Return to the Stepfamily Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Hopeless Cause??

Posted by sweeby (My Page) on
Wed, Nov 4, 09 at 10:00

I've written a little in the past about my 36 y.o. stepson, and things seems to have come to another head... Not in his relationship with us (which is actually pretty good) but in his life, which is a MESS.

First, some background. There seems to be a lot of undiagnosed mental illness on BioMom's side. I say this because of what I've seen, heard, and from the #1 cause of death on that side of the family which is, by far, suicide. Great Grandpa went out in a blaze of glory - don't know exactly how, but it was considered a 'fitting end' to his larger-than-life existence. Grandpa was an incredibly charismatic man elevated to mythical status -- a John Wayne / James Dean-style living legend. No one was tougher than Grandpa, a hard-drinking man who could whip three strong men in a bar fight and often did. Grandpa was (to them) a HERO and an inspiration -- even after he shot up on heroine, locked himself in a closet and blew his brains out. (BM's family STILL worships the ground he walked on!) Two of Grandpa's brothers committed suicide by 18-wheeler (walked calmly out in front of a speeding truck) within a week of each other. Even BioMom's got three pretty good suicide attempts under her belt that I know of, plus probably a few more half-hearted ones I don't know about.

And bottom line, Hubby and I both think SS plans to continue 'the family tradition' in the not too distant future. Yes, he views it that way - maybe more like a romanticized 'destiny'...
SS has been messing up his life ever since he was old enough to do it. Financially, legally (continuing the family tradition of bar fights and DWIs), interpersonal relationships, career-wise (what career?). He makes virtually every self-destructive decision possible -- and he knows it! (and admits it) Yet he feels helpless to change.

SS has frequently reached out for advice -- but has yet to follow any of the good advice, seeming to follow only his mother's histrionic example. His mother has bailed him out countless times and offered tons of emotional snap-judgement, ill-considered suggestions. His uncle (BM's brother - who escaped his family and found stability) has bailed him out countless times and offered tons of very sound advice. His younger sister has also bailed him out frequently and offered really good advice from a young person who 'gets it'. (Adversity made her stronger and smarter.)

And of course, we have too. SS loves his father, looks up to him, and considers him a friend and mentor. (Of course, I strongly suspect that there are lots of other mixed up feelings in there also -- including rage, abandonment issues and a frustrated inability to live up to Dad's example and high standards.) He's lived with us trying to get out of debt. (Whee! No rent - More spending money!) He's worked for Dad when he couldn't find anything else. (Nobody pays enough!) We've allowed him to use (morphed into giving) our vehicles after he wrecked his own or they were repoed, and bailed him out of financial mess after mess, while urging prudent budgeting and cost-cutting. We've even paid for psychological counselling for two different stretches. The counselor (who we had met with previously to discuss our own part in the SS mess) said she couldn't disclose specifics, but shook her head sadly and said "It's a big mess", implying it was even worse than we knew/know.

Now SS finds himself in another crisis and seems unable to cope. This particular crisis involves losing his house -- He's upside down on the mortgage, couldn't really afford it to begin with, and went through an UGLY breakup with the girlfriend he bought it with. She wants to see him go down in flames and is doing her best to make it happen. (He moved in new 22 yo still-married to someone else GF and her 3 yo son, so it's hard to blame old GF for being that mad.) Then there's his job -- which is going nowhere because "the boss is a jerk" who "doesn't appreciate everything SS does". (Yeah, maybe) And even his new little GF seems to be losing her starry-eyed wonder when he can't even come up with $50 for dinner out and a few cheap kiddie toys.

According to all who know him, he's reached the end of his rope. (Word has it he took an overdose of pills last week -- not enough to kill him, but a 'cry for help' OD.) His 'stable' friends have long since drifted away, leaving only his reckless bad-influence friends and family. But it seems like everyone who has supported him and tried to help in the past is ALSO at the end of their ropes with his decades' worth of continuous bad choices -- including us. Hubby is so worried he spent last night mentally writing his son's eulogy.

So what do we do?
- Tough Love? (What would that be here?)
- Nothing, and wait for the seems-inevitable 'Thelma & Louise' ending?
- Bail him out again? (SS still spends more than he earns and has already had one bankruptcy.)
- Urge counselling (We already have. He 'can't afford it' and even the counsellor he saw thought he was hiding much more than he told.)
- Baker Act him? (I don't think we have enough evidence to force it, plus I don't see a short commitment helping change a lifetime of poor choices.)

Are there any options we're missing?


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

I would opt for tough love here.

It seems like you've tried everything else---you've payed for him to go to counseling two times before. And by this, I assume more than 2 sessions, right? You have paid for two different "periods" of counseling, correct?

This man is 36!

I wouldn't bail him out regarding his mortgage. He will be right back in the same boat in 3 months, guaranteed.

Do you really think he needs some sort of in-patient treatment? If you REALLY DO---for whether it's drug addiction or depression, etc--then you could do an intervention. You could arrange an in-patient program for him in a reputable mental health facility, and tell him he goes NOW and you will pay what he owes to catch up on the mortgage (assuming this is a possibility for you.) If he refuses to go, then you won't help. Period.

Those are the only two options I personally think you have at this point. And IMO the second one is a huge gamble on your part because he could check out pretty much anytime he wants. There is no guarantee he'll stay for the duration of treatment.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Thanks for responding LH -- Yes, we paid for two different 'stints' -- each about 6 sessions long. We'd have been willing to pay for more, but SS dropped it both times.

On the mortgage, IMO that house is a lost cause. He'd be under again in a heartbeat, plus there's the legal mess of co-owning with a GF who hates your guts and is willing to ruin her own credit rating if it also means ruining his. And the house is a bad investment and is located waaaaay far from his work, so it's likely to be worth less than he owes for a long, long time.

In-patient? Well, IMO, it's at least as much a case of warped world-view as mental illness -- though mental illness might very well also be there. SS is still romanticizing Grandpa and the other dysfunctional Macho-Sickos in that clan, and how do you fight that? (It took me about 8 years to get my husband! to see that his former FIL was really more of a bad influence than a folk hero.) SS still idolizes him. So my impression is that if he does opt for suicide, he's seeing it as an act of manly courage (bravado) rather than cowardice.

Truly, we just don't know what to do... Hubby is not wanting to bail him out (and I agree), but I'm afraid that if he does nothing, the guilt, if SS does end his life, will be very hard for Hubby to live with.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

I agree that this is such a tough situation and each option has pros and cons. There is no easy answer. If you bail him out again your just making him more dependant on you and hubby. And at what age should ss be responsible for himself finally?

If you do nothing and he feels like he can not handle anymore and is successful at suicide your dh will be a mess.

I wish I could offer wisdom here, but I am at a loss. All I can say is I wish you the best in dealing with such a tough situation.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

"Hubby is not wanting to bail him out (and I agree), but I'm afraid that if he does nothing, the guilt, if SS does end his life, will be very hard for Hubby to live with."

I hate to say this, but it must be said. DH should not feel guilty. Easier said than done, I know, but if SS has been on the path to suicide before, bailing him out is not going to stop him. If he's hell-bent on going down in a blaze of glory, there's nothing you can do to stop it. Not even having him committed. People commit suicide in mental hospitals and prisons all the time. It will never be DH's fault. EVER.

I would suggest the tough-love route. To be blunt, you and DH will still be here after SS gets to the end of the road he's determined to be on. Nothing you've done in the past has changed his path. Why would this time be any different?

He has to WANT to get better. He has to WANT to live a better life. He has to value his family to not want to hurt them. No one can make those choices for him.

If you try to have him committed, he will just spend the short time he's in there angry with you and not try to solve the problem.

I guess the tough love option really entails not giving him any money.

I'm sorry, I know this is really direct, but I don't want to sugar-coat it.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Sweeby, Please google suicide help in your area..Giving up is never the answer..Your husband will be forever destroyed if SS does this, nothing will assuage the guilt he will feel.. I belong to an organization thats says 90 per cent of cases are mental illness..This is neither courage or cowardice, he needs help..If not for you and DH to give, then who..Please talk to someone, they will give you suggestions....


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Well, I did Google suicide prevention in our city and found some phone lines. I don't think SS will call, but Hubby said he would and would see if they have any ideas or resources.

Hubby has asked SS in the past if he'd ever thought about it, and he said he'd never do that. I'm just not convinced.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

the only advice I can give you is from my experience with my sister and research I have done.
1)I firmly believe that some mental illneses ARE inherited. Most definately mental ilness runs in his family, you have to be mentally ill to kill yourself.
2)It is also not true that people who really want to kill themselves do not tell anyone or show any signs. Some may (and it very well could be) your sons "cry for help" with the pills as manipulative or for attention, but either way you must take it seriously. My sister had a couple "cry's for help" before she really killed herself, Personally I think these were test runs for her to see how she was gonna do it..... I thought the same thing as many did, that she was doing it for attention and didn't really mean it.
If there was anything I could do over again differently before my sister hung herself, it would have been to spend more time listening to her and to have made certain she recieved the counseling she needed whether she liked it or not. I would have been more involved rather than just asking how things were going.
My advice to you would be to offer him financial help if you can but with the string attached that he has to go to counseling and that you and DH want to be involved in it, and stay on top of it.
I talked to my sister the day before she killed herself we talked about the weather, and about a new job she had been offered, she sounded happy and the next day she was gone.

Survivors guilt is horrible, one carries the pain that their loved one had, passes on to the ones left behind. your life is never the same.
It is odd to me that his family is proud that so many have commited suicide in their lineage, very odd......

I hope your SS finds help, please let me know if there is anything I can do.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

The most difficult thing to do is to want to help someone that doesn't want help. Courts force people into rehab, classes, courses, and programs all day long, but they are not going to be effective if the person going does not want to be there and does not want help or does not believe there is a problem. That is both sad and frustrating.

If it were my family, I would try to get him into counseling but I take SD to counseling... she doesn't want to hear what he's telling her, she wants to believe what her mom tells her. We go but only with hope she will absorb some benefit. I agree, we never give up on our kids but there comes a time to accept we are powerless and all we can do is be a support. Just recognize the difference between support and enabling. That's the tough part.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Oh Sweeby, why don't you give us a tough situation to deal with?!

Wow. There are so many different issues here that it's almost impossible, IMO, to find a solution that fits all the variables. You can get him help, but he has to want the help. If he sees suicide as the 'macho' way to deal with life's problems then he won't think he needs help.

I am typically an advocate of tough love, but I worry for your DH. Though SS's situation is NOT his doing and NOT his fault, it will be all to easy for him to blame himself should SS do anything to hurt himself. Because of this I think you have to try all you can, support wise, to help him. NOT monetarily as I see that as a waste and not the root of the problem, but offer as much counseling and emotional support as possible, knowing that should the unthinkable happen your DH can at least say he never gave up.

Beyond that, I think I would just open a bottle of wine and cry. What a horrible place for you all to be. Hugs.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Hi Sweeby, I wish I had the answer for you, it is a horrible situation to be in.
I can only offer a bit of support, but others have given good advice.

My FDH's brother has gone off the rails a long time ago and he hasn't recovered. When he was 15 he started drinking and that was it, he couldn't handle the booze and I can safely say it has destroyed him. He hooked up with this girl who's even worse than him, had 3 kids to her, and things went from bad to worse. We've called child protection services many times and finally they've been put in foster care (we found out recently).

Basically all we could do was try and get help for these kids, because he doesn't want to help himself and therefore we can't help him. It's very very sad but it is just not possible to help somebody who doesn't want to accept help. That is my experience anyway. And as bad as it is; we don't want FDH's brother to come over to our place anymore unless he's sober. So we don't see him. FDH has tried to help him so many times, but it doesn't work that way. When he offered help the brother would take advantage of that, but not sort himself out. So FDH had to draw the line, as sad as that is..

Keeping you in my thoughts Sweeby


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Thank you to everyone for your good thoughts and suggestions --

The bit about people needing to want help rings especially true.

While SS is all too happy to take free money from anyone who offers, it seems all other types of help are ignored or under-utilized. And even when he was desparate for money and the only way we'd provide it was to offer him work, he never worked a weekend or evening. Sure, he went to counselling a few times but he didn't follow the counsellors' recommendations either. I know he has medication for depression and anxiety, but he refuses to take them every day, then doubles or triples the dose for a day or two when he's having a crisis.

IMO, it'll take a whole lot of work for SS to see that his macho world view is truly screwed up, and that the 'heros' that chose suicide were sad and pathetic instead of heroic. And until he understands and accepts that, suicide will continue to sound attractive or inevitable.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

"I know he has medication for depression and anxiety, but he refuses to take them every day, then doubles or triples the dose for a day or two when he's having a crisis."

Oh my! That's not how to take an antidepressant. That's incredibly hard on your body.
No no no!

Is there any chance of showing him the literature on the efficacy of antidepressants? Are you sure he fully understands their mode of action? A lot of people don't understand that the low-and-continual dose is what makes them work (somewhat like birth control pills, haha).


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Sweeby, have you guys ever considered a "legal Guardianship" scenario for your SS? Dh has legal guardianship of his brother who is bipolar. Guardianship is not for everyone, but there are two reasons that we have one. The first is that we have control of his finances, because if not, he blows his money on nothing and then has no money for rent or food. The second is that if he becomes unbalanced and stops taking his medications, we can have him seen by his psychiatrist or even have him admitted into the hospital if need be. It does sound like your SS is in need of psychiatric care, but I guess the question is how much care does he need? Does your DH feel that his son will commit suicide, has your SS made a suicide "plan" and voiced it or written it down? From a medical perspective, if someone just says offhandedly, "oh I will end up like Grandpa one day" it's different than saying "I am going to end my life, I have bought a gun/pills/a rope and I hope to kill myself on Decemeber 25th this year."

Another option I was thinking of, what about if you made him sign some sort of a "contract"with you and your DH. ButI don't know how realistic that is, because he is 36 years old, he's not a "kid". For example the contract could say: we will help get you on your feet but you must work every day and keep a job for 3 months first. You put $500 of each pay into a savings that your DH and SS have to both sign to take $$ out of. etc..but I don't know if that would fly, but it's an idea...

My ex's sister was much like your SS,it nearly drove me nuts and it was a small part of why the marriage ended, as my ex would "enable" her by giving her money whenever she asked for it. We ended up letting her live in their family home and had a mortgage payment of $300 a month, very cheap and she was very lucky! She decided to not pay the mortgage, and nearly ended up losing the house (which was his Mom and Dad's, they had both died so we let her live there because she had two small children and we were trying to help her out!) Anyways, just a slightly similar situation to yours but it was never managed very well at all. Ex-sil would ask my ex for $$, he would give it to her, she never learned a thing and never changed...I think you guys just need to be tough with your SS, but I know it's alot easier said than done...((((((hugs))))))) to you...


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Sweeby, first hugs (((sweeby))) for having such a tough challenge. I agree that pursuing legal guardianship might be a good course of action although a tough one. Have you tried calling county or city Adult Protective Services or whatever it's known as where you live? That is the equivalent of Child Protective Services for adults who are at risk, cannot care for themselves or are a danger to themselves or others. Once you call, they will ask you to explain your concerns. With a story like the one you laid out, I would expect them to move in to action quickly.

They will assign a case manager who will arrange for a mental health professional to interview SS. This will not be an optional thing for him, if he blows it off, they will move even more aggressively. They can help a lot and they move fast, at least here in LA they do. It's free (paid for by your tax dollars) If he is suicidal or in any other way threatening, they can take temporary custody even though he is an adult, shepherd you through the process or at least provide some resources for you. Keep one thing in mind, the role of Adult Protective Services is to be an advocate for the "client" who will be your SS, not you or DH. They will represent his interests based on their protocol, not necessarily against the family, but their ideas may or may not align with yours on things. It's not necessarily a negative, they will just do what they think should or should not be done. They can also intercede on the housing situation too.

I also agree, hands off, is probably the worst choice especially if SS does make an attempt on his own life or something else personally destructive.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

"Oh my! That's not how to take an antidepressant. That's incredibly hard on your body. No no no!

Is there any chance of showing him the literature on the efficacy of antidepressants? Are you sure he fully understands their mode of action? A lot of people don't understand that the low-and-continual dose is what makes them work (somewhat like birth control pills, haha). "

I Know! And yes, I've told him. And he says he understands. And I think he actually does understand... Then he does it anyway and has the nerve to complain they don't work! (This young man has a self-destruct streak a mile wide.) And in case you all didn't already guess, he also binge drinks, has admitted that alcohol causes problems for him, and continues to drink anyway.

"Sweeby, have you guys ever considered a "legal Guardianship" scenario for your SS?"

Is there a guardianship category for DumbA$$?
Just kidding. Not really... (Bad Sweeby!) But that's mostly what it seems like. Anyone interviewing SS would not conclude that he's anything other than stupidly self-destructive, a chronic screw-up -- maybe histrionic or borderline(though if he's not drinking or stressed out, he's very calm and rational). I guess I can't see how they'd conclude he isn't legally competent, even despite all of the evidence to the contrary. And talk about causing a family uproar! Loyalty is a BIG think with BioMom's family, and one of the main reasons they keep dragging each other under... And would that make us legally responsible for the trouble he gets himself into? (No Way either Hubby or I could ever agree to that unless we lose competency.)

Come to think of it, I have a friend who works as an adult protective guardian for our county. Think I'll give her a call and see what she thinks...


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

the meds are not going to work in their intended method even if taken correctly as long as SS drinks.

The SS can't get better until he decides he wants to and he's not there yet. But he really is not a dumb a$$, from what you and his counselor have said he as mental illness and drinks on top of it. In a nutshell, his engines aren't working like yours are.

His mental illness, drinking, environment (bad friends, bars, family who thinks it cool to be 'bad to the core' blah blah)it's all a major part of his troubles and until all of the issues are worked on and hopefully corrected to a positive level, nothing is going to change (well, except he might actually go for that 'blaze of glory'out)

It's not going to help him to bail him out money wise, nor to pay for sessions as an out patient if he only goes a time or two.

So what if he loses the house? Has no credit? HE won't be the first guy who ever lived in a tiny rental and worked a pi$$y job. He will survive these things if he wants to. He needs to take the meds how and when, join AA, stop drinking, go to counselling regular and team with his AA supporter like the partner is his shadow, dump all girlfriends, stay away from anyone and everyone who is not supportive of his goal to make himself well and all these need to be the conditions of the tough love that you and DH can and will offer. He can't do it by himself, but first you must try to make him see (even if legally you have to force it) he's at the end of the line and there's nowhere else to go now. He can destroy his father and take the cowardly way out or he can hold out his hand and let dad lift him up and on the road to recovery.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

On the suicide issue. As most of you know my dds father commited suicide just before her 2nd birthday.

GM of dd (on bd side) blames herself so very much for what he did. It is in everything she does and says. Really, she cant fully move past it. She has all of his things still (though I am pretty sure last time I was there his car was finally gone). There was nothing anyone could have done and no real signs until you looked back at the ever so subtle hints. But, that doesnt stop her from blaming herself every day. She treats her younger son like he is still a child and does everything for him now. She even lays his clothes out for him (he is umm 22/23 now) She goes to church a million times a week trying to find an answer and doses out 'wisdom' of her own sort. All of these things have this really sad tinge of please dont make the same mistake I did. I am so sorry my son did this. It is all my fault.

I didnt know her very well before his death... but she was not the person she is now. The guilt has changed every aspect of her life.

I realize that not everyone is like that but I have seen what guilt can do to someone even if it is completely misplaced.

Although I am a strong advocate of tough love. Sometimes you need to help someone just to be able to tell yourself that you did everything you could. If you are truly worried that ss may be reaching that point and worried that hubby wouldnt be able to accept that you have already done everything possible (which it seems like you have) Maybe one last desperate effort is warranted ... if not for ss then for hubby. So, if the worst does happen, he can at least have a sense of peace that he did all he could.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

he needs medical attention, i doubt anyhting else could be done, i wonder if he would benefit from inpatient mental health hospital. tough love won't help. he is ill. sorry, sounds bad.

losing his house and a job is not a big deal, plenty of people struggle. i think the issue is that he is ill and refuses to get himself proper treatment. he is an adult though so i don't know much you can force. if he goes crazy you can call 911, but if he is quietly ruining his life there is very little one can do.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

I think JustMeToo nailed it:

The SS can't get better until he decides he wants to and he's not there yet.
It's not going to help him to bail him out money wise, nor to pay for sessions as an out patient if he only goes a time or two.
HE won't be the first guy who ever lived in a tiny rental and worked a pi$$y job. He will survive these things if he wants to."

Bottom line -- Until he changes his attitudes, he won't change his behavior. And until he is willing and ready to make a change, he won't even consider changing his attitudes, because he doesn't see anything wrong with those. The whole 'live fast - die young' thing is his credo and frame of reference.

Hubby and I spent some more time talking about this today, and concluded that while we're both frustrated and worried, we don't sense an imminent danger. In other words, the problem is a chronic one more than an acute crisis. I know -- it sure sounds like an acute crisis. But as SS's crises go, this one is not all that different from the dozen that preceded it and the half-dozen that will surely follow.

So my predicament is more long-term than emergency....


 o
Looks like we crossed...

"but if he is quietly ruining his life there is very little one can do. "

...Yeah, that's it in a nutshell


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

sweeby,

I know people who are in recovery who were pressured in to rehabs or at least to go to AA by their families, jobs or the courts when they did not want to. Those people are much better today even though in the beginning they were kicking and screaming. I'm not sure that the Only way people change is when they get good and ready. It's the best way but not the only way. Most of us at some point have had some kind of unwelcome change thrust upon us whether we liked it or not, at least I have. That's life.

Calling your friend who is in Adult Protective Services is a great idea. She/He can tell you realistically what to expect. They will probably have some good ideas based on their experience. I totally get that you and DH don't want to lose your money and your minds being his guardians!


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Sweeby, guardianship is a very hard choice and it is expensive. We have to get a "guardianship accounting" done every year, by a professional accountant, it costs around $600. Plus, we help pay DH's brother's bills because he is on SS and worker's compensation, but it doesnt cover everything...!! One attorney told us that often guardianships are NECESSARY, like in our case, but they are like "quicksand", once youre in it, it's hard to get out of it. One idea though, you could perhaps THREATEN your SS with it. ie.If you don't shape up, we will file for guardianship, do you think you would like being treated like a kid?? Go to counselling, start saving money and paying bills and being responsible, start taking meds.properly and stop drinking "or else"!! It could work...:D


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Honestly, I can't see how a court would actually grant us guardianship --

SS has never actually lost touch with reality (just common sense and good judgement), and seems (is) more of a chronic screw up than a 'crazy person'. Yes, I think there probably is something 'diagnosable' there -- but it hasn't actually been diagnosed (except perhaps depression and/or anxiety disorder, which wouldn't make him legally incompetent), and I don't think SS would ever cooperate with the therapy enough to get anything stronger diagnosed. So how could we convince a court that SS isn't mentally competent? Not sure we believe he's legally incompetent...

Plus, I don't think we'd actually want guardianship. Even if we had guardianship, we still couldn't force him to take his medications properly and not abuse alcohol. We couldn't keep him out of bar fights if he's determined to date beautiful young bimbos who dress to attract attention, then 'defends their honor' by pounding anyone who looks at them sideways.

So in-patient and guardianship are too extreme at this point.
Bailing him out financially is not an option for us because it's proven to be a bottomless pit.
Counselling would be a good option if he would agree to go (which I doubt).

Anything else?


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Well, you can do what I have been advised here to do with my SS30, wash your hands of his problems. If you really feel that none of the good ideas offered here will work, or that you are not up to working them for SS which is more what it sounds like, then let go. You and DH have done a lot for this grown man, maybe too much which is why he still can't handle his own life.

If you and DH now feel that he is not a suicide risk and is just at risk of continuing to screw up you have your answer.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

We feel he's an eventual suicide, not an imminent one ---
So recap the ideas offered (to make sure I'm not discarding any without due considering):

- Inpatient Treatment: IMO, an over-reaction at present, may be necessary at some point. We do stay in touch with SS and several of SS's friends, so we'll probably hear if things get materially worse.

- Suicide Hotline: Since we don't think he's a short-term suicide risk, that also feels like an over-reaction. Yes, he needs help, but long-term, which he has to date refused. But Hubby and I did review the suicide crisis procedures, so we know what to do if it does appear imminent. (Hubby also took his gun.)

- Offer Counselling: We've done this twice before and SS hasn't followed any of the counsellor's recommendations. It's the best intervention I can think of, yet I have almost no belief it would actually work with him now... (Not to mention the costs, which would be problematic.) Now, if SS came to us and said "I'm screwing up my own life - I know it, and I'm ready to make a change. Will you pay for counselling?" Then yes, in a heartbeat. Actually, SD even arranged for free counselling for her brother, but he wouldn't go...

- Behavior Contracts: Sorry Shannon - I should have responded to that earlier. We've done this several times, but it hasn't ever worked. Typically SS does the very minimum to meet the 'stage one' goal, then backslides. So in your example, he'd go to the counsellor, but wouldn't accept help.

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and support.
I know how frustrating it is to get only a "That'll never work..." in response -- I apologize for those.

I guess what we'll do now is stay alert for either a significant change for the worse or an opportunity for a perspective-shift, and cross our fingers. ;-)


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Sweeby, has your DH ever told Son his opinion about his mothers side of the family? I guess its kinda a gray area in stepfamilies, but Son is grown now and its a pretty serious topic. I'm thinking if my DD idolized people and subjects I don't agree with that is this serious, I'm going to tell her.

Its always hard to say what people take away from you, I wonder if DH has never said anything directly and bluntly about the choices BM's side made...if Son has sort of taken that as acceptance.

I don't know, its such a difficult subject.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Great suggestion, Nivea! Maybe even pull up the newspaper articles.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Excellent points Nivea --

I know Hubby and SS have talked about Grandpa and the whole 'family history' thing, but I don't know how blunt Hubby has been about the dysfunctional aspects. Apparently, Grandpa was an incredibly magnetic guy, because it seems almost everyone was (is!) under his spell -- even Hubby and Hubby's mom, my MIL. (Hubby didn't have blinders on though -- just rose-tinted glasses.) Maybe Hubby and SD and Uncle (BM's level-headed brother) could talk first, and if the other two agree, have a 'Grandpa Intervention' with SS... But if SD and Uncle aren't in agreement, it would probably backfire.

Now as to BioMom's instability -- SS and SD are both very aware and chronically stressed out about that. SS is under no illusions about his mother's poor mental health and self-destructive behavior. (So why can't he see it in the mirror!) I know SS and SD have both spoken to Hubby about that at length, though they are loyalty-conflicted each time they do. There's much more they haven't told Hubby, I'm sure, and probably also stuff Hubby knows that he hasn't passed on to me. (My family is so boringly sane he's embarrassed about his side.)

It may be possible for Hubby to use SS's concerns about his mother to reflect some insight back toward SS into his own behavior...


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Well, SS is in crisis mode again...

Bimbo GF broke up with him and said some pretty terrible things. (Probably much too close to the ugly truth.) He quit his job and isn't working, so has much too much free time on his hands and is using it poorly -- drinking in bars, picking fights, driving himself home. He's also abusing his sleeping pills and anti-anxiety meds.

And of course, everyone's worried sick again. And frustrated again. And angry again. And torn between his 'Crying Wolf' antics and 'What if he means it this time?' He still hasn't said anything to indicate he'd commit suicide, but his behavior sure is headed that way...

He called two nights ago looking for Hubby, who was out of town. His speech was slurred and he was nearly incoherent -- sounded awful. I couldn't reach Hubby, so called his sister (SD 29) to alert her and suggest she call him. (She'd already been called by 4 other people.) So SS gets in his car and tries to drive home. Gets lost! Pulls into a gas station and ends up beating up some poor guy who commented something along the lines that SS didn't look like he ought to be driving... (SS has actually fought professionally -- sure hope the poor guy he beat up is OK.) SS does somehow make it home and SD rushes over to try and sober him up and talk him down. Turns out he'd also taken a bunch of pills in addition to heavy alcohol consumption. But crazy BioMom is already there with equally-crazy StepDad -- and they're feeding SS more drinks. (Great judgement, Mom! That's how you handle life's problems -- drown them!) But somehow, everyone survived the night.

Anyway, I just got off the phone with SD (Hubby's still out of town) and the current plan is to have a major 'family intervention' with SS when Uncle gets into town right after Christmas -- and possibly even Baker Act him if he pulls another out-of-control stunt before then.

But everyone's tired, frustrated and burned out from all the drama...
And there's nothing like Christmas to bring out the melancholy if you're so inclined.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

sweeby, I am so sorry you and your DH are going through this. It's so sad to watch someone you love ruin their life. I think the way things are today there are a lot of normally mentally healthy people depressed. I can only imagine it is that much more difficult for someone that has issues already. Good luck.


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Sweeby,
my heart goes out to you, our situations are similar except for the drug use (SS's into alcohol) and we do not have the suicide component it is more manipulation..

Being that most of my professional carrer has been working with dual diagnosis substance abuse/psych and most of them with looooong family history of both I would suggest a little of both (bailing out & tough love).

I think Love mentioned paying up his mortgage in exchange he will go inpatient. I would highly suggest an inpatient facilty that specializes in dual diagnosis patients. The problem is two fold- Addiction/Mental illness. What came first-who knows. I have asked myself that very question so many times over the years.

Maybe see how your hubby feels about a intervention with the family members that have it together and if he is willing to sign a contract (hand written is ok-it's the meaning behind it) that he will stay the duration of a 30 day program that you & Hub will get the house out of hock.

You can find lots of info about this at hazeldon.org.

I hate to say anyone is a lost cause. However with his using family members/family history and everything coming to a head young people sometimes do choose suicide as a means of relief. There are a lot of little things about the admission process you should be aware of most importantly make sure he is willing to sign a info release upon admission for you & your DH (Not the using Mother). This allows them to contact you should he decide to leave AMA or if they feel he is a danger to himself and needs to be hospitalized at a higher level of care. My gut tells me he is pretty high risk for self harm. I would try one more time, they may be able to get him stabilized emotionally with a combination of meds & intense counsel.

I'm so sorry. If there is any information I can point you to please do feel free to PM me anytime.

~Cat


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Thanks so much for your good advice Catlettuce -- It helps to hear from someone who is actually in the field.

Hubby and I had several long talks today about involuntary commitment. The end-product was the realization that if we wait until Uncle comes to town in 2 weeks, we'd be undermining our "This is serious" position by deciding that it could wait -- We all agree that it really can't. He's already hurt another person and taken enough medication that he could have killed himself. I did some research on involuntary commitments in our state, and he meets every single one of the 'danger signs' except for (to my knowledge) hallucinations. So far, SD and Uncle are both on board, and we're working on Grandma -- a formidable woman. If she's on board, the only ones against it will be SS himself (obviously) and crazy, enabling BioMom.

Maybe this time, something productive can come out of it...


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

Dang, Dang, Dang! This sure isn't easy...

I've been talking to county agencies, judge's office and crisis centers all day today, and bottom line, if he doesn't have private health insurance, he's probably out of luck. He's not 'visibly loony' enough to be sent to the state hospital (bad enough any way), so the local facility would just evaluate and release, and he'd be mad as heck about being hauled in, and probably go physical on Hubby or our property in retaliation. If he were in acute 'ready to jump' crisis right now, we'd have a few more options, not to mention the slightly-less-hostile circumstances.

If he had private insurance, we could find a private treatment center for him, make arrangements, and then get a judge to sign off on it. But since he quit his job (in a pissy rage), odds are slim that he had the foresight to elect for COBRA.

So it looks like we have to wait for him to start his brand-new job in January before sending him to the mental ward. Great, huh? (I know his new employer will be delighted. The old one surely already knows he's nuts...)


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

sweeby,

So sorry you are going through this. Too bad he hasn't been out of work long enough to qualify for Medicaid or whatever version your state offers.

Don't they offer temporary benefits on an emergency basis? Of course, you'll have to prove it's an emergency...


 o
RE: Hopeless Cause??

I think (but you can call the 800 #) at the link I gave. But I think if he is declared unstable and therefore unfit to carry the job/insurance he would qualify for medicaid.

you would have to get the paperwork (Pit & Cert) is what we call it, to the judge, have judge sign then get it to your local Human Services agency and request emergency medicaid coverage. It is a LOT of running around but can be done. It would be good if you could find a treatment center that would do a admissions assessment and start the cert for you-HOWEVER, there are not may that are willing do it unless they accept medicaid and therefore will get the reimbursement/admission.

You will need to do this legwork upfront and tell the admissions counselor the whole hairy deal so they can help guide you. If you decide to do so I would definately have all my ducks in a row before intervention. I'm sure you know how emotional these things can get and you have to be ready to have him admitted right then & there with no time for thinking it over.

I am so, so sorry. It is all so overwhelming. Honestly the quickest way to get him into treatment would be to pay cash up front. Som places will cut a deal for that but still expect to pay anywhere from 16-30k for 30 days depending on where you go.

Maybe grandmother might be willing to assist here? Just throwing out options. I know how it is when you've hit the end of your rope financially & emotionally..

Big hugs..

~Cat


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Stepfamily Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here