Parents of Mentally Ill Children Have a Long and Difficult Journey

August 19, 2010 Angela McClanahan


Being the parent of a mentally ill child is painfully tough. Can you ever come to terms with your child's mental illness, the expenses, and facing the stigma?

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.
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.

helpingKipling’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

Which 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.

APA Reference
McClanahan, A. (2010, August 19). Parents of Mentally Ill Children Have a Long and Difficult Journey, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Author: Angela McClanahan

December, 20 2015 at 5:16 am

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

December, 19 2015 at 2:18 pm

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.

December, 13 2015 at 9:45 pm

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.

December, 13 2015 at 8:17 am

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

December, 6 2015 at 11:07 am

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

November, 28 2015 at 7:28 pm

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.

November, 27 2015 at 9:44 am

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 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.

November, 18 2015 at 10:21 pm

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

Misty sutton
November, 13 2015 at 7:54 pm

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

November, 9 2015 at 1:01 am

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!

October, 13 2015 at 2:28 am

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!

October, 13 2015 at 1:48 am

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.

October, 8 2015 at 9:30 am

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.

October, 8 2015 at 2:57 am

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.

August, 19 2015 at 6:15 pm

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

August, 10 2015 at 7:01 pm

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

July, 9 2015 at 4:23 am

My daughter is 18. She is Bipolar, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, History of suicide attempt and she's a "cutter". She also physically sick. Insulin resistant diabetes (uncontrolled), Hypertension, Asthma, IBS, Liver disease, triglycerides are on the moon. Yesterday, she ran away from home again - this time w a 20year old man whore ( babies everywhere that he doesn't support) they went to his parents! I asked them to send her home- they refused. I want to press charges for harboring and abetting but it won't do any good. We live this nightmare frequently. I have read all prior posts and can honestly say "been there done that". I hope God chooses to have mercy on us soon... Don't know how much more I can take

Margaret Lee
June, 2 2015 at 3:23 am

my son has bipolar and depression. His behavior is violent at worst, severely depressed at best. He refuses to do anything. Will not participate in school, failing, doesn't do anything but play on the computer/phone. He will do a chore if I threaten to take his phone, but not without a possible episode. He is intent on winning the approval of a girl, but when it ends, and it always does, he threatens suicide and ends up in mental ward. He is often violent, I have many holes in the walls. His I can't attitude is draining. I do not know what each day will bring. I wake in the morning wondering which version of hell will I experience today? If it were not for my ex husband I am living with, he would probably hurt me really badly. He has attacked me numerous times, I live with terrible spinal degenerative disease. Work and life is constantly interrupted. I am always responding to his emergencies. My husband is extremely narcissistic, adding to the hell, his behavior is criminal. He is emotionally abusive and very controlling. My mental health is suffering. My physical pain is made worse by the constant dysfunction from both of them. Trying to get my education not easy under the circumstances. Trying to do right by God and do the best I can for my son I don't always know what that is. I am at my wits end everyday. My son has been kicked out of schools, I avoid him most times to avoid violent outbursts. My son is 17 and I am to the point that I must save myself, I have nothing left to give. My daily thoughts are of finding a plan to get out when he turns 18. Nothing works, medications are a joke and there is no real help. My family has nothing to do with him, they do not support even emotionally. I feel alone in the world without much hope. People tell me it will get better it never has. I am ridiculed for being negative, isolated and abandoned because of the behavior of my son and husband. I am at my wits end, tired of everyday being a struggle, I can relate to all of the comments above.

June, 1 2015 at 2:38 pm

We should have treatment centres that are affordable for young adults, kids are diagnosed with all kinds of things and have not way to address it, it's left up to the parents who can't do it.
Our daughter blames everything on me , (dad) she usually goes ape when we say she can't smoke dope in our house or that she needs to turn down her music because we need to sleep, she sleeps most of the day and stays up most of the night , we are at a loss , she's been in homeless shelters, hospitals, we keep trying to clean her up, but being 22 she is an adult with the mind of a 6year old, when she gets upset she paces around and you can see her rage building up, every day is a task, God bless everyone and if anyone finds some solutions that work , post them

May, 31 2015 at 10:13 pm

I have a son od 24 years who is mentally challenged we have tried every possible medication their is available, been in and out of hospital for his behaviour ( he get very agrresive, but because we live in South Africa and we can not find a home to place him in because of the cost and the government one was no place and also will not take him because of his behaviour where to now I don't know any more just wish we could get the behaviour under control can live with his madness

May, 28 2015 at 10:06 pm

My son is almost 15 - I have struggled with him since he was a baby. Remember the scene in Lilo & Stitch where they take Stitch home - that's what it has been like. He pretty much mowed over every child in his path in a manic type of energy. He was amazingly strong. His life hasn't been easy and he was diagnosed with Asperger's. I have him in a therapeutic school. Eventually something life altering and traumatic always happens. When he is "normal" he is a amazing and funny and sweet. When he isn't he is positive we are all physically and mentally abusing him. He gets the police involved or starts drama. It isn't limited to just us in the family. When he is mad at someone outside of the family he demands and rages they be punished and that I call someone etc. He says scary things like one day he will have to kill a lot of people when he is a politician. He doesn't see the problem in his behavior. It doesn't help that his step dad is a moody injured Iraq veteran - but it is definitely not the cause. When my husband was away the problems were awful - I was constantly at the school figuring out problems. Everyone assumes it is problems at home and upbringing - they don't realize the emotional roller coaster the child is constantly on is the way they came. I am at my witts end. I am tired of him running my name through the mud, I am tired of looking like an idiot - I am tired of never being able to give enough. I was at the doctors office and they asked me if I ever felt like suicide or self harm and I burst into tears - my son started laughing.... yes laughing. He twists truths into lies - lies and delusions he actually believes it seems. Which is really strange. He becomes cold and hateful at times. And other times he is so sweet and endearing. I just don't understand. I am trying to get a social service intervention for him because I just want to believe he can be placed in a therapy home and that it will help. I have just become convinced after all the persecution that this all must be my fault somehow and hey if they can fix it I would like to see them try. My son says he hates his step dad. Sometimes he says he hates me. My family has died so his step dad and step grandmother are all we really have and I worry about his future. Since he doesn't like us - well then who will he ever trust? I am worried about his future and I am worried about my current state. God help us all. Amen

May, 25 2015 at 4:51 am

Thank God, I thought I was alone

May, 22 2015 at 9:37 am

I have a 20 year old daughter, who was our foster child since the age of 2 1/2 and we adopted her at 7, with a long history of mental illness. At the age of 16 she was placed in an OMH home. After a few months she was asked to leave because they could not handle her out breaks and disruptive behaviors. She was then moved to a locked placement. At 18 she was moved to a community home for adults in the OMH system and stayed there for 6 months. Then she got a boyfriend and moved out of the placement without our consent or any of her therapist consent. For about a year she lived with his family or friends, in the woods in a tent, or in places with people she just met, a total of 11 places and all of them ended badly. All this time she was off her med’s and would not go to therapy. She would contact us and be nice to us if she needed something, money, clothing or food and then when she got it she would be nasty to us. She would not listen to word of advice from us and was verbally abusive to us and once was physically abusive. We had to limit our contact with her. About three or four times she asked me to rescue her from really bad situations where someone was chasing her with a knife or she was on the streets homeless, which I did. I finally said enough is enough and I will only give you a ride to a city mission.
As time went by she became pregnant by a new boy she just meet that week. After living with a different boy and his father for about a month, that new boyfriend goes to jail and she becomes homeless again. A Christian family then gives her a place to stay in their house for the time being. Now she is pregnant and has very little options as she has burned 98% of her bridges; she now wants to change her life around and wants to get close to us again. She is asking to move home with us again which would be a nightmare. She has said that people have told her that we are financial responsible for her until 21 and they said she could go to court to get us to support her. She is getting SSI money.
Are we financially responsible for her to she is 21 or beyond because she is mentally ill, even though she left a treatment center and she won’t go back? We have supported her by paying for her phone and giving her some money, food and helping the family she is living with now with money and gift cards.

May, 14 2015 at 6:11 am

Hi! I have a 13 year old son that has been diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, Intermediate explosive anger, mood disorder, and 2 therapist say they believe he is bipolar but because of his age they don't want to label him as bipoloar. He has to take 5 diferent meds everyday and they just added a new one, not to mention the stomach meds he takes. We noticed he was different from other kids when he was about 2 years old. He was kicked out of daycare at 2 for drawing blood from another child. He could not be still. He was an aggitated child. He tore up all his toys, clothes, beds. He has been removed from public schools, after school care threw him out, he now goes to a school were he is locked in when he walks through the door. He is extremely violent. He has attacked me and his younger brother several times. He is verbally, menatally and physically aggressive. He will not clean up behind himself. He lives in filth.He has set fires, stabbed my furniture with knives, lies all the time, gets into fights, refuses to go to school. When I go in his room I find knives in his bed and closet. He has been in 5 different behavioral/ mental health facilities. We are are trying to place him in a long term care facility at this time. My heart aches for him so badly. I am constantly fearful for his and my younger childs safety. Even as I prepare to put him in a long-term center, my heart brakes. I am so tore between wanting to have my child with me and try to protect him from himself and letting him go so we will be safe and have peace.

magazine base plate
May, 5 2015 at 4:28 pm

WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching
for teen health and safety with guns

April, 29 2015 at 4:56 pm

Glad to have found this site but find it so depressing as well. Our mental health system is so messed up. Our children are the ones who fill up our jails because they can't get the help they need. I have been dealing with my daughters mental illness since she was 4. She is now 17, got arrested last night after jumping out of a car and high on meth. I have stories, only seen in horror films as probably most of us do. My heart breaks for her and how difficult it is for her every day. I pray for all of us and all of our babies that they make it to a time when they know they need help and try with all their might to function and have some joy in life. I wish we could all be together and give each other the biggest hug. May tomorrow be a good day.

April, 27 2015 at 4:23 pm

Oh my gosh, I go through this daily with my daughter but I know from experience where there is no fire there is no flame. Avoid confrontation with them. Be supportive and pray lots and not just for the kids but yourself too. It is not the kids fault but you sure do see a lot of this happening. Social media acts like it is just a bullying problem but it is a problem with children in general they need to learn the correct behavior and responses to social settings and set them up for success not failure. It is so hard because of the hurt we all feel but the kids are no different than a child with cancer or some other disease that affects them in a negative matter. Educating people that deal with our children and there special needs and educating society is a huge part of healing and maybe we will not have any more bad accidents with mentally ill children and they will quit putting such a terrible stigma with it. They did not ask for it and we certainly did not and are doing are best and that is all we can do. Protect and love them and protect ourselves and others too. God Bless you all and I pray for healing for all of you and your families.

April, 6 2015 at 12:43 pm

I feel all the pain and suffering of parents trying to love and take care of their children - be they 13, 19 or 24. Mine is 19 and she is just lost in a sea of anxiety, OCD and depression. It is beyond sad to watch your child become so sick. The worst part is the lack of insight on her part. We are in between meds now and I pray she will return to the dr and get a new prescription. I used to be afraid of giving her all these meds but I am so much more afraid of her illness now. Walking on eggshells. That phrase sticks out at me from a comment above. Our life is a shambles right now and like all of you, I am praying for an answer. Another comment is coming back to me - about codependency. I think I enable her. I know I do. But what else can you do when you have other children and a life and if you don't enable her you can't function. Lately it has become so bad that even all the enabling is not enough. Nothing satisfies her. She is just so sick. I have not posted a comment anywhere about this before. We are all parents trying to do the right thing. But what exactly is that?

March, 30 2015 at 5:34 pm

It certainly not easy being a parent let alone a parent of a child with a mental illness. I have never felt so alone and helpless. I don't know what the future will hold for my 17 year old unknown. Nothing would surprise me at this point. The last 6 months were the most challenging I have faced. Between all of the diagnoses, the self harm, the stitches, the suicide attempts, the public display of harm, the hospitalizations, the ocd stuff I feel done. He won't take any medication and says it doesn't work but doesn't give it enough time to work. I just take one day at a time....and keep praying.

March, 29 2015 at 3:28 pm

On month 2 of my 13 year old going through this horrendous diagnosis delima. Today is the 4th hospitalization stay in 2 months. She started by telling her school she wanted to kill herself. The story continued to place allegations on my husband and I of things we never did. So of course the first baker act when last for 3 days. Sent home to us who was still in shock over the whole thing and scared to death. Nobody out there to help us only her. She lasted for 3 days and again told teachers she wanted to kill herself so back she went this time for 2 weeks. Came home for 1 week and got upset and took a belt attempting to strangle herself and marking her neck up. During the week at home she had to quit her travel ball softball and start hospital homebound school. Which to me us a huge stupid waste of time. She went back to the hospital for 7 days the last episode. Man had to go through her phone and found old men edging her on and just stuff you don't want to see as a parent. So of course there will never be a phone again. This time when she came home we got to stay 2 weeks and I was really thinking the medication was helping her get stable. A new councilor came to the house and set her off told the stupid lady she wanted to die and hated living with us. So of course per the lady we went back again. I am numb. Completely numb. My older kids are angry the younger kids are sad. I am confused about what this is all about. Come home go back it feels like whenever it gets tough she can run away telling anyone she wants to kill herself. Getting angry with know one helps the parents.

March, 26 2015 at 7:46 pm

I have 4 children. My oldest 2 children are both mentally unstable. One recently took off with an older woman on the internet. My oldest has mental handicaps , and severe depression. Due to his age the police can't arrest the person my child took off with. My other adult child is also mentally unstable. He tells everyone I'm nuts , and I beat him up as a child. How do I deal with it? I don't I cut the 2 oldest children out of my life. I changed my number too.Someday they will get help hopefully. Until then I have 2 children at home who need me. Sometimes the only thing you can do is walk away. Give it to god and live your life!! You don't do anybody any good if you fall apart trying to fix an addict or mentally unstable person. You deserve to live a life free of their crazyness. Put them in a hospital for the insane . There are group homes for adults too.

Cory Ida
March, 22 2015 at 5:27 am

My son, who is 12, was treated for bipolar disorder and ADHD for well over a year with the same revolving door of medications that didn't work. His mood and behaviors started changing the summer before third grade and escalated into more and more difficult situations until the end of January, when he assaulted a teacher, was choked by another teacher who he wouldn't stop berating, and cut himself at least 100 times in one night (all superficial wounds, fortunately). This came after a year of progressively more difficult behavior at home that had escalated to the point that he was using me as a verbal punching bag and was truly emotionally abusing me. I felt like I had to let him because I didn't know what else to do. I took him to counseling. He was on several types of medication. I took him to anger management classes. We had structure and a written list of expectations and consequences at home. I even avoided red dyes and any other environmental factors that might, in some way, make his condition worse. Finally, at the end of January, I realized I couldn't do this on my own when, after the extreme behavior listed above, he threatened to kill himself in very specific ways and had a psychotic episode on the way to the emergency room. He spent a week in an acute inpatient behavioral health center, something that had also happened in November, but this time they recommended that he be moved to a residential treatment facility instead of coming home. This broke my heart, but I knew I couldn't do this alone. He underwent extensive evaluations and they changed his diagnosis from bipolar to DMDD, disruption mood disregulation disorder. They also determined that he doesn't have ADHD, he has severe anxiety and sensory processing problems that result in behaviors that look like ADHD. Lastly, they learned that he had been molested by a family friend when he was 7 (the time his behaviors started) and possibly by a teacher recently and was dealing with PTSD. They changed his medication. They're trying different types of therapy. He's in a very contained environment. He's still struggling. It's been close to two months since I have had my son at home. My heart is broken, but I know it's the only hope he has. All I want - all any parent wants - is to have a happy, healthy, well adjusted child. I can't do that for him and it's so, so hard. How do you NOT question yourself? How can you NOT feel like you should have been able to do more, BE more, and that you should have been able to fix what is broken? I'm dealing with copious amounts of guilt right now, even as I know that my son is where he needs to be. It's a constant, confusing battle in my head and heart.

March, 16 2015 at 1:28 pm

I have a beautiful teenage adopted daughter with ADHD and RAD, among other things. She has been to juvenile detention for abusing us. She has made a ton of false abuse allegations against us, even though the rest of us are covered in bruises and bite marks. I have to home school her to keep her safe from her impulsive behaviors. She's been in treatment programs, that only seem to enable her and increase her demanding, abusive and entitled behaviors. She has been on many meds that make no difference. We cannot get her into a psychiatric facility. I am fortunate to have a strong marriage and to be a stay at home mom, but she is my full-time job. Everyday is an emotional, financial and safety struggle. We have had tons of professional help, which often times, causes more confusion and takes away our power as parents and increases our guilt but we suck it up Some days our house looks like a war zone. Our lives have been hijacked by her mental illness. We are her hostages. We are isolated and stressed and exhausted. I wish I had some wonderful piece of advice for all of us--especially you single parents out there. One thing I would say, is that these kids try very hard to manipulate and tear our lives and relationships apart. Don't let them! Marriages and friendships are too important in getting through this. Don't keep their secrets. Share what is going on in your life. You'll find there are more of us out there than you think. On our few good days we tell ourselves that we are entrusted with these kids because we are strong and capable and then we pray and offer thanks. On our usual bad days I shut myself in my room and pray until I feel that strength. And while I'm praying she is kicking my door down trying to break my lock, but I keep praying! Love and support to all of you moms and dads and families!!!

March, 12 2015 at 1:18 am

I have a 25 yearold whom is bipolar!! I cant take anymore of her she uses my grand children and keeps them away for weeks at a time. I don't know how to handle this anymore. my 5 yearold grandson is going through pure hell. how can I help him

Tosha Hatcher
March, 7 2015 at 9:35 pm

It's 4:24am
And my 22 year old son has mental health issues, all he does is Stay in the house, sit in silence, and talk to himself all day. Sometimes he laughs at himself, and other times he argues with himself, I can't sleep knowing that he is struggle alone trying to drown out the voices he hears. It's so heart breaking to watch your son who was once a happy, respectful, friendly kid who had dreams and aspirations sit in defeat, and anger. As a mom who is married but don't have the support of her husband in all this is hard, exhausting all at the same time. Mental health is so real. I really need answers.

March, 4 2015 at 10:51 am

I feel for all of these people with comments here. Some of you seem to have some codependency issues. I have gone to a codependent group and that helped me realize the ways I was reacting to my daughters mental illness weren't helping. She is a 33 year old mother of 2 small children. She has lost primary custody and can only see her children every other weekend with my supervision. She has a job, but that may be threatened due to some recent behaviors. She has been diagnosed bi-polar and has been in hospitals a few times. Just this week she got some meth and totaled her car running a red light. Luckily no one was seriously injured. She has spending problems and can't afford her apartment but expects her father and I to pick up the slack when she runs short of money. We have decided to offer emotional support but not financial any longer. She definitely can not move home. Lucky the fathers are coming through for their kids. She is on Lithium and Abilify but doesn't always keep her Dr. appointments or take her meds. She has threatened my life and broken things in the house if she doesn't like what we say. And in front of her kids I too am at the end of my rope and am considering not letting her have access to our home. This would mean she would not see her children without supervised visitation arranged by the courts. I am beginning to think her children would be better off without her this way. Now, without transportation, she may loose her job.

Barbara Lillford
February, 4 2015 at 11:49 am

I have a 29 year old son who had his first psychotic break-down when he was 17 years old. Since then, he has been in and out of hospital many times.I feel totally alone, because even though I have very close friends, they cannot even begin to understand the agony of having a child whose life has been lost to mental illness. I would so much love to be able to meet people who are experiencing the same sort of thing, but even where I live, in London, UK, I have been unable to find a support group, and I have not got the energy to form one myself.

January, 28 2015 at 12:37 pm

I have a 13 year old daughter with bipolar and I found this webpage. I read through the comments and I can't believe other people are describing my hell. I live with this day in and day out I have given everything I got to help her. I lost my friends, my husband, my family everything defending her and trying to keep hope alive when everyone else gave up long ago. I wish I could send her away for someone else to raise I am loosing my mind and my will to go on. She has worn me out and she is violent and cruel to me it is hard to explain to other people that she is not choosing this life she is out of control and something in her mind is not working correctly.

January, 19 2015 at 2:06 pm

I have a brother who mentally ill and abusive to my mom. Afraid that one day will seriously hurt her. I need some advice please

January, 10 2015 at 1:14 pm

jimmy a
I have a 21 year old son we believe has chronic fatigue. For the first 14 yrs of my sons life, he was athletic, very intelligent, played the piano, had friends and was an absolute great kid. Then about age 14 it seemed like someone turned off the light switch and said goodbye. For the last 7 yrs , he has been mad everyday, is never happy, will not work, has quit college 3 times and has cost us a ton of money for therapists, psychologists, hypnotists you name it. He has tried every kind of medication and nothing works except adderall. Even with that he only does minimal things and will not go back to college or get a job. All he wants to do is sleep and it is taking a toll on me and my wife. If I throw him out he will end in a facility that will basically lock him up and throw away the key. Our insurance will only let him stay for a few weeks at a decent facility and then will no longer help pay for the bill saying he is fine to return home. He has friends but hardly ever goes out and will not take advice from anyone who really cares about him. He has absolutely no confidence and will not even give himself a chance. If you knew my son when he was 13 yrs old you would swear it is not the same kid. My wife and I have given him all the love and support and dont know what else to do. We even sent him for brain scans in new york and run out of options. I try to explain to him that God helps those who helps themselves and that is part of depression, to force yourself to do things when you dont want to, but after that more times than not you were so happy that you were able to do the thing you didnt want to do. I have never met a more negative person then him in my life. It is very hard sometimes to be around him because he starts to give you depression and he has an attitude like a badger. I have almost choked him a few times because it got to a point where we cant take him anymore and he was just acting like an animal , but I know the cops would take him to the very same facility where he would be getting no help. We love our son very much but we need more options if anyone has any ideas. My heart goes out to the people who love the children they are trying to help and feel threatened by them

January, 4 2015 at 4:11 am

Also wanted to add that we too walk on egg shells constantly, we all fear to have any conversation about anything because he comes running out screaming and cussing us out for talking about him. The paranoia is the worst.... Cars drive by he's running out asking them what there problem is. People walk by n he runs out n asks them if they got a problem. Its bad. And lord don't try to talk to him when he's like that cause then he goes off....he cannot work, he sits at home watching crap on internet all day. I am single mom n work all day. When I was married I was a stay at home mom. But now divorced, can't have my girls live with me n I work all the time. He has scared my grandma, his great GMA so much lately she just cries all the time. It breaks my heart.

January, 4 2015 at 3:47 am

I am in same position as many here, my boy who is 20, is bipolar with manic depression. He is very paranoid, walks around for hours screaming and cussing at nothing. He is very violent with doors and walls and is now threatened to kill his family and himself. These fits are a everyday occurance and will last for hours. He has even sat on the floor screaming and head butting a metal stool over n over til he bleeds and the whole time screams stop hitting me. He is the only one hitting himself. I have never spanked my children so I don't know where that's coming from. He has two younger sisters who can't live with me because of his fits of rage. I am at my Witt's end. Tired of listening to hours n hours of him ranting and raging and breaking things constantly. Then the worst part is he doesn't even remember what he did or said in these fits.... Mental hospitals are a JOKE, alls they do is dope him up til he just sits n drools n that's no way to live. He has been in and out of those hospitals for 3 years now, has also been in trouble with cops.he refuses to take meds, says were all out to kill him... Just don't know what else to do...... So lost....

January, 3 2015 at 7:42 am

Last night I watched the cops take my daughter out of my house in handcuffs. My story is similar to all those I read above. I am grieving the loss of a beautiful, talented 25 year old daughter who is so ill she can't function without rage and violence. But I can't get her admitted to a hospital because she hasn't attempted to kill herself and hasn't caused actual physical harm to another person - although last night she viciously attacked her younger sister, which is why I called 911.
There is something seriously wrong with our mental health care system, when a person has more right to be ill than they do to get treatment. If she had access to guns, I'm sure she would be killing people. We are filing involuntary committal papers on Monday and praying desperately that she will get some help. I have so little hope for the future that I am depressed and suicidal myself.

December, 27 2014 at 9:39 am

My heart is breaking reading these comments, because your story is my own. My younger daughter (19 now) has had behavioral problems since she was 7, but in the last 4 years finally received a diagnosis of bipolar. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells ALL the time because I never know what will set her off and when she has an outburst it's extremely frightening. She has been physically abusive, emotionally abusive, and her behaviors have resulted in my losing jobs, unable to sustain a relationship because no one wants to be around her, and losing every security deposit I've put on a rental because she puts holes in doors, walls, etc. She's extremely depressed and constantly suicidal, or I would have put her out a LONG time ago. But in her case, that would be a death sentence. I'm exhausted, I don't feel safe in my own home, and I don't know what to do.

Beverly Dulaney
November, 24 2014 at 4:59 pm

My mentally disabled son hates me and his sister and brothers. We have done nothing to him, we try to understand him he like other people more than he do us.b I pray to God that one day he realize that we love him, and care what happens to him. When I give him money he is okay, he has a disliking towards his stepfather that has done nothing to him.

November, 16 2014 at 9:35 pm

It's 3:17 am and I have to get up at 6am but I can't sleep. My 19 year old son needs help and I don't know how to go about getting it. It would take forever to tell you everything he's done but I will list a few. This year, for the first time in his life, he called me bad names. It really hurt the first time but now I am numb to his name calling. He is restless and slams his door all throughout the day and night. He talks to himself. He exhibits very strange behavior like when he fixes a sandwich , he tosses the bread over and over and over; it takes him about 15 mins to complete the task. He throws rocks at the neighbor's house at night and walks through the woods and will not get in the car with me when I go after him. One night he ran back and forth from my house to the neighbor's house over and over for no reason. He will never stay home the whole night...he leaves EVERY night. You cannot have an intelligent conversation with him. When you ask him to do something simple like clean his room, he says "it is clean" when in fact it looks like a hurricane went through it. He leaves food in the room for days and wears the same clothes for days. He is VERY disrespectful and combative. I don't know if he used drugs and his mind was affected or if he just has a mental issue period. My other two kids are afraid of him. I am a single Mom and I am VERY tired. This is not the straight A , athletic, mannerly child I raised. One more thing, he acts as if he just hates me, but acts "almost" normal when relatives stop by. They probably wouldn't believe the stories I could tell, but out of embarrassment and fear f being judged, I keep it to myself. SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE HAS TO HELP ME.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Christina Halli
November, 19 2014 at 6:40 am

You are not alone. You are describing the same behavioral symptoms most of us parents of children with mental illness have seen. The key is what you is out of character for your child. No one knows your child like you do. Trust your gut. The first step to getting him help is to do your homework. Educate yourself on mental illness and then try to get your son evaluated by a doctor. This site is a good place to start.

November, 15 2014 at 8:43 pm

I thought I was the only one that had a daughter that behaved as mine does. But reading what these other mothers are experiencing I realize that my daughter is truly ill and needs help. I thought she was just spoiled and manipulative. So many of these experiences have been mine for so long.

November, 14 2014 at 6:15 pm

Tatiana, my heart aches for you! And for all that have to endure this pain. I wish I had an answer for you and a solution for all this pain. If you can look for a support group. There you will be able to share your feelings, fears and maybe there will be an answer or a way to cope. Even though we feel alone there are others out there that are going through this same pain. I pray for you and a cure for all mental illnesses. As for your little boy the doctors will find the correct dosage and combination of medications and he will be able to live a healthy productive life.

November, 8 2014 at 1:47 pm

I'm not sure how to get this to Steve who commented on Set. 21, but I will try.
After 11 years of marriage and watching me try countless times to get help for my mentally ill son my husband left our family.
What I have learned: my son will abuse me, it is part of his illness, I can take it and deal with it calmly when my son is okay again. I can never deal with his abuse when he is in the middle of a breakdown. My marriage might have been saved if my husband had learned to back off. I often felt as though I was being crushed between two walls - do you remember scenes from old Batman episodes where the walls are pushing in on them? I would have my son being verbally abusive to me on one side, and my husband yelling at him to stop on the other side. There is an extreme lack of effective help for mental illness but there is also lots of good information. In my most humble opinion, learn to back off, learn to support your wife by being a shoulder to cry on, not by telling her that she should not have to take that abuse. Do not offer parenting advice unless she asks for it. Find a support group and read what you can. Life is hard for us parents but I have learned that it is even harder for my son. Be there for your wife, be curious (not a know it all) and try not to make demands. When my husband left he said "I will no longer tolerate any emotional dysfunction." That is no more an option when your child has a mental illness than if your child had diabetes and you said "I will no longer tolerate any more blood sugar levels dysfunction." Do no harm.

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