View Full Version : How much treatment is enough?


teacher abc
03-07-10, 05:07 PM
My kid is about to turn 20. He is not really my kid and I did not raise him but that's a long story. He was on meds when he was young--Ritalin--but his mother hadn't had him looked at in years. A couple of years ago, he was in a youth shelter where he saw a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. He was put on Abilify, which he hated--it made him sleepy and lethargic. When he was forced to leave the shelter and go home, he went off the meds because his mother told him that being on meds meant that he was crazy (and later, she tried to feed him unprescribed meds she had from her own stash that she had been prescribed from her own bipolar disorder that she never took, and he refused). Now, he has cut off ties with his mom and has largely become my responsibility. He was evaluated by a doctor in NYC who said that he had ADHD, and either bipolar disorder or PTSD (the latter would make a lot of sense given the trauma in his childhood--he was beaten, physically and mentally for many years). He goes to college in upstate NY though and because he only had Medicaid, he has to rely on a clinic. It has taken him months to get into therapy--just started last week. They seem to have him on a two week schedule--therapy every two weeks and I am wondering if that is enough. He is starting to do better in school because he dropped a class and is down to 12 credits. But he has so much emotional baggage. Just yesterday he spoke about "going away" because he is causing too much trouble to me. He has not been seen by a psychiatrist yet; they say that he should get a phone call about an appointment before his next therapy appointment. I am wondering if I should intervene and ask why this is all taking so long. He signed a paper authorizing them to speak to me.

MuscleMama
03-07-10, 08:02 PM
I am wondering if I should intervene and ask why this is all taking so long. He signed a paper authorizing them to speak to me.

Yes. It sounds like he needs your help. I hope you can have a positive influence on his life, it sounds like he really needs it.

teacher abc
03-07-10, 08:40 PM
Yeah, I figured. Especially since spring break is coming and he is supposed to come back here for the break and and I would like him to be seen there by the psychiatrist before that. Without my intervention, that might not happen. He does not have the wherewithall to advocate for himself.

meridian
03-07-10, 08:59 PM
Yeah, I figured. Especially since spring break is coming and he is supposed to come back here for the break and and I would like him to be seen there by the psychiatrist before that. Without my intervention, that might not happen. He does not have the wherewithall to advocate for himself.

I hate to say this but your tone is coming across -- at least to me -- as annoyed by this situation.:confused:

He sounds fragile, and to answer your question, treatment is a lifelong affair. There is no "enough".

This is a "fuel tank" that is running dry as fast or faster than it can be re-filled.

It sounds like this young man really needs help -- and if you can't do that any more (which I would find understandable, BTW), please try to find someone who can.

MuscleMama
03-07-10, 09:40 PM
I get the feeling that maybe she (stepmom?) simply doesn't know him all that well and/or hasn't spent much time with him. I wouldn't hesitate to get as involved as possible - like you said, he simply isn't equipped to handle this (yet). Even if he thinks you're butting in or whatever, I bet he will thank you later on if he can get his life together. At his age I'm guessing that might just get harder and harder to do as he gets older and has more life responsibilities.

teacher abc
03-07-10, 10:38 PM
I am definitely NOT annoyed by the situation. I think that what may be coming across is hesitancy only because on a different board, people thought I seemed to be too interventionist--people accused me of not letting him do enough on his own--so I was wondering if that was really the case. If I found the situation to be annoying, I would've bowed out long ago. As far as I am concerned, he is my child and there is nothing that I wouldn't do so long as I feel it is necessary. I traveled all the way to see him (7 hours) so that I could go with him to the Social Security office and check to see if he was okay. There is no step mom--just a biological mom that he no longer communicates with at all. I am the one that is his contact for everything--Social Security, the school, emergency contact, the clinic...

teacher abc
03-07-10, 10:39 PM
P.S. I love him.

meridian
03-08-10, 01:40 AM
I am definitely NOT annoyed by the situation.

P.S. I love him.

Good on both counts.:)

He really sounds like he needs someone right now.

And do send him over here to talk with us. Many of us actually have been where he's been (sad to say) and are working through it too.

This would be a good place for him to hang and talk.

teacher abc
03-08-10, 07:43 AM
Turns out that not only is he fine with the idea of me reaching out to his therapist but the therapist told him that she would call me but hasn't gotten around to it and he sounded relieved that I said I would call her instead of waiting for her to call me. He had not told me before that she was supposed to call me. On top of everything else, yesterday his sister by his father found him on My Space and asked for his phone number, called him last night and handed the phone to his father, who he has not spoken with in 3 years and this is the only the second time in his life he has spoken to him. He was a bit blindsided; he did not know his sister was going to do this. Now his father wants to meet him when he comes down for spring break. He did not know how to process all of this; he said he felt "weird" and could not call him dad. I told him that it was perfectly normal for him to feel this way on both counts, and that it will take him some time to process all of this. I think I will offer to go with him if he wants to meet his father but let him know that if he doesn't want me there, that's fine too, and in any case, he will need to mentally prepare him for the meeting...this is a lot even for me. I kept waking up last night. I can't imagine how he feels...and he had to write a paper last night!

teacher abc
03-08-10, 01:57 PM
I spoke to the therapist for a while this morning. She told me that she is hoping to have a psychiatrist assigned by the end of the week but that it is going to be close as to whether he will be seen before he returns here for spring break. They also only see people every two weeks unless they are at risk of harming themselves which he isn't. He has had two sessions with her but is not really opening up or engaging. On the one hand, it is not necessarily surprising since he does not really know her yet. On the other, he can open up to the right person fairly easily. He told a lot to the psychologist in one session. At the rate of once every two weeks, it will take him a while to open up if he is a little reticent. She knows some of his history from the paper work but I am not sure she paid too much attention and seemed surprised when I told her that he has been abused repeatedly over the years. He told her that the only support he has ever had in his life has been from me and that he spent most of the two sessions talking about me and school. She said she was going to work on trying to get him more adult support up there--at first she said peer support but I told her that he has difficulty relating to peers and what he has tends not to be too close or too serious and they have issues themselves (one abuses his ADHD meds and has shared them with my kid--grrr). I am just not feeling great about the therapy so far and I will have to keep on top of them insofar as the psychiatry appointment is concerned. I spoke to my kid this morning--he seemed so down...he had hardly slept.

MuscleMama
03-08-10, 02:14 PM
That's a tough situation. Hang in there!

teacher abc
03-08-10, 07:05 PM
Someone on another board suggested he might be better off with a male therapist but I don't know that there is much choice here--it was hard enough getting him into therapy to begin with...And he does tend to open up more to women than to men, despite his experience with his mother, I guess because his father has never been a presence in his life (and he shows up now?) and because notwithstanding his mother, he has had better experiences with women--other ones anyway.

RedHairedWitch
03-08-10, 08:57 PM
If he is more comfy talking to a woman, then thats fine. I actualy prefer a male therapist, and I'm a woman.

teacher abc
03-08-10, 09:24 PM
I guess it all depends...he is definitely more comfortable with women. I suppose that is why he latched on to me in his senior year in high school (I was his teacher and though I knew him before that, he did not particularly like me). We kept in contact after he graduated and he became close to our family then...but while he does talk to my husband to some extent, he definitely favors me. And before me, there was an older woman in an after school program he was close to. And before her, there was the science teacher, also a woman...there is a pattern here...

meridian
03-08-10, 10:10 PM
thanks for keeping us up to date. Hope things smooth out for all of you soon.

livinginchaos
03-08-10, 10:36 PM
For some people, it just takes time to open up and trust people. It's not too surprising that he's not being very forthright since it seems like his trust in other people (besides you) has been broken.

It took me almost 1 year to fully open up to my therapist.

I think it's wonderful that you are such a loving, caring, concerned mother. In your posts, it's easy to see how much you love him.

teacher abc
03-09-10, 07:36 AM
Thank you living in chaos...

LynneC
03-09-10, 12:03 PM
Teacher ABC, how much you care for this young man (your son :) ) is evident in your posts.

re his Dad coming into the picture, that is an awful lot for a 20 year old to process, and I think it's the right thing to offer to accompany him (if he wishes). I think it wouldn't hurt to reiterate that if he is not ready during Spring Break to meet him, he should not feel pressured by his 'Dad' to do so.

After all, his dad chose to have little or no contact with him for all these years, so it should be on your son's terms as to when the time is right to meet him.

MuscleMama
03-09-10, 12:22 PM
Did you hear Sandra Bullock's acceptance speech? She made a nice comment that makes me think of you.

"I would like to thank what this film is about for me, which are the moms that take care of the babies and the children, no matter where they come from. Those moms and parents never get thanked..."

teacher abc
03-09-10, 01:45 PM
I've also thought that maybe I made the offer too soon because maybe he hasn't had enough time to process this. It will be interesting to see if this comes up in his next therapy session which will be on 3/19. So I will leave it alone for a while until he comes down here on the 1st. Besides, we are always better in person than on the phone. Unfortunately we have no choice in between, but there is a dynamic between us in person that is very different than on the phone and we have remarked on it ourselves that when we actually see each other, we rarely argue and when we do, it is over with much more quickly. I think it is largely because we use facial expressions to help us figure things out and you don't have that on the phone...and it is hard to have tone of voice as a guide when one of the phones is a cell phone (he does not have a landline) because the connections are never that good. I also think that we are so glad to see each other that negative things surface less.

I wish I had heard that acceptance speech...I saw The Blind Side twice and loved it. The first time was with my 17 year old daughter and the second time was with him. I had some trepidations about seeing it with him because there are some parallels in our stories (differences too--he doesn't play sports, he comes from an abusive home rather than from a dysfunctional home with drug abuse, our family is not evangelical nor rich...but he is large, has learning issues, and has a heart of gold and he is very protective). But he already knew what the story was about and we discussed it beforehand, so he was fine with it. I have always believed that it is not biology that makes a parent a parent, but all of the stuff that comes afterwards.