day.” Bit by bit, as the years passed, I allowed myself to explain what was happening to those closest to me — my sister, my cousin, the girlfriends in my book group — especially after the relentless anxiety impaired my very ability to read. 

But there was a time of year when I would not speak of these things, and, I now know, neither would an untold number of our classmates. When mental illness robs your children of their abilities and their prospects, a parent mourns. My husband and I had ambitions for each of them, a specific imagined future particular to our peer group. Was it somehow our fault that this vision was dashed? What paths were open to our children now? Could they be happy? Could we be happy? Could we ever see our lives and theirs as anything but diminished?

At Reunions, in the company of our high-achieving Princeton alumni community, the story of my family’s distress stayed locked up tight. I’d never read about my kind of struggle in Class Notes. There were entries about families facing a loved one’s cancer or recovering from a heart attack. But no one mentioned this.

I was as guilty of Class Notes silence as anyone. Amid the crowings of my classmates about their children’s Ivy League acceptances, I kept quiet about my daughter’s disastrous first semester at an obscure college and sent word to PAW only when she transferred to a prestigious art school — neglecting to follow up with news of her quick emotional descent there. 

Similarly, I let everyone know that my son won early acceptance at a highly competitive college based on his poetry, but not that he ended his freshman year with an inexplicable nervous breakdown and spent the following year mostly in our house before having a similar experience at another college. A hospitalization followed, and we learned that he was suffering from bipolar illness, a thought disorder that impairs cognition and the processing of external information. The door to his academic life seemed to close with a slam.

We now had two kids with mental illness. What were the chances? Our children are not related genetically: We’d adopted our daughter as an infant, and our son had been a surprise pregnancy.

In the midst of his suffering, my son turned a sympathetic gaze on his parents. “I guess you wish that you had other kids instead of us,” he said. My heart fell. I told him no, that there were no imaginary, ideal other kids out there whom I preferred. What I wanted was for my kids to feel better.

And it was true. I had let go of vicarious ambition and trivial matters. When your kid is coping with mental illness, you get to the bottom line fast: He’s alive. If you have that, you can start feeling ambition for the child to be healthy and then happy. That’s all that counts.

My selective silences ended abruptly at my 40th reunion. I sat down at a table under the tent to catch up with a classmate I hadn’t seen for many years. He told me eagerly about his two sons — one finishing at an Ivy college, the other in a terrific job in New York. Then he asked me about my family. I was about to fudge things, but then, with an unexpected feeling of freedom, I plunged ahead and told him that my daughter was stable now after years of hospitalizations and that we’d just learned my son had bipolar disorder. Sadly, neither kid had been able to finish college. 

Then the most shocking thing happened. 

A look of chagrin came over my classmate’s face. He hesitated for a moment, then bent toward me. Actually, he said, his young adult daughter was still living with them at home. She, too, was mentally ill.

Had I not been forthright about my own situation, my classmate would have kept the very existence of his child a secret. I decided then and there that this silence had to end — for everyone who comes to Reunions.

So it was that last May, with the help of the University, I organized a Reunions panel: “Parenting Young Adult Children With Mental Illness.” It drew a standing-room-only crowd of 70 people, many leaning against walls and sitting on the floor in a McCosh Hall classroom. The audience participation was fervent and heartfelt. The overall emotion was relief. Many parents told wrenching stories, asked for help, and were given advice and resources from those in attendance and from the panelists — psychologist Calvin R. Chin, director of counseling and psychological services at Princeton; and my friend and classmate, Laurie Watson Raymond ’73, psychiatrist and former director of advising resources at Harvard Medical School.

Attendees spoke of having avoided Reunions in past years. One alumnus’ story of long self-exile from campus for fear of being asked about his ill daughter brought the room to tears. Others had made peace with their change in life expectations for both themselves and their kids. One couple spoke movingly of how much their son added to the home life of the family, now that they’d decided he was better off living permanently with them. One mother could not get her ill daughter to speak with her and didn’t even know for sure where she was. Another family could not control their son’s outbursts. Many people stayed long afterward for additional discussions in small clusters. It was, in some sense, a mini-reunion of people who hadn’t known until then that they had this in common with such a large group of fellow Princetonians.

I can tell you that lately my daughter is relatively stable. She has an apartment, a job, a fiancé, a dog, and a vision for the future. My son has not had a hospitalization in quite a while and is living at home. While he still is depressed, he is participating (albeit reluctantly) in treatment. My Princeton friend’s son is much better, lives independently, and runs his own company. He continues to attend AA meetings.

My husband and I still feel on alert, not sure when the next kid crisis might come or whether we can plan our own future, sell the house, and live on the downsized scale that we’d prefer and would help secure our retirement. The probability of having to support our kids indefinitely is real. There’s a lot we don’t know and a lot we only dare to hope for. But I’m through with whispering under the trees, and that sure feels good.

 *   *    *   *   *    *   *   *

hermanRobin Herman ’73 is retired from the Harvard School of Public Health, where she was assistant dean for research communications. This article originally appeared in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, January 7, 2015. Reprinted with permission.


Comments

  1. Lisa's avatar
    Lisa
    | Permalink
    I'm literally bawling my eyes out right now! I'm NOT alone! I wish I could deal with what ails my son. I feel so helpless and so tired. I pray that he had the strength I do to deal with this.
  2. Anonymous's avatar
    Anonymous
    | Permalink
    Their pain kills me to the point I want to make their cries silent and disappear... die really. I could never abandon except through death. I don't understand why he needs to go through this and can't help other than being there. Sigh...
  3. Karen's avatar
    Karen
    | Permalink
    Madeleine, thank you so much for putting how you feel into words. My son has half-heartedly tried to explain, but usually ends with, 'you just don't understand'. No, I don't, which is why I need you to explain it to me. I hope you stay strong and get through this. You are loved, I'm sure of it. Parents want their kids to be happy and when they are clearly suffering and we don't know how to help... it becomes so scary and frustrating. I know as a mom, I feel so utterly helpless watching my son keep trying to end it and not being able to help.
  4. Scott's avatar
    Scott
    | Permalink
    Sharita. A good place to start is the NAMI Helpline - 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org. The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET.
  5. sharada's avatar
    sharada
    | Permalink
    good to read the article and all the comments. My daughter 17 is just hospitalised and undergoing treatment for nervous breakdown. A good girl intelligent sincere honest hardworking helping loving is seen getting ruined. What a helpless situation that me and my husband are witnessing. May god be with us and all of you.
  6. Halie's avatar
    Halie
    | Permalink
    My son is now 30 and even though he has been diagnosed as having Schizoaffective disorder, and the past 15 years have been a night mare, there has been much beauty too. Your faith and prayers are the most powerful weapons you own. Read everything you can get your hands on, share with others, go to NAMI, Celebrate Recovery or AlAnon.
    Exercise, eat right and be very gentle with yourself. Don’t lose hope!
    There is Recovery out there. My son has just now begun choosing sobriety and visiting a doctor to treat his BPD, is on Lithium. We see improvement but it’s slow. I pay his rent, etc....while he gets his feet on the ground. He has been homeless and in jail but time does work miracles and as long as they are alive, there is hope.
  7. Chelsea's avatar
    Chelsea
    | Permalink
    I need support please!! I have 2 children...both biological 18 aND 20. One with major mental health/personality disorder and marijuana addiction....and 18 year old daughter who has suffered 2 major trama's in the last year...a boyfriends car crash ending in death..then a car accident of her own that left the driver..'friend'dead...in her arms. We struggled and have put 1000%into her recovery both physically and mentally...cheo...physio...massage therapy...psychiatrists..therapists. ..never ending...then we went holistic..all while trying to keep our anxiety ridden son afloat while at post secondary...and away from home. He threatens suicide...he acts irresponsibly...refuses to come home. He ends up arrested...our cute small town son...his girlfriend...turns out he's abusive in relationships. ..he ends up in jail for 3 days...we take time off...we spend 12 devastating hours in court.they release him.3 weeKS later it comes to light that our beautiful. ..compassionate daughter 18...is using cocaine and has stolen a few thousand from our business to blow up her nose while she watches us suffering and desparately scrounging to stay afloat ...we then realize she has been hanging out with "the wrong crowd'since the beginning of all of her traumas. We question everything ...we have been together and happy healthy couple for 23 years..we are hard working..successful..problem solving people...we need HELP trying to figure out what to do. I think I have to step up and recognize that I kept seeing the hope/potential for our kids to overcome anything. I think I have enabled them ...financially and maybe not given enough consequences. My husband is better at this. I think I'm to blame...but I just want to fix it!...I have requested no more contact with anyone through messaging and social media. ...I have told the kids I can't support them financially anymore...and can't here 'I'm going to slit my throat' anymore...I've told our daughter that she needs to go to inpatient rehab to be back in our lives...and told our son he'd be smart to do the same
    I, now, prepare myself everyday that my son may kill himself...and I've tried everything but telling him he needs to do everything on his own. If he dies..how am I to live. I have hope for my daughter...if she follows through with rehab. Please please help me. My husband has resigned..he expects the kids to step.up and prove themselves on their own...we've spent thousands, and time and energy and happiness and even the kids say we're the best parents ever...but then we have this
  8. Madeline's avatar
    Madeline
    | Permalink
    As I can comprehend the pain, embarrassment, and dissappointment all of you parents feel, I feel like such a piece of garbage. I know you must think to yourselves “how can they not see this is ruining our family, my life, their life” “why won’t they get help” and so many other questions. I am 26 years old, I have bipolar disorder. I didn’t believe I had a problem until I was about 24. By then my illness had caused me to make so many mistakes. I hate that I am stuck living with my grandmother, that I feel overwhelmed by just a regular full time job that I often just scrape by on. I hate that it’s so exhausting. My dad has been very supportive, but I know he thinks I’m not trying hard enough or I’m just making excuses. My mom doesn’t talk about me much and I know she resents me. She refuses to admit that. She never even calls to check up on me. And even though I stay out of my grandmas way, I know she thinks I’m a burden, too. Remember that while you’re thinking that your kids think it’s all about them, and feeling miserable-we feel just as bad, maybe worse. We’re a burden on our own selves, many days we live in a hell that we know we will never escape. I wish I could retire my grandma, my dad. But I’m just trying to figure out how I’m going to become financially stable enough to not be a burden anymore. And remember, we know we’re a burden on you. We wish we could’ve turned out to be something for you all to be proud of. We know your pain, because we live it. Stop worrying about your image, and talk about these issues. Admit you made mistakes. Seek help for yourself. Realize that YOU may have an illness too. Admit you’re not perfect. The less stigmatized this issue is, the better it will be on everyone. And please, be kind and empathetic to your kids.
  9. Laura's avatar
    Laura
    | Permalink
    Seems like we all found this article in a desperate moment-- looking for answers to the question "why is this happening to us", "what can we do to make things better" or for me "what did I do to deserve this?". I try not to be in that selfish phase of the grief process associated with having a child (in my case 2 children) with BPD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders. For the past 7 years I have been holding this family together alone--my spouse prefers to smoke marijuana in the basement to cope and to remain emotionally unavailable to support his wife in my daily struggle to keep our children from harming themselves or taking their own lives. Gone is the fulfilling career, the happy marriage, the financial security, the hobbies, the friends, the job. Alone is the mother of mentally ill children except for disappointment and fear which are constant companions. The only solution seems to be take one day at a time and pray that a day comes when my children learn to cope and find health, healing and peace. However the stress of dealing with all of this may kill me before that day comes. Thoughts and prayers with all of you. If only our children had half the strength to fight for themselves as we fight for them.
  10. Kathy's avatar
    Kathy
    | Permalink
    We have two children with autism spectrum and our 20 year old daughter also has bipolar and a learning disability. She disrupts our household several times daily. She is now hooked on hypochondria to gain attention. The more attention she gets the worse she acts so we try to not give her so much. We are waiting for disability court date and trying to sane. I am burning out fast. I am frightened I will have nothing left to raise our son. She's threatened suicide a number of times and one time the police were contacted. If she does it again I will call the police.

    Anyway thank you for this post. You have truly captured the frustration, the hurt, and the disappointment felt by parents of mentally ill young adults. Sometimes I feel like I am not supposed to enjoy life or that I am supposed to give up my interests to support her. I feel guilty when I enjoy myself. I also resent her spoiling so many times in my life I should have been able to enjoy. She won't work with us. She holds down a part time job and is out school at the moment.
  11. Carrie's avatar
    Carrie
    | Permalink
    Thank you for sharing your story. In 3 days, my 21 year old son will go to court and receive his sentence for causing a very serious car accident January 2017. He became psychotic and drove home from a town two hours away from us, at a high rate of speed, and believing he could read the minds of the other drivers. He is and always has been a sweet, bright, well behaved, ambitious, honest, creative, loving person. There were no big red flags that he was becoming sick. We did not see it coming and the pain and guilt is unbearable right now. The pain and worry I have felt watching my son go through the past 8 months has been excruciating, and is tearing our family apart. The shame and isolation you share in your article describes my family right now. I'm praying that we are going to move through this overwhelming grief and find the hope you found. Keep speaking out and letting people know they are not alone. God bless you.
  12. Bonnie's avatar
    Bonnie
    | Permalink
    I too am going through a lot of the same issues with my 27 year old daughter. She had a mental breakdown in February 2017 and has been diagnosed with BPD, anxiety and depression. She is now in a women's center awaiting placement in a nursing home in a large city one hour away from us. We are now raising her daughter, our grandchild who will be 3 next month. The pain is unbearable, I agree. God Bless you all and I hope we all find the help we need.
  13. Tracey's avatar
    Tracey
    | Permalink
    Hearing these stories has been a balm for my soul. I have a 15 year old son who has conduct disorder, ADHD, anxiety and depression and is a poly substance abuser. He constantly gets kicked out of schools and there is no end in sight. He is not progressing despite every support being put in place for him. The daily sadness and tension is exhausting. It feels like there is no end in sight and his drug dealing and behaviour in our local community has become well known so I feel so embarrassed and ashamed. It is hard to feel free and happy in my life.
  14. Nature Lover's avatar
    Nature Lover
    | Permalink
    Thank you for sharing your story and even more importantly, how you demonstrated real, constructive change at the reunion. Presumably, you weighed the potential risks and benefits beforehand, made your decision, and then followed through, which took courage, confidence and self awareness. Also, I feel pain of yours and of those who have commented, and my prayers will be extended to include all these families....In my case and how I achieved a sense of peace as I recover - Many years of severe, ongoing stress from raising my step-grandson w hx of multiple, traumas, genetic predisposition to mental illness (from both parents) took a devastating toll on health of both my late husband and myself, w development and rapid progression of illnesses correlating w the extended periods we were raising the child. Despite very severe problems, he still made tremendous gains and impressive accomplishments bc of network of support and resources from schools, doctors and home. I also believe that God answered our ongoing prayers, as he surpassed everyone's expectations and getting back to God seemed to be associated with some of his most striking gains. (He is now in early 20's, and his recent visit went well before ending w a bad outcome.) My health has been improving, but the effects still catastrophic . I realize how, after him being gone for several years. I am still shaken to the core from all of this. We knew what it was doing to us at the time and made repeated decisions to follow through w/o expectations of any specific outcomes, so no regrets bc of belief that child must be given chance at life and there really was no one else. He has good supports now, w education, etc., and so I feel it is finally safe/appropriate for me to "shun" him (in light of recent episode when visiting) unless/until a certain, real change is demonstrated (and can now do so w/o pulling rug out from under him.) Meanwhile limited to occasional written or phone only for supportive communication for spiritual and other, practical guidance, as I am the only parent figure he has any contact w. Love is unconditional. but while difficult, it is necessary for them to let go of the very comforts, conveniences, and free-pass benefits that the role of "abused child/victim" has provided them during most of their lives, if they are determined to overcome (as he says he is determined to do.) However, he has not done this yet. He STILL believes my role is to give and do for him, no matter what, w him still NOT requiring basic, physical or emotional restraint at all times. (Despite a lot of maturity, AT TIMES, he resorts to old ways, declaring his victim-hood and admits feeling justified to destroy my property etc.,when required to pull weight. He will still, at times, twist situations to portray that he has been wronged, and then justifies antisocial behaviors, citing how he is depressed, etc. - when there are disagreements or if any tasks are asked. He still wants all the goodies w/o responsibility - which I refer to as "free-fall" but I can now require mature change and responsibility / accountability, which includes him letting go of victim-hood status, unconditional apology, and reimbursement for destroyed property required -
    to even be considered for re-entry back in the fold and enjoy all the goodies again (inclusion in family vacations, get-togethers, etc.) This way I can continue to focus on peace and recovery of my own health w peace of mind that he now has resources to live reasonable, safe life,. With therapists, other, highly resourceful family members in contact w and guiding him, he now also has info needed to make good choices and continue to improve if he so chooses, so the rest is up to him. (No co-dependents here!) He will always be my child, but while we stuck in there so that he could develop, accomplish and have a good shot at life, the rest is up to him. And as long as he utters any excuses for bad behavior - about being depressed, his history of abuse, etc. he is bound to continue maladaptive behaviors. His history will always be a part of him, and there is a place to recognize and respect that. But only when he makes the decision and carries it out - and kicks that crutch out from under himself - will he be able to stand as a man.
  15. Jessica's avatar
    Jessica
    | Permalink
    I cant express how glad i am to have found this site. I feel alone in this battle of being a parent to a 14 year old boy who as of now suffers from major depressive disorder with psychosis. This is probably the hardest thing i have ever dealt with. I really just need someone who understands what this is like
  16. Stranger's avatar
    Stranger
    | Permalink
    We are having so many issues with our 19 year old daughter. She's been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and has depression. She also over eats and now she is so large that I don't know what to do. We have tried psychiatrists, counselling, nutritionists, the family dr., and now she's doing a weight loss clinic (at the hospital). But she doesn't do anything the dr's ask her to do. So, we bring her to all these appointments trying to get her help but then she does nothing. She also swears at us, and yells at her brother and sisters. She has almost no friends left because they have all cut ties with her because she is so negative. I hate to say it but she is not a nice person to be around. She treats others horribly. Even servers or assistants in stores. I hate it. The tension she creates in our home is absolutely horrible to deal with. If she doesn't get her way she throws a tantrum, she'll bang on doors or on her head. She refuses to help at all around the house and won't even swap the dishwasher out. She also doesn't change her clothes out, and where she was working as a cashier before (while going to school) she won't even do that now. I am so tired of dealing with this. I don't know how to deal with this. I don't know how to help her want to help herself. She will honestly just lay in bed all day and eat and watch tv. I have to wonder who she thinks is going to put up with this forever because my husband and I just can't do it. Honestly, there are days when I think we're going to have a stroke or heart attack from what she's doing to us and the family. I wish I didn't lose hope, but we are there. We have been dealing with this since she was an early teenager. How are we, the parents supposed to deal with this? How are we supposed to get them to want to deal with it? I am trying to finally finish school myself and get a better job. I don't even think that this is possible anymore.... she needs too much help.
  17. Scott's avatar
    Scott
    | Permalink
    Suzanne: I want to encourage you to contact the NAMI HelpLine. They are good folks who have walked in your shoes. 800-950-6264.

    https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/June-2016/NAMI-HelpLine-Shares-How-to-Find-Mental-Health-Sup
  18. Suzanne Stone's avatar
    Suzanne Stone
    | Permalink
    I am going through the toughest time of my life, my 20 year old has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, he was taking medication and was doing OK, he got a job and did everyday normal things. He decided he didn't want to take meds anymore and it has become a nightmare. The hardest thing is he gets very angry and his bedroom walls have several holes in them. He talks to himself like he is having a conversation with someone else, I cry all the time because its hard to see you son like this and have no friends or girlfriend to hang out with. His father and i have tried to get him to go into the hospital and get help but he refuses. We have tried to get him involuntary committed through the prosecuting attorneys office but they said no. They said its a case of criminal mischief. My son has tried to commit suicide a couple of times, we are at a loss. I come home from work everyday afraid to go into the house because i'm afraid he will commit suicide at some point.
  19. Brooke's avatar
    Brooke
    | Permalink
    My oldest daughter is 28 and started causing violent scenes in our home when she came home from college. She may a guy and she is codependent on him. Her whole personality has transformed. She is verbally abusive to me and continually bully's me. I have had to distance myself from her until she shows she can be civil. She did not give me tickets to her graduation, never sent me one grade report, moved to California and didn't say good bye after she returned from a five motnyh trip studying abroad paid for by her boyfriends family. I was not invited to the engagement party nor the wedding. I was an excellent mother. I tried my best and she always had what she needed. I was a working mom doing my best, yet in adulthood she tells me I've never done anything for her and she doesn't like me. I'm fevastated and don't know what to do
  20. Shaz's avatar
    Shaz
    | Permalink
    Helpful
  21. Teresa's avatar
    Teresa
    | Permalink
    I'm so glad I found this site. My son, a college graduate, has spiraled down into drug addiction and mental instability that I just can't see a good ending in this whole mess. And it is a mess. He was diagnosed last year through the criminal courts system as being Schizophrenic. I'm not entirely on board with this diagnosis. But I do know I would love for someone in the mental health system in our county to show some empathy and professionalism and mandate a treatment program, medications, anything to get him the help he needs. He won't do it on his own and will not lis ten to his family. Will he end up in prison? maybe.....will he still be alive in 2 years? Probably not. What happened to my beautiful boy.
  22. Scott Bryant-Comstock's avatar
    Scott Bryant-Comstock
    | Permalink
    Barbara:

    You may want to check out the National Alliance for Mental Illness list of chapters. Many NAMI chapters have parent support groups.
    https://www.nami.org/Find-Support
  23. Barbara's avatar
    Barbara
    | Permalink
    I find comfort in knowing I'm not alone but I wonder what I can do to get rid of my anxiety over my child's illness and the effect it has on me. I'm so tired of this, & I feel guilty as my suffering is nothing compared to my child. I wish these posts had suggestions as to how to cope better.
  24. Marie's avatar
    Marie
    | Permalink
    Thank you for this. We have raised our 22 year old grandson since he was sixteen months old. After a turbulent few years at 18 he was dignosed bi-polar. Prior yo that we went thru his being kicked out of school, drug use,jail, and rehab. He us argumenative, demanding, constantly wanting money becside he says he can't be broke, csnt hold a job and on snd on. Our daily life is a living hell. I sit in yhe car when I get home fTom work because I hate going into my own home. My husband and I have helped out with so much money we are now maxed out on our credit cards behind on all our bills and this month we will not be able to make a house payment. He has nowhere else to go, do we feel trapped in the hell of his mentAL illness. He does take his med but I don't think they are working anymore, he goes to counseling, but not seeming to help. If the new healthcare bill cuts off coverage for mental illness snd substance abuse I have no idea how we would ever afford his medicine and treatment and that scares me. I really don't tell anyone but my 86 year old mother the hell we are in, so again thank you for letting others know we are not alone. Because the life of the family of someone who is mentally ill is a living hell.
  25. Cheryl Evans's avatar
    Cheryl Evans
    | Permalink
    Thank you for your bravery. I too hid the fact that there was something wrong with my daughter. I discussed only her accomplishments and talents. She is adopted from Russia and had always been emotionally unstable. I thought she was be ok though. I am a successful attorney who has worked at a federal court and federal agencies and I hold a second law degree. I now do global work in finance and my situation didn't fit in anywhere. I am also a single Mom. I adopted her alone after a divorce and then lost my Mom. We are close to many people and my mother's best friend has become a grandma. I am still alone though with an angry child with attachment disorder and a mood disorder at age 12. She is mostly mean to me. There have even been knife threats. Once I reached out for help and her behavior got worse, I began telling people and have felt very supported. She may need to go into a treatment facility for a while to get stabilized and for me to have a break. In have had mentally ill people arwiiw, including my own father who virtually disappeared into bipolar disorder that was his diagnosed but he was always kind to me - never anything like this often hateful threatening child. Each day is difficult with the constant barrage of meanness. She is just starting treatment. I try to picture her as the baby that did not get held or looked at - it allows for empathy. I will find my own therapist. My MD has been helpful too. I will take more breaks. I will work to ensure that she can reach her potential and fully develop a conscience and empathy.
  26. Denise's avatar
    Denise
    | Permalink
    Reading all the posts has helped me see the stuggles that a lot of families are going through. See, I am the mother of 5 children who all have some form of mental illness. They have bipolar, anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety, borderline personality disorder. My husband also suffers from anxiety and panic disorder. There is not a day that goes by that there is not some incident. A panic attack, breakdown, crying, anger, frustration, sadness. Every emotion in a day from high to low. As I am writing this the new Healthcare Plan was passed in the House. What are we going to do now? I have had to find psychiatric treatment for my children for the last 15 years and it has not been easy. Our families are in dire straits now! My 25, 20 and 18 year old girls are all on meds. What will become of them if they will no longer have coverage! God help us all! I am really scared!
  27. Kristi's avatar
    Kristi
    | Permalink
    I am thankful for hearing others stories. I thought I was the only one dealing with an adult child with mental illness. My daughter was dx'd with Mixed Bipolar Disorder almost 2 yrs ago. She has struggled thru most of her teenage life with prescription drug addiction. At age 20 she broke her ankle skateboarding down a huge hill. It should have been amputated but they saved it which was really a sentence for her. She had chronic nerve pain, toes that bent to one side causing toenails to grow thick and wrong. She had a long recovery from that accident. She can't walk very far because of this injury. When she was 17 she informed us that she was gay. She also told us of a sexual assault that occurred when she was 12. Being that we moved to a different state and there wasn't any physical evidence, there was nothing the police could do.
    When she was about 23, she was living with a roommate and I began noticing odd behavior. She was convinced she had met Elvis Presley. I thought it was amusing, but hey- maybe he didn't die all those yrs ago... Then she started just walking in the house, amped up. Talking a mile a minute, saying Tupac is alive and lives next door to her n her roommate. Eyebrows raised.... Then one night she called my husbands phone (which she would never do) telling him that her roommate was working for the devil. She wanted to come over. She made me stay on the phone the entire time because she was sure his people were following her. She said they had put a tracking device on her car. When she got to my house, she was wild eyed. She had a bible in her hand. She sat down and was flipping thru the pages rapidly. She stayed that night, took off the next day for AZ... (we live in WA) and that really began this hell journey. She went from WA, to CA, MT, and then to CO where she swears she met Jesus in a park. She flew home because she wrecked her car in CO. I don't know how she managed to get airfare back to WA. She was staying w my nephew and it hadn't even been 24 hrs before she got ahold of a handgun and pointed it up to her chin. They managed to get it from her... the police were called, they did nothing. They took her to a place that holds them for 72 hrs then she was let go. On the streets where she was homeless for a few days and waking 60 miles back and forth on that ankle.
    She was able to stay w a friend and when I came over totals her to breakfast, I talked her into going to St Joseph's Hospital where she was admitted to the psychiatric ward. During this time, her obsession with the Bible was out of control. She would tell me that she is a sacrificial lamb and needs to die. She said she was Adam from Adam and Eve... because she's gay and feels she leans toward the male side... she would see messages in the clouds and was constantly sending me phone pics. There were messages on rocks that she found.
    Today, she has once again gone off her meds because it's man made medicine and she prefers to not be tired as the meds make that way. She smokes alit of weed.... and recently freaked out on her girlfriend. She lives w her, is not on the lease, pays no rent, has no job or money... won't get state help...My daughter told her girlfriend that God wants her out of the apartment. The police came and sd she doesn't have to leave??? She will be homeless again today and I'm sick over this. I have MS and the stress affects me badly. My husband wants to try get custody over her due to being mentally incompetent. I am not sure what is involved with doing that.
    Thanks all for sharing your stories. Thank you for reading mine.
  28. Maggie's avatar
    Maggie
    | Permalink
    Thank you for speaking up and sharing your story. Our daughter is currently spiraling downward 7 weeks from graduation. It looks like our 4.0 student will not be getting her diploma and attending college on scholarship after all. She's 18 with a boyfriend to run to so she has developed avoidance behavior into a fine art. Our door is always open to her to pursue whatever means necessary to find health but it looks like we may have to allow her to reach the end of her rope first before she'll accept it. My heart feels like it has been torn from body.
  29. Barbara Davis's avatar
    Barbara Davis
    | Permalink
    out daughter has been struggling with depression, anxiety and OCD for about 3 years - for all of high school. She and I are struggling with watching her friends enjoy their senior year and college acceptances, etc while she hasn't been able to participate in this. We live on edge that she'll need help when she has a panic attack in the middle of the night. She does take her medications, but refuses to get therapy - "nothing will change" My own therapist talked today about her grief for what she has lost - and there is also our own grief for what she has lost and missed out on. others don't understand.
  30. Broken-hearted mom's avatar
    Broken-hearted mom
    | Permalink
    I have been a tireless fighter for my daughter, but still feel heartbroken all the time for the incredible vulnerability, and the waste that she embodies My daughter hasBorderline Personality Disorder, also ( and more descriptively) called Emotion Dysregulation Disorder. It enxompasses just about the worst combination of symptoms you could dream up: clinical low self-esteem, very strong impulsivity, constant, and manipulative lying about anything and everything, day and night, for years on end. She also has oppositional defiance disorder, so feels compelled to thwart and sabotage my every effort to help her, extreme anger, narcissism, compulsive shoplifting (often to give things away, as a way to win friends). Clinical avoidance issues - of anything that can give her anxiety. She dresses very provocatively, exercises terrible judgment in friends and actions; has substance abuse issues. They take huge risks for very little payoff. I can't even list all the issues we deal with. Insurance doesn't cover DBT, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is the evidence based treatment for BPD. She also has anxiety, depression, ADHD, drug addiction, and an eating disorder. She disappears constantly, at the drop of a hat: in the middle of the night / while you're making the food she just asked for / from school/, etc, and will be missing for anywhere from hours to a month -- it's usually 3-8 days. It takes a huge toll on all the family. There does not seem to be any end in sight. She's had symptoms since she was a baby. She's suicidal, and has made attempts on her life numerous times -- trying to get hit by cars, overdosing, and other ways. My precious baby hates herself. If I try to explain to people, they don't understand, and if I do explain, means I am violating her privacy. Ultimately, it uses precious energy that you need to function, to survive. So I don't explain, and I just accept judgment.
  31. Sheila Pember's avatar
    Sheila Pember
    | Permalink
    Thank you for this article and to all the parents that are showing up again and again for their sons and daughters. I could sign my name to nearly every comment as my daughter had her break 5 years ago and I felt and continue to feel nearly every feeling and every thought expressed here. I wanted to share a sanity-saving free resource: NAMI -the National Alliance for Mental Illness (Google it). They offer a free family-to-family course that teaches parents about mental illness, how to cope, how to communicate, how to set boundaries, and so much more. They also offer support groups for the family members. Parents in your own community going through what you are going through. It brought me great peace to be open and free with my feelings and to see we weren't alone. It saved my relationship with my daughter, husband and myself. My heart breaks for all parents going through this but I am also encouraged to witness such human kindness towards our beautiful misfits that society wants to quickly discard. Somewhere deep down you have to believe that God (if you believe) or your child picked you to parent/guide him/her. No one else can do it better than you. That doesn't mean you put yourself in harms way or allow your health to suffer. Find time for you and for moments of joy each day and find comfort in knowing you are not alone. What one person can do, another can do. Find strength from others who have shared their stories. Peace.
  32. Suzanne's avatar
    Suzanne
    | Permalink
    After reading several of your comments, I feel like the oxygen masks have just dropped and i can finally breathe again. Ive held my breath for years not knowing where to turn and who to talk to who would understand.

    Thank you for creating a safe place for parents with mentally ill children to communicate with others who are in the trenches.
  33. Jenny's avatar
    Jenny
    | Permalink
    I have a 24 year old son that suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, OCD and I think adult seperation anxiety. We have always been very close. He has always been somewhat of a loner. One or two good friends who are now living their own lives and don't get to be around him very much. He gets anxious and lonely and likes to come to my home just to talk and sometimes just to be near others and not sitting alone. He works and is trying very hard to interact with other people, I am very proud of him for trying. Here is the issue, his step father doesn't understand his illness, his anxiety and lonlineness. He hates it when my son has to come stay at our home and acts like he is angry when my son is around. He doesn't say he is in front of my son but we fight all the time about it. How do I tell my son he is not welcome in his mother's home? I am a safe place for HIM. He is trying. He works, he pays his own bills, HE takes care of himself. He just needs a safe space sometimes and my husband gets angry and says he is an adult he shouldn't need to come spend the night with his mother. I'm at a loss. I don't want to not acknowledge my husband's feelings of his privacy being invaded, but he is my child and I love him regardless of his illness. I have explained all of this to my husband a million times and he says okay I know he is ill, let him come but that only last a week or two then he goes back to acting like a selfish jerk because I don't pay enough attention to him when my son is here. He won't even try to engage in conversation with me and my son, what do I do? Who do I choose? I shouldn't have to choose. If anyone has any thoughts please let me know. Hopeless.
  34. A Mom's avatar
    A Mom
    | Permalink
    I have never felt so helpless in all my life Watching my 30 year old son spiral out of control......My prayers for all of the moms struggling on this site....Please pray for us all...and our precious children.
  35. Rick Bennett's avatar
    Rick Bennett
    | Permalink
    If anyone knows of a good, long-term facility in or near Indiana for a young woman with severe depression that is supportive of LGBTQ issues please post suggestions.

    Thanks for the article and the posts. I'm trying to keep myself going while my beautiful daughter has been hospitalized for the 4th time in two months. She is a super high achiever and has many honors for music but had to take a medical leave from college after one semester. She loves college and wants to go back but it's hard to know if her meds and treatments are working. Interesting to read so many similar stories, especially the timing with a crisis in college, though she seems to have issues dating to an earlier time--she loves us and works at therapy but doesn't reveal all to us.
  36. Carol's avatar
    Carol
    | Permalink
    My son has undiagnosed issues that cloud his judgement, making him impulsive, imperical, yet very insecure to the point where he is sure everyone is looking at him. It's contradictory as he wants recognition for everything he does. He is very smart and extremely well paid but bored easily and moved in quickly, leaving a path of disappointed people in his wake. It is hard, as he needs constant handholding... I talk to him by phone 2 or 3 times a day or he comes by to visit for hours several times a week to talk about himself. It's draining. He now has a baby with someone he barely knows because he's so impetuous and he doesn't have any interest in the baby but will pay her whatever she needs through the system. He biught a lovely house 6 months I ago and already wants to move. Last week he crashed his new car on the freeway while drunk on the way home from a family reunion. In the wake of all this he has decided to leave his stable job after only being there for 9 months and take a new job, almost a lateral move in business. It makes no sense except to serve his need for constant motion. I tell him it isn't necessarily forward motion but appears more like a spiral. I'm exhausted. I'm doing his shopping since he can't drive and I'll take him to court. He co-worker drives him to and from work now but he has no ride lined up for the 90 Miles r/t to the new company. I have no idea what he will do next. He acts as if I just don't get what a true moved and shaker he is. it is a path to self destruction.
  37. Andy's avatar
    Andy
    | Permalink
    My son was an honors student through high school and was always a great kid.Never gave me any trouble at all. He was awarded a large scholarship to an excellent college away from home. By the end of the first semester he was failing. He told me that he couldn't concentrate or get out of bed most days. Over Christmas break he was diagnosed with ADHD and major depression. He started medication but he still feels awful. He is going to have to take a medical withdrawal. I thought that he would be okay but after reading some of these stories I'm not sure he will be able to return to college or at least away from home. I'm glad that there is some support for parents. I feel overwhelmed and lost.
  38. Donna's avatar
    Donna
    | Permalink
    This is just what I needed today. Suffering so bad for my daughter, 47...The most beautiful, honest, loving person son you'd ever meet. Everyone who meets her, falls in love with her. But, the other side is a maniac, cruel, ugly girl that is vindictive, abusive, and scares the hell of of the ones she vents with...mostly me, her mom and her boyfriend. We are afraid of her...a 5'2" 125lbs. little girl. Now, after at least 10 or more years, I realize, she is mentally ill. She suffers from anxiety, depression, which, she self mediates with alcohol. We have been in hospitals for detox so many times. I just didn't know this was a mental thing, I always tho't if she would quit drinking....After reading this you all posted, I see her and am so thankful.. at least now I have a place to start. God Bless ..I feel the suffering and heartbreak with you.
  39. Ali de G's avatar
    Ali de G
    | Permalink
    Thank you very much for this writing and your honesty. I am struggling with similar issues w my 20-year old and it helps so much to read this.
  40. clarice a.'s avatar
    clarice a.
    | Permalink
    We adopted our daughter when she was 14 years old from an orphange and her case file didnt mention that she had infantile tendencies.Shortly after we got her,she started sucking her thumb,then started wetting the bed,then during the day time also.We put her into cloth diapers and rubberpants 24/7 and she loved it! she started acting more and more like a baby as time went on and soon was using a pacifier and drinking from a baby bottle and playing with baby toys.We took her to a shrink and she told us that it was just a phase she was going thru and that she would out grow it.We gave her time and she got even more infant like,wanting baby food and playing on the floor most of the time.she is now 16 and still a baby in diapers and there is still no sign of her comming out of the phase.
  41. Sue's avatar
    Sue
    | Permalink
    I am very overwhelmed to discover that there are lot of parents experiencing the same sadness, pain and grief as me in supporting an adult child with a mental illness. I was moved to tears reading the comments. Now I feel that I am not alone...
  42. Gina's avatar
    Gina
    | Permalink
    Please more info i need help. Have a son who lives with us and his 2 kids and fiancee. I have no life and our marriage is suffering because we cant do anything without waiting for a call
  43. Spankster's avatar
    Spankster
    | Permalink
    Glad I found this site. My 26 year old son refuses to stay in treatment long enough to get an official diagnosis. He quit outpatient care after 3 days, we had him committed to inpatient for a week, but he refused recommended follow up therapy necessary for a diagnosis. He left inpatient with a psychosis and depression diagnosis. He won't take his medication. I know he is a pot smoker which doesn't help. He does work with his father as a mechanic but all his time outside of work is spent in his room. He has no friends left. His room resembles a dumpster. He needs dental work, refuses to sign up for health insurance. This 6 year battle has taken its toll, financially and emotionally I kicked him out a week ago and he's living in a garage. I am consumed with guilt. He won't speak to me. Not sure I did the right thing. His father won't let him back at his house either. He has had one arrest for crashing his car into a house. Said he thought it had a bomb in it so he jumped out while he was driving and it hit a house. He was told by his lawyer to get psychiatric help while his court case was pending. As soon his case was closed (year of probation) he quit therapy which I thought was helping him I was heart broken. Now he's homeless. Don't know what more I can do for someone who won't help himself. I've cried, screamed, reasoned. I'm done but it's killing me.
  44. perseverance's avatar
    perseverance
    | Permalink
    I would also like to say how much I appreciate your article, and how much it helps to read that other parents, other people in this silent impersonal world of superficial interactions, are going through what I have been going through for several years. Some of the comments have been very helpful also. Some of them are helping me put my and my daughter's situation in a better light.
    We don't have it so bad, I guess. I was never told that bipolar fluctuates as the person ages. It gets better, it gets worse, it gets better again. I'm not imagining it. I too, have had to say horrid things to my own kid to get them to control themselves. I too, have had to admit that sometimes I don't like her, and I wish I had a different kid. The guilt from these feelings has taken a toll on my own health, I believe. The stress is not good for me either, or the anger. She was diagnosed with bipolar fairly early compared to most of the examples on this page, at 13 or so. She is now almost 21, and has been well controlled on fistfulls of different pills morning and night. Its expensive, but well worth it. We got our daughter back, when we thought we would have to put her in a home as a child, or that she would kill herself. The right miraculous psychiatrist with her magic bag of pills, and a very angry, verbally violent and threatening girl became our daughter again. It took a long time, and a lot of trial and error, with the doctor patiently tweaking dosages and combinations and timings of the 6 different meds my daughter has to take daily, until she came up with the right cocktail mix. All I can say is, if you go to a psychiatrist, and they give meds that don't work, and don't keep trying to get it right, GET A NEW PSYCHIATRIST! They are out there. The good ones, the patient ones, the ones that won't give up on your basket case of a bad seed until they come up with the answer. That being said, the adventure continues. My daughter at 20 is back to starting arguments and being disrespectful to me again. Not as bad as before, but she definitely is not at her best. Based on my readings online, this is not unusual. We just have to ride the waves I guess. The old thoughts do come back to haunt me though. Why me is an old favorite. A pointless exercise I can't resist. It helps to know others experience this, and it doesn't make me a monster. I once had one of my kid's therapist telling me off on the phone that I shouldn't look at my daughter's bipolar disease as anything more than something like diabetes. She didn't know what she was talking about. No one hides diabetes. No one avoids a family or a person because they have diabetes. No one is hesitant to hire a diabetic. Diabetics go to school and finish college and have careers pretty much like anyone else, with insulin and blood tests. It has no stigma like bipolar does. People are afraid of people with that diagnosis. Its the equivalent of bat-shit crazy in most people's minds. On top of everything else, you know as the parent that people's feelings about your kid are somewhat justified. That hurts pretty bad too. Your kid might have to be avoided if they are unpleasant or threatening. They might have to be fired or flunk out because they are not functional. Its horrible to watch, and no one understands but another caregiver/parent. Its actually made me feel better typing all this out. Thanks for the opportunity.
  45. Catherine's avatar
    Catherine
    | Permalink
    I have a 19 year old boy. He showed signs of a mental condition around 14. I took him to more than 4 different facilities, trying to get help. Every time we were sent home with no compassion or results. I was told he is typical teenager dealing with typical issues. The anger, the violence towards me,and the animals in our home have been a constant for those years. I was told to get rid of our 10 year old pets. I was never told there might be something wrong with my son. Although I knew there was. finally at the age on 18 he got hospitalized for the first time. Spent a month there, with no real diagnosis, just medication. (?) After only four days at home spending both his 19th Birthday and Christmas in the hospital he has now been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. He refuses to take his medication. He has been to jail twice. He brings home random stragers. He's awake for 24 to 72 hours at a time. Talking and laughing at or to no-one.I have changed jobs to work at night while my husband works days so that he is NEVER alone in the house. He disappears for hours, at strange times, like he will leave to go for a walk at 1:00 am, and then come home at about 7;30 am. we don't know where he was or who he was with. He has been tested for drugs, there is no history with illegal drugs at all. I need help. i have tried everything, that I can. People don't seem to understand that I can't just kick him out, but I can't go on like this either.I miss my son, the person we was. I don't recognize this person. His biological father doesn't want to see him or deal with him at all. Ant advise would be helpful.
  46. Lana Poland's avatar
    Lana Poland
    | Permalink
    My daughter is 22 with a baby. Diagnosed 2 years ago, but refuses to take her meds. Won't get a job, won't get GED, no friends, constant turmoil with boyfriend. He's bipolar to, for lack of better way to put it, they are always on opposite polars. Her manic episodes are taking a toll on me, she won't speak to me, blames me for everything, always is in some kind of drama, and is keeping my grandaughter from me. I don't know what to do, but I do know I can't be drug through her whiplash episodes anymore. I've helped her since she dropped out of school at 17. I've helped her with getting jobs, arranged for her GED classes, Drs, places to live, got her out of jail( after I let her sit in there for 3 weeks) she lie,steals, she is very manipulative. Any ideas?
  47. Stephanie's avatar
    Stephanie
    | Permalink
    I have a 18 year old you has been suffering from a mental illness for 10 years. She has seen many doctors for this and nothing helped. Many medications and hospitalization later she's getting worse with no diagnosis. I fear she will never be able to cope with life on her own. All I want is for her to be happy and style so she could live a happy life . I'm running out of optimism
  48. Tony's avatar
    Tony
    | Permalink
    I think without my mums love for me I may well have ended up in jail or taking my own life, a moms love is such a fantastic thing and I thank God for my mum.
    Also if you have any questions relating to mental health I have pretty much suffered every condition and recovered so I am happy to help.....

    Love,

    TM
  49. Tony's avatar
    Tony
    | Permalink
    God bless you. I have the upmost respect for moms that care for their sons at home with mental illness.
    I lived at home with mental health problems most of my life and my mom gave me much love, care, hugs and showed great patience. The situation was not perfect and even in my 20s I felt like a child. Relatives would see me as a mommas boy rather then sick because I kept the knowledge of my illness very low key.
    My dad and I did not speak much and my brother and sister moved out. I think my brother and sister felt sorry for me but as the years went by and I started to recover I think my sister found it a little amusing that I still lived at home and was so close to my mom and so attentive to what she wanted in my 20s.
    I read that paranoid schizophrenia was incurable and feared I would always live at home and had many other fears but I did recover. I have even worked as a mental health worker, how unusual is that.
  50. sue walker's avatar
    sue walker
    | Permalink
    I am in tears as I read this as this is what I am facing, the struggle, the altered future from that which I had imagined for our oldest child, our beautiful highly intelligent and creative daughter. Suffering from severe anxiety, depression and panic disorder. She dropped out of college, works in a candy store, and has a long-term, unimpressive boyfriend whom she lives with and hid from us and lied about for over two years until I accidentally found out about him. Now she ignores us whole family, me, her father and her brother and sister), and I am at a total loss about how I can in any way help. She stopped going to counseling, and simply takes an SSRI. That's not enough and it's not working. I feel like she hates herself and so punishes us so that we will also hate her, but, that won't work. I love her mare than anything and will do anything to help, to make her better, to make her happy. I just have no idea what that is. But I won't give up. And I'm so scared for her.
  51. Jen's avatar
    Jen
    | Permalink
    This was a very helpful piece to read. I have a 20 year old with severe depression and anxiety/panic disorder. She successfully completed 1 semester at an Ivy league school, then withdrew. She has been home since. She has recently had to medically withdraw from another college. She has also spent 8 days in a mental health facility.

    In the midst of this, my 16 year old has been seeing a counselor who feels she displays the signs of Bipolar II. We are on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist in this organization.

    I am a single mother of 3 daughters, 2 of which now display mental illness. I am stressed and often don't know the best way to handle our home. I just found NAMI's website and have emailed to see if the family support group is still meeting because the date listed was 2015.

    This is just a yucky place to be.
  52. Roslyn smith's avatar
    Roslyn smith
    | Permalink
    My son had svhzaphrinic and hears voices this is his thired week of this. Im coping best i can but its a little tough.
  53. Roslyn smith's avatar
    Roslyn smith
    | Permalink
    My son had svhzaphrinic and hears voices this is his thired week of this. Im coping best i can but its a little tough.
  54. Grace Wine's avatar
    Grace Wine
    | Permalink
    Thank you for breaking the silence. Our oldest daughter (17) is in residential care because she is a danger to her sibling. Once things became disclosed we took swift action, but now we have two children with mental health issues. The oldest is believed to have a personality disorder, yet remains undiagnosed because of age, and the youngest suffers from severe PTSD from the trauma. I tried to get help for the oldest for years,but clinicians dismissed my concerns until the worst case emerged. It's a difficult journey with little support.
  55. Tam's avatar
    Tam
    | Permalink
    I was very skeptical when my son, at 21, informed me that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.For decades I feared this epidemic to be the result of a society that is quick to treat symptoms rather than address causes...I still wonder. Nonetheless, I join the group of parents struggling with an adult child with mental illness, and tearfully admit that I spend the hours, shared with my son, in the constant tug of war between fear(of physical violence, emotional and destructive outbursts, his inability to cope with everyday life) and hope. I'm just at a loss as to what I should or can do for him. Clearly I need to find an organization locally that can help me navigate this course. I have recently had to relocate for work, and I hoped that my son might enjoy the change. Instead, I worry about being thrown out of my rented home because of his disruptive behavior. I pray for a miracle because his medication does nothing to improve the situation.
  56. Scott Bryant-Comstock's avatar
    Scott Bryant-Comstock
    | Permalink
    Jodylynne:

    A good place to start your search for assistance is the NAMI HelpLine, which you can find at https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/NAMI-HelpLine
  57. Jodylynne's avatar
    Jodylynne
    | Permalink
    THank you for this blog. I am so overwhelmed by my 32 year old daughter who is Biopolar and ADHD... she is spinning out of control and i don't know how to help her.. where to send her for help.. She also is Married but that also is out of control. We just found out that she went to a concert a few weekends ago and drank someones drink that had ruffi or extacy and some other drug.. well long story short .. she ended up getting Gang Raped and sent home after 2 days... but the police can't do anything when she tried to make a report because she didn't say no.. she said that she doesn't remember much ... I don't live near about 3 hours away.. and she is not doing well. i sent her the hotline for abuse.. and they to due to lack of funding can only help her 3 times... i don't understand the system.
    then just this past tuesday she ( not doing well ) got into a major car crash and totaled her car. her depression is getting worse and i know she needs major HELP.. if anyone can send me any names number instutions anything that i can get her help before she goes totally over the edge .. i would appreciate it.. i know i have not put the entire situation here there are lots and lots of pieces to this problem. she is now in 20 k of debt..due to her manic stages please if anyone can send me info or names of where i might be able to go get her GOOD HELP... that would be so appreciated...
  58. Scott Bryant-Comstock's avatar
    Scott Bryant-Comstock
    | Permalink
    Sonya: Check your email for referrals that may be helpful to you.
  59. Sonya Farley's avatar
    Sonya Farley
    | Permalink
    My son has been sick since he was 10, diagnose with having PTSD and psysophratic, he made it to become a Junior, my son became very ill I took him to Shawnee Mission Medical Center.
    They where so friendly, I have had my so all his life mine you with no help from the State...

    That was Nov 2, I have not seen him since. I have sent emails after emails out. They moved him from a hospital that was 15min, to a hospital 1hour away. I have explain they can. It have my child. They get paid to take care of him, but I don't I take care of him because I love him. I have warned them they will and can not have my child. I go everyday to see him, they will not let me, I don't really no if they are givening medicine. No doctors are talking.

    I finally got a lawyer here in the state of Kansas City, mo for Guardianship, but the hospital is trying to stop it, I have had him all his life good days, bad days. The law need to be change tragically .


    I need some help bad. Real bad, very bad. I have gotten to a desperate place. Can some one give me some tips.

    I can be reach at this Email/ farley_sonya@yahoo.com
  60. Scott Bryant-Comstock's avatar
    Scott Bryant-Comstock
    | Permalink
    Adria:

    Thank you for your comments on Robin Herman’s Morning Zen piece. I want to encourage you to contact the National Alliance for Mental Illness. They have many resources for family members who have a loved one with mental illness.

    http://www.nami.org/Find-Support
  61. Adria's avatar
    Adria
    | Permalink
    I don't have kind or loving feelings towards my son anymore. He has ruined my life with his mental illness. He is 16 and has been sick since he was four. He refuses to go to school, refuses to eat with us or spend any time with the family. He refuses to go to his appointments. Every holiday is a tragedy, we can no longer go on vacation. We have tried a million doctors, drugs, therapies, schools. Every day I spend the entire day wishing I were dead. My mother just died of cancer. She lived three years longer than expected, but I was not able to enjoy the time I was given with her because of my son. I wish I were as compassionate as all of you. I am a monster now. I would never have beleived I could say for feel the things I do. Every single day I am alive is like hell on earth. I wish I had the courage to kill myself.
  62. ely's avatar
    ely
    | Permalink
    Thank you. I needed to read this, and the comments, today. My beautiful, gifted daughter has struggled her entire life and is spiraling downward once again. No cookie-cutter diagnosis...depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, panic attacks, who knows. Hopes and dreams have gone from a scientist to hopefully a minimum wage job and public assistance. We struggle with our needs in retirement vs her needs. What happens to her in the future? My head is spinning as I once again work on acceptance while being hopeful for her future. This blog helped.
  63. Tammy Guderian's avatar
    Tammy Guderian
    | Permalink
    Why don't we have a hotline for parents? We recently spent the last year-and-a-half trying to save our daughter's life because she had been out of our life for the past 11 years with schizophrenia which we did not realize she had. It started in her late teens and we just thought she was acting out as a teenager. Little did we know it was hereditary on my husband's side because the family kept it a secret. Our daughter's first cousin who is approximately 8 years older has been in a Home since 1998 or 99 with this disease. Our daughter showed up on our doorstep the spring of 2015 right before I was to leave for a wonderful ceremony in Utah that was honoring the company's best employees. I was nominated as one and was very humbled by it. We had no choice but to take our daughter with us not knowing at the time she has schizophrenia but she was in a very bad way. Coming off years of marijuana and alcohol but at that time she stated she been on it every day for the last 4 months and was afraid for her life. She also had gotten involved with somebody who at times she loves but other times fears we have met him and even the bailiff at court says he is scary person. I only mention court because there have been many court dates we've attended in order to help her and give her the medical help. It's a long story but we actually gained guardianship over our 31 year old daughter. It took doing some things that I can't tell you about but we got the information we needed it took two straight months of our lives and I still haven't worked for 3 months because this has been our main focus. It doesn't matter every penny has been worth it. Now she is out of the hospital after seven weeks which is unusually long for this type of illness but she was that sick. She is home with us but she has six months of Outpatient Therapy 5 days a week she must attend from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. That means we drive for 1 hour to get there in the morning hang around the city for the allotted time and then drive her home and do it all over again the next morning. I have a hair salon and I am a part-time flight attendant. My husband has a window cleaning business and a small printing business. We have to fit this all in because it means her life. The sad part is in March 2016 she married that awful guy and he has physically emotionally and financially abused her to the point that the court has ordered a no contact order against him for our daughters sake. We go to court again in December to fight him as he is pleading not guilty. At the same time our daughter cries and says she still loves him and then said she doesn't know why she married him. I have spent the last hour crying in our office. I wish that I could talk to somebody who knows what this is like. I have a lot of friends but they don't call, that's partly because I have been consumed with this, it means her life and we love her. Thank you for reading this. Sincerely Tammy
  64. Mary's avatar
    Mary
    | Permalink
    Thank you thank you. Even though this won't specifically help me, knowing I am not alone and also that sometimes children do grow out of these things and find futures for themselves is everything i needed to get through today
  65. Elle's avatar
    Elle
    | Permalink
    Good Morning....
    Just when I was thinking that I was alone and in despair I found this and felt not so alone. My daughter is 26. Has been married three times. This last time the man took advantage of her and took all her savings. Inspired her to spend it and now is refusing to sign the paperwork to get divorced. Causing me to spend in the hundreds and I am overwhelmed with how to catch him.

    She is in denial that any of that is her responsibility. Feels instantly judged if I make any comment. Is used to being waited on hand and foot and constantly making plans to be independent. She has brought home three pets in the last year so in addition to caring for her I now have three other living pets to care for daily.

    My career, my social life, my interaction all has changed. I don't have energy for anyone else right now other than her.

    Not feeling sorry for myself because we are in a great place compared to where we have been with her thinking of killing herself and in hospitals or jails constantly. But it took three years to find meds which helped her.

    What is so difficult is dealing with well meaning adults who tell her things like she needs to get off the meds or move out and make her own life. She then gets her head wrapped around one comment and it could take 8 hours to get through it. Psychologically she seems fine to the average person but when we get home, the real work begins.

    I can't tell everyone to stop telling her anything because it will affect her even more. I wish I could explain to people that we are doing the best we can. But what bugs is that well meaning christians will pray for her and then assume that they have done the right thing while I have to deal with all the aftermath of the spiraling comments.

    Recently she went to see our family and I just wanted a break but I knew when she came back that she would be filled with ideas for two weeks and when she came back we would have to dump all those ideas. We take drives for hours and she vents and cries and vents more. But like everyone else here.

    I know one thing...She is alive one more day. I lost a 20 year 8 years ago and that is when this happened to her. Life is so filled with cruelty but we get through everyday and we live through the nightmare that no one can know about daily.

    I refuse to talk about it with anyone because they always have ridiculous ideas and thoughts. She doesn't treat everyone else like she treats me.

    The one I write to all the time is God. He just helps me to sort it out and works it all out for her good. It is a hazy phase which is so bad.

    Right now she has been in bed for four days watching tv because her ex refused to sign. So life goes on...day by day.

    Just grateful to be here.
  66. Elizabeth's avatar
    Elizabeth
    | Permalink
    This article Makes me feel less alone. I, too, have two mentally ill children. My oldest is finally stable after being extremely proactive about counseling and finding the right medication for four years. (She's a senior at a very prestigious university and for the first time in years has her depression under control with the aid of four medications.) My son, a sophomore at the same school, is disinclined to get better and threatens suicide regularly although he says he lacks the courage his dad had to go through with it at present. I am trying to figure out how best to help him -- he has severe depression, anxiety and/or bipolar.
  67. Hayley J's avatar
    Hayley J
    | Permalink
    Thank you all for sharing your stories. My son is 24, borderline personality, ptsd and legally blind. The biggest frustration for me is not having anyone who understands what it's like. They act as if we are horrible parents for having a child that is so dependent or that we shouldnt tolerate any of his struggles and sensitivities. Like I'm supposed to throw him out and that will suddenly cause him to snap out of it. Ugh anyway I'm sure not choosing this life for myself and we are also desiring a simpler life but don't see when or if it can happen. We have a public agency that helps the mentally ill since he's on medicaid and SSI but he would need to overcome his sleep disorder to make it to regularly scheduled sessions plus there is not a lot of motivation on his part to attend when he's used to being isolated. Thanks for reading and it's good to know we are not alone.
  68. Bobby Stevenson's avatar
    Bobby Stevenson
    | Permalink
    My 37 yr old daughter is incarcerated again. Her first suicide attempt which put her in a coma was when she was 11 yrs old. She went to treatment centers while she was an adolescent and ran away,what was scary is that I knew she ran away before the center did. Her diagnosis is Bipolar, Borderline, and PTSD. I just got done filing a grievance because though it was bought up quite a few years ago she has not received any counseling. Oh she is prescribed all types of meds but meds without counseling do not work. I too suffer from mental illness the major difference is that I had very good insurance and my doctor was a psychotherapist. Then I was diagnosed with chronic depression but now that I have state insurance they diagnosed me with bipolar. Every time I need something counseling even taking my anxiety meds which I was told that I would test dirty if I took them even though they are prescribed to me. Back to my daughter, she was on probation before being incarcerated and she was traumatized because the person she first lived with that was cleared by her probation officer, she went to visit and just missed him. He had just shot 3 people and killed one and ran over her 4 times The probation officer knowing she has mental illnes history suggested she get a medical marijuana card after this indecent Since my daughter's file states very clearly about her mental illness I do not understand why she was not hospitalized this was a traumatic situation even for me. My 19 yr old granddaughter was at my house with her friends and I had to tell her to leave for fear he might show up at my home. I also have been doing some research and though my doctor gave me a hug after her birth he told me she was a miracle child because she was detached from umbilical cord. As a mother I knew she was special and my other family members always became very frustrated with her but I kept her under my wing,. I didn't know that kleptomania was a disease either til recently. At 2 yrs old we would go to the country store and just as we were pulling into our property she would start laughing and pulling out and throwing the candy she stole up in the air it was like she was getting a rush.
  69. Janet's avatar
    Janet
    | Permalink
    Thank you for your story. My beautiful daughter is diagnosed bi-polar with sciz episodes, almost 6 yrs ago, has been on multiple "cocktails" and hospitalized 4 times. The last time, she was away for almost 5 weeks, missed Thanksgiving with us and came home angry and distant- she is different now. she is now refusing her psych med and self medicating on pot & drinking beer. She too had to come home from college due to breakdown and I can't begin to share the hell she has been through and the torment we have shared with her. Everyone has an opinion and says kick her out, make her figure it out. With the help of NAMI and Alanon I am finding strength but seriously our health care system is so unjust. I will not give up...ever. unite!!
  70. Louise's avatar
    Louise
    | Permalink
    Thank you. Thank you.
  71. T's avatar
    T
    | Permalink
    This is a beautiful story and it is good that families have others to talk to and identify with. NAMI (national alliance of the mentally ill) runs
    Familya groups for families of those suffering from mental illness.
    You sound like wonderful parents. I am in my 30s and suffer from mental illnesses and manage to live on my own over 1500 miles away from my mother.
    She had agreed not to be in denial of my failing health problems and despair plagued by ptsd and depression.
    I end up out of site out of mind, as if i never existed in the first place. So i have no friends or family really. Yet i try even though socially i am awkward. All i ever wanted was to be part of a family who actually cared about me. There have been to many times my hopes were raised only to be smashed into nothing again. By my mother and others. Its hard to find good people when its a struggle to leave my house.

    Yet know i know for sure that parents should put their children first.
    My mother says she will help me fix my door, then threatens to not fix it or anything if i don't do this or that. She claims my situation is to sad to deal with yet she is a therapist who cannot provide her only child any emotional support. Life is sad, I've been sad a long time and i don't understand. Despite how sad things are, death even, we all will have to face sad things at some point. I insist on fighting to survive in my world as no one would notice I'm gone, aside from my mother.
    I am afraid it would make her happy. If it hurts me she will be happy.

    By loving your kids regardless their ages, they are getting so much support that helps fight the demons of mental illness. I don't have that help yet i have seen good support systems years ago when i was out patient.
    When the family is supportive the kids thrive better and have ways to talk, vent, and not have to feel like the solitary black sheep.
  72. Donald J's avatar
    Donald J
    | Permalink
    As I read your story, tears came to my eyes for the first time in years. Our son in 41 as of yesterday. We have tried everything to make his life better.

    As was the case in your story, our son had his first episodes under the stresses of college. I find it interesting that it has become a popular political position that everyone should go to college raising expectations and pressure for all young people.

    The first breakdown for our son came with hallucinations of being attacked and the need to escape, which he did running through a glass window. This was followed by hospitalization in the psychiatric ward.

    Since then, he has been through a variety of expensive rehabilitation centers for drug and alcohol dependency and then a very inexpensive program more along the lines of boot camp (which was more effective). He disclosed the earlier experiences in the expensive rehab programs was like a vacation or summer camp where he could meet and make friends with people with similar problems (or worse make connections for drug supplies)

    We have provided him with a safe place to live, an on the scene counselor and advisor, a psychiatrist and the financial resources to survive. Along the way we researched and purchased a yellow lab service dog (Olly) who has been the best thing we have ever done.

    Our son is torn between wanting to be a man and still being a tormented person. He is somewhere between being brilliant and insightful to being absolutely incompetent. The worst thing about the disease schizophrenia is how it progresses into hygiene issues. The drug administered by the government to deal with drug dependency is methadone which turns him into a zombie for half the day and also causes him to sleep during the day and become nocturnal.

    Our other son is an occupational therapist and happy helping others.

    We have made the commitment to do the best we can with our mentally ill son also making certain that the sadness he faces daily with his struggles does not spread into our lives multiplying the effect of the illness. I see no benefit in his condition resulting in the destruction of our lives as his parents.

    We continue to responsibly provide all the support we can and continue to look for any program or cure for this horrible disease.

    Perhaps if as a culture and society we can learn how to provide young, middle aged, and the elderly with a sense of self esteem in whatever they do well (even if it is putting a plant into the ground or digging a ditch well) we may find the road to a cure for future generations.

    For now, we continue to research any new or hopeful programs as we are unable to do much else. There is no doubt we have grown ourselves as we have faced these challenges and in that alone we are thankful.
  73. Stephanie's avatar
    Stephanie
    | Permalink
    Thank you for your comments, my daughter has schizophrenia and is in denial about her illness, which makes it hard for her to seek help. She also chooses to drink and has suffered this last year with liver disease. I feel she may drink herself to death and have no control over it, where she is 24. She has been in and out of mental facility's. I am grateful that she is alive and I hope one day she will be more willing to accept treatment. These comments helped me in my darkest hour today. Thank you.
  74. Cheryl's avatar
    Cheryl
    | Permalink
    I think we have rampant thyroid issues. My daughter was diagnosed with Hashimoto's which can mimic mental illness. It was by chance that she got a diagnosis because now her tests come back NORMAL yet once you have been dx'd, you still have it. I too have Thyroid disease. But what causes the Thyroid disease, the autoimmune diseases. Gluten? Vitamin-deficient foods? The vaccines? The GMO corn? I read a story where a woman was sick until she stopped eating GMO corn.
  75. Joe's avatar
    Joe
    | Permalink
    My 26 year old daughter is in the 5th day of her hospitalization and refuses to sign the HIPPA release for us to talk and be with her. Whether it's because she is embarrassed or ashamed or angry at us.
    When she was younger we could see her performance anxiety and we didn't treat her. She recently told me that she had an eating disorder that she hid well. Also she was bullyed in high school for her slowness and lack of being highly promiscuous.
    All we can do is love her when she comes home. Our lives as we turn 60-65 have changed and our retirement plans have changed. Our daughter thinks that she is a burden on us. Last Sunday she was giving away and selling her most prized possessions. She was getting ready to leave us. I know that our daughter will only get better with the right kind of medication, psychotherapy and constant support from us, her parents and her extended family.
    We have given her future to Mary to hold. There is so much out of our control. I still work and fear that phone call, since I can't be there all the time for her. Thank-you for your honesty and your empathy.
  76. Robin S's avatar
    Robin S
    | Permalink
    What an enormous relief to read all your stories in this day of finally accepting that my 20 year old daughter is mentally ill. I have gone through years of her slowly unraveling and failing at school, an eating disorder and fleeting social life. After coming home from my own therapy this afternoon I have swallowed the bitter and obvious pill of truth. On this horrible day I thank you all for your sharing and honesty; your stories have made my journey thus far slightly more palatable.
  77. susan's avatar
    susan
    | Permalink
    Thank you. Not sure if I feel better or worse but at least not alone.
    I have 3 children, one struggles daily and currently is not talking to me. Hard being the bad cop. Father has his own PTSD issues and only makes matters worse. Why is it so easy to hate Mom?
  78. Kim's avatar
    Kim
    | Permalink
    So grateful that I happened on to this site. To read the stories from so many of you is a such a comfort. I read the story submitted by 'Mom' on July 26th. I too have been wondering if vaccines may play a role with the seemingly rampant mental illness our children are living with (and dying of, in some cases)in recent years. There should be a study done on unvaccinnated children/young adults to bring this into the forefront, in my opinion. My 24 year old daughter struggles with ADHD, an eating disorder, alcoholism, and crippling anxiety. She cannot work and has dropped out of college just 4 credits shy of earning her BA. I feel she abuses her ADHD med., Adderall but lately am coming to terms with the fact that her mental illness is most likely driving her addictions. She self-medicates with the stimulants and depressants. Since the clinicians she sees can't give us any information, (HPAA laws!) we must come to our own conclusions. My husband feels that somehow he can fix her problems by making her life easier-new iphone when she loses or destroys one(most recent one was stolen), clothes and a minimum of household rules to follow-her room is barely fit for vermin to live in. I must play bad-cop and this makes for a tough home life. Most days I feel like packing up and leaving and don't feel at all supportive of my daughter anymore. This leads to overwhelming guilt and shame and does nothing for her recovery-if there will ever be one. I am not hopeful as she has everything she wants right at home! Why work to get better when she can drink anytime, get her meds, manipulate Dad (and me sometimes-I can't always tell when she's conning me),steal money and household objects/products and throw tantrums till she gets what she wants? I guess I'm not as strong as some of you out there. I just want some peace in my home.
  79. Mom's avatar
    Mom
    | Permalink
    I'm the mom of a mentally ill 34 yo son. Sick since age 12. Started when he was not allowed to go to jr high till he had his series of shots done again since he was given them days BEFORE his 1st birthday and legally they didn't count unless the shots were started AFTER his first birthday. Ignorantly I took him to the doctor where they revaccinated him. Over night I saw the light go out in his eyes and he was someone I no longer recognized. Cutting himself, violent behavior, drugs, etc have been his life since. Does anyone else ever wonder if the multitude of mentally ill adult children could be related to these vaccines they require us to inject into our kids?
  80. Kathy's avatar
    Kathy
    | Permalink
    This is such an important conversation, and as someone who has overcome a mood disorder, there is a way through.
  81. Sue's avatar
    Sue
    | Permalink
    We are struggling with our now adult son's mental illness. He is now conserved and forced into treatment for schizophrenia. It has been a very rough ride with repeated hospitalizations due to his denial of his symptoms and refusal to take his meds. He hit rock bottom and I had to get the court to force him into accepting his treatments. All this caused me so much stress as Im his primary caregiver. I ended up getting diagnozed with stage three colon cancer. Its a very slow growing cancer, and I must have ignored the symptoms while caring for my son over five years. Im very lucky to have survived the cancer. My son is also getting the treatment he needs while living at a MHRC that supports him. The county we are in provides a lot of resources to help those in need, but I had always assumed that it was for those poor and on welfare, which I am definitely not!! It took a big mental adjustment to accept whatever help is out there. We also had to get our son off of our private insurance and put him on MediCal. He also qualified for SSI which pays for his stay at the MHRC, a board and care facility for the mentally ill which also supports medication to all its clients. Some such places also teach living skills. My son is learning to cook, and had been enrolled in a cooking class. I see light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Throughout, it was helpful to my family to have our faith, which gave us hope that things would get better, and it did. I am very grateful to be alive, and to see my son's progress and to be able to share this with all of you.
  82. Nox's avatar
    Nox
    | Permalink
    Hi.

    I have been wondering if I am the only person parenting 2 kids with mental illness. What a relief. I just found out my second son has Bipolar. I am in despair as I am a single mother already dealing with one son with schizophrenia.

    The hardest part in this is the fact that they refuse treatment and infact seem to think the medication is responsible for their illness.

    Although I stopped being embarrassed by my first son's condition and it took me time to accept the situations I am still crushed and embarrassed that my second son also has it. Its gonna take time for acceptance. I feel like everyone thinks there is something wrong with me. The only thing keeping me standing is the fact that I cant fall as they both need me.
    This is however still very hard and eaxh day is different.
    Thank you all so much for making me realize that Im not alone
  83. Irma jimenez's avatar
    Irma jimenez
    | Permalink
    Thank you for your stories and hope that tomorrow or one day soon my 37 year old daughter will seek help again... For her mental illness...
  84. Rachel's avatar
    Rachel
    | Permalink
    Your words saved me today. Thank you.
  85. Mary's avatar
    Mary
    | Permalink
    As a parent of a mentally ill daughter, now 21, I don't dwell on what others think of me. At all. Certainly not at a reunion at either of the two Ivys I attended or the boarding prep before. In fact, I put my energy into education of how stigma affects my daughter. Hippa outrages, lack of competent care, solutions to overwhelming obstacles presented by insurance and a myriad of other concerns. In other words, real action. Social awareness is surely critical. Acceptance among peers, well...am sure feels good and may at each small step effect change in societal attitudes. But heavens'! Mental illness whether real or socially conceived is as old as primordial soup. It is a primitive fear presented to every individual human being in each lifetime in every generation. Not a surprise. Fortunately, we live in a century that has made scientific progress toward mental health. However the field and the study of the mind remains subjective in the patient's and caregiver's world. FRUSTRATING! So...suggest a relief to daily fear for our loved ones and ourselves would be to research and involve yourself with NAMI, and not worry about what you divulge socially or people's titters. Best way to empower your loved ones and yourselves. After all, the oxygen mask has to be on you before it goes to your child to keep them safe! So take a breather, be good to yourselves, and remember...you love and are loved. Even if it doesn't always "seem" that way! Best wishes to all! Mary
  86. Kathy's avatar
    Kathy
    | Permalink
    I have a daughter about to turn 26 years old who has been battling Schizophrenia since she turned 19 years old. I can appreciate that overwhelming feeling watching your child struggle. NAMI is very helpful however I am still exhausted dealing with the everyday ups & downs. We need more awareness and funds going towards research.
  87. sad_mom's avatar
    sad_mom
    | Permalink
    Thanks to everyone for being courageous enough to post. The hardest part for me is seeing my 23 year old clever, handsome son go from an honors pre-med student to having continuous nervous breakdowns, to many suicidal hospitalizations and now to extreme anger and hatred aimed at everyone who loves and supports him - including me. I am appalled at how the HIPAA laws in the US keep us from helping our adult children who cannot make decisions for themselves. I feel like a victim who has to simply sit back and hope that phone call doesn't come. At the same time, I want to be a strong and happy person for all the beautiful supportive people in my life, including my other son. I can't possibly quit my job because it helps support my son's frequent hospitalizations and it keeps me from obsessing. In the end I feel like life has so many beautiful things and we just have to keep this yucky part in perspective... hugs to you all.
  88. dee's avatar
    dee
    | Permalink
    Thank you for sharing. I am the mother of a 21 year old son who has suffered form mental illness issues since a young age. As a very young mother, my concerns were dismissed as my being lazy and as my inability to parent. Doctors (who were connected to my mother), teachers (also often connected with family) and family discounted my concerns for years. I fought and fought and lost the battle to get anyone to help my son. As he hit the teenage years,he got more distant, angry, violent and out of control. Then he found drugs and alcohol. Currently, he refuses to have any contact with me and has convinced the world that his troubles are my fault. I was a hard-working single mom who attended every sporting event, school performance, etc. My son is a master manipulator and has found ways to live off other people by convincing them that he was wronged by me (it finally got to the point where as an adult his behavior was not acceptable in my home around my small daughter and he was no longer allowed to live there unless he sought treatment). He lives with people for a little while, until his behavioral issues become obvious and then I get these apology phone calls... I just wish that somewhere along the way he would get the help he needs. Mothers day is particularly difficult. He called my mom who was sitting right next to me, but refused her attempts to get him to speak to me. So many people don't understand the challenges of having a mentally ill child (or of not having your mentally ill child) in your life. I wait every day to hear that something terrible has happened to him.
  89. Angel's avatar
    Angel
    | Permalink
    My daughter is at the lowest depth of mental illness as I type this. She is on a 5 day hold at a psychiatric hospital. I started searching for help, for answers, or for someone to say everything will be alright then I stumbled across this article. I'm constantly thinking she will "grow" out of this but now I truly accept this will be lifetime struggle for her and I. Your statement about being happy they are just alive broke me down. This is my reality every day I say please don't let this be the day and if I make it through without that call or knock on the door it's a good day. The hardest part is not having any control and knowing they need help but your child has the ability to completely shut you out of their care. It's day 2 for my daughter in the hospital when day 5 comes and they release her I will go back to holding my breath and my daily mantra of " please don't let today be the day" starts again
  90. Brother's avatar
    Brother
    | Permalink
    Hippocrates reportedly said of mental illness "this is a physical thing". OMG really over 2 thousand years ago. The many great blogs and post like yours on the Internet by parents/family receive replays, OMG "I fell the same way", " my child does that". As if it is surprising that these mental illnesses disease showing the same patterns ,symptoms, problems, pains and challenges are similar. Even the young bloggers describing their bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, etc. the replys are "OMG" you are describing me. Failing in school, jobs, socially, hospitalization, jail, drugs, suicide, etc. OMG, all disease are more the same than different for the inflicted and families. I know we all know this and the sharing and support is so important. But, when and how do we get to the next level. Where we aggressively demand more. Education to extinguish stigma. Money to support research for faster results, more available resources for treatment. What people think matters. What would happen if we thought of a goal to find answers to suffering of millions of our young the same way we supported a goal to reach the moon. It that much money and science was employed where we be? An argument could be made that there is more of a War on Mental Illness reflective of the war on drugs. The police (911) courts and jails are on the front lines. That is not a humane culture.
  91. Emma Deadner's avatar
    Emma Deadner
    | Permalink
    Its so good to know we're not alone on this journey, but some days I feels alone. I am a mother of 3 adult sons, my youngest son was diagnosed in 2007 with severe bipolar depression, he is a sweet kid, and I find myself worrying about what would happen to him, if something should happen to me or my husband. He is very hard head, and he has a substance abuse with trying to smoke marjuana.
  92. Sharmaine's avatar
    Sharmaine
    | Permalink
    Thank you so much for telling your story.
  93. Kathie's avatar
    Kathie
    | Permalink
    I just found your article by accident and all I can say with tears in my eyes is thank you, thank you, thank you. From a mom with a struggling 32 year old bipolar daughter.
  94. Elizabeth's avatar
    Elizabeth
    | Permalink
    Thank you for speaking out and make other feel better we are not alone.
    I have a handsome socialise son suffering from bipolar at an early teens. He is now managing his condition with medication. The first few years is full of worries and uncertainty. He had his first manic episode at the age of 14. He recovered immediately and from that time I knew he is not coping well at school the way it used to be. He had good marks prior to his episode and everthing changes after that. He became a personnal trainer and was good at it, but experimented with drugs and make his mental condition failed brought him for a long hospitalization. After two years of staying home medically compliant and clear off drugs, he slowly get a sales job and proved to himself that he can make it. He has a girlfriend now and his inspiration.
    I am positive that he can go on with his life and we still have to be with him for guidance.
    My husband had mental problems as well, which it may contribute to my son's pre desposition. Drugs triggered it.
    Its is hard to be in this cycle of hopes and fears.
    As a mother of 3, I never stop to show being tough maintaining the family solidarity and never stop to show that even we are different we can still be happy and successful in our own way.
    I would say the patience and perseverance has its fruits. My son has a job and I never fail to tell him that I am confident that he can live a fulfilled life in his own way and we will always be behind him.
    Its not an easy journey but a challenging and interesting one. We are still happy that we are family and hoping and dreaming that our son can live a normal life.
    This makes me feel more stronger that I am not alone and hoping that one day the illness can be less stigmatized.
  95. Lisa A's avatar
    Lisa A
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    Thank you for honesty. I'm a step parent of a child with significant mental problems involving food obsession and hoarding. Her biological mother left her with her father after discovering the child did not result from the affair she had had, and belonged to her husband. 14 months later I came into the picture with two children also recently divorced and we went on to marry and have two kids of our own. Very bright, vibrant happy children, while she was strange acting, obsessed with food, sneaking around at night gorging and throwing up, stealing food from others, eating food left for the pets or found under a chair. Lying to people saying she doesn't get enough to eat at home so they horrifyingly feed her...

    I had to learn how to be around an unpleasant child I desperately wanted, and expected myself, to love. Screaming fits and deception and disrespect were not what I imagined, but nothing came out until we started living together. With minimal interest from the bio mom, I am in the role of mom, and my husband also has an older child, a sister to this child living with us, biological siblings, with zero problems.

    We consulted social workers, we consulted pediatricians, but now we are headed to mental health for what? A diagnosis? I don't know. I'm a counselor my husband is a detective, we are educated thriving people with a child that can not be controlled. Food is the flashpoint. It is connected to her emotions and we don't know how or why. But we know our family lives upside down, no sleep overs, no company, just embarrassment, fear of judgement and criticism.

    It is a dark lonely place.
  96. Lucinda's avatar
    Lucinda
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    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It helps us feel not so alone We have 2 daughters, 21 and 24 with mental illness and a similar situation to yours in terms of our background and hopes and dreams for two our extremely gifted and full of potential young people. They are both crippled with mood disorders which they have struggled with since teen years and earlier. We have provided them with years of counseling, support, hospitalizations and medical care. The older of the two made it through college and graduated with 2 majors and a minor, and by all accounts was on her way to a successful and productive life. We felt thrilled that all our efforts had been rewarded and thought she had finally figured out a way to manage her illness. But after graduation, she became paralyzed with anxiety which she is now self medicating with alcohol and other substances. Can't seem to apply for a job other than something that is way beneath her abilities... her self esteem is basically nonexistent.

    Out other daughter has tried college twice and basically had two terrible nervous breakdowns and is plagued with panic attacks, depression and now paranoia. It is nearly impossible to keep myself sane watching and worrying about all this.

    I quit my job as it just all became too much and I felt like I needed a bit of a break and time to rest and recuperate. Sadly, that has not really worked our and only served to make my own depression and terrible anxiety about all this become even worse. I am just completely burnt out from trying to help them get better. I wish we had gone to reunions and could have experienced the support and comradery of this group. There is so much question and shame at times associated with these issues - after all - how could this happen to Us ? Weren't our kids supposed to follow in our footsteps? Be contributing and happy, fulfilled, well adjusted adults.

    We too have had our future turn into a big blank slate - when will we be able to downsize and for that matter retire - now we need to be concerned with how we are going to pay health care costs for who knows how many years for two young adults who may need expensive care for many years to come. And then, there is the matter of trying to get them to participate and take ownership and responsibility for taking care of themselves and doing the work it will take to manage their illness, so that it ceases to manage them. Watching and waiting for people in their twenties who should be off creating their futures regressing to the actions of sometimes rebellious and often irresponsible teenagers is disheartening at best. Having the patience to wait for them to mature into taking responsibility for getting better is what I pray for daily. I also pray for them to be surrounded by uplifting individuals who can encourage them and show them their worth and value in the world.

    Right now, they are alive, and we thank God for that because with this level of difficulty, it is always a question of whether or not they will get through another day. That alone, is the very hardest part of all of this and what has us constantly walking on eggshells in our house. The constant worry of whether the pain of the illness will just one day be too much to handle.

    I often wonder if the mourning of what could have been for our children will ever end. The toughest part is holding onto faith and hope through the uncertainty, chaos, turmoil and drama of all of this and trusting that things will work out the way the universe and God intends.

    Anyway, thank you so much for baring the reality of your life to the world. We stopped getting PAW years ago because we couldn't bear to keep reading about all the lives that we couldn't even begin to compare to. Your honesty is admirable.
  97. Ann's avatar
    Ann
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    Thank you so much for reinforcing what I am feeling. I have a 30 year old daughter who is cognitively delayed and a 34 year old son with mental health problems. My son and I are always on the edge. I am trying to teach independence and he wants to remain in his safe world. My daughter is easier because i have a better understanding of her abilities and she is more responsive and proud of her attempts at independence. It is a challenge at best. But I know that I am not alone, we just don't advertise our adversity and unattained expectations. Peace to you.
  98. KathyW's avatar
    KathyW
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    Thank you so much for sharing your story and speaking up for all of us parents who had hopes and dreams for our children but have had to revise them due to their mental illness. My husband and I attend a support group sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and it helps us realize we are not alone and other parents are dealing with very similar situations, stresses and stigma. The more others are educated about mental illness, the better it will be for those who have mental illnesses and those of us who love them.
  99. George Patrin, MD/MHA, San Antonio, TX's avatar
    George Patrin, MD/MHA, San Antonio, TX
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    What a great story and happening - to finally be able to speak out, breaking the silence behind the "conspiracy of denial" in our society. It is so easy to just not discuss mental illness and move on, whether it's a reunion or birthday party or family picnic. I love the fact you have "let go of vicarious ambition and trivial matters..." being honest about "your kid...with mental illness...He’s alive." You are right, "If you have that, you can start feeling ambition for the child to be healthy and then happy. That’s all that counts." My son's bipolar condition was missed, by all of us, and resulted in suicide at 20 years old. Wish I had listened more and downplayed the expectation that he follow the 'rat race' model our society insists on, discounting the pain of not fitting in when failing to advance over the hurdles on schedule. At his funeral, a good high school buddy said, "You're my worst nightmare." Explaining, he told me his son had been hospitalized three times for suicidal ideation and attempts, but was making it...for the moment. How my wife and I wish we had another chance with our youngest son, to help him live until he could understand and help himself. No, it's not easy to live with them, but harder to live without them. Good on you!
  100. malou's avatar
    malou
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    A very powerful message to the world..Thank you for speaking up for me too! May God bless you, your family, and all your undertakings. Please pray for me and my 26 y/O. daughter too, with a dual diagnosis. God is good and is in control! NEVER LOSE HOPE ! PEACE <3
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