We have a son who is bi-polar, but is not diagnosed. We have gone through a lot with him. He will not take any medication, he only self medicates with substances and alcohol. He always wants us to bail him out of his utility bills. He usually pays us back lately, after we keep after him, but he can't handle his life or finances.
By Keith from Albuquerque, NM
As hard as it may be, you might want to try "tough love". Don't bail him out, but before he next asks, investigate (in your community) resources he might use to get help from. Whatever you do, don't let him move home!
Call a local mental health clinic and find out if there are support groups for family affected by mental illness. Other parents may have a good idea about resources; and someone may also have an idea about how to get your son to seek the help he needs. They can also help you strategize how best to apply your "tough love".
Just rest assured that things will not change if you don't change your reactions to him; and that he is grown now, and has an adequate income, and you should not feel guilty for trying to help him become more responsible for himself.
I agree with the advice posted by Jilson. Although you love your child and are concerned about him, enabling him isn't a way of helping. I do have one question, you say that he has bi-polar disorder, but is undiagnosed. If he has not been diagnosed by mental health professionals, how do you know that he is bi-polar?
I have been there. I finally told "my girls" two of them that the worst had happened. I no longer have any extra money. It was hard watching one of my girls going from pillar to post trying to find someone that would let her crash but believe me now I am thankful. When I let her go she straightened up and is now married and working at a great job with great grandkids. God bless you and good luck.
I truly feel for you from the bottom of my heart and soul but I have to tell you that your son is most likely 'not' bi-polar and he and everyone else are just using that as an excuse for his substance abuse and his not being willing to grow up and take responsibility for his own life! Every time you bail him out of a situation you are enabling him. It's time for some tough love!
I know first hand because of my brother. Everyone, sadly including me, always bailed him out and his substance abuse just kept getting worse and worse. Slowly others stopped bailing him out and finally, when he had turned 50 and the pain it caused me was enough, I had to let go for my own well being. At this point he had no one else to turn to.
It just about killed me that I had no clue where or how he was for almost a year! One day I finally got a phone call. His years of abuse (that we all allowed to continue) had landed him in emergency for an assortment of ailments including his teeth rotting and skin problems but the worst was heart disease caused from the abuse. He almost didn't make it!
He is now clean and sober but he has so many health issues that his quality of life is greatly reduced and shortened. I will forever feel guilty that I didn't give him tough love decades earlier! My suggestion for you and your loved ones is to go to Alanon meetings for support and guidance.
And where was my brother during those tortuous months that no one knew where he was? He had literally been living under a bridge slowly killing himself with substances and begging and stealing. He too had used the excuse of being bi-polar and doctors simply gave him legal drugs instead of treating his substance abuse! I don't think you want that for your son!
Also, I don't understand how he can be on Social Security Disability and not be monitored and how can he work part time and remain on disability? There's something wrong with this picture and he's taking advantage of not just you, your family and his friends but all of us as a society :-(
Good luck to you and God Bless!
How do you know he has Bi-Polar if he's not diagnosed? It takes a Psychiatrist to diagnose Bi-Polar. It's mis-diagnosed often.
You're enabling his behavior by giving him money when he spend his on wants instead of needs. If there's a way to put your foot down and insist he seek qualified help, I suggest you do this or he will keep making your life miserable, and you will be helping him to do it. It's not easy, and I feel for you. Good luck!
My husband is bi polar,and we have been married for almost 23 years. In that time, we have raised six children,and are still very much in love. So, please, do not think there is no hope! It wasn't all roses, though,we lost two homes with acreage,and there were other losses along the way. The one saving factor in all of it was that he was determined not to let our children see him under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The downside was that he would do great for awhile, then explode and disappear, and come back home terrified and ashamed, once with an STD. However, I started to recognize the "warning signs" of an impending manic episode; temper, irritability, confusion, lack of sleep. And then I realized that he had gotten into trouble with the law on December eighth, on three different years!
The last time,after begging him and begging him for months to get help before it happened, he disappeared on December 8th, and in the next six weeks, was arrested for two different instances each, of hit and run, driving with a suspended license, and improper tag, assault and battery, simple assault and child endangerment, and get this, stealing a deputy's car!
And I let him sit in jail for six weeks, until they got him properly diagnosed and medicated. I even went off a bond I had previously stood good for, so he would have to stay in jail! After six weeks, I bonded him out, WITH the stipulation that he continue to take his meds and go to the mental health clinic.
Thank God,we have discovered these things:
Sleep is absolutely crucial. His 'acting out' which took place in late spring or late fall (Dec 8th) were in direct correlation to the increase or decrease in amount of sun he was getting (he is a carpenter and works outside).
He had to trust someone, in this case me, who could look at him from the outside in and say "You're getting rocky"
He now takes an Ambien every night, and his Depakote, which is actually an anti-epileptic medicine but regulates the order the neuro transmitters fire in his brain, no more anti psychotics or anything, and that is it, and it has been almost ten years since he spent the time in jail.
God be with you and your son.
Those who doubt you can say BiPolar without a doctor telling you, probably don't have anyone they live with dealing with it. It makes you feel crazy with what you should do, what you want to do, and what you actually do.
Talk to social services to see what they can help with in getting a dx done. You may need to get a court appointed conservator for him. Do not take the job yourself, as this is what you are doing now with non-compliant client doing as he wants.
If he has to be accountable to someone else and with consequences, this is a boundary he will learn to live with. The court can appoint someone to check with him on a daily basis, check the meds, etc.
Time to let him grow up and be accountable for his behaviors, no matter how hard it is. Protecting him as an adult is doing no one favors.
My brother had always been under guardianship from child to adult. Was not till we moved him to my state to a group home that we entered social services programing. It is much easier to deal within the system than outside the system looking in.
The peace of mind will bring you back to the mother son relationship instead of warden/prisoner situation where you have gotten.
I too am bi-polar, have been since 1978. I raised two beautiful sons with God's help. I strongly recommend you find a support group for yourselves. National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is one. Ask a social worker for recommendations if you don't know of any.
Please keep in mind that 15% of all bi-polars commit suicide. Remember he didn't ask for this illness so be kind and loving. If my parents weren't there for me, I'd hate to think where I would be. What convinced me I was bi-polar was a little pamphlet I read that had a checklist of all the symptoms. Actually, I felt good to be able to know my illness had a name.
Most important, keep the faith. If you don't believe in a higher power you will regret it. It is a roller coaster ride from hell. I'd be long dead if not for the grace of God.
Hi, I am also Bipolar we didnt ask for this illness, and yes it is an illness as parents we must love unconditionally! God must be center. I would suggest some kind of conservator to manage his finances. I was blessed with entrepreneur skills and ability.
My disorder led me to create 14 businesses some successful. Some flyby nights but it also didn't allow me to manage them properly and i risked, mismanaged funds, created investors, hurt them and their families. Early on the cash flows were so great I plugged every irresponsible decision with money. But the obvious problem was there. I could not pay my own bills, keep a household,
All utilities were always getting cut off. Resulting in my wife and children leaving me! I got help because I applied the biz concept to my personal life. I got a controller for my life and financial decisions, it was a must! I would stare down a mortgage payment not pay it, and go get a $5000 mountain bike because that would fill my endorphins at the time. Eventually I would lose the house.
Support! Love! Encourage! Patience ... Get educated Get God in center
Parents have no rights when it comes to protecting themselves. This is my 14 year old grandson who I will no longer allow in my home. Counseling hasn't helped. Boot camp is too expensive. I'm terribly afraid for my daughter and 9 year old grandson. It's a disaster in the making. He's disrespectful to his dad, but doesn't beat on him. You can tell I'm desperate; that's how scared I am for my daughter and 9 year old grandson.
Do we have to wait until he kills someone before the authorities will step in and do something? In Texas you're not considered an adult until age 17. In 3 more years he will have quit school, (oftentimes refuses to go) laying around doing nothing, going and coming as he pleases and continue to abuse my daughter and his little brother further. Bipolar or not I've lost all patience. He's not a child and I believe is responsible for at least some of his actions. When he gets in trouble he uses bipolar as an excuse. I'm his grandmother and he has told me numerous times when I corrected him or refused to give him what he wants he tells me where I can go in vulgar language.
I am so sorry that you are having to go through this. I work in a rural ER, and we often have people of all ages with this same illness brought it by family who are are at their wits' ends in trying to deal with it. The best place to start is to first call the police when he is violent. I know you don't want anything "bad" to happen to him, but sometimes they respond better to authority figures than to family. At least if you have them involved, if he is arrested, the local judge can force him into some type of treatment.
If you don't want to go that route, ask your regular doctor about getting your local coroner involved, in Louisiana, the coroner can have someone committed straight from their home. A major problem with taking someone like that to your local ER, is if they aren't large enough to have security in the facility, and somewhere to keep someone like that in a protective setting, such as where they can't hurt themselves or the staff while there. God bless you! This is getting more and more common, especially as states are cutting back on funding for mental health treatment. (08/04/2010)
My heart goes out to you. It must be so difficult to watch this happening to your family. I agree with fatboysslimsmom, your daughter needs to get the police involved every time your grandson becomes violent. Beating up his younger brother and mother is a crime, and it needs to be treated as such. In the meantime, you should advise your daughter to hide all sharp knives or anything else that can be used as a weapon.
My daughter has an employee who is bipolar and was having a difficult time at work. A couple of months ago, she went to a homeopathic doctor who had her checked for allergies. It turns out that she is allergic to sugar and wheat. After removing these items from her diet, she is doing a lot better.
I hope that everything improves for you very soon. (08/04/2010)
By Patty Lynn
Call the law each and every time the teenager with bipolar threatens or beats on someone, takes off without consent; and as a juvenile, there are places the law can send them when they refuse to cooperate with their custodians/parents, etc. Each time the law is called in for his poor behavior, he will make the final decision for himself; outta your hands at this point.
When a teen refuses to cooperate and wants to do things their way then it is on the teen's shoulders at this point how his outcome will end. He will see his boundary line is established with strong enforcements and he will make his choice to either cooperate with those in his life or suffer the consequences by learning lessons the hard way.
People who are in the middle of a situation do not always see things clearly as to how to handle such issues and make mistakes along the way as emotions get in the way and oftentimes will tend to swallow a lot before deciding upon the more aggressive step. You gotta be strong here and not cave in. Right choices are sometimes the hard choices to make.
Have the parent contact the school counselor. In the state of Texas, you as grandmother, will not have the authority to speak to school personnel about issues with the grandson unless the parents give written consent to let you do so.
The counselor probably won't have the answers that your family needs, but all of the Texas schools I have worked in do have resources that they can point a family to to get help. The district I currently work in even has a published pamphlet with resources if a parent wishes to have a copy. (08/04/2010)
There are sites on the web which offer support to those living with bipolar disorder patients. Please look for one, as they really can help.
Also, if the child is threatening himself or others, at least in California, you can call the police and they will put them in custody for 72 hours in a mental health facility. And since this boy sounds as if he has a behavior disorder, he should be eligible for getting Special Education. This can be within the regular school setting or in another school and should be a no extra expense to you, as it is provided by the school district.
There is also the Civil Conservation Corps, I believe, which would engage him in manual labor to a good purpose.
As a last resort, if the boy is violent and truant, he may be in violation of some laws, which might put him under the protection of the courts and that might mean sending him into the Juvenile Justice System. Juveniles often come out worse that they came in, but if he is threatening you or your family, at least he will be out of the house. And then what he does with the rest of his life is his own affair. After all, he is 14, so that means only another 3 years of being at home.
But please learn to protect yourselves. Do whatever is necessary. The boy may be a lost cause, so don't let him manipulate you into supporting him and his bad behaviors. (08/04/2010)
P.S. I have to say that I commented below as a bipolar sufferer myself. There is no excuse for bad behavior, a bipolar diagnosis or not. Mood swings can be handled today with medication, plus therapy and learning to deal with the disorder! It sounds as if the boy is again being manipulative and using a bipolar label as an excuse for bad and violent behavior. He also may very well be using some drugs, which would make matters worse, as bipolars often self-medicate with alcohol or amphetamines or other substances, which only makes matters worse. Sounds as if he is managing successfully to do whatever and whenever he pleases, without any fear of correction (except from his father, who probably out-weighs him, another sign that it's threatening and exploitative behavior, not a true madness.) (08/04/2010)
This sounds like a lot more is going on than merely being bipolar. That said, he is not totally in control of his own mind. I am on Lamictal for mood swings with anger issues. A few months ago, I stopped taking my meds. Within days, I was suspicious of everyone around me. I felt like I was being attacked by people around me, so I fought back. I could not see beyond being a victim. Finally, I caught myself throwing a fit at a stranger in the middle of a grocery store. I nearly lost my family and my wonderful supportive boyfriend. While I never became physically violent, I sure said some ugly things. After getting back on my meds, I had to explain to family and friends why I had become so angry and cruel. It was humbling and difficult. Not everyone was willing to forgive me, they could not trust me and could not believe I wasn't responsible for my actions. I know that I can never go off Lamictal again.
His suffering is what is making him lash out at the world. That said, he needs to be committed to state care. His legal guardians can go to the Clerk of the Courts (at the Probate/Mental Health division) and sign him over to be a ward of the state. If a person, who has been diagnosed with a mental illness, needs treatment for it, but refuses to go and/or stay in the hospital, the Probate Court can order the mentally ill person to receive such treatment. This procedure is called a civil commitment. The court can order a mentally ill person to receive treatment only if the person meets certain criteria. Because of the person's mental illness one of the following four situations must exist: (1) the person must be presently dangerous to self, as shown by threats to, or attempts to commit suicide or to inflict serious harm to self; (2) the person must be presently dangerous to others, as shown by attempts to or threats to harm others; (3) the person must be unable to provide for their own basic physical needs; or (4) the person must be infringing on the substantial right of others or self. I'd say your grandson certainly qualifies.
Prayers and best wishes to you and your family. (08/04/2010)
I think child protective services might help you. You are allowed to report violent situations in a home and then they are mandated to investigate. Then the parents can tell the caseworker what he does. Once there is a file it will be reviewed and proper action should be taken. What needs to happen is that this child needs to be removed from his home before he hurts someone. (08/06/2010)
By Ann P
As a parent, you may go have your rights "arrested" and give custody to the state, which then will need to medically take care of the issues. If your child has medical issues, your state services and personal insurance must cover till at least age 21 and I believe it has moved it up to 24 in some states. You can give temp custody up, have a conservator or guardian ad litem appointed for them. Don't waste time, get it done right away. My niece did a reversal in order to keep medical care for her 21 yr old, had his rights removed by the court, so that care could be given to him for mental issues. Only the court and judge could lift the order, which was a year to start with. (08/06/2010)
By T&T Grandma
You can sign over the child to the state. You can also place them into an institution temporarily or permanently if they are a threat to themselves or others. Contact an attorney. (08/07/2010)
My son is bipolar. At 6 years old he was diagnosed, he is now 29. He is on Abilify, the meds control the anger which allows you to be to able to speak to him with out him blowing up. Yet some days are harder than others. Still, I have found that when he goes off in a rage I never back down or showed fear, my son would feed off the power he thought he had, I never had to physical with him, but that was due to tough love. He knew I would and have had him jailed. He has learned I will not play his games. He has also learned how to work with his bipolar condition. We're very close; I am his mother and his biggest supporter. Don't give up! (08/22/2010)
No matter how much you try you can't make a large 14 year old boy take his meds. He won't bathe or brush his teeth. He won't go to school and his parents will probably end up in court with a fine they can't pay. I don't live in the same city, but in my experience some of this is a discipline problem.
When he doesn't go to school I ask my daughter if they have taken the computer away from him. She says "yes", but I don't believe her. They let him be on the computer 24/7 because they don't/or refuse to deal with him. He's not sociable so why wouldn't he prefer home when he has the computer, Xbox and all the fun things. The first day of school when he refused to go to school I told her to tell him to go empty the trash (he will do that); then I'll lock him out with a gallon of water telling him it's school or on the front porch till I get home from work. If he roams the neighborhood then maybe a truant office will get him. The only ones he's not afraid of are the police. I'd like to hear comments on what I just said from those of you who are bipolar. Am I being too cruel? (08/29/2010)
I am looking for tips and advice for dealing with a family member with a bipolar disorder. It can be very difficult at times. Has anyone else had to deal with this?