How to help my adult son with a mental breakdown

Posted by criss @criss, Nov 2, 2020

Today my heart is so heavy for my son. He has been through so much this year and has reached the breaking point. He is a 42 year old gay man whose marriage has just ended. Covid restrictions of isolation forced him out of work 7 months ago and he was unable to find other work in his area. This caused other problems too. He accepted a job on the opposite coast, moved into an affordable apartment with 3 roommates who he didn't know. On day #2 he had a mental breakdown and was taken to a psychiatric hospital. He maintains an amicable relationship with his partner. He is a 5 hour drive from my husband and me and he is welcome to come to our home until he is able to start again. We live in a very small town with limited mental health services. I'm not sure how to offer help to him.

@criss Your son's situation sounds extremely difficult. Losing a job, a marriage ending, and moving to a new area all at once is a lot for anyone to cope with.

You asked how you could help your son. Are you looking for ways to support him emotionally or practical steps you can take to help him get on his feet? I assume both, is that right?

The length of your son's hospital stay is likely unknown at this time. However social workers at the hospital will likely develop an aftercare plan at the time of his discharge. This is a collaborative effort and I encourage you and your husband to be part of that planning.

Your son will also need emotional support. Validation is a wonderful tool. It’s important to acknowledge his feelings but also let him know you are there for him. Here are a couple of resources that may be helpful.

– What is Invalidation? 5 Things You Shouldn’t Say https://drjamielong.com/validation-5-things-not-to-say/

– Supporting a friend or family member with mental health disturbances https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

I’m tagging members @ayeshasharma @parus @gingerw because they are likely to have insight into your current situation.

We’ve talked a lot about your son and his needs. As we care for other people we often forget “us.” What kind of self-care are you and your husband doing during this stressful time?

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I don't know where you live but look for a NAMI Affiliate in your county or State. Since most meeting are on the Zoom platform, you can attend a meeting from anywhere. A wonderful class for you to take is the Family to Family Class, which is 8 weeks long. In it you will learn about the causes and ramifications of Mental Illnesses and how to communicate with the person experiencing the illness. In the mean time, please log on to http://www.NAMI.org and read as much as you can to educate yourself and your family. Take time to take the BASICS Course which is free online and available at all times. All NAMI courses are free of charge. Good luck and be strong. You are NOT alone.

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@dottiecc

I don't know where you live but look for a NAMI Affiliate in your county or State. Since most meeting are on the Zoom platform, you can attend a meeting from anywhere. A wonderful class for you to take is the Family to Family Class, which is 8 weeks long. In it you will learn about the causes and ramifications of Mental Illnesses and how to communicate with the person experiencing the illness. In the mean time, please log on to http://www.NAMI.org and read as much as you can to educate yourself and your family. Take time to take the BASICS Course which is free online and available at all times. All NAMI courses are free of charge. Good luck and be strong. You are NOT alone.

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@dottiecc Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, a place to give and get support.

It sounds like you have a lot of knowledge to share. May I ask what brings you to Connect specifically?

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@criss checking in to see how ur son and you are doing?

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Thank you for your concern and Erika, for your helpful suggestions! My son is doing quite well now. He moved back in with us over 2 months ago, having no other options. The new job and living arrangement did not prove workable. He has found a job here, not what he aspired to be doing at this point in life, but it's a paycheck and he enjoys it! He has never been close with his dad and they have some strong opposing views on many issues, so there are some difficult times between them, but they remain civil. Son gives me some money to cover expenses when he can, but I hope he can save enough to get re-established independently. With the future so uncertain for any of us, goals are just dreams at this time.

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Hi Criss –

Glad your son is doing better. I know it can be impossible to help a grown child with mental issues — and more so if his father is balky and has a different feeling about helping in the way you are doing i.e. letting him move back in. It's hard not to since you're his mom and he seems to lack any other way to go. I hope you and his father have laid down strict rules for living in your home and that you stick to them. It DOES help to have a man around re enforcing the rules. Because your son will be tempted to run over you whereas he knows he can't do it to your husband. Just my humble opinions. Sending WARM SUPPORT for the future of all in your home. 🦋🧞‍♀️☮

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