Bi polar 1 son refuses treatment

Posted by mercerspring @mercerspring, Jul 11, 2022

My son spent ten days at Genrose in June 2022 following a severe two week Mania ( he was missing for over two weeks – gave away everything he owned and racked up $12,000 in debt before ending up homeless on his way to disappear into Mexico … he is usually calm, always nice – but doesnt want to work since my husband died six years ago, keeps quitting … (32 years old) and he has stopped medication and therapy – BOTH within three days of being released from Genrose. Just quit his job AGAIN – but if I talk to him ( which never goes well as he either has no problem or I am “ trying to make him feel guilty”) he could quite possibly flee again. It’s all so hard on my heart, my pocketbook and my other four children. What do I do ? Does anyone have any ideas ? Have you been in a comparable situation? Prior to my husbands passing he was a successful college graduate, athlete and worked for 3 years abroad. He came home to help… and it has t been the same since. ( twice hospitalized at Genrose – first time for bipolar -depression, suicidal – this time for Mania with delusions ). If you met him – you’d never guess. He tries so hard to control it all (white knuckle meditation) and does so well most of the time. But it’s no way for him to live and I wish for him to be independent and thriving. Would so appreciate any insight. THANKS!

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Hello @mercerspring and welcome to Connect. I can understand how frustrated and perhaps even helpless you feel about your son's mental health issues. It is never easy.

I would like to introduce you to some other members on Connect who have discussed bipolar experiences with their friends and/or family members such as @starry and @jonespeony who have recently posted.

I'm sure you are probably pretty well versed in bipolar disorder and how it affects behavior. If not, here is some information from Mayo Clinic which might be helpful, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955. Has your son been willing to try medications?

Now, you need some help as well. Are you familiar with NAMI? It is a support organization both for people with mental health problems as well as their family members. Here is a link to their website, https://nami.org/Home. I would encourage you to find a NAMI group nearby and get some support from other family members who have a similar situation. You need to take care of yourself as I'm sure you are aware.

Have you had any personal counseling to help you cope?

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Thank you for your reply. I will review the information you gave me. It is truly appreciated. Regarding medication – both times he left the hospital promising to take medications he quit in less than a week and refused them as well as counseling ( with ample reasons why for both) . I attempted to contact NAMI when he was first released and was desperate for the support – they had “ an opening” the following month in zoom … and they only met twice a month for a total of like 3 hours. I can’t remember the specifics – other than it really wasn’t a resource. And I am active in personal counseling to help me cope. Although it helps me deal with it all – it’s not strong for solutions. There just seems to be no answer. It feels I am to a point where if I tell him he has to move out if he refuses medication and counseling, which will realign me with my other four children … it would simply send him fleeing again ( last time I had to pick him under a bridge 3 states away). I want to see him thrive, not become a homeless victim to this disorder. It if he stays he will continue to get and quit jobs and not really have “ reality” of life’s choices AND it will not set himself up for independence- something he deserves ( I won’t be around forever either). Without a spouse or parents to be by my side – it just feels nearly impossible to know the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong – he’s lovely company ( although I do watch the ups and downs and it can be hard – and sometimes I have to be careful with my words) – it just feels that this is my new life. Worrying. About him. About the resentment this all has created in my other kids. About how this will be my future – don’t get me wrong. I am blessed. But there is always a low level anxiety this whole situation causes, I’m always on guard and I feel like I shouldn’t leave the house for extended periods of time ( in the past I would come home to find him severely depressed when I did ). I wish Mayo offered a mental health counselor specific to help guide a parent through these types of issues. I had all the resources when he was at Genrose. But when he checked out and refused to do any of the follow up … I am left with an adult that deserves so much more (& I deserve less stress too). Thanks again.

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@mercerspring

Thank you for your reply. I will review the information you gave me. It is truly appreciated. Regarding medication – both times he left the hospital promising to take medications he quit in less than a week and refused them as well as counseling ( with ample reasons why for both) . I attempted to contact NAMI when he was first released and was desperate for the support – they had “ an opening” the following month in zoom … and they only met twice a month for a total of like 3 hours. I can’t remember the specifics – other than it really wasn’t a resource. And I am active in personal counseling to help me cope. Although it helps me deal with it all – it’s not strong for solutions. There just seems to be no answer. It feels I am to a point where if I tell him he has to move out if he refuses medication and counseling, which will realign me with my other four children … it would simply send him fleeing again ( last time I had to pick him under a bridge 3 states away). I want to see him thrive, not become a homeless victim to this disorder. It if he stays he will continue to get and quit jobs and not really have “ reality” of life’s choices AND it will not set himself up for independence- something he deserves ( I won’t be around forever either). Without a spouse or parents to be by my side – it just feels nearly impossible to know the right thing to do. Don’t get me wrong – he’s lovely company ( although I do watch the ups and downs and it can be hard – and sometimes I have to be careful with my words) – it just feels that this is my new life. Worrying. About him. About the resentment this all has created in my other kids. About how this will be my future – don’t get me wrong. I am blessed. But there is always a low level anxiety this whole situation causes, I’m always on guard and I feel like I shouldn’t leave the house for extended periods of time ( in the past I would come home to find him severely depressed when I did ). I wish Mayo offered a mental health counselor specific to help guide a parent through these types of issues. I had all the resources when he was at Genrose. But when he checked out and refused to do any of the follow up … I am left with an adult that deserves so much more (& I deserve less stress too). Thanks again.

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I can understand when you say it is difficult to find solutions. This is not an easy place to be. Unfortunately, it is common for people with bipolar disorder to believe that they do not need medication and therapy. There is an explanation for this and it is more complex than just denial. On NAMI's website, they give the following description of this phenomenon:

"When someone rejects a diagnosis of mental illness, it’s tempting to say that he's “in denial.” But someone with acute mental illness may not be thinking clearly enough to consciously choose denial. They may instead be experiencing “lack of insight” or “lack of awareness.” The formal medical term for this medical condition is anosognosia, from the Greek meaning “to not know a disease.” You can read the rest of this article here, https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Anosognosia.

I'm wondering if your son reads. If so, they are many books written by people with bipolar disorder. In these books, the person talks about their life before medication and therapy. If you could read one or two of these books and then share the insights with your son, or better yet, if he could read them, it might help him to recognize his problem and deal with it in a more productive way. NAMI or your personal counselor might be able to give you some titles of books that you could read and then share the stories with your son.

Is that an option?

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Excellent idea. Any book recommendations?

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Hello again @mercerspring,

Yes, here are some books I found when I did a google search for "books written by people with bipolar disorder." https://www.google.com/search?q=books+written+by+people+with+bipolar&rlz=1C1OPNX_enUS937US937&oq=books+written+by+people+with+bipolar&aqs=chrome..69i57.9076j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

The book, "An Unquiet Mind," has very good reviews. The book, "Madness" by Marya Hornbacher is supposed to be very good as well. You might also keep a check on the website of the University of Michigan, Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program. On October 26, 2022, they are having a speaker who is a former professional NBA player who has bipolar disorder. It will be live streamed if you don't live near the University of Michigan.

After you read the books, you might consider leaving some of these books in places where your son might see them and perhaps pick them up and read.

Wishing you all the best. If you have any other questions or comments will you post again?

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Thank you so much for the book list. Knowledge is power – with such knowledge comes understanding AND less stress. (& will definitely leave the books setting about-?grand idea). All currently calm on the home front… but being prepared for the “swings” is essential.

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@mercerspring

Excellent idea. Any book recommendations?

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Any and all books by Dr. Kay Jamison. She has bipolar, is very successful and candid about this dreadful illness. I too am bipolar and went through crazy years and put everyone around me through hell. I finally had 12 ECT’s which worked to somehow adjust my disorder.

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@dsg

Any and all books by Dr. Kay Jamison. She has bipolar, is very successful and candid about this dreadful illness. I too am bipolar and went through crazy years and put everyone around me through hell. I finally had 12 ECT’s which worked to somehow adjust my disorder.

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Thank you so much for the recommendation! It sounds like you have found help and in turn hope. That’s what I wish for my son. Right now he seems to be between the highs and lows – which is a relief , but I do at some level find myself wondering when things will take a turn. If they do (& I pray they don’t) perhaps he would consider ECT. He really wants to avoid medication and how badly it made him feel. ( hence, why he refuses to be on it ). Thanks so much for your reply !!! (:

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@dsg

Any and all books by Dr. Kay Jamison. She has bipolar, is very successful and candid about this dreadful illness. I too am bipolar and went through crazy years and put everyone around me through hell. I finally had 12 ECT’s which worked to somehow adjust my disorder.

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I checked out some of Dr Kay Jamison’s work – has helped a lot. Thanks again for the recommendation!

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Mercerspring,

I can't imagine what this must be like for you. It's hard to watch someone you love so much suffer. I have bipolar after a TBI, and have some idea what I've put my family through and it feels terrible. I don't have a lot of sage advice, save to focus on what you can control: your own mental health. It is tremendously stressful and I would imagine that after so much going on, depression or anxiety would be understandable, if not a the rule, if that makes sense.

And my family had to set boundaries with me, involving financial assistance and in allowing me to stay with them. Staying there never lasted long, I even once left my dad's to stay in a shelter, the shelter didn't have the limits and expectations.

I'll keep you and your son in my thoughts and prayers.

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