son seems nonfunctional and extremely dependent

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bunrab

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Nov 7, 2017
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#1
My son whom I have been supporting financially has had police problems and past mental hospitalizations. Now his medication is being monitored daily. He seems to be doing better; however, he seems to be unable to consistently keep himself clean and keeps saying he is going to do things he does not do. For a long time he has stated that he will get a job or apply for government funding for having a disability, but he does not complete those processes. I have discussed this with him but I am not sure it is doing any good. His father says he will help him apply for the funding and give him other help when he visits him for my son;'s upcoming court date, but I am sad that my son cannot seem to do much on his own. He seems to mostly talk about hiking as his activity now, whereas he has a history of being a standout in school and having his own business. He has good skills from school but says he plans to get a job washing dishes. Should I be angry at him for doing so little on his own and planning so little? What can I do to change the situation, or should I try?
 
claude

claude

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#2
is he on antipsychotics? those can make it VERY VERY VERY hard to do even the easiest things because they make you feel so tired and apathetic.

Inability to manage hygiene and day to day life are very common in people with serious mental illness, sadly it is not so unusual. I think they are often referred to as "negative symptoms". It must be very hard for you to see your son this way though, obviously you want a better more fulfilling life for him. It is probably hard for him to think about it too.

I'm sorry i don't have any advice for you, it sounds like a tough situation for you both and I hope things will improve over time
 
Kerome

Kerome

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#3
It’s important not to be too negative to him about these things. He’s going through a tough time, it is difficult to maintain your sense of your own value if your loved ones are telling you you’re not trying hard enough. Try to give him some appropriate support in being motivated for doing even simple things.
 
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bunrab

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#4
Thanks. Yes, he is on medication for schizophrenia that is being monitored daily. He has been in and out of mental hospitals for several years, never having gone to one voluntarily. I never committed him. I am divorced and his father and my son's roommate/landlord have had him go to mental hospitals. This situation has been hard to take, as after one hospitalization, my ex-husband brought my son to live with me and my son was then able to get a job and gradually decreased his medication. During that time I pressured him to keep himself clean and get a job. Then I told him he should probably look for another place to live, as he had saved a lot of money while working and I had not charged him rent. I wanted him to move partly because I wanted him to be independent and partly because my condo is very tiny -- sort of like the most basic dorm room, and it was difficult to have two people in the same space. Then he moved in with the roommate/landlord and payed an expensive rent then ran out of money from doing that. His temp job had ended, also, so he had no income. Then he got into two police-involved incidents that are now ongoing legal cases. He was put back in the hospital several times for observation due to those incidents. Since he lived with the roommate/landlord, he has again become sometimes dirty. Everyone says my son needs the medication to be OK, but I still think he did OK when he lived with me and was reducing it; however, now he would get in legal trouble if he went off his meds. His roommate/landlord, my ex-husband and my family all feel that he needs the meds. Some of my family members seem concerned about him, but my family has excluded him from family events. They want me to be friendly with them while they seem to ostracize him, so I sometimes feel pulled in different directions as to whether to be more social or not. Due to his police stuff, people have a right to be wary of him, but there seem to be some other issues going on, perhaps financial. A family member has told me of generalized demands he is making on my son (as a family rep/patriarch) for him to have contact with the family. I thought that the most important thing was for my son to comply with the legal system and his doctors, so I thought that the "patriarch's rules" for his conduct in the family might not be good, but I am not sure (it seemed that my son might be being asked to do work for free involving the family instead of looking for a job). Any advice?
 
Cazcat

Cazcat

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#5
Thanks. Yes, he is on medication for schizophrenia that is being monitored daily. He has been in and out of mental hospitals for several years, never having gone to one voluntarily. I never committed him. I am divorced and his father and my son's roommate/landlord have had him go to mental hospitals. This situation has been hard to take, as after one hospitalization, my ex-husband brought my son to live with me and my son was then able to get a job and gradually decreased his medication. During that time I pressured him to keep himself clean and get a job. Then I told him he should probably look for another place to live, as he had saved a lot of money while working and I had not charged him rent. I wanted him to move partly because I wanted him to be independent and partly because my condo is very tiny -- sort of like the most basic dorm room, and it was difficult to have two people in the same space. Then he moved in with the roommate/landlord and payed an expensive rent then ran out of money from doing that. His temp job had ended, also, so he had no income. Then he got into two police-involved incidents that are now ongoing legal cases. He was put back in the hospital several times for observation due to those incidents. Since he lived with the roommate/landlord, he has again become sometimes dirty. Everyone says my son needs the medication to be OK, but I still think he did OK when he lived with me and was reducing it; however, now he would get in legal trouble if he went off his meds. His roommate/landlord, my ex-husband and my family all feel that he needs the meds. Some of my family members seem concerned about him, but my family has excluded him from family events. They want me to be friendly with them while they seem to ostracize him, so I sometimes feel pulled in different directions as to whether to be more social or not. Due to his police stuff, people have a right to be wary of him, but there seem to be some other issues going on, perhaps financial. A family member has told me of generalized demands he is making on my son (as a family rep/patriarch) for him to have contact with the family. I thought that the most important thing was for my son to comply with the legal system and his doctors, so I thought that the "patriarch's rules" for his conduct in the family might not be good, but I am not sure (it seemed that my son might be being asked to do work for free involving the family instead of looking for a job). Any advice?
Hi, I support my husband who suffers with episodes of psychosis. It can be really really hard both supporting someone when they are unwell and getting your head around psychosis and how it affects people.

Psychosis and schizophrenia have both positive (added) symptoms and negative (removed) symptoms. The positive symptoms are the delusions, hallucinations and disorganised thinking. The negative symptoms are problems with initiation, motivation, planning and organisation. As previously said antipsychotic medications can also cause drowsiness and make it difficult to do things too. There's a really good book called "The Centre Can Not Hold: my journey through madness " by professor Elyn Saks, its her autobiography and she gives a first hand account of how her schizophrenia affects her. That book has helped my understand how my husband is affected more than anything else.

My husband also goes through phases where he struggles to remember to eat and to wash etc and needs a lot of support and promoting with this. Sometimes his skin gets really sore because of this. Learning about negative symptoms and realising that this is part of his illness has really helped me feel less frustrated with things like him not always pulling his weight around the house and to understand that when he withdraws emotionally it is part of his illness and not something personal. How much these symptoms affect my husband varies and when they start to get worse it can be a warning sign that the psychosis is returning so keeping an eye out for them helps us to ensure that he has the right support and medication to avoid a crisis.

From the language you use I'm assuming that you are not in the UK so I don't know how the systems work where you are but have your sons mental health team done any work with him on spotting early warning signs and avoiding crises? My husband and I are gradually learning how to spot things earlier and what actions to take to avert a crisis and we seem to be able to catch things earlier each time. I'm also wondering if a support worker to help your son with day to day things like reminding him to wash helping him get back to study or work etc would help. I give my husband a lot of support and his CPN has said that is the only reason that he is as well as he is. I Wonder if he needs a level of support to enable him to live independently successfully and stay well as it sounds like he did well when he was living with you. I'm not saying that he should live with you again just that maybe he needs more support than he has at the moment. You could discuss this with him and his mental health team to see what is available.

Learning how to live with a serious mental illness is hard and it can take a long time to get both your heads round it. My husband and I are nearly 5 years post diagnosis and still learning how to best manage things, but we are getting better at it. Both of you will also be going through a grieving process for the diagnosis and for the future that you both imagined for your son.

For now remember he has been incredibly ill and is doing the best he can to understand what has happened to him and how it affects his future. Recovery is a slow process. With my husband it tends to take him a couple of years to recover from each episode of psychosis and it sounds like your son has had a few crises is a short time. For now I would avoid putting any pressure on him and support him in finding his feet again in the way that works for him. Celebrate his achievements however small they might feel to you. Even having a shower can take a huge ammoun t of effort when you are unwell.

As for the medications I can't advise. My husband has tried to come off medication in the past and become unwell very quickly. For him the medication is essential in him being able to lead a normal life, cope with work etc.

There is still a lot of stigma still around psychosis we have had problems with our families at times too. I think part of it is that ignorance breeds fear and when people don't understand how the condition affects people. I've found that explaining things has helped a bit with this although my initial reaction to the hostility and stigma was the opposite, to stop talking to these people about my husband's illness.

It might be worth talking to your son about how he feels about the work for this relative. Does he resent not being paid and feel exploited or does he enjoy doing something productive without the pressure that comes with a job? My husband has found going from being ill back to work a big step and has found activities that gave him routine and purpose built his confidence and were an important stepping stone back to part time and then full time work.