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Parents of Mentally Ill Children Have a Long and Difficult Journey

I’ve long been a fan of the Rudyard Kipling poem, “If.”

If you can keep your head when all about you
are losing theirs and blaming it on you…

I can relate to this verse. I’m sure all parents of mentally ill children can. Often the greatest challenge we face is not going stark raving mad ourselves.
Being the parent of a bipolar child is painfully tough. There's coming to terms with your child's mental illness, the expenses, and facing the stigma. More on my parenting blog.If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting…
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…

Being the parent of a bipolar child has not made me popular. My child has been passed over for parties and had his own invitations declined. Other parents who only know my child by the stories they hear from their own kids are quick to label him as a bad seed. And if he’s a bad seed, surely he must come from bad parents.

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…

We all have high hopes for our kids. When your child is diagnosed with a mental illness, it’s hard to come to terms with the impact of the diagnosis on those hopes. Should you continue to worry about paying for college, or just focus on getting him through high school?

If you can …watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools…

Undoubtedly, the hardest part of parenting any child is the hurt we suffer when they suffer. Our children tend to suffer more, and there are few (if any) rewards to soothe their suffering.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss…

I try not to think of all the prescriptions I’ve filled in the past five years. Particularly the ones I refill—at full market price—only to have the psychiatrist a day later agree they are not working and here, try this instead, and no, it’s not available as a generic. And it may not work either. But let’s hope for the best.

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you…

People fear what they don’t understand. Many people don’t understand mental illness. Some of them are closer than you think—friends and family members you never expected to do or say hurtful things.

Kipling’s words paint a disheartening portrait of the world—not unlike the world we face daily as parents. But at the end, he offers this as inspiration—if you can survive all this adversity,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it

helpingWhich perfectly describes those moments when we are proud of our kids…when we feel like we’re doing right by them…when we haven’t lost our temper or cried in front of them…you know, the good days.

I wish all of us more of those.

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199 Responses to Parents of Mentally Ill Children Have a Long and Difficult Journey

  1. Shirley says:

    Hi I tell myself daily that my family is not the only one, but I still feel like we are all alone. Tonight with tears in my eyes, I hate feeling self pity. Three years ago, my 16 year old daughter was diagnosed with autism, schizophrenia, paranoia, odd just to name a few. It’s so hard. People just don’t get this is real. I have other children. The oldest two are angry and the youngest who is 8 is afraid. She has been in the hospital at least 6 times this year. The longest time being almost a month. She is very violent towards me and others. You name it. She has done it. Florida sucks when it comes down to mental illness. I love her so much. My children wants their sister. We don’t have a relationship with her and don’t know how. Now she goes into the hospital, they don’t even keep her 72 hours. All I hear now is the medication can only do so much. She needs long term treatment. But where do I turn to with low income. NOWHERE! Even though some days are harder than others, I continue to keep the faith. Believe In Gods word and remember Matthew 15:21-26

  2. amber says:

    Wow Shirley… I lived in Fla so I feel ur pain. My son has aspergers n anxiety disorder as well as panic attacks. It too had been a very very long road.. My son turned 18 and has 2 mistermeaners.. and still a junior in high school.. he got a domestic violence n for breaking our van door.. he hit his step father in the head… he spent 18 program hrs in jail Kansas has an 18 hr hold time on all DV cases as well as he could not come home for 72 hours.. he truely is a mess right now.. he is so so worried and I hope the courts see that yes he has done wrong and hope he stays out of jail it his 1 st ever time getting into trouble at this point he has no money n we r trying to get him on social securiety they want him to do a yr long diversion

  3. Anne says:

    To all three of you my heart goes out to you. It is soothing to know I am not alone. I am so sorry for your suffering. The most painful kind of suffering is watching your child struggle while feeling unable to prevent it or stop it. It is isolating to have a child with mental illness because as a culture we don’t have a common language or recognized treatment paths for each brand of illness.

    Right now my 15 year old is upstairs lying in bed. She suffered bullying, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, and physical abuse at the hands of other students for 5 years in a row. She developed social anxiety and depression. We have almost lost her to a suicide attempt.

    We have done all the right things. We even moved twice so she could have a fresh start at great cost to the family and her siblings.

    I have had to quit multiple jobs and my husband took a medical necessity leave to help. But he doesn’t understand her behavior either and gets mad at her. He tells me it is manipulation and choice. I have to intercede between the two of them and this causes great strain.

    If I think too far ahead I become paralyzed. I have to try to take care of myself and my other children and husband while functioning according to what is best for my mentally ill daughter one day at a time.

    Sometimes I watch reality tv and eat whole bags of chips or a tub of ice cream. Sometimes I drink too much wine and listen to jazz and read vapid magazines. Sometimes I rail at God and ask him to take me or give me cancer instead of continued suffering for my daughter. Sometimes I am driving and see myself driving the car off an embankment. I remember my mother died at 65 and think death would be such a nice BREAK.

    Don’t worry, I’m okay. Really okay. I am the glue in the family and I will keep being the glue.

    I have to accept I am not responsible for my daughter’s mental illness, and there is only so much I can do.

    I have asked her principal to hold her place in school and asked for work to be sent home. She won’t do it. But my husband is freaking out.

    We are waiting to hear today if she is eligible for a one to two month intensive treatment center program. But there is a three month wait list. Obviously there are a lot of kids with similar problems. I don’t know if she can hang on that long.

    What happens to her sophomore year? Will she repeat? Will she struggle like this her whole life? I am still enraged with I think of the kids who hurt her and suffer no consequences. I want them to feel what they caused.

    I do know she inherited the propensity for mental illness. It’s on both sides of the family. She was a worrier from the time she was little. Couldn’t handle the drop off preschool with mommy education lunches upstairs. She would’ve been down the stairs from me. She couldn’t handle it and I paid extra and worked more at the co-op so she could stay. The other mothers hated me. Then in kinder she used to run out the door and down into the parking lot to find me.

    My other daughter was also bullied and took years to put herself back together. She is doing very well, despite being moved after starting her senior year. My oldest son was born atoxic. Suffered brain damage at birth, underwent two heart surgeries, had myocardial infarction, seizures, a crippling learning disability, and ocular migraines that made him pass out. His learning disability looks like low level aspergers.

    My husband and I want to hit people with healthy kids who complain about their kid not getting enough play time on the soccer field.

    Sorry to rant, just hitting a low point and never had the guts to throw my family stuff out there like this. I just didn’t want to feel so alone this morning.

    Thanks for “listening.” I’m going to go for a walk and will pray for you guys.

    Anne

  4. Shelley says:

    I just found this post and have to say I’m glad I found it. My daughter is 21 this year and had many many issues since she was 16. Maybe 15. It’s a very long story, but has been filled with pain, anger, insanity, hopelessness,a vicious cycle.

    Trust me Anne I understand your frustration. I am still not sure what will happen with us. I live in Texas and they are treated as an adult at 17 here. She is an only child and I have never been married. We had a wonderful life now it is something so different. I never ever ends. There is no help here unless your loaded. She wants help, she does not want help. It has truly taken it’s toll on me.
    Anyway, I heard you Anne. Nobody in our lives wants to listen or help, and I don’y wanna talk about it anymore. People want the “quick fix” So I truly understand just getting the anxiety off your chest. This never ends. I feel medication (and trust me I was always against meds.) is our only help. She won’t go. She says yes then she changes her mind.

  5. Kat says:

    My daughter is 9 yrs old and i just had to put her in a treatment program yesterday because now her disability has rolled over into the school. As her mom , i feel i have failed her. Between her father my ex sexually assaulting her and a person who was suppose to be my friend abusing her as well(she has legal guardienship while i was trying to divorce him and keep my other two children safe) I am now facing losing a good man and losing my family and friends becasue they cant handle this. I have been fighting for her since she was 3 yrs old. Delaware doesnt care all they want to do is put her in counseling over and over which after 6 months to a yr they write her off. i dont know how much more I can take before I lose it. Sad part is thier father and the woman who abused her got off with a slap on the wrist. I sometimes wonder if my 9 yr old has the thoughts going in her head, why mommy? why didnt you protect me? I am mentally tired. Tired of people blaming me, tired of no one listening, tired that i keep getting abandon, just tired of it all.My 11 yr old and 15 yr old look at me and ask why, they love her but its taking a toll on them because they see me this way and they cant help.

  6. Anne says:

    Dear Shelley,
    Thank you for responding. It helps me feel a little less alone to know there are parents like you all over the country feeling stuck like me. I once wrote a grant for an organization that helps parents of kids with disabilities. I am a classroom teacher and mental illness is classified as a disability. It is called Parents Helping Parents. They connect parents with advocates whose job it is to help you find the right help for your kid. The service is free. The advocate works with the school or other agency to help you get what you need. If your daughter did not graduate from high school yet, then she still has a right to a free education and the state is legally obliged to provide it for her; whatever that looks like. It’s worth a call. Parents Helping Parents. Maybe google it and see if there is a national branch or a branch in your state. It could take all the work out of whatever steps you may have to take. I wish you well. I wish you peace. Keep telling yourself you are doing the best you can.

    Tell me what happens!

    Anne

  7. Natasha says:

    I am so relieved to know that we are not suffering alone. It is with tears in my eyes &
    A heavy heart that I have stumbled upon your stories of suffering and it is somewhat comforting to know that there are others out there going through this tremendously stressful experience, despite being resourceful people. Our 18 year old was diagnosed it’s borderline personality disorder and has disconnected from the family and opted to live in a refuge, after the mental health system failed him. We feel like failures and it is such an overwhelming feeling of shame and disappointment that comes
    With trying to explain mental illness to other people. Thank you all for sharing your stories, as it is really comforting to know that we are not alone. It feels like it most of the time!

  8. Misty sutton says:

    Our 16 year daughter was diagnosed manic depressive know as bipolar a month ago after ending up in a mental hospital for 17 days Life has been a real struggle. She is defiant,rebellious, violent and down right cruel. Everyday our life’s our sabotaged and we have 2 other children the oldest 17 & a senior (we can’t even enjoy her senior year) another daughter who just turned 8 who is scared in her home. Life is a real struggle beyond the words I could type. It’s heartbreaking to read all these comments of struggles other families face but it let’s me know we are not alone. I wish we could afford a treatment facility for her I don’t think she is making it in our home. She hates me & her dad. She won’t understand the importance of her medicine and refuses to take it till we get a friend or family member to come encourage her to take it.
    We do have a crisis therapy helping us but it’s not what all she needs. We are trying to stay stress-free but it’s a struggle when you are dealing with a teenager who isaid beyond defiant screaming I hate you & she screams she doesn’t want to live with us. She blames everything on us and accepts no responsibility for her own choices and actions. It is always someone else’s fault or our fault. I have looked up residential treatment but of course we can’t afford any of them and are insurance doesn’t cover them.
    Thanks for sharing your stories it does inspire me to keep trying to stay positive and stress free

  9. Cheryl says:

    I have come across this site as I am looking up any way to try and cope with what I am going through. My 18 year old has been diagnosed with drug induced psychosis this last spring and the first time in the hospital no one would let me know where he was because he did not want them to talk to us and because he is 18 I had to wait until he said it was ok for the doctors to talk to us. What they dont understand is yes he is 18 but mentally he is not. We have had 3 hospital stays the last one after he cut his arm after getting mad at me for asking him if he took his medicine. This time he wanted me to stay with him at the hospital and it killed me to have to leave him there but I know after 180 stitches he needed to be there. He came home and it seemed things were going better but we started to notice some behaviors again and like some of you above his step dad thinks a lot of it is him manipulating me. He walked out MOnday night and we finally heard from him today and he told us to leave him alone he doesnt need medicine he is dependent (I think he meant independent) and that he has money 900 from a job that he just quit so I dont think he realizes that will not last long and that if we try to contact him he will hurt us and to leave him alone. I have never felt so hopeless I have another son that has a chronic medical condition severe hemophilia with an inhibitor and sometimes that feels crazy it is the most expensive medical condition in the us and his medicine costs 1.8 million a year which how does anyone even think that is ok to charge that much he gets 2 teaspoons injected every other day but with out and the inhibitor this medicine is needed to save his life. With all that this mental disorder with my son is harder to deal with I do not know what is going on in his head I just want to help him but how he wont take his medicine he thinks hes ok but hes not I feel so helpless and I dont know what I will do if he does hurt himself or someone and I didnt do something but I cant even find him
    thanks for posting your struggles it does make you feel you are not alone I cant sleep its 4 am I have to get up in 2 hours with a seven yr old and try to function at work when I have no idea where my other son is and out of my 4 boys he was my sweetest most caring sensitive one that its hard for anyone that knows him to understand what is going on

  10. Halfgone says:

    Hi Anne,

    I have been reading your post over and over and feel like I am living your nightmare.
    How are you doing and coping?
    I am finding it more difficult to do anything anymore and feel I am having or had a nervous breakdown of all the stress and anxiety from trying to cope daily with my son’s mental illness for so long. He is 19.my husband and I are not doing well and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to help him. Nothing has so far.
    It is so depressing to live like this. My poor beautiful family is not what I ever thought it would be. I need to get help for myself first.

  11. Darrell says:

    I’m writing this at about 12 midnight because I can’t sleep, because my son won’t go to sleep. He has taken atleast five showers since we told him it is bed time.Our son was recently diagnosed as bipolar, like two months ago. He spent a month in the hospital, partly because he refused to take oral medications, after he had a complete psychotic break. When he finally came home they had put him on lithium, and Invega sustenna. He had very bad side effects from the Invega for the first five days after his release. We finally took him back to the hospital and they prescrived cogentan for the side effects. He came home and for about ten days everything was getting back to normal. Then he began to become withdrawn and uninterested in the things that he was getting enjoyment in just a day or two before. His psychiatrist set the date for his followup shot of Invega, but we started seeing some signs that he was reverting to his old ways several days before it was due. He received his shot on Monday and we were hoping that he would respond to it and start feeling better. Instead he has gotten progressively worse, to the point that we went to the ER hoping that the doctor would give him something to help. We were sent home without any assistance because they thought he should be hospitalized again. He just needs something to get him back into sync, not a full fledged stay in the mental ward, again. did I say he was in there for a month? Monday we can call his doctor and beg him to prescribe something for our son that will bring him back to reality. I just pray that he hasn’t lost more of what was left of his mind. He came home the first time very child like and seemed to have lost several years of maturity. I don’t know what to think other than to say that I am very affraid for my son.

  12. Ramona says:

    I wish a professional would login and help us all out. Reading all your stories helps, but we need solutions.

  13. marie says:

    To all of you please hang in there .Its now 2 years since my 20year old son had a psychosis and hospitalized .We all went through hell like all of you his behavior destroyed our wonderful family unit I had a breakdown and a year later my husband had a breakdown. No one knows what this hell is like but reading all these comment has let me know we are not abnormal .I now see his illness was what destroyed us not him .He is doing OK at the minute but I trust nothing and no one we have gone into a shell and have lost family and friends .They don’t get it and the trauma we all went through has changed us forever .I wish I could meet with you all and share cry and know that you all get it .love and respect to you all I wish you some sunshine on those days that are unbearable …the days when it it hurts to breath

  14. Jennifer says:

    I wish I’d known about sites such as this five years ago when things began to get drastically worse for my daughter, then 9 years old. Hallucinations, tantrums, violent and destructive outbursts, extreme self-hatred, self-harm. After her second hospitalization, she was put on lithium which made a big difference in the more psychotic behavior. However, the violence and self-hatred remained. After two years of putting up with daily tantrums, crises and violence (which led my younger sons to lock themselves in their room because they felt unsafe), I finally was convinced my child needed more treatment, even if it meant sending her into a residential facility. My husband and her Paychiatrist resisted and refused to listen as I begged and pleaded with them to get her more help. She got worse: couldn’t attend school for fear of having outbursts there, self-hatred making her ask me to run her over, inability to participate in activities that once brought her joy. Finally her father relented and we sent her with transporters to an all-girl treatment/boarding school in another state. It was such a hard decision to make, I felt so guilty and worthless as a parent, but I also knew if was unable to give her the help she needed by myself and I was ultimately trying to save her life. Almost a year and a half later, her life has changed so much for the better. She has grown and learned how to handle her emotions better. The rest of the family has gotten a reprieve from the years of abuse and fear. We are healing and she is growing. I know the future isn’t guaranteed and she will always have challenges associated with her mental illness. But for now there is hope. Try not to lose hope. Be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself so you can be there to help your child. Get support. Talk about it. And don’t give up.

  15. Juliana says:

    My son who is 14 has had severe ocd for at least two years. It’s so bad that I can’t even begin to list what it entails. My husband is like a lot of the husbands I’ve read about who think he can change his mind, but I keep saying he is sick he can’t make himself do things. I want to tell people about an autoimmune disorder that affects the brain which causes a lot of psych disorders. It’s called Pandas/Pans. I strongly urge you to look this up and see if your child fits any of the criteria, this could so be the answer you have been searching for. As I read some of these posts, I wonder if any of you have gone the route of supplements. My son has this, and I know the supplements are helping him. This is the hardest thing my sweet family has ever gone through and I just don’t know how much more heartache I can take. But I have learned to take it one day at a time and pray for what I need for the day. That’s all I can do. My God will provide. Prayers go out to all you parents.

  16. Connie says:

    You’re not alone, and there is state help for ill child and adult. Call disability rights, they can direct you and have advicates, lawyers, alsi state wide special needs parents advocates called SPAN just google for info. Also child and adukt can get case mgr. Through division of disabilities, and other resources, google also non profit foundations as well. You are not alone navigating through the system, they dont have funds to advertise so some little reseach to find, there are housing options in every state for pdd, mentally ill children and adults, if under 18 yrs talk to a lawyer or SPAN, about guardianship, so you can still make decisions for ill youth when adult to prevent homelessness. Ok hope helps, remember God is always there for all of us. .. God bless

  17. Paula says:

    I’ve been sitting here all morning thinking I am alone. Thank God I found this site. I too live in Florida. My adopted 11 yrs old son seems to be getting worse. Nothing seems to work. Because of his insurance we are down to every other week for counseling. I fear for his future.

  18. Juliana says:

    Paula,
    What is going on exactly with your son ? What are his symptoms ?

  19. Juliana says:

    Paula,
    What exactly is going on with your son? What symptoms is he having ?

  20. Brends says:

    I have spent another evening crying and being mad at the world. Found out my son will be going to Ohio’s state mental hospital for the third time.this time for a year. He broke into a church, than called the police on himself and told them a man held him at gunpoint and made him do it. He is 23 and has schizo effective disorder. I had delusions myself this time of being super mom and getting him the help he needs. I grieve for my son, I grieve for that adorable baby he once was, for that class clown he once was,for that handsome teen who never lacked friends or girls chasing him. I grieve for who he could of been had this horrible desesase had not gripped his being.I called NAMI today and decided to get into a support group instead of turning to drugs to ease the pain as I have done in the past. But I know a drug addict mother will surely never help him. We have to accept life as it is and not how we think it should be.I know what feeling hopeless and helpless feels like.I know how unfair it seems. I will continue to visit him and show my love and support. I will continue to be his advocate. There is only so much we can do. But if we all started writing our senater, govner,Congress men about the mental health system maybe they would start hearing our crys.20% of the prison population has mental illness. My son was in prison for a year, and he came out five times worse than he was before he went in. Good luck to you all, and remember prayer works!

  21. Mable says:

    I just came across these post. It is so hard some days to just deal. My daughter is 8 and was diagnosed when she was 3 with sever bi polar, ocd,panic disorder, adhd and started having ptsd after her older brother was kills. She has her good days and her bad. I guess I feel lucky that I have a very strong circle of people that work with my daughter. Dont get me wrong it was a up hill battle and I have fought for everything she has. She dies play and art therapy, horseback riding therapy, has the best physiatrist and a great pediatrician who all help and answer questions for me. I maimed streamed my daughter in school and I had to fight to get her IEP done right so she wont slip though the system. Just breath…things get better…I always tell my daughter she is special and even though she has rough patches it makes me really appreciate the good days even of they only once in awhile. I too diagnosed when I was a child with most of what my child has. As parents we just have to stay strong and never settle until they help you and your child.

  22. Kathy says:

    came across this post mainly by accident. I too, have a mentally ill 15 year old daughter that suffers from major depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. She has been in and out of hospitals over the past two years. She is finally stabilized enough to participate in daily life such as school and social programs. She is learning to stand up for herself. I am afraid that her father will cause her to relapse. He will not change his ways and talk to her calmly without demanding affection from her. When she tries to talk he shuts her up by yelling at her. Her therapist believes that this treatment will do her more harm than good. I am thinking about a divorce just to keep my daughter safe.

  23. Maggie Burnett says:

    Hello broken parents,
    I adopted two sisters almost 17 years ago. No one knew at the time that both girls would turn out to be severely mentally ill. They were both raped by their bio father as infants. This gave them both PTSD along with their congenital mental health issues. My girls have had every diagnosis from soup to nuts with therapy and medication being the “cure”. Nothing has worked. My family is upside down. My marriage is holding on by a thread. My kids hate each other. When the alloted 15 weeks of therapy is up my girls are cured. Until…..I get beat up again. Then the insurance offers another 15 weeks. Therapists all think they have things under control and refuse to listen to me that my girls lie to them and are playing them for fools. As their primary caregiver I know the truth and live the nightmare. The question is always out there – are they able to stop this or is it just manipulation. The answer is difficult to swallow. No they can’t stop this. Their minds are not normal. They are the best manipulators in the world but their reality is one of their own twisted reality. I understand your anguish. I have lost all of my friends and most of my family due to the hellish things that go on at my house. I have begged for help at mental health. I have gone to court and had one of my girls locked up for a short time for her safety. My daughter turned 18 recently and now HIPPA stands in the way of my assisting in her care. She ran away and is now living with a man 35. She is mentally/emotionally about 12 to14 and I can do nothing about this pervert. I have no where to turn and no one to talk to. I’ve run out of tears and have an overabundance of anger. I fight the bad mommy guilt everyday. I know I am one hell of a good parent. I get up everyday and try again. I’ve even looked into exorcizm as I’ve run out of options. My hat goes off to all of you living in this nightmare. As we all spend sleepless nights looking for that magic pill that will help us wake up from this hellish situation I am glad that we can find solice in each other. We will figure this out! I am not a quitter and I am on a mission to save my girls from their devastating illness. Mental illness affects so many more persons than just the sufferer. I wish you all the best!

  24. Jean Moyer says:

    I have two mentally ill grandchildren who put their mother in prison for four years with their lies when she tried to get them help. The courts gave her son to his father who had not seen him for 13 years. He has destryed his father’s life now. He burnt down his bedroom and cost his father his job and home. Now he he is 16 his father wants to give him back to my daughter who just got out of prison because they are afraid of him. He beat me and my elderly mother uo beforr he was placed with his father. We too live in Florida. No help here. He knows how to manipulate the system. He is going to kill someone. He hasn’t showered in a month. Sleeps on a cot in the dining room with monitors at his father’s and on strong sleeping pill to keep them safe at night. My daughter is not going back to prison again because of him.

  25. Concerned says:

    I came upon this thread while searching for a support group. My daughter, who is 11, is having some severe problems, including violence (beating me and my fiance up, putting holes in walls, throwing things, bashing her head into the wall, hitting herself) any time she gets upset. She’s always thrown temper tantrums, but I thought they would stop. As she got older, it became apparent that this was a legitimate problem and not just a drawn out terrible two’s phase. I started trying to get her mental health care when she was 7. It took until she was 8 to actually get an appointment and talk to someone. First, they diagnosed her as bipolar and started her on Abilify. She was seeing a therapist regularly. This seemed to help a little bit for a little while, but that was short-lived. Right around that time, we had to move- I was accepted to grad school in another state. When we moved down, we found a new doctor and therapist. They objected to her previous diagnosis of bipolar disorder stating that they don’t usually diagnose children with bipolar disorder. The person prescribing the medicine (a nurse-practitioner- not even a doctor!) said that she thought it’s just anxiety and started weening my daughter off of the Abilify and started her on BuSpar. Things went downhill fast, but because there were changes in medication going on, we tried to stick it out to let things even out. Unfortunately, we ended up having to have her admitted to the hospital because she was talking about hurting herself and wishing she was dead after one of her tantrums (that seems to be a pattern- she gets mad and hurts everyone else, then feels bad and hates herself). She was at the hospital for about 24 hours- the doctor there diagnosed her with Disruptive Mood Disregulation Disorder and continued her on Abilify. She came back home, and things were still kind of rough. I talked to her therapist because when my daughter’s not upset, she’s the sweetest, kindest, most helpful angel in the world. That’s the side of her they usually see, and I think it makes it hard for them to grasp what it’s like at home when she’s upset. It got to the point that any time she heard no or something didn’t go the way she wanted, she’d lose her mind and attack everyone. She’s been back to the hospital 2 more times, the cops have been to our house 5 times because of her assaulting us and herself. We are about to start a program in which a therapy team will come to our house a couple times a week to try and figure out what’s going on and what we can do to fix it. I hope it works- I really feel like this is the last option before a residential treatment center (or juvenile hall if she keeps assaulting people). I don’t want her to go to either of those places, but I feel like I’ve tried everything and nothing’s helping. I feel resentment and frustration towards her because I sacrifice so much and work so hard to make her life better, but yet I can’t do anything without her beating me up (today I was simply trying to take the family out to our favorite restaurant for dinner, and I ended up being assaulted for 2 hours). Then the resentment and frustration makes me feel like a terrible mother. I love her, but when she’s beat me up for the 4th time this week, I find it hard to like her. Her illness is making my house a miserable place to live. I have also had the urge to drive my car off the road, and sometimes dread coming home because I know it’s only a matter of time before the storm starts again. And I can’t even get into the fear and helplessness I feel when thinking about the future. She’s already participating in risky behavior (she stole the password for the computer’s parental controls, made a Facebook profile, and was talking to middle aged men that she didn’t know), and I worry that it’s going to worsen. I hope that everyone who has found this site starts to get some answers and things start to get better, both for you and for your kids.

  26. Michelle says:

    Its sad to say its a little comforting to know I am not alone. My son is 25, 6 foot and over 300 pounds and I am just terrified of him. I am in Florida and have been searing and searching for help for years to no avail. I don’t know what to do anymore. We walk on egg shells, I have to lock my door when I sleep at night. For the least few weeks he has refused to take his medicine and his behavior has been even worst. I can’t buy groceries because he gets up in the middle of the night and eats everything. I am lucky if I get to eat once a day… We are about to lose everything and I just don’t know what to do anymore.

  27. Miriam says:

    Hi to all. We all have such stories to tell. My child is currently in a board and care and in a Step-Down Program. After this last hospitalization in 2015 we decided we weren’t going to accept her home any longer, so we refused her discharge to home. We realized that bringing her home after a hospitalization (there have been many throughout the years), she would gradually go back to her usual life, not sleeping, not eating properly, not taking pills when asked to, being disrespectful and vulgar and violent, not progressing, etc., and based on the doctor’s recommendation at the hospital, she was conserved. She is 29 years old and has schizoaffective disorder. We have had problems with her since she was 12 years old. It started with an oppositional disorder diagnosis to bipolar and when she was about 17, then went to schizoaffective and has been consistently diagnosed as schizoaffective by many many doctors in different places, so I guess that is a pretty good confirmation. We had sent her to a residential treatment facility when she was 15 for a year. It was a school and treatment facility in Utah (we are in California). Basically kept her safe for a year. We learned that she functions better in an organized/restrictive environment. The school district did pick up the cost at the time. Basically for the past 17 years or so since, we have been dealing with a difficult child/adult. There were some clues even before then, but mostly behavior broke out at about 12 and then worsened at 17 with psychosis which led to the current diagnosis of schizoaffective. With this roller coaster ride going up and down and up and down, you can predict the path and realize it isn’t going to change. So we had to deny her to come home this time because it wasn’t in her best interest and was getting very dangerous for us too. It’s a terrible thing to have to call the police on your child. I’ve had to a few times. Not fun trying to protect your baby from hurting someone or herself, especially when you think of all the times when she can be so sweet. Being vulgar to us verbally is bad enough, but she has in the past and currently more presently was becoming more physical with us when she didn’t get what she wanted. We realized that help is what she needed, if at all possible, so therefore by us not taking her back, forced the system to deal with her, by conserving her and placing her in a program. Will this help? I don’t know. But it gives us hope that she will learn some life/living skills so she can be as good as she can and if that means living a board and care, then so be it. We are not going to be around forever and her brother and sister have their lives and no one cares as you do about your kid, as we all know. It gives us hope and comfort at this moment that for now she is fairly safe and getting some kind of help, and we are getting a well-needed break.

  28. Kate says:

    My family is falling apart because of mental illness!

    It is 1:40AM and I’ve been crying privately for the lost of my family for the last few hours. Today was a typical day! Today everything was fine until something very minor set my middle daughter off. My 16 year old daughter poured 5 boxes of cereal all over the house, threw all of her medicines around and took all of the sheets off of all of the beds in the house.

    I have three daughter. My 16 year old (middle) daughter started to show signs of mental illness 2 years ago. What I’m most fearful about is that the metal illness “roller coaster ride” will never end. Yes, we will have good periods but they are only temporary – the illness will always be there. I’m crying tonight because I just realized that the roller coaster is going to be our normal for now on! My old life is gone. Now my life will be defined by my daughters mental illness! From the outside we look like a perfectly normal family but in our house things are so unhealthy!

    Mental illness effects everybody in the family I feel so bad that my youngest daughter (13 year old)r does not want friends to come over because you “never know” how things will be at the house. She deserves a better childhood then this! I try to remind her that the first 11 years of her life were wonderful but I don’t think she will remember in a few years. To top it off my marriage is going to hell too! My husband and I just co-exist in the same house. I can be right next to him but still feel alone. He is a good person we just handle the problems so differently.

    I’ll keep everybody in my prayers and will come back to the site to get strength from all of you! We can do this! We can get through the night and wake up tomorrow and be a mom, and wife to those we love and go to work iand nobody will know what a tough night we had!

  29. Sally says:

    My family has been dealing with my son’s mental illness since about age 16. He is a sweet and creative young man who’s now 36.but diagnosed as schizoaffective or bipolar which may be complicated by a brain injury caused by radiation for a sarcoma under his right eyebrow. He has major impulse problems and has done jail time recently. We are trying to figure out a place for him to live. He’s In mental health court which is helpful but has many rules. Our younger daughters are ok but the concern as we age and struggle and feel stuck is ever present. My husband and I argue as the stress of the odd and disruptive behavior is major. We retired after many strenuous years of owning our own business but are having a hard time even leaving for the weekend. My heart goes out to all of you with these problems and even worse. I prevail as falling into a major PTSD depression left me unable to move off the couch in the past. Have to keep moving and trying.

  30. Amy says:

    Wow. Reading all of your posts is just heartbreaking. I found this by accident, and it’s put some things into perspective for me. My almost 12 year old son has been at an inpatient hospital program in Utah (we live in Missouri) for 5 and a 1/2 weeks now, and it’s basically been concluded that he needs to continue on to a long term residential therapeutic program/boarding school. It’s a devastating decision to me. He’s got ADHD, depression andanxiety plus everything that goes along with all of that. You all know what that is. I had to hospitalize him because of his increasingly violent behavior towards me and towards himself as well as property destruction in our home. There’s plenty of other stuff too, but right now it seems minor compared to all you all have gone through. Through family therapy at the hospital, he’s admitted that he’s done all that he’s done to get revenge on me and make me suffer for his “horrible life”. The reality is that he’s got a wonderful life. Yes, his father and I are divorced, and he’s abandoned him, but he has so much more than that in his life that is wonderful. As hard as this is for me, I’ll get through this, especially knowing how much worse it could be. Sending you all so much love.

  31. Barbara says:

    I have a 30 year old bipolar son. We’ve been dealing with this mental health issue for almost 28 years. I often found it hard to describe what it feels like to be the mother of a bipolar child. Several years ago I found a blog by the mother of an adult bp child. It was titled “Why I hate my bipolar child.” It gave an analogy, of what having a bp child was like, using a puppy. It so perfectly described how I felt. I have lost my copy and have been unable to find it on the Internet. Has anyone else ever read this?

  32. Kris says:

    Wow! So many suffering. My heart goes out to all of you. My bright beautiful daughter has High Functioning Autism, mood disorder, ADHD and ODD. While most of the world sees a “normal”, quirky beautiful, friendly girl, we tip toe around an unmotivated, irritable, anxious frustrated unmanageable grizzly bear. And that’s on a good day. On a bad day she is physically and verbally aggressive. We have holes in every wall and every door. Her room looks like a pen at the zoo. Every knob on our dashboards in our cars are busted. Flower bushes are pulled up and thrown around the yard. I’ve been spit on, bitten, hit, punched, kicked and pushed. She’s even blown snot on me. If I engage she’s mad, if I don’t engage she’s mad. She’s always looking for an excuse to blow. If she loses something she’ll blame me and act out. If her clothes aren’t dry in the dryer, she’ll blame me and act out. If I fix the wrong thing for dinner–LOOK OUT! We make tentative plans only and worry when we have an event, like another child’s wedding or graduation, that we can’t cancel. She is frequently hospitalized and has completed 4 day treatment programs as well as DBT classes and counseling and whatever else we could throw at the wall. We work with a wonderful counselor and psychiatrist who specialize in her issues, but NOTHING works for long. My husband and I are exhausted and our other children are neglected. I feel constant guilt. We homeschool so we can keep her safe. Everyday I wake up with a rock in my gut wondering what daughter I will have when I wake her. She manages to blame every single mistake, bad choice, consequence on us and logic is not a part of her thinking at all. We managed well until she was about 14 and then a flip switched and it’s been a frightening roller coaster ride that we can’t exit ever since. My poor daughter does not want to be this way, or feel these things or act like this. I see so much greatness in her, but no amount of love, or support or prodding or pulling can keep her on track for more than a minute. But when I’m in the middle of throwing a wild pity party, or feeling like I’m too exhausted and worn out and beat down to go on, I hear about someone else’s heartaches and hardships and it reminds me that God must really have faith in all of us. He entrusted his precious, struggling children to us. Thank you all for sharing. You’ve reminded me that we can do this! Love and understanding to you all!

  33. Nita says:

    Listening to everyone’s comments gives me so much hope. I have a 26 year old son diagnosed with bipolar and schizophrenia. While in high school he voted most handsome class favorite and an awesome athlete toward the end of his senior year I started noticing changes in his personality and moods he started to become more angry and withdrawn and a year after graduation he was diagnosed with these 2 mental illness and our lives has been a living hell for our family to this day. He refuses to cooperate with anything refuses meds takes a bath with his clothes on at least 3 times a day takes all sheets off the beds urinates in public very vulgar and says rude and obscenities when he doesn’t get his way refuses to get a haircut and keep up his hygeine and is addicted to the drink Red Bull. I love my son but he needs to live in a group home for therapy and daily life skills but because of his age I have no say so and he thinks he’s normal and the community/county I live in has little resources and care to offer. Does anyone have any suggestions ? Depressed mother.

  34. Sue says:

    Reading through these comments makes me feel 1) not alone and 2) completely hopeless for my 12 YO diagnosed with BP (diagnosed at age 8) and 3) completely hopeless for the “lives”, such as they are now, of my husband and I. We’re in another cycle of trying new RX doses due to growth/hormone changes, and I see no end in sight of this constant cycling/readjustments for him, for us. And the many comments in this thread convince me that indeed, there will be no end to this absolute horror that is our reality. Misery with company is still misery. If I had known about the mental illness was in the family I would never had had children.

  35. Margie says:

    I have been searching the internet for comfort I guess. My 30 year old psychotic son had a crisis episode August 5 2016 in Florida and was shot twice in the chest until dead by an unqualified deputy detention officer, I guess trying to be a hero. I see that I am not alone in this horrible nightmare that is called living. My heart goes out to all parents that live in a country that does not have the knowledge or the help that is so needed for our children at any age.

  36. Stephanie says:

    I am going through this with my 14-year old step-daughter. Hannah has been in an in-patient facility 8 times in the last year. She has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. She is very manipulative and continues to cut herself and threaten suicide. Our entire family is exhausted. We have the maximum out patient services in place, which includes seeing a Psychiatrist, Therapist, Group therapy, Home based services with another Social Worker and Community Resource Specialist. We are on the waiting list for long-term residential treatment. I hope the time comes soon because our family is burned out with the behaviors. We get calls every day from the school because she has one reason or another to not go to class. When she makes a threat to hurt herself we take it very serious. Currently she is doing an in-patient stay and when she returns home, she has is to be supervised at all times. That is hard for my husband and I, because our jobs do not allow us home until about 6pm in the evening. We are having a family member move in with us for the next month, so she will be supervised while we are at work…and after school. She has to be escorted to every class and even to the bathroom, by a peer or student aid at school. It is almost as if she likes this ‘special treatment’. It is so weird to us. She has made allegations of sexual abuse, changes her stories. We do believe she was sexually abused, however do not believe all of the stories. Because I am her step-mother, alot of her anger has been directed towards me. Her mother is currently serving time in jail, and at one time she was a Goddess. But in fact, her mother has been a big part of this problem. Turning Hannah towards her father and me, lying to her and being the good guy and not discipline her. My husband and I do whatever we can do to make sure she is taken care of properly and even have the things that she wants. We have 3 other boys, and they do not want anything to do with her. I honestly want her to go somewhere else to live, because of the stress she has caused our home. We simply have a broken mental health system. There is not enough resources for suicidal teens in the state of Indiana. The waiting lists are long…and some have strict criteria. Because she has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, she will need treatment for several years. I just don’t have it in me to keep doing for her. I am completely exhausted.

  37. Tara says:

    Hi everyone, fellow mom here with two teens who have suffered from anxiety disorder (panic, GAD, social anxiety) since they were very little and it escalated to depression in adolescence. I am a professional who has studied and researched adolescent anxiety and depression and have a very good understanding about the best treatment for the best outcomes. What I have never read about in any of the literature is how to deal with noncompliance. For example, you know what your child needs but your child is unwilling to: take their medication even when it actually helps; actively participate in their treatment plan (whether inpatient or outpatient); accept that they have a problem at all; follow rules at home; and on and ON. I don’t know what is more heartbreaking – the child who has everything available to him or her and refuses the help or the child who is willing but help is unavailable due to funding issues, long wait lists, and sometimes parents who disagree about what the problem is. Personally, I think the latter is more heartbreaking. The former is infuriating!!!! It is my reality. I am powerless. I cannot change my daughter. I cannot make her want help. I cannot motivate her. SHe has everything at her fingertips as far as getting help goes and she does not want it. Well, in truth, she is afraid – and such is life with anxiety disorders.

    The only thing I can do is learn how to not enable her. It is my most important work. She is almost 20 now and my husband and I have given her until November 1st to find another place to live. I have cried and cried and been sick to my stomach about this. But I have to look back at this lifetime of trying to get help for my daughter. I, like so many – ALL- of us, have worked very, very hard to help this suffering child who was suicidal for years, hated herself, been paralyzed with fear and stuck in her head due to her mental illness. It is heartbreaking. I cannot make her take responsibility for her health. I cannot. Until now, she really has not had to take responsibility for it because I have been here every step of the way pleading with her, nudging her, pushing her, educating her, turning the wifi off and on depending on whether or not she does what she is meant to do….. I could go on and on and on. So, my hardest work yet is to get out of the way.

    Every single child and every single family is unique.
    We all share a love of our children, deep concern for our children, mental exhaustion, sleep deprivation and therefore physical exhaustion, and a need to connect with other parents who have empathy because we understand the struggles, despite the differences in the details.

    Manipulation is a part of the acting out behaviour. Behaviour serves a purpose. Our daughter absolutely freaks out and it works. We back off and do not insist that she ….. fill in the blank (go to school, get a job, get help for getting a job, get help with school, continue with her counsellor, stop self-medicating with alcohol and codependency and the internet……..). This does not mean the child is bad and deserves to be punished. It means the child needs help. Whether she takes it or not is up to her and some power that is greater than me.

    We are all in this together. We all have done a lot of things right. I know I have done a lot of things that have enabled my children in order to make things easier for myself. I think I am done with completely beating the crap out of myself for that. I was in survival mode for many years.

    hugs and best wishes and I hope we can find the support we need to put the oxygen masks on ourselves first.

    Tara

  38. carol says:

    I have a 27 year old son who’s never been properly diagnosed in the 9 years since his first psychotic break at 19. To the best of my knowledge, he has schizoaffective disorder, both a thought disorder (thinks the government is spying on him, thinks our cat is human and can read his mind, etc.) and a mood disorder, ranging from mania which he LOVES to extreme, suicidal depression. He’s addicted to pot and Adderall and has threatened suicide if he doesn’t get Adderall, so my husband and I foolishly allowed him to find a doctor that prescribes it. Actually, he’s on his third doctor who prescribes it, having the ability to appear normal and fool these docs that he has ADHD. We shut down the two previous docs, but now he’s found another. Both my husband and I enable our son to get Adderall because we are desperate for peace, and our son says that Adderall is the only thing that makes him feel “normal” and allows him to interact socially. I relate to so many of the comments here, about wanting your child to have SOME happiness in their lives, when so much of their existence is sheer hell. But after 9 hospitalizations, terribly bizarre and destructive behavior (he’s smashed windows, threw cinderblocks through our car windshield & window, burned himself with cigarettes, does backflips off our air conditioner unit in an effort to “prove” his courage, threatened to kill his dad, disappeared for days at a time, etc.) and after a metric ton of meds, outpatient programs, hospitalizations, therapists, constant supervision, help from extended family, prayer — literally constant prayer — I’m at a loss. I got involved with NAMI early on, and jumped in to volunteer too early on. I became a trained NAMI facilitator, and have helped lead six “Family to Family” classes, have done some public speaking, have been a “Family Presenter” for the Sheriff’s Academy Crisis Intervention Training course, have been on Jail Diversion Committees, a local advocacy committee, have read endless online articles, researched nutritional supplements and tried to use them (he eventually refused even vitamins, and has consistently refused prescribed meds), participated & raised money in the NAMI Walk, know a lot of other families, etc. — the bottom line is, I’m basically out of ideas and the system’s response is, well, you’re shit out of luck. I WAS able to get SSI for him, and then Medicaid, but it’s still not enough. Most people don’t get SSI on the first try, but I did, and I consider it an answer to prayer. I’m from a very prayerful family, but most family members have dropped out of sight — not for me, but for my son. No one talks to him, because he’s so impossible to know or spend time with. I don’t fault my son’s cousins, with whom he was very close, because they don’t know what to say or do. It’s a very lonely experience to have an adult child with severe mental illness. At this point in time, I lead a very “split” life — on the one hand, I’m a capable, caring Family to Family instructor, sending loads of helpful emails to all the families I’ve come into contact with. But in my real life, I sit in my garage, praying that my son won’t wake up, or if he’s gone, that he won’t get arrested, and I drink, chain smoke, and do crossword puzzles to escape the reality of this hell. My neighbors for the most part are wonderful — we’ve been neighbors for decades, and they have their own pain which makes them sympathetic and empathetic. Two of my immediate neighbors have lost adult sons to suicide, and a younger family across the street has a daughter (and wife) with bipolar disorder. But we also have newer neighbors with young children who are afraid of us. My son, in the eerie way that mental illness ALWAYS finds your most vulnerable area to attack, has developed an obsession for the young mother next door. She recently called the police on my son, which was probably the apex of my humiliation and defeat. I think the next step is a restraining order… my son put a note in her mailbox, which definitely spooked her. I’m 61, and was raised a Lutheran (all that sternness!) and my mother (who herself dealt with depression and an abusive childhood) made “appearances” the absolute #1 priority — NEVER do anything that would cause scandal or negative attention! She used to gossip about the neighbors on our street growing up — thinking back, there was a lot of mental illness right on our street, a very upper-middle-class neighborhood in Northern Virginia, back in the 70s… we had neighbors with psychotic kids, suicides, a pedophile next door… but all was kept “under wraps.” Yet when anything would happen with these troubled families, my mom, who was the absolute pillar of her church and a model Christian, would talk and talk. Consequently, I am so mortified by the fact that my own neighbor now has called the police about MY SON. I realize this is NOT the issue… my son lives in utter hell, and yet the shame I feel over his behavior has made me lash out at him in terrible ways. My husband’s coping mechanism is to run away. He’s a very successful guy, who made a lot of money by working hard, and now he flees to his boat and leaves for weeks at a time. I don’t blame him, but it leaves me holding the bag. My three wonderful sisters have been so supportive, but after nine years of constant, almost Jerry Springer-like crisis in my life, have lost the zeal to support me. Again, I don’t blame them. I sometimes think that if a terrible regime were in place, like Hitler’s Germany, my son would be killed. I almost get jealous of all the people (and there have been six families I’ve known in the past two years) who’s adult children with mental illness have killed themselves. Then, at least, the crisis would be over. My daughter, only 18 months younger than my son, is terrific — a teacher, a great girl, beautiful, funny, sane, calm, and kind — so I know that my flawed parenting isn’t completely responsible for my son’s problems. I’m grateful to have my daughter, because if it weren’t for her, I know I would entirely blame myself for my son. When my kids were little, I had a lot of fights with my husband, who also has a mood disorder and a narcissistic personality. I used to thank God that my kids were okay, because I knew that if anything went wrong with them, my husband would blame me. I often think of those words from Job, “the thing I have feared has come upon me.” I sometimes worried that if anything went wrong with my kids, my whole world would collapse. Well, my son is severely mentally ill and my world is reduced to a very weird existence. I love to entertain and frankly, being a “do-gooder’ is hard-wired in me and two of my three sisters. This was how my mother coped with all her past horrors, and it was ingrained upon us girls to always help others. I don’t want to sound like a jackass, but I will say this: mental illness strips away your ability to do nice things for other people, because you’re so consumed with your own freaking mess that you can’t even remember birthdays. I’ve now become quite the drinker, and I look like a hag most days. I’m so fortunate that I don’t work… I read these blogs and can’t imagine having to go to work after being up all night, with all the drama that goes on. I DO pray like a nun, constantly… it’s almost a form of mental illness, the way I pray. Constantly. And I sometimes think, well, maybe if I became someone who’s a complete ZEALOT for the Lord, my son would be healed! But my logical brain says that’s only magical thinking. I often long for my son to be dead, which would free him from his misery and allow me to live the rest of my life in some form of peace. Of course the guilt would kill me. The system is designed to fuck us all over… if you’re lucky enough that your relative takes their meds, sees their therapist, and hasn’t been too brain-damaged by inept doctors and hospitalizations (they’ve done more harm than good), get on your knees and thank God! Anyways, I love this post and will send it to my various groups. Nobody’s pain is worse than anyone else’s — pain is pain — but I must say, I’m humbled by so many of the posts here, and what people have endured. The same is true for the families I’ve met in my NAMI classes and support groups. Go to a NAMI support group, if you can. Sometimes, you just feel too numb to even talk to anyone. I love all of you and I can only pray that someday the truth of all this suffering will be revealed. Thanks for letting me rant in this post with no paragraph breaks! Sorry about that. Love to all.

  39. Tara says:

    I started going to Al-Anon last week and have made a commitment to go every week for at least 6 weeks. I want to have a better life and take care of myself and set clear boundaries with my children. I cannot do that alone. Love to all and thank you for sharing your heart-wrenching but not hopeless stories. There is always hope. We did not cause the problem, we cannot cure it, and we cannot control the outcomes. But we can learn how to take care of ourselves. I believe that, absolutely.

  40. carol says:

    this is a reply to Anne in the very first comment. I can’t thank you enough for your honesty. You are a titan. Never forget that. I love you and pray for you. My son is 27, in a very bad place right now. We could likely be tomorrow’s Google News, my worst nightmare. He’s been hospitalized 9 times, committed for 30 days 3 times this year. They always send him home after about a week, fully psychotic. It’s up to me to keep him from utter mayhem. My husband flies the coop as a coping mechanism. I’m active in NAMI but even that has no real answers. The system is rigged so that families have no real help, but when the worst happens, we are left accountable. My son never asked for this illness, but there are many times I wish he was simply GONE. I was an older mom, 34 with my son, and I completely reveled in motherhood. Such a happy time for me, and an idyllic childhood for him — extended family, tremendous nurturing, home-cooked meals, etc. That made no difference. Schizophrenia got him. My daughter, only 18 months younger, is A-OK, or neurologically healthy, which has been a great reassurance that I didn’t cause this. But maybe I did! Who knows, maybe I had a viral infection? He was born in February, and winter births have a prevalence of mental illness. Whatever. At this point, ten years into it, I’m losing my own mind. Drinking too much wine, falling apart, isolating… it’s a shameful and lonely path to tread. I’m grateful and humbled by the other posts here, and despite my drinking too much wine, I’m a believer and have hope through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Thanks for listening! And God bless all of you out there who feel there’s no answer. Someday we will see why it all happened.

  41. Donna says:

    Hi all. Thank you all for sharing your real thoughts and stories. I have a 12 year old with GAD, learning issues, possibly ADHD (finding out today), sensory issues, etc. My 17 year old struggles with depression and anxiety as well. I have been on anxiety meds for about 10 years now as well. I blame myself that the girls got this from me. I am also sad and discouraged that this will continue with my youngest especially for a long time, possibly her lifetime. I too have felt I wish it was all over..exhausted. Both girls are on medication and see therapists. 12 year old is started to “embellish or lie”..had DCF called this weekend saying we hit her (which is a lie). So hard because we love them so much. They get so much love and attention from us. I know a counselor will help me too. It’s just so heavy sometimes. Thank you that I’m not alone. God has a reason for all this.

  42. Jacqueline says:

    I need help. I need to know WHEN to know if I should fight for adult guardianship of my bipolar daughter. She is truly sick. But now that she’s 18, she’s making horrible decisions that could affect her life in big ways. If I had guardianship and she was making these decisions, I’d feel more like I can do something. But with her being 18, and my hands are tied, I’m scared! Yesterday her 21 year old boyfriend let her get DRUNK! She takes medicines, like Lithium! He doesn’t understand how ill she is, because he has his own! What am I supposed to do? I’m truly frightened if he’s going to alienate her from us. (A couple nights ago I heard him talking about her being “of age” and wanting her to move in with him in the next 4-6 months. Before he came along – and they JUST started dating – we were planning to move back across the country, because my husband is terminally ill, and he wants to be with family. I might have to either leave her behind, or he might have to come with us. This guy is HUGE — 6’3 and wears a 19 shoe – and has schizophrenia! I’m not prepared to care for him as well, but she’s falling for him fast and hard.)
    If I’m simply panicking – because I don’t trust guys with her, it’s true – tell me so. But I need someone who’s been there to tell me if Adult Guardianship is something I should consider. Her previous counselor brought it up to me at 16. Everyone who knows her has always said, “She might have to live with you (or in a group home) forever.” So yeah – I’m fearful.
    Any and every – popular or unpopular – advice would be extremely appreciated.

  43. Jacqueline says:

    Margie I am so very sorry for what happened to your son. In the past, a person in a psychotic crisis would have been have been hospitalized, not shot twice in the chest! You’re right that you are not alone in this, and it IS a horrible nightmare! But there used to be mental hospitals available to them. Now it’s called JAIL. And I just think it’s WRONG that they closed them all down! If I recall, it’s something Reagan did in his war on welfare. Forgive me, I know I’m unpopular in saying so, but IMHO welfare abuse costs the country so much less than other abuses going on; it’s just an easy deflection. If there are people who are suffering, but maybe the correct diagnosis and treatment has not yet been afforded them, they should not have to fight so hard to get the help that is needed.
    I don’t know what the answer is, but I do think if we focused on other programs – maybe took some excessive money out of other programs and reinvested it into things like domestic welfare needs, maybe our economy could get better.
    I know that NONE of this brings back your son; I just wish we could find a way to prevent this from happening to another. Our children don’t just reach the age of majority and suddenly get well. They get worse. And I’m scared for all of them. At times, I’ve taken time to speak to some of the homeless men who have mental illness. I met one guy who draws amazingly, and although he truly believes his sketched contraptions can work (they can’t), it’s not much different from past artists who did similar work. But he should not be homeless; he should be receiving help. I’d hate for him to end up shot, because our society did nothing to try to protect a vulnerable group of people, who are not being discussed except in a negative way, by all walks of life.

  44. Jen says:

    I am going through what feels like hell and I need some advice from parents who can relate. I have a 17 year old daughter who since she was 5, has struggled socially, has anxiety and has been diagnosed with ADD. I would say she has mood/personality disorder to a degree although never officially diagnosed. She has gotten through school with a lot of help from me, but somehow managed to do fairly well. She tests slightly above average is state exams and SAT’s but has a very low self esteem and struggles with reading, writing and language. She has a hard time explaining even the simplest thing. Very unsure of herself. In 9th grade she went through a horrible depression, which included self harm and even threats of suicide. Since then she was treated with medication for a seizure that popped up as well as her moods and something for the ADD,. Things seemed to have picked up until this year (Senior year) where she seems to have had a complete breakdown starting out the year. Not much interest at all in college vetting, or doing the work for her common app but if you ask her she says she wants to go to college. She now says that she can’t do any of the work and she is stupid. That all these years, she has had help from everyone to get by. I am doing the best I can by offering her some help either academically, or psychologically, She refuses all of it and says nothing works. She blames me for all of it – says that I am the chief source of all of her anxiety and that I need to leave her alone. When I tell her I will leave her alone but she needs to then take care of fixing the 0′s on her report card, she says she can’t. I have been noticing messages indicating some drug use (pot) and drinking which seems to be prevalent amongst the age group but most recently I saw a message involving shrooms and acid which worried me greatly, When I confronted her, she denied and then said she was never going to do it anyway. She is a manipulator also, and because I want so badly to believe her, I fall for much of it. I feel at my wits end. I have tried everything. She won’t talk to anyone and she refuses to have an open mind about any of this. I don’t really know what to do…

  45. Zan says:

    I thank God for knowing there are people with the same pain and knowing that i’m not alone.I will hope God will change the situation one day.I’m in Eatern Cape,Mthatha area.My 26 year old son is under treatment that he defaults most of the time because he doesn’t accept the illness.Started when he was 12 years.Diagnosed with TLE,later schizophrenia.He ‘s naturally quiet but later showed violent behaviours,insulting,breaking windows,even stabbing me to almost death at my head and everywhere on my face,imprisoned because no one linked such behaviour with illness,even myself,was angry towards him for such a longtime.Imagine i’m a single parent living with him alone because his sister is at university.Its been a long journey,in and out in Psychiatric hospital,me in and out in hospital because of stress,later on I understood and accepted the situation but now he is wandering around can’t sit down for even 10 minutes once he wakes up in the morning,no appetite,goes as far as more than 200km hiking cars without money,getting into restaurants and eat without money,caught and tortured.He is at risk of being physically injured because no one can see and even understand the illness on him.He can speak and his conversation with him is normal,he looks neat though he doesn’t bath everyday.Can even go and ask for work but can’t stay there,a week is long,leaves work and look for other again,can talk for himself,he dropped at grade 11,couldn’t cope,saying students are laughing at him,he is smelling,seeing thingsand hearing talking voices that are not there.I thank God that,inspire of the situation we are now friends and God gives me strength everyday,though its not easy.I need a place where he can be kept and stop wandering,not very far from me.The doctotrs cant keep him for a longtime in hospital,and are saying he is not a case for longterm facility.I’m just alone in this and affects my relationship with people who don’t know and understand what i’m going through.Some church members are praying with me but there are people who just make gossip over it not trying to help in anyway.Even at work few people understands how this affects me.I’m afraid it may seriously affect me but I trust God that He makes me cope.

  46. Tabita Green says:

    It is heartbreaking to read all these stories. Even though so many people go through this, it does make you feel very alone. If you’d like to read a story of hope, I invite you to read my book Her Lost Year, which I wrote about our family’s experience with the mental health system that started when my daughter was 13 years old. In the end, the medication that was supposed to make her feel better, was actually making her worse! xoxo

  47. PJM says:

    I think most of these posts are from mothers of a mentally ill child so I would like to try and offer a fathers perspective.

    My wife, since our daughter was very young, suspected/knew that our daughter was different. We both have mental illness in our families. Our daughter in preschool and kindergarten was very emotionally aware of every one’s feelings. She would come home and be upset that “johnny” got in trouble or that “kimmy” didn’t do her home work etc.. Of course, she was perfect out of fear of getting in trouble herself. Flash forward years later and we know it is now OCD.

    She is 20 now. Of course, I just thought she was a little quirky and a nerd becuase she was a straight A+ student all through school and finished 5th in her class of 250 kids. I will say that I was always disappointed that she was not more loving or huggy even though she was so emotionally focused on others feelings. I would hug her when she was little and she would just be kinda stiff and wouldn’t wrap her arms around us in turn. In fact she would say to me when I asked her why she didn’t respond to my hugs and she would say you always pick the wrong time??? Again I rationalized it as a father/daughter thing especially in her teens years.

    My wife, on the other hand, has been right on top of this since her birth. Like TARA’s post we are both professionals with the best health insurance and the means to do the best for her so that is not our issue.

    I think we started her with one-on-one therapy around 13 years old. She was not horrible but just “off” according to my wife. Again, I was in denial like most women have posted about their husbands dealing with this. I thought, OK she is not a typical kid but she is getting straight A’s so everything must be fine – I know its weird but true. I would drive her to a lot of the therapy sessions and ask her how it went and she would respond “whatever, they are a waste of time”.

    Things really hit the shitter with her at around 18 her senior year. Again, very emotional about everyone else’s feelings and not her own. Even when she was slighted by someone she would worry that she responded to harshly to them. She has her first boyfriend at 18 and he was controlling and a kinda of a dick to her and she was able to break up with him after 2 attempts and when finally resolved all she did was obsess over him and whether she hurt his feelings????

    I know she hasn’t hit the point that many others on here have reached with their child but this is still very painful on the whole family.

    Despite the years of talk therapy and some depression periods she was OK up until graduation and going to college. My wife, who held her hand since birth, has built up high expectations for her and this has come crashing down on us the last 2 years.

    She was accepted into all 10 colleges she applied too. She started out at Penn State main for one semester of sheer torture for us. We then brought her home to a local campus. Then she wanted to try Temple – she lasted 3 days when a counselor called us to come get her right away and advised us to hospitalize her because she was talking about hurting herself. We rushed down there and brought her home and got her in to the phycologist, her drug monitor NP and her talk-therapist the next day. She is diagnosed with Bi-polar, OCD, anxiety and depression. She is on limictal for mood disorder and anti-depressant, an anxiety, and now lithium with titration and constant blood monitoring for the thyroid issues with lithium. We usually have a few weeks of decent behavior with some happiness from her followed by a few weeks of sheer hell where she sleeps all day and goes through the motions as we monitor every move. I work from home and my wife is a teacher to we can be very hands-on, actually probably to hands on.

    She is now driving to her 4th college after a semester off. I convinced my wife that she can not be away from us and needs to be home. My wife had set such high expectations for her because she was/is so smart. My wifes family is all in the medical field and that was what my wife was expecting from her. Like a PA/NP/PT or audiology. She gets B’s with no effort at all and barely attending classes – I think she might have a photographic memory – fwiw.

    I am rambling and just wanted to provide the background. But I really haven’t delved into my role or response to all this as a father. I have indicated that I was in denial through almost all her years because I brushed it off as she was just a smart nerd, artsy, emotional and very bright – all of which is true but I didn’t want to see the mental illness.

    In fact and in truth, I thought my wife was way over-the-top and that she was going nuts over nothing. I started to pull away from my wife and kind of blame her for being too psycho herself. She became overbearing to the whole family texting/calling all day and just being controlling and she was never like this before and we are high school sweethearts and married for 25 years. I did not respond well to all of this from my wife or my daughter.

    I responded like a typical guy I guess. I started drinking more (although many time with my wife who also ran to the bottle with me) and then I started to run from the house as much as possible and hanging with the guys at the bar until closing sometimes joining dart and pool leagues. I ran from home and right to the bar for relief from all the tension, anger, disappointment and really fear of the future for us and our daughter. I then went into a manic mode myself. I went to a therapist myself and I am also on limictal for mood disorder and it has helped me to calm down and not run (as much maybe 2 nights a month and not until 2 am…maybe midnight).

    It had finally hit me, sitting at a bar, that I was angry at my wife because she had turned into a control freak (thus I did the opposite and ran) and that she was over-blowing our daughter”s problems. Then after her senior year in HS and transition to college I realized my wife was right the whole time and I wasn’t helping at all. In fact, I became part of the problem and another child that my wife had to deal with.

    We have done marriage counseling and I see a therapist and they have helped but not cured the constant angst around the house. We have a son who is 2 years younger who absolutely loves his older sister and visa-versa. It has been hard on him to watch her deterioration and mood swings but we have done a good job of informing him as we go and also shielding him and giving him equal attention so that she doesn’t suck everything from us and neglect him.

    I am just realizing that this is a lifelong battle of drug tweaks and therapy and maybe a hospitalization stints (none yet but close).

    My wife’s spirit has been crushed and I am unable to help. We are all doing the best we can but we have pretty much become emotionless and our marriage is basically a friendship waiting for the next crash.

    My wife says she would rather have had a child with a physical handicap from birth because we knew we could help that child. Mental illness leaves us so helpless, anxious, and hopeless. Thanks for listening.

  48. CJ says:

    I’m so tired of this too, and my boy is only 13. I can’t even imagine another 5 years of this :(

  49. mt says:

    My daughter is in her early 30s now. A long journey so for that started when she was about 12, which is when I finally brought her to professionals. After various diagnoses she ended up with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of bipolar with schizophrenia, which she has been being treated for for many years now. After being hospitalized many times, it’s always been the same diagnosis from many doctors, so I guess that what it is. She is currently in a board and care program and is conserved, so she is forced to comply with meds and is in a safe place, has a bed, food, psychiatric care. It was the hardest thing we had to do, to let her go there, but it had to be done. It gets to the point where it isn’t safe to live with someone with mental illness, at least for some. Also as parents we want to make sure that if something happened to us, that our kids would be safe and not on the street. In the future you may want to prepare for their future in a different way. Hopes and dreams, yours and theirs, turn in to reality at some point. NAMI is a good group to connect with for resources. They have great information and it’s good to connect with others going through what you all are. Good luck to you all. Advice is to always try to keep yourself together, try to be on the same page with your wife/husband/doctors and have a united plan of action, support and be there for each other and if you have other children, to be patient and understanding to them as well.

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