Tired of Dealing With Son’s Bipolar

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m extremely tired of dealing with our bipolar? schizoaffective? son. He’s a mean, angry, verbally abusive, person. My husband of 45 yrs had a cancerous kidney removed 1 1/2 yrs ago and is in a drug study at Johns Hopkins. The stress we deal with is definitely affecting our health. We’ve been to many NAMI meetings, but they haven’t helped our situation. He says that we should stay out of his life and we certainly would love to do so. He misses Dr. appointments. He has had 2 auto accidents with DUI charges that are going to trial for which we had to hire a lawyer. We pay all his living expenses yet he blames us for his problems. He’s a college grad with a psychology degree so he feels he knows he knows himself better than his therapists. The only time we feel that he’s in a safe environment for himself and others has been when he’s hospitalized. If we didn’t help, he’d be on the streets homeless.

A. You may be past the point of diminishing returns. There may not be anything left that you can do for your son. It seems as though you’ve tried to do everything for him and nothing works. He continually disobeys your rules and gets into trouble no matter what you do for him.

It’s very admirable of you to want to help your son and to want to ensure that he doesn’t wind up homeless. I can understand why you would want to prevent this. He’s your son and you don’t want to see him living on the streets. But you are doing this at the expense of the health and well-being of you and your husband. You’re doing all you can and it’s still ineffective. You are degrading your life to assist someone who may not be able to be helped, at least not at this point in time. You may have to make the difficult choice of letting go. I suspect that the help you are giving your son enables him to continually engage in problematic behavior. He may be bipolar but he is also an adult male who seemingly has no responsibilities. Has he never been forced to fend for himself? He’s probably never had to fully experience the consequences of his behavior.

I know what I’m suggesting may not be easy or what you want to hear but it may be the only correct way to handle this situation. Things may have to get worse for your son before they get better.

I would suggest that instead of or in addition to NAMI meetings, you and your husband consider seeing a therapist for guidance on this issue. It’s not going to be easy to change the way you interact with your son but it may be the only thing that saves his life and yours. If he won’t change his behavior then you must change yours.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Jun 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Tired of Dealing With Son’s Bipolar. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/06/08/tired-of-dealing-with-sons-bipolar/

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