Child's Mental Illness Can Make Your Marriage Sick, Too
I've receive innumerable comments from readers about how their child's psychiatric illness has taken a toll on their marriages. I'd be lying if I said my husband and I are the exception. The tension in our house has been thick enough to spread on a bagel, and over the course of this year, it's gotten progressively worse.
Plus, I've noticed a definite tone to my posts lately. No longer optimistic, rarely showcasing the dry humor I'm infamous for, and mostly just a big written invitation to my Pity Party. When I started this blog, I'd hoped to make it a mix between informative, generalized posts and the more personal, happened-to-me stories. Lately, however, the personal, happening-to-me (us) are weighing on my mind, heavily enough to render me interested in little else.
Mental Illness Has Taken Toll on My Marriage
When my husband and I met, Bob was 3 1/2. The problems had already started, but hadn't progressed yet (or I hadn't pulled my head out of the sand enough to see them yet) to the point of professional intervention. I knew Bob was "difficult" and a "handful" but I also attributed those qualities to his high intellect, my ongoing tumultuous relationship with his father, and the adjustment of shifting between biological parent homes. I had no idea what we were all in for down the road.
My husband and Bob got on splendidly from the start. He treated Bob not like a stepchild, but like a child. When Bob's problems necessitated meetings with preschool personnel and mental health providers, my husband was there, and felt the burden as heavily as I did.
I worried about how having a second child--a child that biologically belongs to me and my husband--would affect the dynamics in our household. I worried that having a biological child would distance my husband from Bob. I worried about how I would handle giving Bob the attention he demands and give a newborn, baby, toddler and young child the attention they needed.
My Worst Fears Have Come to Life
It's hard to admit any of this--to myself, and definitely to the blogosphere. It's harder still to admit I don't have the first clue what to do about any of it.
In essence, all of my worst fears have been recognized. There is such an obvious void between Bob and my husband that I feel helpless to bridge. I empathize with both of them--a lot of the time, I don't want to deal with Bob, either, because he is exhausting. But at the same time, he is my son, and I love him, and I want him to be happy and feel loved.
I feel pulled between opposing forces in my own home, 24/7. And worse, I feel responsible for everyone's unhappiness--I put Bob in an environment where he is the elephant in the room; I brought my other son into a home divided; and I ruined my husband's life by pulling him into my misery.
McClanahan, A. (2011, July 22). Child's Mental Illness Can Make Your Marriage Sick, Too, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 4 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/parentingchildwithmentalillness/2011/07/childs-psychiatric-illness-can-make-your-marriage-sick-too
Author: Angela McClanahan
I, too, am dealing with this sort of issue. It is SO hard. My daughter was 3 when my husband and I got together. They got along great at first. But, a year and half before my husband and I got together, my youngest daughter died, leaving the both of us with PTSD and anxiety/depression issues. She also has ADHD. It’s so hard to manage and I find that I struggle disciplining her because I am SO afraid to lose her. I know that this is an internal battle that I need to fight. But, it has definitely put a strain on my marriage. My daughter disrespects my husband all the time and he in return does as well. I am walking on egg shells all the time, with my mind racing trying to find ways for them to get along. It is taking a toll on my mental health, even more than I deal with already. I can never find a happy medium. I should also mention that my daughters dad is not much of a father. She sees him every other weekend, but I feel he damages her while she’s there. Any advice would be great. Feel free to email me. email@example.com
I have been with my husband for 20 years married for 4. He has 2 daughters one 40 one 36 and i have 1 daughter 29. The 36 year old has been diagnosed with bipolar just 4 years ago but ever since being in the relationship she has been a problem in our marriage. He puts her first in every way including financially. We have had many years of ups and downs but ever since she has been diagnosed with bipolar his attitude to her has changed. Every argument now is "she has a mental illness" because of this he expects all of the family to accept the awful things she says and does to the point that her eldest sister who lives in New Zealand now has cut off all ties. I myself do not feel any love or affection to my husband as I feel I am in a relationship with a man who is having an affair and I am second best. We currently in separate rooms and have not had sex for nearly 2 years. I am just 50 and he is 67. Prior to all this how relationship was great. We had our issues with the daughter but not to this extent. Since her being diagnosed with bipolar things have gone worse. I feel so lonely and do not know how to leave the marriage as I feel i have worked so hard all our years together to get to where we are financially and do not want to go backwards. I really hate my life right now.
Hi Lee. I was looking on the internet this morning because I am so frustrated with my marriage and my mentally ill stepdaughter. The similarities between what you said and what I am experiencing are quite incredible. My stepdaughter is 32 years old. I also have a 28 year old step daughter who lives in New Zealand who has avoided a lot of things. I am remarried for 18 years. I have two daughters from a previous marriage who are married have children own homes good jobs Etc. My husband's attitude towards his mentally ill daughter is incredible. He puts her before anything. And your analysis sing like an affair, really hit home with me. It seems so true. That's what I feel. I've tried to talk to him, but I think he has feelings of guilt, or resentment, not sure. But he puts her on a pedestal, pays for anything she wants, and criticizes my kids.
In 2016 I met my husband, Justin. While performing onstage at a festival, I spotted a few of my high school friends sitting in the audience. A man sitting with them that I didn’t recognize, stood up and grabbed the hand of his small son and hurriedly walked away from the stage. (It was a comedy show, not the most appropriate for children although many parents brought kids of all ages.) The moment I saw this man-Justin, I felt the most intense magnetism I have ever experienced. The performance was my last set of the day, so when my friends approached me after the show I was able to run around the festival with the group.
After some hugs and catching up with my buds, Justin introduced himself and his son, Tyler.
Justin! Tyler! Who are you?! I needed to know.
In these first steps, I joined arms with my friends and escorted the group around the festival chatting with everyone, being careful not to make my attraction and curiosity obvious. A couple immediate and obvious thoughts presented (inner dialogue): He has a son… is he married? Is he in a relationship? Be cool. Do this right.
Naturally, I waited for a moment alone with our mutual friend to ask if Justin was married. To which he responded, “he is not”. Ok…. so “does he have a girlfriend?” Answer, “he does not”.
RUSH, excitement, giddiness! I had never felt these to this degree simply meeting a person in my adult life.
Thereafter, I spent a few hours with the group. I held Tyler’s hand and felt a completeness, more “whole” while amusing, caring for and simply walking with him. He was just 4 years old then, rambunctious and full of energy. (What kid isn’t at a festival?)
Unsure of how to approach Justin directly to express my interest, I waited until the closing ceremony. Fireworks. When I chose to sit directly next to Justin, I could see the surprise on his face. His eyebrows raised, he sat up straight, and smiled.
Tyler was sitting just in front of us, bouncing and clapping, observing the show. Having seen the fireworks show many times, I carefully developed the conversation within the allotted 45 minute window… Tell me about your son. How do you know these guys (our mutual friends)? As it turned out, we barely missed each other dozens of times, 18 YEARS in orbit of one another. Finally, we were occupying the same space and enthralled in beautifully flowing conversation. We were shooting off sparks in every direction, mirroring the fireworks above.
Just as the “actual” fireworks were about to end, I worked up the courage to ask, “Do you have a girlfriend?” He blushed, and said “no”. Which led to my follow up question… “do you want one?” He laughed, reached for my hand and said “yes”. We immediately exchanged phone numbers.
It was time to say goodbye but I wanted to, needed to, absorb every second. As we made our way to the festival gate, Justin and I walked a couple paces behind our friends, with Tyler sitting on our friend’s shoulders. In this brief moment, out of view, Justin and I kissed. At the gate, I hugged goodbye to the rest of the group.
Skipping , giggling… I went back to my dressing room, feeling the rush of beautiful possibilities. Excited by the chance to develop a relationship with him and his son. I was not naïve. I considered the delicacy of dating someone with a child and how to approach the situation with respect and patience. Justin and I text throughout that first night after they left, and for days and days after. Asking, learning, sharing.
Two weeks later, we went on our first date and have been together ever since.
During the date we explored each other’s lives, and quickly developed a tight bond. I asked him how long he had been separated from his Ex-girlfriend. He told me they were never married, but together 4ish years. He had moved out of their shared apartment 8 months prior (to meeting me). He also shared that they were not intimate during the entire last year they cohabitated.
For the first year of our relationship, he lived with a roommate, (as did I) but Justin would stay at my house nearly 100% of the time that he did not have Tyler. When he did, I met them on weekends during the day, going to parks, pools, restaurants etc. I had dinner at his place with them often, but still allowed much one-one one time for the two of them. Tyler was kind to me, and seemed to find me fascinating, comforting and fun. He liked my performances (the family friendly shows) and bonded with me in a love of science (my day job). He was always excited to see me, and I enjoyed the maternal beginnings of this new relationship with him.
Sadly, it did not take long for the cracks to show… I began to notice that Tyler had some serious issues with defiance. With or without me present, he would throw terrible tantrums. Tantrums related to anything and everything. Food, clothes, getting in his car seat etc. At first, I chalked this up to normal toddler behavior, but the tantrums and defiance seemed more intense and frequent than other children. True, I am/was not a biological mother, but I as the eldest of my siblings (4 total) and cousins (5), I was the babysitter, teacher, guide. I practically raised my younger brother, who was no cakewalk, (extreme ADHD). I do want to be a mother, someday.
I’d dated two men with children previously, although those children were above 5 years old. Those children seemed well adjusted and did not exhibit excessive behavioral issues. Ultimately, I ended those relationships simply because I was not “in love” with their fathers. We still keep in touch and I think of them fondly. Even with this (I realize limited experience), I still felt something was “off” about Tyler.
About 6 months into our relationship, we first our had a “sleepover”, (with me in the mix). First at Justin’s apartment, then at my townhome. We slept in the same room, with Tyler on a cot or blow up mattress. This was carefully thought through. Tyler was 4 and slept with Justin in his bed every night. In preparation for weaning Tyler a bit, I suggested that he get a cot/ or small bed for Tyler to place next to his bed. He lived with a roommate and there were only two bedrooms, so locating him in another room was not an option. He did this, but of course Tyler would crawl back onto Justin’s bed most of the time. It took time to get him to rest in his own cot. Once that was achieved, we planned the first sleepover. We talked to Tyler about it, and he was excited. Justin and I laid on the bed, and Tyler on the cot. Within an hour though, Tyler was in the bed between us. I was not sure if this was “right”, but I remained calm and the night passed without event. I discussed with Justin that I was not sure if this was an appropriate arrangement, and that Tyler’s mother should also be aware. (She was dating a man she is now married to, and already allowing him to sleep in the same bed with them). It is worth noting that Tyler had his own room at his mother’s house, which he also refused to sleep in.
We slept in this arrangement perhaps 4 or 5 times, alternating between my house or his. By that time, Tyler was 5 and I felt he needed to be in his own bed whether or not I was present. This was a difficult concept for Justin to grasp and enforce. Our attempts were met with awful, BLOOD CURDLING, screaming tantrums. So, I decided that we should put these sleepovers on hiatus. I figured we needed to step back and approach this integration in a different way. Justin and I were already planning on the two of them moving in “formally”, and we hoped to acclimate Tyler slowly. It was a year and two months into our relationship, (and a MONTH after we were married), that Justin and Tyler “formally” moved into my home. Of course, my roommate moved out. Tyler now had his own room with hundreds of toys, a large bed and oodles of love and attention.
Night after night he would wail and scream, run to our room (which was a loft with no door) refusing to sleep in his own bed. We set up sheets, pillows and blankets on the couch, which was merely 15 feet beneath us, with only half of a wall covering the front of the bedroom. We were quite literally in the same space. Still, Tyler refused to accept this. We tried not to give in, but without a door to our bedroom, he would simply run up and scream. Inevitably each night, Justin would leave and sleep with Tyler in his bed. Justin could not see that a year and two months into our relationship, it was now necessary for Tyler to be weaned from this, and to learn to sleep alone.
Anytime Tyler acted out Justin would allow his fits, often providing only a “don’t do that” tacit response with zero consequence. A few times though, he spanked him. I personally do not believe in corporal punishment. Whatever the instance, Tyler was rarely punished appropriately or proportionately to his actions. He could still play with his iPad, toys and watch shows. He was still treated to amusement parks, random gifts, and coddling. I had to coach Justin into appropriate punishments, appropriate communication and in general how to control Tyler’s aberrant and attention seeking behavior. I suggested removal of entertainment and discussing the consequences. I told him to offer positive feedback when Tyler was good, and to set goals for him and celebrate when he met them. As much of this seemed common sense to me, it was always a struggle or fight to get my husband to see that he was not handling his son well. He slowly took my advice, and Tyler’s behavior improved. Yet when a new situation would arise, my perspective and advice was instantly met with hostility, dismissal.. denial.
As time went on, Tyler’s acts of defiance and cruelty intensified. This was not just within our home. Tyler was throwing fits and massively disrespecting his Mother. Hitting her, throwing things, demoralizing and demeaning her. Hard to imagine a child capable of this so young, but he was and is. I became aware that Tyler’s defiance and almost Machiavellian nature began many months before other partners came into the equation. Tyler said he wanted to kill his step-father, and said so before (and after) he and Tyler’s Mom were married.
Tyler was difficult in school, disrespecting teachers, hitting students, throwing chairs. He was completely out of control, choking a child in the bathroom, exposing himself on the playground, SMILING about it. He was cruel to animals, stretching and throwing and squeezing cats. Chasing and terrorizing them. At 6 and a half he was still screaming at this father, demanding him to come to the bathroom and wipe his ass. I told my husband that I felt it was time for his son to perform this on his own. After many disagreements and struggles, Justin finally agreed. This took time, conviction, commitment. I had to lead the “charge”. Standing outside the door, telling Tyler, ”You can do it! Front to back, ball it up! Courtesy flush! Good work!”
Tyler was defiant. Justin was acquiescent. Or is it the other way around…? In any case, Tyler now knows how to wipe his own ass.
He refused to learn to tie his shoes and he refused to learn to read. For these basic skills, I was the predominant enforcer, teacher, guide, muse? Both my husband and step-son seemed equally defiant. Tyler to learning and independence, Justin to guidance, enforcement and recognition of ???.
I mentioned to Justin that I thought Tyler might have a behavioral disorder (even before we were married), and perhaps he should look into therapy. This was met with anger, denial and dismissal. Tyler’s bad behavior continued, at both homes and at school. There were good days, sometimes a good week. Much of the time was occupied by tirades, disturbing behavior and feeble parental response.
Needing to understand and to help all of us, I began to do research on what might explain his behavior. Including our current actions, our past, his parents’ past and break up. I feverishly read about conditions which matched Tyler’s behavior.
After a couple months, I found this match. Tyler exhibited traits of ODD, (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). He literally checked every box. When delicately sharing articles and resources on the condition with Justin, I was again met with anger and resistance. It was 10 MONTHS after I shared this information with Justin and his ex-girlfriend, to the time when Tyler was properly psychologically evaluated. I was not present for this visit. To my knowledge, Tyler’s parent’s did not mention ODD as a possible diagnosis. So hopefully, epidemiology functioned without any of my influence or bias.
He was indeed diagnosed with ODD by the pediatric psychiatrist. If you have read about this condition, you know it’s horrific. Untreated, it can turn to Conduct Disorder, which can turn to Sociopathy. Treatment does not involve medication, but intricate behavioral therapy hinging upon complete coordination among the therapist, teachers, parents and child. Still, ODD is an extremely challenging condition to correct, or “cure”, if there is one. I am still hopeful.
But hope can wax and wane. Tyler often showed a lack of empathy. It was hard to tell if his “I love you”, and couch cuddles were genuine expressions of love and empathy, or something else… He created bizarre lies, for the thrill of telling them. He would say hurtful things, for the sake of hurting. He once told my Mother, “I like hurting people.” My Mother, friends and family came to despise Jason, but they were loving and kind to him and Tyler despite that.
As you can imagine, all of this caused a rift between Justin and I. The chaos, acting out, screaming, the deviant and defiant behavior were all too often met with little to no punishment. When I would try to get Justin to see the severity of Tyler’s actions, he trivialized them, explaining them away, “ He is just a kid.” “ He didn’t mean it.” My Mother-In-Law would say the same things.
I left my own home again and again to get away from the terror. I felt…. still feel… helpless. Justin does not enforce rules or boundaries. When Tyler breaks a rule, taunts my animals or throws things, I’m left to endure the chaos. Before December, I would go to my Mother’s house. Cry, regroup, BUT CONTINUE TO TRY. I considered splitting up with Justin over and over. I would leave to my Mom’s because I didn’t want to uproot Tyler. He had school, he’s a child, I am an adult, I can leave without causing more chaos. I was fighting for Tyler, I was fighting for my family. I feel as if I was triggered into “flight” mode, to preserve my marriage and to (attempt to) protect my mental state.
An extreme event on Christmas Eve flipped the script on my typical “flight” response.
That night Tyler and I were playing around the Christmas tree, dancing and singing. My husband was cleaning and preparing food as we waited for my Mother-in-law to arrive. Out of nowhere, Tyler asked if he could speak to me in private. We sat on the stairs and he told me that he liked hurting people. That sometimes he hated me. I pet his head and said that emotions could sometimes feel strong, but he did not have to act on them. He smiled and in the next breath, said that he “put it in a boy’s butt”. What did you put in his butt? “My Penis”. He then told me that he did this to another boy, and that he wanted to do it to me. I could barely breathe...but I held it together and told Tyler that this was something to discuss with his therapist and parents. I said it was very inappropriate to do or say to anyone. I told him that his words hurt me. I told him that loved him. Justin’s mom arrived right about then. I strode over to the kitchen and told Justin what Tyler said and how I responded. He told me I “handled it well”. I told him I was terrified and needed support. I was not sure what to do, as my Mother-in-law was walking up to hug me. She and Tyler played for a while and Tyler went to sleep, in anticipation of Christmas morning.
I discussed what Tyler said to me with Justin and his Mom. She was horrified. Apparently Justin already knew of these incidents, because his Ex-Girlfriend told him. When explaining them to me previously, he sugar coated and completely omitted the gravity of what really happened. All I was told… is that on Thanksgiving, his Ex-GF found Tyler and his cousin behind a closed door, touching each other’s penises. Obviously, much more had happened. And it had happened AGAIN with another child who lived down the street from him. I was left to accept that I was lied to by my Husband. After all, Tyler told me the graphic details, and his Ex-girlfriend confirmed both incidents when I reached out to her Christmas day.
How could Justin omit the truth? How could he be so blasé when I told him what Tyler said? How… why… am I feeling constantly exiled and belittled?
When his Ex-GF called Justin on Thanksgiving Day regarding the incident with Tyler’s cousin, I was in the car next to him. The conversation was 30 minutes long. Justin’s recap with me was a mere 2 minutes. They were only naked. They might have touched each other.
Back to Christmas Eve Night, after Tyler went to sleep, Justin, his mom and I discussed the “situation”. My Mother-in-law wavered between “him just exploring/not understanding” to being “afraid he would become a rapist.” Justin took the overall attitude that “he doesn’t know what he is saying” and “he is just a kid”. I pointed out that these sexual behaviors and statements might be due to abuse, or they could be associated with ODD. The question remained how he would ever hear about “putting it (his penis) in the butt”. We always monitored everything he watched, and never let him alone around anyone. Christmas Eve night passed on, as I tried to remain calm and celebrate the evening with my family. But I was shell-shocked. Justin and I went to bed, watched a show and cuddled for an hour or so. Around 2 am, Tyler ran up the stairs to the living room. When he reached the top of the stairs, he exploded into a laugh in response to seeing his heaps of presents placed around the tree.
Let me tell you… This laugh was not a jovial child’s laugh of delight, but strange and villainous …. A loud “MWAHAHAHAHA!” For some reason, this… is what broke me. I began to cry and told my husband that I felt unsupported, unsafe and that he had done nothing to handle this very serious issue with his son. To which he responded, “I thought you handled it.” The conversation devolved, ran in circles, lead to nothing. I cried as I packed my things. I left in the middle of the night to go to my Mom’s once again. I had to use the back door, disturbing the sleep of my Mother-in-law.
She sent me paragraphs of texts after I left telling me that if I could not handle Tyler, I should just end it with her son. “Tyler was just a child” and on and on.
My Mother and I spent Christmas alone and it looked as if Justin and I would be getting a divorce. We reconciled but as a condition, I asked for boundaries to be enforced. Many were specific, but reasonable. I asked for him to properly punish and handle his son, to take charge of any instance when Tyler acted out. I told Justin that I needed to feel safe, supported and like I have a voice. I told him I felt like a battered babysitter, not a wife. I was terrified to be around Tyler alone, for him to be around my family, other children, or animals. Justin promised, he would support me and enforce these boundaries.
For the next 4 months, it seemed things had improved. There was much less defiance and no reports of violent or sexual behavior.
BUT… last week, while shooting a bb-gun with his mom and Step-Dad (horrible and absurd idea, I know), Tyler told his Mom he was “excited to kill animals”. She immediately removed the gun, told him he would never shoot it again and his Step-Dad spanked him for the first time. Justin was furious, and stunned that they allowed him to use a gun. Justin told his Ex-girlfriend it was forbidden for Tyler to use a gun many months before. He was equally furious about the spanking. Paradoxically, (maybe predictably…) he seemed much less concerned with Tyler’s “excited to kill animals” statement.
Two days later, Tyler came to our house for his Wednesday night visit. We helped with his homework, and ate dinner together. Mirroring the spontaneity of Christmas Eve, OUT OF THE BLUE, he turns to me and says, “I want to beat you up.” I asked him why he would say such a cruel thing. He just smiled and shrugged. I asked him if kids at school say that to him or if he is saying it to others. Tyler said no and smirked. I told him I was very hurt by what he said, and asked him to imagine what it would feel like to be told that by someone he loved. Justin did next to nothing, except to say “We do not do violence.”
There was no punishment, no serious talk, nothing. He was allowed to go to bed at his normal bedtime, soundly in his room without any other mention of his cruel threat. Just as last time, my husband and I stayed up together watching a movie. When we went to bed, I asked him why he had not supported me or responded appropriately, as he promised to do after the Christmas Eve chaos. I felt like I was living in a time loop. Again he responded, “ I thought you handled that perfectly”. I reminded him that he promised to step up, to support me and to properly punish his son.
Justin, once again had done nothing. I began crying uncontrollably, and asked him to leave our bedroom. He pawed and whined at the door all night begging to come back in. I told him that I did not feel safe around his son, I did not feel protected and that I did not want to be around his son again. I finally decided to stand up for my home and well-being, both to protect my safety and sanity. I was tired of being a fugitive from my own home.
I did not sleep. I doubt Justin did either.
The next morning, they were dragging their feet getting ready to leave for work/school. My nerves were shot, my body shaking. I sent my husband a message to please leave the house as soon as possible. When 10 more minutes passed, I lost my cool. I opened the bedroom door and started screaming GET OUT. Something I have never done in front of Tyler. I could hear him playing around in the bathtub and again screamed to Justin, GET OUT, GET HIM OUT OF THIS HOUSE. I know…. I lost it. I completely screwed up.
The following day, I sent Justin a long letter of apology detailing my dismay, but explaining my fury at being taunted/attacked by Tyler. It was not what Tyler said, but my husband’s lack of response that sent me over the edge. I extended an olive branch, and asked him if he would be willing to see a couple’s therapist. He was open in the past, now he says he doesn’t know.
So at present, I am in our home alone…heartbroken, furious, confused, massively depressed and devastated.
Justin and I have our own personal issues, but we have each made HUGE strides to fixing those. We both see a therapist. We communicate and react more appropriately to each other with regard to our personal and marital struggles. Prior to December, Justin threatened me verbally, shouted me down into a corner, screamed demeaning and demoralizing things while chasing me around the house. He slapped Tyler in the face, spanked him. He abused, ignored and used me. I yelled, I iced him out, I left. We got through that. We actually did. The reality remains, that 95% of our fights are about Tyler. I do not expect his son to be perfect. I do not delude myself that he will medically or magically get better. I am only asking for support, protection and boundaries.
After all this, I can’t help but think of the moment I first saw Justin and Tyler. Father, running after son. Justin chasing Tyler as he ran beyond the seats, with me watching from the stage. How devastatingly prophetic, that their entry into my life was a near exact vision of their exit.
My mind has turned over and over.. and i am presented with two options:
Should I continue to fight for this?
If not, how I can heal from losing the love of my life to his own weakness, willful denial and dismissal of his son’s troubling behavior?
Ultimately, I have had to make the heartbreaking decision to protect my life, sanity and future. We are now filing for divorce. Nothing has ever been more painful, but my family, friends and therapist have all said, Get out and don't look back.
I am happy I found this story but also very frightened. My second husband and I have been married for 2 years now. We have three kids between us. My daughter (the eldest) has started complaining of depression and anxiety. My husband says there is no such thing and she won't "have the guts to commit suicide". Having a schizophrenic mother, I know that mental illness is real and not understood. I love my husband deeply but this disagreement over how I should be "correctly handling" my child resulted in him calling my family "mad" recently and myself as "stupid, blind, and brainless" because I could not see "reality" and "my parenting approach is not working". I am so crushed! I cannot get his words out of my mind. They were very cruel and worse, even if I decide to ignore his words, what happens if my child does not get better soon? How soon is soon? She has just assented to taking medication but we have no idea if it will work. I am very depressed because I feel let down by my husband, whom I have always supported with all my heart when the chips have been down for him. I don't think he'd come to therapy with us/me because he believes that if he did not get mentally ill despite all his life's woes, no one else can or should either.
I have spent appx 35 years in a relationship with my wife and two adult (now) children with significant psych problems who have developed major meth addictions. I am worried for our and their safety. The "system" has failed them in particular and us in general. I do not know what to do anymore.
is it wrong to let them be homeless. no amount of money is going to help them. no amount of help is really going to help, but clearly its destroying you. i hate thinking i dont care anymore.
That’s a tough question. When the child is over 18, so much more responsibility falls on them, and homelessness may be something they have to face based off grown up choices they make. If our children are still minors, residential treatment makes more sense. We can’t let them be homeless, but if they would benefit from regular treatment and time separated from family (or if there are safety issues), residential treatment is an option that can help them and give you some relief as the parents.
Today I attended the Hospital after getting a call my son was pulled off the roof of a multi storey car park by police. He has suffered with mental health for the last couple of years and has recently been put on medication and today have managed to get him admitted for treatment. He wears a great mask to me that everything is ok to me and tells professionals he just wants me to be happy . His step father now has no association with him and I feel I am carrying it all on my shoulders and everyday fighting to keep my son alive as well as trying for a miracle to save my relationship. Mental health is so hard to understand and j really feel out my depth and am really unsure how long I can be the strength. It's so much of a relief to read stories the same and know I'm not the only one in this position
I met my husband when my son was a teenager – my sons 26 now
Over the years it’s been a ROLLER COASTER there have been short periods of stability where son will have a job, home, seem happy, then there will be a sudden unforeseen crisis, self harming, lost job, homelessness, self sabotaging behaviour
I am literally shaking with anxiety right now as son has ignored my calls for two weeks, I don’t know if he is OK or not
I am financially shafted too, as I often end up paying sons living costs which mount up to hundreds per month, his rent and food to save him from being homeless again. Husband wont contribute at all, its all me ££ as husband thinks son is lazy, he doesn’t think depression is a thing and must thing that self harm is a hobby. I hate my thick husband for this view, as no one in his own family as mental illness he often compares this which I find infuriating
My husband is quite rightly fed up with all this, we thought that our life would be so different at this point but we daren’t even go on holiday for fear of what crisis may happen whilst we are not there. I would not blame husband if he left as his life is restricted by my son and a situation he does not seem to understand at all
My son does suffer depression and does get help, he was involved with the crisis team recently visiting him at his home
Since all this started, and the fact that the crisis always happen without warning or build up, it has left me with severe anxiety I probably contact my son too much to check he is Ok that day, as things change so quickly he may not be OK tomorrow .
Unfortunately son only wants to speak when it suits him, and ignores the phone a lot - especially when he is down, which adds to my anxiety and all this is literally making me feel like life is not worth living as I cannot concentrate on anything else and husband admittedly, always comes second
Honestly I hate my life
There is no solution when your child is mentally ill and refuses medication because it has not worked and due to zombie like side effects. My son had a full psychotic break after being sent home at the end of boot camp because of a sleep disorder. He got his EMT certification the same day he was involuntarily committed after he voluntarily admitted himself and his paranoia resulted in him severely assaulting a guard. He has a black belt. Now he cannot function in school or work, laughs and mumbles to himself and is a shadow of the handsome athlete that was on the honor roll every year. He no longer seeks help ortakes medication because none worked. I just going multiple holes in the walls in his room. He has destoyed multiple phones and computers because he thought he was being tracked, tried to get a plane ticket to fight Isis and so much more. My older son tells me to kick him out. When you are a mother, the loss of a son by mental illness or death is crushing. Just because they are kicked out of a home does not allow a mother to forget. It is like missing an arm...a part of yourself is hurt and you are never ok unless your child is ok. So kicking him out, even if it staying would result in my own death is not an option. I am not ever going to be free or ok until my son with mental illness is ok or until I am dead. I no longer run from or fear death as it may be the only time I am free.
I feel for you. This is Mel from the post before. It is mentally and physically exhausting having mental illness in the family. Everything with my boyfriend's children is exhausting. They play mind games, ruin my things, hide my things, act out, are moody and will act clueless when I try to help them with homework. They act years more immature than the average children. They crush my toilet paper, waste soap, just do annoying stuff. No medication seems to work. Is it depression, ADHD, bipolar, reactive attachment disorder and the list goes on and on. I cannot fathom how they will ever be able to live independently. They are 9, however, it just feels hopeless.
Hi all, I love this post. It is so well-written. My situation is my boyfriend's children are Bob in this post. They have PTSD from exposure to things with their bi-polar mother. They have the genetics of a father with depression, ADHD, and anxiety and a bi-polar mother. The combination of everything has been, as you said, exhausting. His daughter has PTSD, anxiety, depression, mood disorder and reactive detachment disorder (my personal favorite, said no one ever). She steals from me, hides my things, destroys and breaks things, just took a stick to my brand new car and scratched it up, lies, is angry, manipulative, you name it. His son has ADHD and PTSD. You can ask him to please not do something over and over and over again and it still happens. I want answers. I ask why and they say they don't know or they just do it. My live-in boyfriend is in your situation knowing they do wrong but it is still his children. He feels badly for her illness and what she is dealing with. I feel guilty that I feel angry and resentful that I am so good to all of them and the kids, lie, steal, do things like dump out all of my soap, answer back, hide things, and break things almost daily. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way as they were dealt a rough hand with their genetics and what their bio mom exposed them to. I thought I had all the answers. My bio children are high honor students, excel in all their extra curriculars, are altar servers, etc. What I need to realize is each person and each situation is different. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, how many therapy, psychiatry, IEP meetings you have, you just have to realize you are doing your best and the rest is out of your control. It is very difficult and I see no end in site. It makes for a difficult family dynamic. It spills over into my relationship; our sex life, our communication (I communicate, he hides), my relationship with my children (they are exhausted also with their behavior and hearing constant turmoil) and I am forever frustrated or upset and have no one to talk to about it. It is like the saying goes, you never know what goes on in other people's lives. I just want happiness. Unfortunately, all is see is things falling apart around me and everything we try is not working.
Hi Mel, I'm glad that you found Angela's article helpful and sorry that you are going through so much. Unfortunately, parenting children with mental illness can be very hard on all our relationships. It sounds like you are really stepping up to provide the support and resources your boyfriend's kids need, but what are you doing to take care of yourself? I'll tell you, I'd never make it without the help of my support group and my own therapist. I have three kids with mental illness and my daughter's boyfriend with bipolar also lives with us. Like you, I'm getting them all layers of support, but still, some days are impossibly hard. I belong to a support group for parents of kids with bipolar and have seen a therapist for a decade. They provide several benefits to me. As we share our "horror" stories together, those other parents remind me that I'm a good mom and let me know that I'm not alone. They can also offer tips or advice stemming from their experience. My therapist reminds me of how far we've come, lets me vent, and helps me focus my thoughts about how to keep moving ahead. I'm not sure I'd have made it without those supports. Please don't suffer through this alone--support can ease the burden. HealthyPlace provides a good resource page to let you find help. https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer… Clearly, you are an involved, supportive and caring mom to these kids--now go find a place to get the support and caring you deserve.
You are correct. I have not taken care of myself and I am very involved. It has been extremely difficult. There always seems to be something new that pops up. I am frustrated. I am frustrated the school is not assisting enough with his son's scolastics. It is an endless paper trail. By the time the 45 days are up and if they decide they may or may not help and have a meeting half the year is over. I just feel like a dog endlessly chasing its tail sometimes. The thought of hormones coming into the mix with them in a few years is an ugly one. Lol.
Mel I feel like we’re living the same life. However my husband refuses to see his daughters problems (regardless of inpatient admission and weekly psych visits). He dumps her on me at every opportunity and has no interaction with her at all. I feel awful for her problems but her rage is totally focused on me. She’s made false claims of abuse and made up stories to his family to the point we have no relationship. I’m ready to leave the relationship (I have two other kids to worry about) but was in the process of going to nursing school full time. I have to abandon that dream and go back to my prior career and look for a place. I’m so tired. Thanks for listening
I am at these crossroads also especially about choosing child over marriage. I admitted that my child is destroying it but I am made to feel its him or my husband. I choose one or the other I will never be happy again. I truly believe they both have the best of me but I have constant heart ache from both. I'm put in middle. My family says out my son away and my Christian upbringing says no. I can't have both and feel I should let my husband out of the mkisery. I'm just so lost as a Godly person about what I should do
My heart goes out to you Rhonda. I have been in several support groups for moms of kids with mental illness and your dilemma is common. I know many moms who believe that God chose them to raise this difficult, fragile child and they are unwilling to "give up" on that child. Yet, many of the fathers in this situation feel overwhelmed when they can't "fix" things and then just want to make it go away. My husband and I were once at odds about how to handle our children with mental illness. Before you give up on your husband or your child, look for help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has free family support groups; HealthyPlace.com has a resource page of hotlines and links at https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…; and individual and/or family therapy can help you find the support you need. In our case, therapy and education have allowed my husband and I to get on the same page, create a plan to deal with our child's behavior, and find a way to reconnect with one another in a meaningful way. We're now a team. I urge you to find professional help so that you do not have to sacrifice your marriage or your child, and don't have to shoulder the burden all by yourself. Even if your husband will not seek therapy, you go. It will give you the tools you need to start working with the situation, and as you progress maybe he will feel inclined to join in. Good luck.
Hi Susan, You are correct I am very involved. I have never missed a therapy, a show or an IEP meeting. I have not gotten support for myself. My boyfriend tells me to do so as venting to him is not productive. He looks at it as it is putting him on defense rather than we are a team in this together and arguments are the result. Their therapist tells me to get out of my head as it is not personal. When negative hurtful behavior is directed to me more than anyone, it sure feels that way. Peace to you all.
My husband and I married when my son was 11, he is now 19. He has been struggling with depression, anxiety for a few years now and just recently getting angry very easily. He will not see a counselor and will not take pharmaceutical drugs because of all of the side effects that come with them and because he saw his sister react badly to them. one of the reasons he doesn't want to see a therapist is because he doesn't want a mental illness associated with his name because he still doesn't know what to do career wise. The other reason is because he doesn't believe that they really care and says "they are just selfish judgemental people". His anger was really getting to him and felt like it was effecting his friendships so he told me he needed help, but again doesn't want to see a therapist so I called a crisis line and they recommended I take him to a Naturopath. He saw one a week ago from yesterday and the Dr. gave him some herbal drops called rescue remedy and amazingly enough they really helped him for a few days, because he was feeling better (probably from the high if finally getting help) he was sticking to the diet, exercise and supplements the Dr. recommended then day four hit and all of a sudden the drops weren't helping and he got really frustrated and suddenly started and anger outburst. I just couldn't take it anymore and went in his room and yelled at him telling him to stop it (I deal with depression and anxiety issues also, amongst other health issues). I know I shouldn't have yelled at him, but the passive approach just hadn't been working and I felt like I shouldn't have to listen to that, because it gets my anxiety going. Anyway my husband (his step dad) came upstairs and put him up against the wall and told him, he better never yell at me again and started telling him that he is lazy and that enough is enough etc. my son fell to his knees so distraught we ended up taking him to the emergency room for a psych evaluation. The Mental Health counselor waivered back and forth whether to have him hospitalized or not but in the end decided since he was willing to keep seeing the Naturopath and following his treatment plan that she would let him go home. That was the time that I found out how terrible Mental Health care help is in Washington state. Apparently they only hold them for 48 to 72 hours. What freaking good is that going to do? He would need to be hospitalized for at least one month, giving time for any medications to begin to work and to make sure that he was safe from suicide while adjusting to the medication. if I or she would have had him involuntarily admit him he said that would have taken away any little bit of self respect he had left and he would have committed suicide when he came out. GOOD LORD. Then yesterday my son came home telling us that he asked his boss to start gradually removing him from the work schedule. He told us that he just didn't feel comfortable going to work every day (as a Chinese restaurant delivery driver) not knowing what mood he was going to be in and didn't want to end up getting fired. It's really sad because he has been at his job for 2 years come October. Then he started talking about how he feels etc and somehow my husband ended up telling him he's lazy again, amongst other things that were not helpful at all and I just kept motioning for my husband to stop saying things that were only making him feel worse and finally my husband said he's sick of this crap and my son got upset and started went upstairs which pissed me off and my husband said "this is going to be our first fight and it's going to be a bad one". Which of course upset my son and said "please stop fighting over me, it's okay I don't want you guys fighting because of me I'll just leave". He did, he packed his suitcase and went and slept in his car, luckily his sister who lives with my son and her dad (who my son hates and won't talk to) talked to him for a long time last night and today brought him some food and his helping him as best as she can (she's got mental illness issues too). It's so hard because now he doesn't want to come here because he said he doesn't want to be a burden on us and he doesn't want to cause problems in our marriage). I love my husband and don't want to lose him, but knowing that my son could be suicidal I don't want to lose him either. I just wish my husband wouldn't say some of the things he says, just to listen to him without commenting would be much more productive but he just doesn't understand mental illness and how it works. I just don't know what to do! May God bless all of us!
Wow, I have to say that my heart goes out to everyone. Believe me, I know how difficult life can be parenting a mentally ill child from an early age. I have to say however, and many may not agree but I believe, particularly if you are the step parent (as I am the step father to my wife's daughter) there comes a time when you say enough is enough, you have given as much as you possibly can, financially and emotionally and it's time to move on. I am on the brink of doing just that. I have just retired from a career of 40 years, worked hard, have very successful children, have no drama in my life whatsoever except my step daughter who suffers primarily from schizophrenia and will take everything from you until you have nothing left and then she will look for others to take from (emotionally and financially). It's such a long story, that I don't want to bore you with the details but I have been as many step parents supportive and involved since she was about 10 years old (now 26). She has an able bodied (and not emotionally ill to a serious degree (my lay opinion of course) long time boyfriend who won't work, abuses her both emotionally and physically (as she does him), they have an eight and four year old who they are rotten parents for (just one more phone call away and CPS will intervene), I could go on. In the last three years we have spent at least $20,000 to try and help them but now they are penniless, homeless, and can't get a house or an apartment due to their criminal, legal, financial issues so what now? My wife understands that I do not deserve this, that I have hung in their over the years more than most would and understands if I have no choice to leave but she cannot totally abandon her daughter even knowing that she will always be handcuffed in life by her actions. I have hung in as long as I can because I love my wife but at 63 and after a long career, I deserve happiness too and it is upsetting beyond words that I may have to leave to have it. But that is the way it is. I do believe that at some point if you are someone like me, despite the love you have for your spouse, you must engage the brain instead of the heart or you will die with many regrets. Its time to move on. It did help me to read what others are experience and see that so many people are dealing with this heartache. Of course I also have a couple of friends who deal with this too but have also moved on for their own sake and to be able to enjoy life the best they can with the years they have left. Thanks
Wow just like me. Not many words and I have no other but to leave to be at peace. My step son brakes window out. I am PTSD and have my mental ills also. I think in time it some one will get hurt me or him. Thanks for you writing what you did. My wife i love very much, but I need a life. I have tried to help all I can.
I am almost there. I love my husband so much and wonder is it fare to ask him to give up his schizophrenic son for me. The son is hopeless wont try to get better. I'm 64 retired two weeks ago, my husband is retiring in a year. We saved for this time in our life, we cant support him, and I cant live with the sick son, btw he's 32. I think my husband needs the therapy and thoughts. Do parents owe their children support forever
This can be so hard! There are places parents can find support for their children with mental illness. Start with NAMI (nami.org). They have organizations in every state, and they tend to know where you can find resources. It may help to find support groups, or to find folks who know what might be out there for your husband's son. Maybe there are housing and in-home supports he can use to take some of the work off you two. There may be an adult mental health services department in your county and state, too. I hope you can find the support you need!
To Barbara & all brave ppl who said something. It's so shameful or just not talked about because most the most, better yet the most important are in denial. I met my awesome hubby when his daughter was 15 his son 3. At first to me the differences were clear but... I didn't want to be dick and point it out.
So what do we do? Bottle up. So time passes, & 1 day his father says, " I used to pinch my brother just to make him cry. " I said ,"0h." (that's not nice) OK. Ring ring. Baby mind #1 calling.. :: umm John you need to now take her I cannot anymore. John & I had MY at the time 5 yr old his son was 6. Now the reason why mom could was apparently daughter pulled the steering wheel while mom was driving to cause an accident. Now just recently my fb was hacked by daughter & she decided to wrote herself a mean note. Not only that. Oh no. She took it to grandma with tears.
Now I hadn't seen this because I never wrote it. Immediately within the hour I drive myself to grandma's where the tears were. I needed to see what I supposedly written. So daughter hands me the phone. ( my presence did not seem to help) hand me the phone.
1st clue @ the time this was sent I posted one of the last videos or pics of MY daughter at boxing cobra kai then my phone died. Not only that my husband was right next to me. & I bi*ched about it dying because I couldn't record anytime. So how was I able to send this message like 30-? Min after my phone was already dead?.... Hmmm so I further investigate I find out how to check if anyone has attempted to try and log in to fb... & SUUUURE enough a different phone attempted and succeeded to log in..I send this to grandma like loook ! AH HA! GRANDMA SAYS: sometimes when were mad we say things but that's in the past... Um no.
So present time: son now 11 soon. Since the we met you can clearly see the jealousy. Even the pictures say it. I've noticed it and tried to gracefully give space respect and patience. Time different options therapy meds more therapy with pastors we respect. & they all agree to separate so we have a system. ( FYI My husband is also bipolar II gone through hell 1/2 but I admire and love 39 years old I'm 30 I've given him 8 years of dedication & MY LIFE BUT HIM & MY DAUGHTER "OUR." HAVE AN AWESOME BOND. 3 years on meds and stable now. ) HE EARNED THE NAME DADDY WHEN SHE WAS 1 1/2. NOW this is where it starts.. When they were like 4-5 son says.., " can we just throw (_____) in front of a car so she can die?" Husband and I look at each other. Husband says,"no that's my princess."we address it and state its not ok to say such things. Because their mean or not nice. Ect
#2 I was watching both soon and my daughter at the park. For some reason there were red long squared bricks by a tree. My daughter wasn't looking and I caught him landing one at her with all his strength. Luckily he missed. When my husband came home I addressed it & I believe I told his mom. But both felt like I was just being asssh*le really. So time goes their playing.. & son says I want to kill (____) I want to say he even told her at one point he was going to. So I said.. For her safety were good. Let's listen to the professionals & u guys have guy time well have girl time. But oh the desire to co-exist as 1. Darn it. We try it a while ago. And it starts with the boo ing of her during her baseball games & cheering for the other team loudly enough to you hear he clearly is NOT cheering for you.. I mean do you laugh it off and just say oh brothers. Go freaking figure.. Or correct it? In this cases the arguments would start. Yes very stressful on marriges. Now I said OK I'll desire when I want too co mingle and if it gets intentionally maliscious then I'm out. Like I'll see you tomorrow ( we also have shortage sleeping arrangements. ) the pastor and therapists said you and daughter go somewhere safe. I said than you for dating this out loud now I know I'm not an assho*e and there issssss something different here.
Call me anything you'd like if you must but if great grandma RIP committed suicide she was bipolar her uncle also suicide & bipolar his daughter just diagnosed & refuses meds according to grandma. ADHD and meds have been administered at least 3 different attempts that I know of. I strongly feel it's bipolar as well.. I mean it's not ridiculous to think. But because grandma and baby ma #2 don't think so it's NOT.
Well today May 21 @2:13 am let me say today was stressful.
I spent since yesterday trying to connect and be cool with his son be there how I can and have him have a blast while he's here. My daughter loves him doesn't remember the bad or awkward. So he says things to her when he's over it. When he's done with our company. He will be a sweetheart at the beginning enjoyable loving caring funny. I love it. But then he's quiet then energetic life a fire cracker then says things that are hurtful towards my daughter like. Your not my sister your just my stepsister I have a real sister & i love her more. While we listen in awkwardness like wtf why do you feel the need to randomly say that? We all wonder in our heads & look at each other like who's going to say something me expecting dad to step in. & he does we speak again and state being mean is not necessary. That legitimetly hurt her feelings @ some point soon would argue that my daughter did not have my husbands last name. Again to hurt her feelings. And today while my husband wasn't with us for a moment he asks me and Daughter, "where's your real dad." a valid question. I respond with, "to your sister in her heart your dad is her dad. "he quickly changes the conversation loudly disregarding the emotion of it all. Then about 1 hr later soon says," where did your team last name come from.? " assuming the one that is not the one she's claimed since she was 3 ish. I wosa.. But the hubby catches it. Son is clearly saying this to be hurtful or attention? For what ever reason. Dad addressed it we state & talk about it. We state that we all know he knows he knows this to be mean on purpose & it's not OK. We go our separate ways for the day..
-Yeah it's hard meds help A TON!!!
- IF IT HELPS LITHIUM & DEPAKOTE & INVEGA TRENSA ARE HIS REMEDY. (4 MY HUBBY)
-SEEING A DR. every 2-4 weeks
-ACCEPTANCE (BEING IN DENIAL MAKES IT HARDER ON OTHERS ASWELL)
-ZZZZZzzzz. It's hard but for me is worth it. As long as my daughter is safe & LOVED. SORRY FOR ALL OR ANY MISSPELLED STUFF IT'S NOW 2:39 AM
My son, not long ago came out of the air force diagnosed with affective disorder and pipolar 1 - He recently had an episode, and refused to take his medication. He started taking his medication, and now he's doing much better. It's been three months. My husband, the stepdad want him out of the house. He's my son I want to be there for him. Get him established, on a routine. Help him get in depended. I feel if he can't take his medication on his own something bad could happen. I don't want him to end up in jail or something.
I do love my husband and want to be alone with him, yet I feel my son needs me now
Can anyone help me?
I was blamed for all the problems. So, if both boys have ADHD and dad was never informed or involved. It would be true of thier version being a strict parent. Again the person who knew and did is getting away with being accountable. You don't let a child go through middle school like K did...do nothing...especially when mom knew K brother had ADHD. I am totally devastated but not suprised. Mom has never been honest do to her mental illness. Older brother never treated.
As a parent we are to to alert our child’s pediatrician to all personal history of ADHD. The sooner we are aware of potential signs of ADHD in your child, the sooner we and child’s doctor can respond. We can begin treatment and therapy early, which may help child learn to cope with the symptoms of ADHD better? 2011
K will need a formal evaluation to see if he has ADHD. This involves a health professional doing a clinical interviews and using rating scales and other important information. (Father) This is especially true if K had a sibling, parent or other close blood relative who has ADHD/mental illness. Why now? When she knew a long time ago and all problems 6, 7, and 8 grades?
Regardless of whether K is diagnosed with ADHD, there are many ways to help him at home and in school. PAST 5 years mom has NOT helped K made everything worse for him the entire family. Known major depression and anxiety...unk ocd..
My days were hard enough in army...always felt there was something wrong with my family. After I retired...I felt and witnessed even more. I cried more, went to work all stressed out. They burned me out from not knowing the truth and not being involved with the mental health behavior issues. I lived like I did not exist to them. Very much the past 12 months...dad is ATM to mom and boys
I recently got married to a woman with a 8 at the time now 9 year old son that has ADD, ADHD, SPD, emotional issues, and slight autism. At first I was able to deal with things and my marriage was great but now he has gotten older he has gotten worse. He cries because when he doesn't want to do certain things and blames it on his issues. He constantly is calling himself stupid and saying things that a child his age shouldn't say. Everything is a struggle from getting him up in the morning to doing his homework to going to bed. He doesn't listen at all and I'm fusrated and I'm loosing hope. My wife and I are always arguing because of him. I know there are some things he can't control but in my opinion he is somewhat lazy and acting like a spoiled brat. I need some advice before I loose my mind.
I am so torn between my 42 yr old son and my husband (stepfather). My son has had several diagnosis over the years and medications. We have supported him financially on many occasions and "cost us thousands" as my husband states . I have always worked until 5 months ago. The latest episode his Dr took him off all his meds in an attempt to change them and he became suicidal and homicidal so brought him home from interstate for treatment and he is currently having ETC as an inpatient. The problem is my husband hates him immensely and does not believe in mental illness. He is a "pull yourself together and get on with life person". I cannot walk away from my son but do not want to lose my husband. I dread when my son will be discharged as my husband does not want him in the house but he cannot go home as has to complete his treatment as an outpatient. I have been referred to counseling myself as I am a mess and torn.
My son is 19 and was diagnosed with bipolar 1 just three months past his 18th birthday during his first year of college. He was unable to complete the semester and has been at home for the past 5 months. My husband (his stepfather) has decided that he is only allowed to stay with us for one week at a time and needs to be with his dad for the alternating weeks.... this would work fine, except that his dad doesn't want him there (dad's girlfriend doesn't want my son there-refuses to believe that he has bipolar...thinks he's just lazy) and he does not want to be there. It's causing so much stress in our marriage. My son is on meds now and has made much improvement but still has not found a job. This is part of what's upsetting my husband so much. I am SO stuck in the middle. I want my husband to be happy, but with a 19 year old out of work grown (almost) man living in the house, this will not happen and he has told me that he is seriously worried about our marriage because this just isn't working. I want to do the right thing in order to support my son, but my husband is insisting that he needs a break from my son and that his father should shoulder 50% of the burden. I cannot get my son's father to understand that he needs to step up and insist to his girlfriend that his son should be able to stay with him some too. I agree that my son needs a job, and I agree that his dad should step up here but I do not want to "ban" my son from my own home for a week at the time every other week! I have so much guilt on my shoulders... I've ruined my son's life by not providing him with a consistent stable environment, I've ruined my husband's life by bring this baggage into the marriage with me even though I had no idea that my son would end up with this diagnosis. I just feel like running away from everything. It's awful, and sad, and horrible. I don't enjoy anything anymore.
Stuck in the middle...
I have been with my partner for over 10 years. Unfortunately his daughter Mary, now 27 years old, has many issues. Since I have known her she has seen numerous counsellors and members of the medical profession resulting in diagnoses of adhd, bi polar, aspergers, anorexia, bullimia, substance abuse including ketamine addiction with the latest one being alcoholism. Clearly a troubled young woman.
Her mum, like any good mum, is a big part of her life and provides an unbelievable amount of support. She regularly travels 500 miles to visit Mary to do general housekeeping, washing, food shopping etc. Financially she is in the enviable position to have been able to buy her daughter a flat, pay for all her living costs and send her on a 3 month all expenses paid holiday recently. My partner of course happily contributes an agreed and substantial amount each month towards his daughter’s welfare but I am sure it is a lot less than 50% due to the additional funds mum pays out when asked to do so. Also in trying to keep the peace between Mary and her Dad she is economic with the truth about issues she has had to deal with. It has come to light that Mary has attempted a drug overdose, on a couple of occasions over the last 4 years, and as a result her father is racked with guilt and so Mary has been living with us recently.
We live in a small apartment and I am not sure how long I can continue in this situation. It is a feeling of guilt and self-loathing that I am unable to cope with someone in need, anger and frustration that I see manipulation in so many situations…the damocles sword of suicide hanging over simple requests like not to stay up every night until 4am, to tidy up etc etc. The pat reply is ‘that is the way I am, I can always go back to my own apartment if it is causing a problem’. Of course her father doesn’t want this to happen so it is put up and shut up time. I am powerless in my own home with a deep feeling of being controlled.
Like Matt I am at my wits end and my relationship with my husband is strained, no matter how hard we both put on a brave face and act as if everything is ok….for Mary’s sake!
Bitterness and resentment now setting in
I have a 31 year old son who is bipolar living with us. I want him to leave as my marriage is at a cross roads ( 32 years ). My wife won't stop treating him as a child. He manipulates both of us to where we are fighting each other.Every time we show progress she pulls us backwards. We are in counseling and the doctor tells her to stop it already but she won't. I am at the end of my patience and want a divorce is what my son want's.
I am fit to be tied.
I've been in a long distance relationship for two years. We are supposed to marry next month. I have quit my job and am packing and making all arrangements to move out of state to be with my new husband. Problem is I have a mentally ill adult son that I am the primary care giver over. Over the past year I have worked hard to prepare him for my relocation. He will not be going with me. My fiance was accepting of the hardships in my life but now all of a sudden he wants to cancel the marriage cause he says he's concerned about how being a long distance care giver for my son will effect our marriage. I'm devastated. Any advice?
Glad to find this. Stepmom to a 29 year old mentally Ill, drug addict son. Huge strain. So angry. So tired of it. Tenth hospitalzation in 4 1/2 years. Calls his father non stop. I have younger children I try to protect from this. Last year I put a stop to him living with us. It's never going to end and we have a few months of calm, then pow. His parents go into crisis mode and I want the phone calls to stop, the constant talking about it. sucks the air out of the room. Even when he is not in an episode he is so self absorbed. I don't like him anymore. I feel bad for my husband. He is trapped and tired. But how do I hVe some boundaries? I don't think he needs to pick up the phone 30 times and talk to The delusional personalities.
I came across your blog when searching for.....I don't even know what for. My husband (of 3 years) and I are dealing with what feels like soul crushing weight. My stepdaughter is in month 4 of a first psychotic episode, and it is taking a huge toll. I don't even have the energy to write our entire story. Suffice to say that even reading that there are others dealing with this same thing makes me feel less alone. Even though I don't know any of you, thank you for sharing and for providing some feeling of connection over the internet waves.
Thanks for visiting and commenting. And you're welcome. Sometimes, it's really hard for me to connect with another parent going through what I'm going through in person. I've got great friends who do their best to understand and support me. But, there's nothing like having a connection with other parents who know exactly what I've been dealing with. I'm glad to do this. Take care and please visit again soon.
Thrilled I am not alone
My 8yr old daughter has been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, from Aspergers to bipolar. She sees a therapist and a psychiatrist. No doctor has found a medicine to help her. The school cannot deal with her even though she's in 504 program. She is now in a mental facility. This is her third time being there. I don't know what to do. I have thought about residential treatment but everyone looks at me like a bad mother when I even mention it. The doctor seems to believe he can fix her with another trial and error of medications. I hope he will help her.
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. It seems that even though things are difficult right now, you still have hope. I don't know what state you live in, but you can look on your state's website for information on mental health services. I hope this helps and my thoughts are with you. Take care.
Ever since I married (2nd time), my husband's son has been in all kinds of trouble. He's no 30 years old, hasn't gotten help and keeps costing time and money. The latest is an eye infection that can result in vision lost because he falls asleep (sometimes drunk) with his contacts on. My husband does not set boundaries with him and a family counselor has just told me to keep out of it. My feelings don't matter and I do feel that this kid sometimes manipulates and wants to cause problems in my marriage.
My husband is clueless and keeps denying there's a serious problem and expects his son to work a normal job. The kid keeps blowing jobs because he threatens people or just doesn't show up at work.
I'm asking myself if it's time for me to leave. I wonder if the marriage is worth it. My husband will be drained financially (we can't create a financial future together) and is often to preoccupied with the problems to be present in the marriage.
Thank you for sharing your story. From what you've described, it sounds as if your husband's son has had issues for a long time that have gone on without being resolved or worse, undiagnosed. I feel for you. From your words, I can tell that you see your husband's son as a child (due to your calling him a 'kid' several times). It takes two people to make a relationship work and many to make a family work. In my experience, people do not change unless they are ready to change and not a second before. Unfortunately, it sounds as if your husband is allowing his son to manipulate him by being in denial of his son's issues. If this is affecting your marriage, then it is up to you to talk to him. To say that your concerned about his financial situation, that you cannot make a financial future with him (without mentioning his son at all) and that he is not present in the marriage due to other preoccupations. I'd have to agree with the family counselor. Your husband has to make the tough choices when he is ready. If you push him too much, you'll only push him to keep trying harder with his son because it is clear from your description that he doesn't want to lose his son. It isn't about giving him an ultimatum so much as letting him know how his actions (your husband's) are affecting you. I'd consult the family counselor on how to have the conversation to help you practice before you actually sit your husband down. A 30 year old is an adult and it sounds as if your husband's heavy enabling is helping his son keep this negative cycle going. I'm thinking good thoughts for you and hope that you visit again soon.
Over the past few years I have watched my youngest son change. He is now 13. I have taken him to our family doctor multiple times knowing something was wrong. I was told its just him becoming a teenager. My husband is in the Navy and was deployed last year. My husband had been gone for a year now. This past year my son has turned violent towards me and his older brother by one year. I couldn't take it anymore and we started seeing a counselor in December. Things did not get better. He started failing school and becoming aggressive towards his teachers. I felt helpless. The counselor referred us to a psychiatrist for medication, but my husband was completely against it. My husband felt I was being too hard on our son, he didn't want to believe what was happening to our son. One of my son's episodes was so bad I had to call the police. I couldn't even talk when I called 911. My other son had to take the phone and tell the police his brother was trying to hurt us. I took my son to the psychiatrist and he started medication. Things seemed to get better, but then got worse very fast. My son was Baker-Acted from school and stayed in at the mental hospital for 6 days. When I went to visit him I was disgusted by the facility. I wanted him out of there. My son is now on new medication and I am sad to say it's not working. We go back soon to discuss changing the medication. Not only have I and his brother had to deal with my son's mental illness, but my husband who is still deployed blames me. I don't know if our marriage will survive. I feel betrayed because I have been trying to do whatever I can to help our son, and my husband blames me for his behavior.
Thank you for sharing your story. You've been through so much - not only as the mother of a child with mental illness, but also the wife of a serviceman. That being said, it must be so hard to have someone blaming you for something he hasn't experienced. Especially if this person is your partner. It sounds as if things have been happening for a long time. You did not mention how long your husband has been in the Navy or how many times he has been deployed. So many factors are involved when mental illness hits - genetics, environment, life events, etc. All of those have a part to play. As for the medication, it takes a month or two before they start working. You're doing everything you need to do by keeping connected with the team. Keep the psychiatrist updated regularly about any changes (or non-changes) with the medication. And consider individual and/or family therapy to help you all cope together. One big challenge about mental illness in children that no one really talks about is how it affects the parents especially when they disagree about treatment. Hang in there and please come visit again soon.
Nobody has said they have a probably like mine.I remarried when my daughter was five. She always has been jealous of my relationship with her stepdad. Anyway we we both abused by her Bio dad. She accused hum of molesting her the charges were unfounded.she has been in psych facilities an DC with bipolar schizophrenia and the whole shabang. She's older now and home.husband doesn't feel comfortable and wants her fine. She still feels as if I should leave him. I am at a lost as of what to do.
I'm really glad that you shared today. And I'm so sorry for the pain and suffering you've been through. It takes a very strong person to walk away from an abusive relationship. As a single mom, I knew that introducing a new person to Bob would be a challenge. So, I prepared him beforehand. Bob was very upset about it because he still wanted his father and I together. Which is something many children want, but aren't able to articulate. Bob did though. I explained to Bob how unhappy I was as a child with my parents arguing and how happy I was when they broke up. And I told Bob that I didn't want him to go through years of arguing parents when he didn't have to. It took him a couple of years to accept that his father and I wouldn't be together. Bob is now looking forward to a future stepfather and siblings. It's all about how you present it while also giving your child time to let go of the fantasy. I'd recommend family therapy so that you can allow your daughter to process her feelings about your new relationship. Because our children do affect relationships regardless of whether or not they are related to the person (bio parents) or not (stepparents). Also, the family therapy should include your husband so that he can talk about his feelings as well. Everyone needs to be heard and validated before healing can begin. I believe with my whole heart that you can have a happy family life if you put the time and effort into it. Good luck and please visit again soon.
Hi its me again, Leslie. We have managed to get along for all these years. So now my hubby had to have surgery. He has to be non weight bearing and we have animals. We take care of tgem and him and it is taking a toll. I havent really been happy in a while . im sick and tired of being sick and tired and now she says he is depressing her. Im depressed too. I cant leave now. What would you do?
My son is 22, and has schizophrenia. His psychotic break was 3 1/2 years ago. It has been hard on my marriage, and to my younger daughter. I struggle to holdit together, as I deal with my own anxiety and depression. I also have children who had ADD, and know the struggles of putting young children on medication. My son has excellent doctors and therapists, as do I and my children. Taking time for myself is difficult, but I do it. I hope and pray one day there will be a breakthrough in medication, for those suffering with this illness.
I don't have children because I had three miscarriages and I lost our daughter at 20 weeks gestation. I miss them more than I can say. I just wanted to let all the moms here that are struggling with your children having a mental illness to know that I sympathize with you. (((((((((hugs)))))))) My nephew has ADHD and I practically raised him until he was 2 1/2 tears old. He is 20 now and is doing very well. My sister finally got him on meds when he was little and that calmed him down. I just wanted to share this to give you some hope. Take care of yourselves, and please don't blame yourselves because it's not your fault. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you. God bless.
Sometimes it is just comforting to be able to relate to someone, your blog is very helpful/truthful...my daughters bipolar has put a huge strain on our marriage( truthfully on everything-from family to finances). My daughter is adopted, 11yr-and her sister is 4month younger than she. Long story, birth mom changed mind ect Family telling you 'it's just you letting her get away with stuff' (although we've been in counseling since shses was 3yr , best pssychiatrists, 2 hospitals stays-one not coverd under insurance$17,000 -argg! ) My daughter who has bp is one of the most loving children on earth, gifted, couldn't live without her! Meds stop working, dr not following through w/ appointments-it's a lot for anyone to take! Tattered & Torn but we keep on going...us moms deserve more credit for keeping our families together, standing up to others stupid prejudices against mental illness, demanding help...my prayers go out to all the moms all there fighting this HUGE battle -day after day! God Bless you
I sob as i read the words that i live with. The guilt, oh how i am so imersed in guilt. The love, truck loads of love for all the members in our little family. Recognition that our unity, our just being a faimly inflicts a type of suffering on every member. I can't change the past because it has gone before me and I do not know the future so I can only live the present as well as is possible. What has guided each of our family members into thier position in life becomes less important than how we unify to find the strenght to cement our selves into a sense of peace, of
acceptance and hope. Hope is the key that unlocks our premision to still live as a family, to love what is always there under the tatters and tears.
I always have pain, i always have some guilt, i have frustration, I have enough hope to demand we function as a family enough of the time that it is who we are. We are Timmy's family. We are John's Family we are Mom and Dad's family. We know no matter what happens there will be our family tattered, torn but still whole.
love and hope