He is still at that age where he does think the world revolves around him! You should point out to him that you gave him the unconditional love and support he needed while he went through his various crises and that all you ask in return is that he respects your need to be respected. As him how he would have felt if you had turned your back on him, if you had disbelieved him.
BP is difficult for others to understand and at 17 he has not had anywhere near enough life experience to begin to understand it. He may also be in a form of denial that there is anything wrong with you because that makes you vulnerable and kids see their parents as indestructable.
Set some ground rules and be strong about making sure he keeps to them. This is your home and just because he is your son does not give him the right to be disrespectful. Something I point out to my teenager frequently.
First of all, I don't know everything (disclaimer here). I too have a 17 year old boy who thinks the world revolves around him and his 19 year old sister is still going through this process even as she is away at college. Yes, they do think the world revolves around them. That is the job of a teenager, to make sure they are heard, seen, and everyone needs to know that they are "all that". I work at a high school and see this everyday.
I was diagnosed with bipolar 30 years ago. My kids grew up knowing their mom has a mental illness. My daughter has always been accepting of this. My son, on the other hand, has not. He will get in my face and tell me that I'm not bipolar, that he will not believe it. He acuses me of lying about BP so I can act the way I do with an excuse. I have come to terms with his behavior towards me. He is afraid to know his mom has a mental illness and he is old enough now to know that it can be genetic (BP runs in my family). He is afraid for himself. My son has had issues of his own and he is afraid that he will be blessed with BP. So he, in turn, fights me through his fear. No longer do I allow him to be disrespectful towards me. I allowed this behavior out of my own guilt. He is asked to go to his room or his dad will tell him "that is enough". Also, I have learned that when he gets angry enough, I need to leave the room. This threw him for a loop!
I hear your frustration. I wish there was a magic wand at Wally World but there isn't. Sometimes, when I think about teenagers in general (since I'm around them ALL DAY URG) I try to think of what I can learn from their behavior. Being a teen in todays world is scary enough. So much pressure is on them to be high level performers, to graduate HS, go to college, get a high paying job. Often times teens who don't fill this mold are overlooked, hence the comment "they want to be heard, seen, etc."
I hope that one of my words will bring encouragement and/or enlightenment to you.
I really understand what you are going through and I'm sorry you have to put up with this. My son was 16 when I was diagnosed BP2, two years ago. He has never come to terms with it, has been very insulting towards me, tells me I'm 'weak'. I've tried everything to get him to understand but he will not listen. My Psych says I let him behave like an abusive partner in a relationship...maybe it's because I feel guilty as I just want to be the perfect mum.
I do think that your son may be scared, in denial, maybe angry too. When I used to try and explain my illness to my son he would fly into an angry rage. Teenagers can be selfish and don't like anything to rock their world. My only coping mechanism was to walk away during his outbursts, either into another room or out of the house.
He is now living away at college and our relationship is so much better, though he still won't accept or discuss my diagnosis. Perhaps that's something that will come with maturity?
Hang in there, and try and get some timeout when you can
Thanks everyone for your advice. It is always good to know that you're not alone in these experiences. His dad ended up having a very long 1 1/2 hour talk to him about facing up to the fact that I have an illness and there is nothing anyone can do to make it go away. Bulldozers advice about pointing out the unconditional love I gave him in his troubles struck a chord. I actually took a month off work when he was at his worst to care for him.
I know teenagers are selfish (I too am a High school teacher). However, my students treat me with more respect than my own son and I don't force my students to do this it's mutual.
I guess what's most hurtful is that it is some one who is so close to me and I want him to love me. After all I tried to give him everything I never had. By that I mean emotional support and love. (I was abused as a child by my father).
Anyway at the end of this talk my son started to feel embarrassed by his behaviour (btw I wasn't present his my husband told me this) and wanted to know what he could do to make things better. His dad told him the best thing he could do was apologise and demonstrate a consistent change in attitude as well as believing the illness is a reality and do whatever he could to help. Stress is an absolute killer for me. A tiny bit for others is like ten times worse for me.
Anyway thanks guys for your support and unconditional care.
I'm so glad your husband sat down and talked with him. Sometimes it does need a "mediator" as such and with boys they seem to need to hear it from another male.
I hope he takes it all on board and thinks twice before acting/reacting in the future.
All the best.
I'm so glad you put your foot down, both you and your husband, it's amazing how quickly a teen will take over a household. My brother was the same way, but my parents didn't have the guts to do what you have done. Pat yourself on the back. The only piece of advice I can give, is keep it consistent - no if's, but's or maybe's. Lay out the consequences, even write out a contract, so he knows exactly what will happen if he gets out of line. He is in your home because you wish him to be, but you can remove him as quickly if he doesn't tow the line.
When I was initially diagnosed at 16, I was hard to control for about a year, though pretty tame in comparison to my brother.(he's still really messed up and BP but refuses treatment) as well I was placed in an Adolescent Group Day program instead of high school for 6 months.. I knew if I didn't act in a healthy way, I would have been put in group care. I would have lost all my social privilidges. So I smartened up really quickly. My parents had nothing to do with that though. I also came out of the closet at the same time, so it was pretty tumultous period of my life. It's not easy being a teen and gay, on top of having BP, many kids don't make it through.
Be proud of what you have done, and realize you need to put yourself and your health first. Boundaries are really important for BP folks that we set for ourselves and others in our lives.
I thought things were sorted but it seems he was only paying lip service. My son has been very hostile towards me. It seems that his beef is with the fact I drink. In his eyes this is the cause of all my woes and his. I think that he has a zero tolerance i.e. even one glass of wine is not permitted. We all had such a fight the other day. When I was trying to explain to him that some of my behaviours are compulsive. He refuses to believe that its part of the bipolar and is some kind of self medication on my part. He thinks that if I stop drinking all together then everything will go away. He was so angry the other night, he was shouting at both of us. I must quantify that we never interact like this, ever. I don't know where this behaviour of his comes from. He is hostile, intimidating and passive aggressive which in my view is bullying. I don't know what to do. I am being blamed by him for everything. He says things like 'You make me feel unsafe'. How can I do that. I have never mistreated him, never shouted nor have I ever hit or smacked him in his entire life. In fact I've gone out of my way to give him the kind of life and support I never got from my family. (I was abused physically, emotionally and sexually). My husband and I are starting to think that the only relationship we can have with him is as some kind of lodger. I feel as though I need to withdraw from him because my symptoms are getting worse.
I wonder if his anger is a result of him not being able to accept/understand what is really going on with you and your BP. Perhaps he needs to talk to someone from outside of the family, ie, a Therapist to look at his feelings about the subject. He is lashing out at you because he feels safe doing so - we hurt the ones we love is very true.
He sounds confused and troubled. To him he is going to latch on to the odd drop of alcohol that you drink - i take it that it is only the odd drop. He knows that alcohol can cause mood changes so to him he thinks that the alcohol must be the real cause of your problems - it is real to him because he can see it. So therefore, it needs to be removed and everything will magically be ok.
Working with teens you know that things are very black and white to them at that age.
I hope I've made a little sens here :-s I think my advice is to get him to talk to a counsellor/therapist. It will have been hard for him seeing his mum poorly and not being like other mum's. I know you've done everything you can and not hurt him in any way, but he will have seen you when you've been ill, he will be aware of differences between his own family and other families and is probably battling a mixture of shame and then guilt for feeling shame etc.
Truth be told its not that odd a drop. I have battled with drinking since the onset of my PTSD. However, when I get a handle on it and it becomes a more normal level i.e. social this is when he starts to use passive aggressive behaviour. And so I begin self medicating. I must add that I am not rolling drunk, just tipsy enough to help me feel relaxed.
I have organised for a family meeting tomorrow with my drug and alcohol counsellor. I think that he will be able to express best the nature of my drinking.
Its hard to explain things just in a short note and I'm sure it probably looks like I'm a drunk, but its not really that bad.
I can understand why your son is worried about your drinking, the fact is you shouldn't be drinking at all. . I take that as concern, and by what you've said you have an addiction. Regardless of how much you or you think you drink, I'm going to be honest, one drink is too many.. I would not blame your son for your drinking, not only are you in your own denial, but you're hurting him too.
""when he starts to use passive aggressive behaviour. And so I begin self medicating""
One drink or ten drinks to get by is self-medication. My pdoc said he will not treat BP folks until they are clean and sober, how can you work on family's issues until you work on your own. I can imagine your son feels you are a hypocrite. I would think about. My brother used to get angry at me if I had one drink because I'm his baby sister and he's addicted to drugs, do you see my point?
Thank you for your unconditional support.
I'm pretty direct, the reason being is, I'm not the type to candy coat issues, but in the hope that you see the other side of things, having an addiction is rough in many ways and it affects the whole family. Knowing you have an issue is the first step, the next stop is to get support to stop drinking if you chose to.
I wish you the best of luck,
If you read my previous post you would notice that I make mention of my Drug and alcohol counsellor. Is that someone in denial? I believe that is someone who is taking her addiction pretty seriously!
Regardless I do not believe that a 17 yro should have the right to dictate to his parents how they should conduct their lives. Nor should he be allowed to try and hold my household to ransom when the issues are not that simple. (I have made mention twice of the abuse I suffered at the hands of my father) I do not wish to continue to be abused by my son. And yes it is abuse/bullying one and the same. You grasp hold of one thing as he does without viewing the bigger picture.
My drug and alcohol counsellor thought I was making progress (these things do not change overnight) until my son sabotaged the whole situation. I was getting things under control. But the slightest tension sends me into a spin. When I perceive that someone is treating me similarly to my father that is a trigger. I have only just found this out on Monday. So give me a break. I've got a lot on my plate. I only just admitted to the sexual abuse from my dad, I only just found out I have BP, I am only just getting over my Four suicide attempts within the span of a month, I am still trying to live with PTSD and depression and anxiety and grief as well as trying to do all the other usual stuff. So cut me some slack.
I know very well what you are going through, I was seriously abused by my Mother, and my brother tried to kill me twice.I should also mention I was raped at 25. It a hard thing to heal from, saying that, any amount of alcohol in your system is going to make your recovery harder, that's what I'm trying to point out. I used to self-medicate with pain meds, I was with someone who triggered many of my memories, and tried to cut down, and tried and tried. I went into my doc's office, told her I was addicted and I need to get clean, this was a month into my BP diagnosis. She said that whether you take 1 pill a day or 10, the fact is your an addict. I hope that you can stop whenever you do, but understand that kids act out when someone isn't healthy in the home, regardless of it being BP, addiction, eating disorders, or just plain chaos. I hope you can get him into a counsellor, with being a teen,let alone having an ill parent, and the chaos in the home, he needs an outlet, and more then likelly he'll stop!
My son does see a psychologist and has done for about 3 years. Ever since I found out he was suicidal from being bullied at school. It appears that every time he has been to see her he becomes hostile towards me. This is why I'm agitating for a family meeting with her and with my counsellor.
I should also mention that I am taking a medication to reduce my desire for alcohol.
I am very sorry to hear of your abuse. (Nobody deserves to be abused) I too am also coming to terms with my mothers role and contribution to the abuse.
My mother is also playing a role in encouraging my son to bully me. Although she claims to be a neutral party. However, whenever I bring up the subject she conveniently finds a reason to hang up the phone or leave. I know that she is nudging him along and my husband agrees but there is little we can do about this as my son sees her on a daily basis. (He walks by her house for a bite to eat on the way home from school) At the moment I feel as though I am stuck between a rock and a hard place!
Are you kidding? My mother did the EXACT same thing, wow, my mum was the master of manipulation - I got the poop beaten out of me almost daily by one or the other. I never thought I would talk to someone who had the same thing happen! Sometimes when I see my shrink, not usually this one I am with now, but the one I saw back in '98-02 (with a year break in there), I would get soooo angry, partly at being challenged on my feelings and the **** that was brought up. I learned that the day I went, I made sure that I was in a very very calm space afterwards, I always went on a day off, or boy it was hard to work.
My only conclusion is families are weird co-dependant groups, regardless of the extent, there's always going to be something off one way or another, it's how you as a family unit tries to resolve it. I'm just starting a new relationship, I have trust issues and fear of being loved, so I'm working my damndest not to put my past issues on the new guy, who knows I'm BP and is very very understanding.
Just want to say you have my utmost sympathy I've been through very similar with my son. I know how it is to self-medicate with alcohol it was my only way of dealing with the constant 'bullying' by my son.
All I can say to offer you some kind of encouragement is that your son is acting this way out of his love and concern for YOU. It sounds like he's trying to take control of a situation that he feels is unsafe for him...but in the process is actually making your symptoms worse. It's a really tricky situation though it's good he's getting counselling, my son always refused it.
My son used to go crazy if he found me having a drink, which made me just want to drink more, viscous circle. I don't drink anymore now that he has left the home. Alcohol really isn't good with Bipolar but it took me a long time to realise it was making me worse. Take it a day at a time though, you are not in the best place right now to tackle an alcohol dependency whilst living with this confrontation.
Keep up with the professional counselling and try to take comfort from the fact that your son is acting this way out of love for you.
i have two sons who know about my being bp but are not supportive they are 20 and 22 and still are at the age of being very egocentric which is only right really as they are just starting out. we do have a good relationship and they call me to vent if they have any problems and i am glad to help. they both have had periods of depression and both came out the other side. early intervention is v. successful according to studies.
it is surprising that your son isn't more understanding of your problems particularly in the light of his own issues. he understandable cannot understand the drinking but it is a pity that he doesn't support you in your battle to deal with it. (well done). it is a bad road to go down in self medicating with alcohol. i did it too for a little while but thankfully can have a drink now knowing my limit but i only drink very rarely, maybe at a wedding or something. i too was abused as a child and in my marriage and these are difficult things to live with.
come on here when you get frustrated with your son and you will get lots of support from us. thinking of you and your struggle. take care of yourself.
Thankyou so much for your understanding and support. The last thing I need at the moment is more criticism in a forum that is there for me as I get enough of it from my son and mother. It may give you some understanding as to my choice of identity i.e. Elektra Demons. This is an allusion to the Greek myth regarding Elektra who murdered her mother to avenge her father. The Elektra syndrome psychiatrically is the opposite of the Oedipal Syndrome. Ha ha! LOL.
I too am surprised at his lack of support considering his battle with depression and OCD. He claims not to remember but, I don't believe that at all. He doesn't want to understand and for some reason has pitted himself against me. We used to be so close to each other. I must say I don't get why he even thinks that it's any of his business except that my mother has probably put him up to this in the most subtlest of ways.
Today we are meeting with my counsellor so I'll keep you appraised of the situation.
If you've had folks challenge you, it doesn't mean you are a bad person, but I know that I've appreciated people being direct with me, rather the expecting carte blanche head bobbing in agreement. There are two sides to each story and then there is the truth as a philosopher (gah I can't remember his name) once said. I believe that. We all have our own filters. Remember your son is still emotionally a kid. The teen brain doesn't stop growing until 21 or so, it's an awkward time, especially when mental health issues are involved.
This is a really good forum, you may find benefit from - it deals with 12-17yr olds and the support is directed specifically for teen behaviour and parents. Looking through it, it would be the right spot for you - it's pretty indepth.
I hope this helps,
Depression Community Leader
Ok, I'm not sure how this is going to come out but I am trying to see it from a 17 year old's point of view here and also from past experiences. I can already see it from your point of view as a mother with BP, so now I'm jumping the fence (so to speak).
At 17 he is not going to be able to give you the kind of unconditional support you are looking for. That is a parents role and one that he will not take on until he is much much older - I shall try and explain - As children we take our parents for granted, that is life, all we care about is ourselves, we expect our parents to be solely interested in us right up to when we leave home and marry and have a family of our own. IMHO it is only when we have learned the responsibility of caring for others that we then see our parents as human beings and not just parents.
No I am not suggesting for one minute that he shouldn't be respectful of you - I've mentioned in another post that there are certain behaviours that are needed within a family unit. However, I think that when he see's you with a drink he immediately thinks you are sliding back into addiction, this results in fear and possibly panic which manifests itself as anger. It is natural for him to think this way because to be honest if you have an addiction problem then one drink is bad news (I realise you are seeking help with this and keep fighting the demon).
However, you are describing a viscious circle, whereby you have a drink, your son gets scared and therefore hostile, you then get stressed and hurt and ergo reach for another drink which then tells your son that he was right in his assumptions.
I don't think it is too much to ask that your son doesn't disrespect you in your own home, or that he doesn't raise his voice, however I think you may be being unrealistic in expecting him to be able to give you the support you are asking. You also need to stop using stress (whether it be from your son or other sources) as an excuse to drink - I have been guilty of doing this with nicotine, i give up and then the minute the children play up I've thrown a wobbly, reached for the packet and in my head blamed them for me starting again - in truth it is not their fault but my own.
I don't think I have come across as being critical of any one person here, my aim has been to look at things from a different perspective. It is far too easy when we are BP to expect everyone to bend to our needs - now children don't ask to live with BP, our partners make the choice, our friends make the choice but our children have no choice and I think we should remember that.
To elaborate and quote
alcohol is poison
Another thing that interferes with taking medication, and this is a biggie - is if you drink alcohol!
Most prescription medication will state right on the bottle to not take it with alcohol, but you should really know this already.Why? Because alcohol is a depressant.And it will interfere with how your medication normally works in your body.Especially, say, if you are taking an anti-depressant. See what I mean?
You really need to stay away from drinking alcohol if you are on ANY medication, but especially if you are on medication for bipolar disorder. You have no idea how the two will mix. And even if you "getaway with it" this time, you don't know how they will react the next time! But especially, please, please, don't stop taking your medication, even once, just so you can drink.
I've known people who have done that, and they ended up going into really, really bad episodes. It's NOT worth it!
If you have read the rest of the posts That is not the point.
The point is about negotiating the minefield that is living with a teenager who lays siege in a household. This IS NOT a black and white issue. And ggoody for you that you can manage it so simply and see it that way!!!!!