Five Ways to Cope with a Mentally Ill Child

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That is such a perfect illustration of WHO we are. A drop of water in a vast ocean, not separate from each other, not separate from The One.

I have a story to tell you. I am the mother of a 37-year-old man. He has always been a most loved being in my heart, from the moment of his birth.

We fast forward to my son’s age of 14. We were unschoolers due to a horrid public school system and lack of private schools.

My son was not social. He didn’t ever want to go and do anything or be with kids his age. At the age of 14, some friends of ours suggested a music camp up north in Michigan. I looked into it and signed my son up for the camp. Around this time, he was starting to appear depressed to me, so I took him to a psychologist and they had weekly sessions. 

We took him up to camp on a Sunday. He was irate with me that night in the hotel room saying that I was doing something he didn’t like. I was pissed, but I ignored him. I needed that week break SO BAD I could taste it.

That was Sunday. On Wednesday I got a call that my son was exhibiting signs of schizophrenia. We drove up and got him and he didn’t even think I was his mother. It was a horrible 6 hour trip back.

I drove him immediately to the ER and explained the situation. They did drug tests, talked to him, did the intake and at about 5:30 sent him to a psychiatric hospital in a suburb of Detroit.

 I was devastated. His father woke up crying the next morning. He said he should have spent more time with him. Well yes, but that wasn’t going to change our son’s illness. It was genetic and had nothing to do with how we raised him. I knew that, but it still was hard. It was the absolute worst thing I’ve ever been told. Ever.

How did I cope? With my first resource when things are good or when things are bad.

  • Get to your center and stay there. I continued to meditate. I could no longer read people because my mind was so clouded by fear and worry, but I meditated. I bought meditation tapes and I did them. I prayed a lot. I asked God for guidance. I asked Jesus to help me. I did everything I could to say focused and centered.

I listened to his doctors. I talked to his social worker. She told us he may never come out of it or ever be normal. And she was right. He has never been well since.

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That was 23 years ago. Since then we’ve moved out of the country and back. He has had 2 hospitalizations that lasted more than 4 months each time. Every time he is ill, he is scornful and hateful toward me. It is one of the first signs that he’s headed for trouble.

Life goes on as it does. My husband had Parkinson’s with the dementia and a Parkinson’s Plus Disease called cortical basal degeneration. He died after the third year of his diagnosis. I was his primary caregiver until my son started to exhibit behavior that was frightening. He would go to his room and bang on his desk with his arms until he had horrible bruises. And he would scream for hours.

I had to do something. I finally got my husband to a safe place, away from the trauma of dealing with our son. It was hard, but it was better for him.

And what did I do to cope??????

  • I gave every problem I had up to God. I said here you are, you take it. It’s like a feather in your hand and it’s a huge stone on my back. I can’t do anything now except cry or run around in circles. You take it. And He did.

He had found a job here and for over 2 years prior to his father’s diagnosis, he was able to go to work. This was only the second job he’s ever had and he was 29 when he started it.

At some point at the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012, I started noticing that he was getting irate with me again. Plus he was telling us fantastic things, like he was going to be made the manager of the screen printing department when he had never worked in previously.

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One day he came home at 10 am after being at work for 2 hours. He said he told them all off, those people who wouldn’t quit talking about him. I took him to his psychiatrist. 

At that point his behavior became even worse. And he hasn’t worked since.

What did I do to cope?

  • I got him help. The doctor tripled his anti-psychotic medication. He is still on that level. 
  • I meditate. I got to my center and stayed there. I asked for the Infinite Consciousness for guidance. I prayed.

Fast forward now another 6 years. My husband died 4 years ago. It was a release as he was in horrible shape. 

Our son wouldn’t even visit his father. I asked him to go when the nursing home called me and said his father was dying and he refused. Said he didn’t need to see him.

How did I cope? 

  • I sat down in my chair for 6 months and did nothing but knit socks. I just knit. All day, all night. I did nothing else. I could not or would not cook, I did nothing. I just knitted socks. And I prayed with every stitch.

And now it is 4 years and a bit later. I have come out of my horrible grief and loneliness and started to seek a wider, more fulfilling life than I had as a wife and mother. My marriage was unhappy and my life as a mother twice so. 

As I come out of my shell, look around at the miracles of the world, my son has decided he must control me. He refuses to cooperate when we need to get food, he refuses to drive to pick up his own medication, he will not take himself to his doctor.

On January 26, 2018 I had asked him to go to the grocery store. We were out of toilet paper and milk and needed a little food. He had the grocery money in his account because I had purchased something out of mine. I cannot even remember what but I believe it was underwear since I hadn’t had any new underwear for 9 years. And it was the end of the month, never a flush time around here.

He refused and I argued with him. He told me I was old and confused. He said I shouldn’t have bought my underwear because then I could go by myself. He said that I shouldn’t have bought the Cuisinart Food Processor (the gift he gave me for my birthday) and that I needed to calm down. 

I snapped. I told him off. He went into his Incredible Hulk act where he rears back and screams at the top of his lungs and turns bright red (not green) and the cords on his neck stand out and throb. I slapped him.

He said he had to get out of the house. I said go and do not come back. He walked down to Walgreen’s and called the police. Now he had told me he was going to do that so I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.

The policeman who came didn’t listen to me about the 23 year battle with mental illness, the issues I was having with him, nothing. He just arrested me. He called to have me “transported.” I was at the jail for 11 hours. I didn’t have any cash with me to post bail. I never have cash, but I will from now on. 

The deputies and the workers at a the jail figured out the situation quickly. They knew that I had been accused of something I had not done and they did everything they could to get me home. The bail bondsman came to me at the jail and took me to an ATM so I could get the cash to pay his fee. And this nice man drove me home. I had a court date.

Two days later a police sergeant came to the house and explained to me that the case against me had been declined for prosecution as not meeting the requirements of the Domestic Abuse statute. I was so relieved. 

But yes, I have been “weird” since. That knocked me completely out of any concern I have for my son. I  no longer care if he’s insane or sane. I no longer care what he does. I just no longer care.

The morning I had to go to court, because I still had to show up, my son ran downstairs and told me I needed to pick up his medication. I almost screamed in frustration. How did I cope? Same as in number one and number two.

Yesterday I told him I found someone I liked. A new someone, a man. True it is a new relationship, but it has a lot of potential. My son freaked out, no other word for it.

He started to cry and said he had helped me for 5 years and now I was dumping him. I tried to explain that I was not dumping him, but he was screaming too loud to pay attention.

I called his psychiatrist and begged for an appointment. We got in and I asked her to speak with him about this.

My son told her that I had been acting strange since January. That I go to bed at 9 pm and get up at 5. That I am just weird now. Yes, it’s called happy.

And he said now I’m going to dump him and he is disabled and can’t get a job. The doctor told him he didn’t need a job as he has an income and can live on it. She told him to move out.

He told her he fears for his life. She said “Oh come on. I do not think that is true.” And she told him she thinks there’s some projecting going on.

He told her that I was overdrawn last month. He forgot to tell her it was because he was overdrawn and he didn’t have the money for his anti-psychotic medication. And also that I had paid some bills that weren’t usually mine to pay. 

He told her that I was doing this “stupid” business thing and that we can’t afford to start a business (LOL). And he bitched to high heaven about me having a romantic life.

  • So here’s his position in a nutshell. I can’t have a love life because he doesn’t want me to.
  • I can’t do something I love because he doesn’t want me to even though I’ve done it before and am blessed by it.
  • I have to sleep the hours he gives me, not when I want to sleep.

All of the above amounts to abuse. It is the attempt to coerce another person into doing what you want or else you will tell lies about them and hurt them.

And how will I cope? I will say this prayer every day every hour every minute.

  • I clothe myself in a robe of White Light, made up of the Love, Power and Wisdom of God, not only for my own protection but so that all who are near me will be drawn to God and healed. Around this robe of White Light I will place an eggshell of mirrors so that any negativity emanating from someone else will be reflected back to the source.

And that will about do it. Say a prayer for me. I’m sure God will see me through this next challenge, but your prayers are needed.

And now we are further down the road of the year. It is May and he is still creating issues where none exist except in his diseased mind. 

At some point a week ago or more, he decided to quit taking his Tegretol, the medication his doctor gave to him in place of Lithium. He had been on Lithium for so long it was starting to damage his kidneys. Instead of taking the 400 mg prescribed by the doctor, he would only ever take 200 mg. And now he won’t take that.

This is a new wrinkle as I’ve never had a problem with him not wanting his medication before. Now he says he “doesn’t need that shit” and has decided to prescribe for himself. This will lead nowhere but to a long hospitalization. 

After he decided that I could not have a man in my life, and decided to scream and rant and rave and complain about me to his doctor and tell me how awful I am because I’m “dumping” him, he decided to go to the ER. He called 911 and the police came and transported him. I didn’t go. I know how he hates me when he is in the middle of an episode and frankly? I’ve just done enough. I give him up to God for healing. I can do no more.

The next morning a particularly obnoxious woman called from the hospital to tell me that my son needed to come home. I explained that he could not. She argued that he would have no where else to go but the homeless shelter. As my doctor said, the homeless shelter would have been the best place for him.

Then my son called. He said “Mom, can I come home?” in his little boy voice. I sighed. I asked him how he was going to act when he got home. I said will you talk, not scream at me and generally be a grown-up person? He said yes. I go get him. I try to talk to him about the love of my life. No, we’re not going there that day. Okay I thought, let him get used to the idea.

And here it is, some 2 or 3 weeks later. Time has run together, living with a man-child with mental illness. And he decides to call Adult Protective Services, I assume to complain about me. Lord knows what he told them and lord knows what those stupid people are going to believe. They seem to take the word of a paranoid schizo-affective manic-depressive over me. Anyway I knew nothing about it until someone came from the agency to see him, spent 45 minutes in his second room with him and left, not even bothering to shut my front door behind her.

I asked him about an hour later what she wanted. He said “I was told not to talk to you Mom ever again. I’m sorry but I can’t talk to you.” And he huffed. And he had said that same thing 2 or 3 weeks before, when he found out about the man in my life and when he decided I couldn’t have anyone in my life but him.

For the last two days the tension in the house has been palpable. I went to see my doctor, who is also his doctor. I was distraught to say the least. I was fearful that he is lying about me and saying I am abusing him. I haven’t touched him or even talked with him except to tell him to quit trying to control me.

One evening this past week, shortly before dinner, I was calling my hairdresser to make sure they had the correct appointment for me. Before their phone was answered by voice mail, he started yelling at me that he was not going to stay down here and eat his supper if I couldn’t stay off the phone. 

We weren’t eating. Supper was in the oven and not ready yet. I finished my call and rang off. I then told him that under no circumstances ever is he to try to control who I speak with, when or at what time. I told him he is free to eat in his bedroom any day that he wishes and in fact that I would prefer that we not eat together.

And he has just kept picking fights for no reason. Yesterday evening I went to his room and explained to him that I love him. I told him he is my child and I have always loved him. He then rakes up the fact that “You hit me” in January and is waving that dead horse around. Funny, when I was in jeopardy of jail time, he said it was all over and done with but now, 5 months later, he’s offended by me hitting him. LOL. I give up. I totally give up.

He told me to leave his room because I was harassing him. I left. I called the police department to have him transported to the ER and admitted to a psychiatric ward. I was so fearful I stayed in my car until the police arrived. 

I explained the situation to the officer. I showed him where Ben was located in the house and he went upstairs to talk to him. I could tell by their voices that Ben was doing his “I am a reasonable person” act. I went upstairs. I intended to show the officer just how reasonable Ben actually is when confronted by me. 

After saying he would take his medication, he told the officer that he would only take half of it. I explained to the officer that Ben cannot stay here and act toward me in this manner. That this is my home and he stays here only as long as he follows my rules. The officer didn’t like that, at all. I explained that my doctor (and his) had recommended the homeless shelter. The officer didn’t like that either. He said Ben would take his medication. Ben said well I’ll take half of it but not the whole amount. Then, getting nowhere with me, he starts to bawl. And the officer finally saw what I had been telling him. My son is in the middle of a psychotic episode. He is dangerous for me to be around as I cannot trust what he will do. He outweighs me by more than 70 lbs and he is 5 inches taller. I however, am meaner when riled.

And riled I was. It was time to get this tension out of my home. I will not live like that for one minute. I am a human being too and I deserve some sort of compassion. I have devoted 37 years to keeping this person sane, devoting my whole life to him. I did not have a job outside of my own business so that I could be there when he needed me. I did not have therefore a pension to retire with but instead I have a small pension from his father’s employment and social security. 

As with other children his age, he got everything he wanted and he appreciated none of it. 

Last night, he was once again taken to the ER. This time I hope that the correct doctor examines him and he is admitted. I hope that I don’t get another phone call starting “Mom? Can I come home?” The answer is no.

Namaste, Jennifer

 

 

 

 

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