Friday, November 11, 2005

Tough Week

Sorry it's been a few days since I've posted, but it's been a bitch of a week.

First of all, things are sliding quickly with my 21 year old bipolar son. I don't want anyone to think badly of him, he's a wonderful kid, fun to be around, brilliant, witty, creative. But with ALL the baggage of a young person with serious bipolar disorder. He has always drank to excess. Well, he's taken it to a new level. He now drinks, virtually every night, until he passes out, and wakes up almost every day in his own vomit. What brought this to a head, we set an appointment for him to continue the paperwork so he can get support. Rent, food, education assistance, so forth. He didn't come home the night before the appointment. The next morning, my wife went looking for him, and found him, passed out, at his friend's apartment, with vomit everywhere. This apartment is leased primarily by a kid who's struggling to survive, and to keep visitation rights of his young daughter. And there's my son passed out with vomit all over the house. If the other kid's caseworker had shown up, it would be all over with respect to visitation of his child. My wife woke him up, and made him get into the car. My son was belligerant, swearing, and so forth, and finally my wife stopped and made the boy get out. She drove away.

That night, he showed up at our house at 3:00 AM. He was impaired, but functioning. I heard the microwave door open, so I woke up the wife and we had a talk with him. We told him our rules for remaining in the house:
1. Inpatient substance abuse treatment as soon as we could get him in.
2. Inpatient psychiatric treatment when he got out of detox.
3. Any meds prescribed taken without missing a day.
4. No alcohol or drugs in our home.
5. No minors around him when using alcohol. His girlfriend and ALL his friends are minors, and we worry that he is making money by hosting parties for minors. He is getting the money to drink somewhere.

If he refused, we would give him 24 hours to pack up what he wanted, and he was to leave. We would file a restraining order to keep him out of the house, because when we've kicked him out before, he's always snuck back when we were at work or asleep at night. He's even broken out windows to get in.

He consented, until we woke him up early the next day. We found an opening at a local, highly respected treatment center, but he refused to go. He stormed off, and we haven't seen him since Wednesday morning. Neither has his girlfriend, she's as fed up as we are.

So, other than that, life's just peachy.

Now, every time I've posted something like this about my son, I get many emails and comments about this being the best thing, you have to show him who's boss, you have to make him learn, and so forth. But remember, folks, this is mental illness we're dealing with. And one of my flesh and blood. He's not perfect, but neither are any of us. I love him dearly, and want nothing more than for him to live a long, happy life. I couldn't care less if he's "successful", or rich, or anything else. I want him to live a life where he's happy, healthy, and others don't get hurt. Outside of that, I have no wishes for him. So this HURTS. And it will likely hurt even more before it gets better.

And one more thing. This is my only outlet. This and my wife. There is no one else I can discuss this with. I'm only really close to family, and my wife goes ballistic if I tell anyone in my family about this. She says they judge him, and she gets SO angry about that. She even gets angry when I blog this stuff, saying that people will know, family will find out, and judge him unfairly. She's not embarassed, she just gets angry when they don't treat him as well as our other kids. Well, a person can only hold so much in, and this is getting the better of me.

If this post is deleted in a day or two, you'll know the wife got hold of this, and won the argument.

This is being double posted on Bipolar Support, and Living Bipolar (Living With A Purple Dog)


Lisa said...

There isn't anything I can say to take your pain away. I would never tell you what is best about your own child. The only I can do is pray for your family.

You and I both know he needs all of the things you prescribed in your rules. Until he is ready to accept those "rules" I am afraid there isn't anything more you will be able to do.

My friend I believe you and your wife have done everything you can do and have done it exceptionally well. He is an adult with a mental illness.

I hope that by the time you see this he is safe.

God Bless,

Belinda said...

You did exactly right with your son, IMO. Maybe his "rock-bottom" is a little farther down, and you'll have a window of opportunity for some insight at that time.

While I can understand your wife's feelings, I don't share them. She knows her family best, but in my VERY humble opinion, it is crucial to talk, to get these things out in the open. To hide them, not talk about them, run interference, etc., reinforces the stigma that something is fundamentally "wrong," morally, ethically, or charcter-wise with a person who merely has an illness. A treatable illness.

I know the diabetes, epilepsy, etc. analogies are cliched, but some cliches exist because they are true. If your son was epileptic, having seizures and breaking lamps or doing other damage in the grip of these seizures, you would not be "ashamed" of him. You would do your best to help him (as you are doing) and enlist every bit of family support you could muster.

What I learned about bringing bipolar disorder "out of the closet" is how shockingly prevalent it is. I was surprised at the number of people at my church, and heck, even in my church *choir*, who were affected by this disease, and very sympathetic and understanding.

Jon said...

Thanks to RB and Belinda for your insight.

I actually have some better news I'll be posting today.