What a difference 24 hours can make

Dealing with a family members mental illness can be stressful, especially when you are coming out of a abusive situation. Everyone one is struggling. Yesterday I hit a wall, I finally got to a point where I was just done completely done. I had done everything for my son I thought I could possibly do. It had gotten to the point I was ready to put him out in the street. I told him that I was done, I couldn't do it anymore and he had to leave. I told him if he was ever ready to get help I would be here for him, but I was not going to enable him. I could not help him if he wouldn't help himself. The next 24 hours after that was an emotional whirlwind. He packed his stuff, he said he would never quit, and he was moving out. Oh and of course he hated me, he was going to call children's aid, and I would lose my daughter and my job.


I had never done that before because in the past he was not in his right mind. I figured if I used "tough love" on him he would go completely over the edge and never return. The last couple of years have been very challenging and stressful. At times he was completely psychotic, and getting him to take his medication was an nightly battle. He was convinced they were melting is organs and we were trying to kill him. He had to take them consistently for six weeks before they would even start working. There was also the challenge of try to balance the needs of my other children, my daughter needed attention. She was hurting too, and she resented the special treatment that her brother seemed to receive. Thier were lots of fights and constant tension in the house. My daughter felt like she was being deprived of her teen years, and she was right, none of this situation was normal.


It was a nightmare, he had completely lost touch with reality. He would often scream accusations and would make incredible claims. He believed he had supernatural powers. While this was all going on it was really hard not to take it all personally. You had to stop yourself getting upset about what he was saying, and keep from getting drawn into heated arguments. There were times when he would try to press your buttons to get a fight. Early on before I really understood what was really happening, sometimes I did. And all that did was inflame the situation further. It wasn't until I started reading up on how to manage people in psychosis that I started to pick up on some of the tools needed to handle the situation.


The most important thing I learned, was that people in psychosis will mirror the emotions of the people around them, so if your upset, they will be upset. I learned that I had to talk to him in a calm steady voice, no matter what he said, or if he was screaming at me. I could not take anything he said personally. He would scream that he hated me, and wanted me to die etc. And no matter how hurtful, I had to remember it wasn't really him talking, it was the delusions.


Probably the most difficult struggle is not everyone was on board. The only family member that really understood the situation was my daughter. Everyone else has thought I was overreacting and making a big deal over nothing. My concerns were dismissed and ignored. This was very frustrating as I could see he was in very real danger, and in the early days I was pretty much blocked. I was getting concerned calls from the school, but there was nothing I could do, it was out of my hands. I could only sit and watch helplessly, terrified because every day that he wasn't getting the proper care was another step to him never recovering. The continued use of cannabis products put his long-term mental health in serious jeopardy, and while he was with his father, he was smoking daily, with his stepmother. and occasionally he shared a joint with his father as well. I still do not understand how any parent would compromise his child's future that way. They day I got his father's email asking me to take him was one of the happiest of my life. Finally, I could help my son. There were still some roadblocks. It wasn't until very recently that all his siblings finally understood the danger and severity of the situation, this, along with his father being out of the picture, things got easier. Finally, there was a unified team around my son. Once everyone was on board, we could start all rowing in the same direction, and this is when we started to see some progress.


Somehow, in this last 24 hours, this entire situation has taken a completely different turn. Once I had given my ultimatum and allowed my son to sit with it for a bit. He first told me he wouldn't smoke here; I told him that was not good enough. He had to be completely off all drugs, and in some kind of treatment. He rebuffed that. Then he spent an even in the barn (aka art studio) with his brother. They had a heart to heart, and in the middle of the night my son woke me up and said he would call Rideauwood, (that would be outpatient). This was the first indications of a change in the headwinds. I said great and went back to sleep.


First thing this morning, as he walked by my office, I showed him the rehab my uncle had gone too. I asked him if he would be open to it. He said he would, throughout the day he seemed to get more and more on board with the idea. Tonight, he spent more than an hour with their intake person. Then he came down and told me he would be going there next week. It's official he is going to rehap. He is finally going to get the help he needs from a qualified team who are trained to deal with drug addiction. I am still in a bit of disbelief; it seems too good to be true. But I truly do believe he means it, and he is genuine.


It was so hard seeing this depressed morose shell with a faint resemblance to the smiling happy beautiful child he once was. For months he moped around, I had to remind him to eat. He couldn't even make a pot of coffee. Every night I had to make sure he got off to bed a decent hour. He has always been an incredibly loving and beautiful boy full of life and laughter. While we have been going through this, seeing his childhood pictures was heartbreaking for me. I felt I would never see that child again. I think I was giving up hope. I began to accept he might never get better, and he might end up a street person. But I had done all I could. You cannot save someone who doesn't want saving.


I remember when he was in the hospital, and he was completely out of his mind, and for a moment, he looked up at me and I could see a scared little kid in his eyes. He said "Don't give up on me" I promised him I wouldn't. And I haven't. I am so glad he isn't giving up on himself. As he walked out the door tonight to head out to the fair with his brother, he said "I was going to say this is my last weekend of freedom, but it's not, it's my last weekend of prison, I am busting out!" I could tell from his demeanor and tone, his perspective has changed. He means it. He is committed. He is choosing to take his life back.


Right now, I am just sitting here, feeling this moment of relief. I think this is one of the best moments I have had in a very long time. There may be some very difficult times to come, healing is never linear, but for this moment I am happy and I am just going to enjoy this moment of hope.

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