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Adult son with mental health issues - Carers UK Forum

Adult son with mental health issues

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Hello all, I’m in desperate need of advice. I am the registered carer of my 29 year old son and I love him deeply , but over the years his abusive and prevIously violent behaviour has made life for his step father and I a living hell. I had at last managed to sort out a formal diagnosis of several mental health issues and ASD. I also worked hard to secure him a place in supported living soon to be ready. I’ve bought him everything new as he refused anything second hand and I truly thought there was light at the end of the tunnel for us all. Now he has announced he is only staying there a few months and then Going to France as I have ruined his life. Supported living would have taught him all he needed and he Could have completed his O U degree and then Moved on and perhaps have had a chance of a better life. I am totally distraught at all if this as I believe it won’t work out as it didn’t before and he will expect me to bail him out and take Him back. I have done this before and spent Thousands of pounds trying to help him, but it’s all just thrown back in my face. He at last has the correct Benefits and support Workers who I know find me a nuisance because I do not let up on trying to help him sort his life out - I’m sure they see me as a busybody they don’t have time for and I understand that totally. My question is this - I cannot carry on this way and I definitely cannot have my son Home again when/if this all goes wrong. I know that sounds wicked but we have 6 children between us and my Son has taken 99%og everything. I just cannot do it anymore and i Am becoming more anxious over all of this by the day. Is there a way I can ensure I am not left to pick up the pieces again ? I’m in my late 50s and the stress Is unbearable.ive already told my son that if he does blow this one chance he cannot come back here, but I know he will try. I’m not sleeping and if I do drop off I have nightmares and stomach is in knots constantly. His real father doesn’t want to know. Please - any advice of what measures I can put in place to protect myself from more of this torture would be gratefully appreciated- telling me I’m cruel won’t help - I feel bad enough already, but this is slowly killing me. Thank you
Amanda, you raise the very difficult issue of 'morality and mental heath'.....at what point do we stop 'feeling sorry' for someone with MH issues, and start applying 'normal morality' to them.

To me, reading your post, I feel the point has been passed a long, long time ago. No more excuses for him.

Maybe, yes, the ASD - an actual neurological condition that DOES make his brain 'work differently' from the neuro-typicals of the rest of us - but other than that, well, sorry, he's had FAR too much attention and allowance made for him.

Time for 'firm love'. That means supporting him ONLY when he is making the effort NOT to be a complete and absolute pain in the backside to the entire world. Making an effort NOT to be totally and monstrously self-centred. Making an effort NOT to exploit your love for him for his own entirely selfish and self-pitying ends.

I'm not saying HE is monstrous - I'm saying his MH has MADE him monstrous.

(On the ASD front - I was married to a man who, restrospectively, was pretty obviously in the :Asperger's spectrum - not severely ,but 'characteristically' - in 'my day' in the 80s it was little understood, but once it came onto the public awareness scheme it was 'obvious' that that was why he was as 'odd' as he was. BUT, and I say this cautiously, and I know there are actually a good few members here who have children who are severely on the ASD spectrum, my husband DID 'improve' over the years. And to add to that, my niece's stepson is a diagnosed high-functioning autist who has now, at the age of 18, been 'de-diagnosed' or whatever the term is, to indicate that he is no longer considered to be autistic in any 'disabling' sense. I say all this simply to indicate that it MAY BE, that EVEN your son's ASD cannot be used as a complete 'get out of all responsibility for myself' card for free!)

So, to my mind, your son has used up ALL your love and goodwill. He has been, as you say, abusive and exploitative, and has the NERVE to blame YOU for his woes in life. It's time for him to take responsibility for his own life and the grim truth is he will NEVER do that while you 'bail him out' etc etc.

That's where the firm love comes in - you have to now 'stand back' and let him make his own mistakes and TAKE THE CONSEQUENCES for those mistakes.

It will call for love of a much harder kind - one that is 'anti-instinctive' for a mum - ie, you have to let him SUFFER for his bad behaviour.

Let him go to France - let him mess up, if he does - and then DO NOT TAKE HIM BACK.

How long, in practice, will that supported living place 'hold' for him? If you can persuade them to keep it on standby for him for as long as possible, that would be great.

By the way, how DARE he say he only wanted brand new things! How DARE he? (Sadly, the answer is, because you let him.)

Your son, for what ever reasons, has become 'monstrous' - and sadly, now, only you, by applying your 'firm love' can call him to account finally and belatedly.

He can be 'saved' - but not by any further indulgence. By him finally accepting that his happiness is HIS responsibility, not yours.

I wish you all the very best, but enough is enough. Time to let him go - literally - and focus on your other children who both need AND DESERVE your care and love and attention. (PS I bet they are a LOT tougher on him than you are!)
PS - I truly don't mean to sound harsh on YOU. I've seen my brother and SIL make the same mistake of constantly 'indulging' their daughter with MH, and fussing and fretting about her. She too, can be 'monstrous' in her self-pity, and utter lack of concern about anyone other than herself (she's getting LOADS better with age and, I have to say, a partner who not only has MH himself - PTSD, army vet - but which is now making her realise that SHE has to take responsibility for things).....but my bro and SIL to this day beat themselves up EVERY DAY saying how they have been 'bad parents'....yes, they have, but not in the way they think! For indulging her and expecting 'nothing of her'....so nothing was what they got.....

They did the wrong thing (ie, perpetual indulgence) for the right reason (ie, love)

SUCH an easy mistake to make....so hard to come back from alas.
Hi Amanda
My young adult son has some undiagnosed MH issues, mainly around anxiety and confidence, but I also have a close relative now in his 30s who is Aspergers and has MH which has in the past had him sectioned. He has been through the entire range of housing options and is currently in a specialst residential home.

Through the years the family has had to recognise that he will NOT change, no matter how much we want him to. There is too much on the ASD side that we do not understand and seem very strange to us but are central to his very being. Those include not touching second hand books as he has a (to us irrational) fear of lingering germs. He also cannot touch various substances which don't feel right to him, one of which is washing up liquid.

We have had to adjust any idea of him living the kind of life we would want for him, and that his siblings have. We just have to support him, and fight for him, to have a life that is OK for him. The 2 lives are very different.

I say this in the hope that you too can adjust your expectations of what is a good life for him. He will be happiest, probably, in a quiet environment where he can follow his interests and be gently guided as to what he needs to do to look after himself physically and financially.

That sounds simple but the system is broken and flawed which is where you come in as support and warrior, but with his aims in mind, putting your dreams for him away as they are not his dreams for him.

The best way you can support him is firstly to put some clear boundaries in place to protect you and your other children. If that means him not returning to the family home so be it BUT you ensure that you do your best to make sure he has somewhere else. Sometimes he will disagree, as indeed any other young man wanting independence would. You also need to limit the amount of time you spend on him, it's obvious you are giving too much of your mental and emotional time and you need to get the balance back. Currently he is safe in a good place (that in itself is a massive achievement! ) so take a large step back. Give him and the staff chance to see how it goes.
In our experience things in MH and ASD move incredibly slowly and what in NT (neurotypical) mindswould take a few weeks takes years in an ASD one, if at all. Try not to put any timescales on anything.
Yes he does need to learn for himself, but often ASD doesnt change, he does think very differently.

So, the best way to help him is to look after yourself, with boundaries, time spent on enjoying other aspects of your life. If you are happy and balanced he will subconsciuosly pick up on this, as indeed he will have picked up on your stress and tension.You would benefit from counselling and from assertiveness training. Daily exercise, fresh air and things like yoga and meditation would help too, and again it will help him to see you adopting a selfcaring lifestyle.

Jenny who commented above does have a blunt way of seeing MH issues, a lot of what she says can work, but is maybe a bit too 'black and white' for the situation you and your son are in. She means well and is genuinely concerned at the plight many carers are in

Amanda , it's very clear that you love your son very much. You have done wonderfully well to get him as far as this. Try just agreeing with him for a while. Say "France sounds lovely" then change the conversation to something else. Stop pushing him and he may well stop pushing back.

Mrs A - I am definitely VERY 'cautious' when it comes to ASD, as clearly this is a category of 'real' (ie, inherent brain chemistry/function) difference to the way 'neurotypical' brains work, and I completely agree that there is no point expecting a non-neuro-typical person to function in the same way as a neuro-typical person, and the 'trick' is to 'work with' rather than 'bang heads' etc etc.

I do admit there is HUGE difficulty in the 'morality vs MH' question, which is why I try and focus on 'effort' as the measure by which we decide just how we are going to tolerate (or not!) the 'adverse behaviour' that can go hand in hand with MH in general.

In my book, if someone is really, really trying to make an effort to be 'nicer people' etc, then they can justify toleration and patience. But if they really do seem to be 'CBA' about the negative impact they have on other people, then I would not extend that tolerance (certainly not 'as much'.)

The REALLY difficult bit, though, is where 'affective MH' intersects with 'cognitive MH' and then how one should or should not apply that 'effort' measure.

SO much, I think, depends on just how much THEIR behaviour affects US! Even if their behaviour is 'extreme', if it doesn't cause us personal grief and expense and heartache, then it really doesn't matter that much.

I acknowledge, however, truly, that this is VERY VERY difficult issue - ie, to what extent can someone with ANY form of mental 'difference' be capable of 'non-selfish' behaviour (ie, taking ANY regard for the impact of their behaviour on others). To what extent can the 'social contract' we all make with each other, at every level, be applicable to them? A real 'ethical conundrum'! (I wonder what the philosophers of ethics make of it, let alone the psychiatrists!) (For example, am I simply expecting the mental equivalent of someone with a broken leg to be able to get out of their wheelchair instead of having me push them!????)
Hi Amanda,

Catherine has written you a reply:

https://www.carersuk.org/forum/support- ... 92#p385392

Melly1 moderator
I wanted to thank everyone who has taken time to reply to my post on this forum. I see much good advice a great deal of truth that I have tried to cover up over the years. I know I’ve done my best, but in so doing have made it easier for my son to exploit the situation to his own advantage albeit due to his illness. My feeble excuse ( for that is what it is ) is that I did it to protect myself and my husband and daughter who during many of these awful years lived at home. My poor daughter has suffered cancer and two years ago had her thyroid removed and is On medication for the rest of her life just to survive. I am angry that my son has stolen so much of my time. He due to go into supported housing around Sept 6th and I am counting down the days. I know the anger With me will just go on - but I can turn off my phone. I will not have it in my face 24/7. - I still feel anguished though and as though I’m yet to face another onslaught in a different way. I do realise I’m not alone though and there are many others walking in my shoes. One thing I do wish is that I wasn’t seen as the ‘ meddlesome mother’ by professionals, but rather as a person who sees things as they really are . I think there is some way to go before carers are recognised and valued In this way. The latest From my son is that he now needs a second hair transplant, eyebrow transplant and his Teeth fixing before he goes to France - he thinks his face is distorted etc etc, although honesty in the looks Department he is above average ( many have said this ). So more issues here too. I could go on and on and bore You all. But I won’t because I’m coming to the end Of my ability to keep worrying about it and i Want you all to know I’m taking on board and truly thankful for your advice. I am realising that only I can dig myself out of the hole I dug and I guess it’s about time I bought a shovel. Please excuse the capital letters that have crept in - not so good on the iphone keyboard.
Oh Amanda
I don't see any feeble excuses in your posts. A mother's love that has been crushed through absolutely no fault of your own! You are seeing the light, that you and the rest of your family are very important and worthy. Running the extra mile for someone who won't, or can't be helped is exhausting, and something has to give. Feeble excuses , no way! In my opinion anyway.
Completely agree with Pet!

Sometimes the real value of offloading, whether to friends or online friends (that's us!) is that it simply holds up a mirror to you, and you hear reflected your own 'true thoughts' which you have, for so many reasons, been maybe in denial about, or confused about, or not wanting to face/accept, etc etc. Not saying that IS so, but that it can be so.

Also, sometimes we just need 'confirmation' from others that what we are thinking is 'ok', to give us permission. I got that from a good friend of mine who is also a counsellor (and a very straight-talking Yorkshirewoman!) who basically 'gave me permission' to put my MIL with dementia into a care home, rather than cripple myself and give myself a nervous breakdown trying to look after her all on my own.

I think, too, folk here can 'give permission' to posters that yes, it's OK to want a life of one's own, that it's OK not to be the good obedient son/daughter to a selfish parent, that, in your case, it's OK to say 'enough is enough' to a 'parasitic' child who uses their own woes to emotionally blackmail the very person who loves them most, simply because a mother 'puts up' with taking xxxx from their children. In your case, the very fact that your poor daughter has had a SERIOUS and LIFETHREATENING illness, is even MORE reason to say 'Enough!' to your selfish and unfeeling son.

As for him, PLEASE tell us you are NOT going to pay for this ridiculous indulgence in cosmetic treatment that he is now expecting from you!

Also, while he is away, can you change the locks on your house so he physically can't get back in? Even if you had to pay for a month's unused rental on his new supported living place, would that be possible and worthwhile if he is playing 'silly buxxxers' over coming back from France??
Thank you for replying. I will not be paying for the surgery if he does have it - that will be down to him. The last time it was mostly paid for from money he won on online gambling sites - he subsequently lost thousands through managing to get hold of numerous credit cards. He is now paying these debts back slowly through STEPCHANGE. I am trying to remain strong, but it is hard. I can only hope that the move will give him the wake up call he badly needs. Whilst the illness will always be there I suspect, he has the means within himself to do more than he does now and to take some responsibility for his life, instead of putting it all on to me. So many many years of this, even as a very young child he would run out of the door and deliberately pull all of the washing off the radiator and throw all the shoes off the shelf. When I was studying for my law finals he would bang on the wall next to the study for hours,(at this time I was also caring for my cancer ridden terminally ill mother) so it is a long time with no improvement. Needless to say a career in law was not possible due to the hours, so I did further study to become a teacher to try and fit in with school hours so that my daughter would be safe from him. In the end I could not even do that, partly because I lost confidence in myself and the drive to keep going and partly because of my son. I will hold on in there - and thank you all once again.