General Question

Jeruba's avatar

What do you do, can you do when someone you love is going crazy?

Asked by Jeruba (51825points) 2 months ago
30 responses
“Great Question” (8points)

It’s so hard not to try to intervene, save, rescue, offer weak and amateurish solutions. Advice says that’s wrong, that helping isn’t helping, that I don’t have that power or that professional knowledge and skill. If I take him back at home, it will be dire and possibly disastrous.

And he is rejecting all care.

If you have faced this terrible trial, what have you done, and what happened? Did anything help?

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Dutchess_III's avatar

I just spent the last week with my daughter and my younger sister. My sister is crazy. I suspect she is ADHD and she’s an extreme narcissist. It was the worst week of I was so relived when I left
Very sad because this is the first time I’ve seen her in 15 years.

You have to think of yourself first @Jeruba.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Get therapy for you and your loved one. (It helps you deal with it.)

Get them into a protected environment, commitment to Psych hospital or locked Convalescent home.

janbb's avatar

I don’t have any pearls of wisdom; just sending love.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I have never had to be tough to the ones I love. I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. I hope you can find solace somehow.

stanleybmanly's avatar

What happens to him with you out of the picture?

longgone's avatar

My experience with this is limited, but I do know how difficult it is when loved ones are mentally unwell. What really helped me is to have regular appointments with a therapist and a social worker. They helped in different ways – the therapist with holding my boundaries and reinforcing how to care for myself, and the social worker by keeping me informed about programs, dealing with paperwork, etc.

Professional help for everyone. That’s what I would advise. Since you can only control yourself, start with your own care. And accept this gentle [hug].

TJFKAJ's avatar

I guess crazy means that they are detached from reality.
At that point, what can you do.
If science could bring back people who separated their senses and cognition from reality, we would know about it.
Instead, we are waiting to figure it out.
Not much you can do but wait for a treatment that works.
You certainly are not going to come up with a treatment on your own, no matter how much you wish you could.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

^You’re wrong. I work in the field. Science can help restore people to better thinking through the use of highly effective medicine. We have a number of medications that do a very good job of reducing symptoms that cause a break with reality.

The key note in @Jeruba‘s OP is that the family member is refusing all care. There’s an actual medical name for this. It’s a known symptom of mental illness. It’s sad, but at this stage, forced treatment in a locked psychiatric facility by court order is usually the only thing that remedies the situation.

There is hope. It’s tiny, but it’s there. If the family member becomes involved with the justice system, they may be sentenced to a forensic psychiatric hospital where they can receive the necessary care.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jeruba I don’t have much useful advice to offer other than encouraging you to talk to a professional who specializes in this type of mental health. I can say that my heart goes out to you, sending you the best positive energy of hope for things to improve. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks for all advice and helpful suggestions.

And thanks, @Hawaii_Jake, for emphasizing this in my OP: he is rejecting all care.

I can’t get therapy for him. I can’t force him to get help. He is an adult. He refuses every kind of counsel and treatment from any professional or institutional source. I can’t control what he does or where he goes.

Once before, he came back on condition of getting treatment, and then he put on such a performance for the admitting nurse that she decided he was okay and sent him home.

I have been seeing a therapist and talking to two trained counselors who came with my late husband’s hospice enrollment (even though he never came home to hospice care). I attend Al-Anon meetings regularly. And I have given him shelter and support for years, and money.

It’s time for me to stop that; it hasn’t helped, only prolonged things. So we are now in the “tough love” phase, and it is horrible.

I think his mind is so damaged by various substances that he doesn’t grasp much of reality at all. Instead I have become the enemy for not rescuing him. The past nine years that he squandered under my roof apparently count for nothing.

He actually did get picked up by the cops the other night, and wound up in the county psych ER. For a moment I had a breath of hope, because they had him in a medical environment. But he apparently fought his way out and is literally on the street. He wants me to take him back in, and I just cannot do that again, so he is sending me terrible messages.

So my question is really about what has helped you, because I can’t help him. I do not possess the power or the means to give him what he needs. But the cost to me of seeing him like this and enduring his reciminations is great.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Jeruba I am sorry you have this pain.

I attended AA meetings regularly for 12 years. My attendance is spotty now. In that time, I heard people share about watching their children experience the horrors of addiction. I heard one woman share whose daughter died from it. I remember some of the things they said that helped them.

1. Regular attendance and open sharing at meetings
2. A close connection to a trusted sponsor
3. Faith and prayer
4. Outside counseling/therapy

Those are in order of how much I heard them.

From what you’ve written here, I think you are doing the right thing. This must be gravely painful, and I feel for you.

Also from what you’ve written here, I believe you have a good support system around you. If I could add one thing to your repertoire of supports, it would be meditation. There are thousands of YouTube videos of guided meditations available. I recommend a guided meditation, because it gives your mind a journey rather than the useless myth that the mind has to be empty. I’ve been meditating daily for years, and I can assure you my mind is never empty. Meditation gives me a peaceful core despite the turmoil of my day.

If I may add, your pain is completely normal. We want our children to thrive. When they suffer, we hurt. Your pain is understandable. I pray for your peace.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It sounds very likely that a prolonged jail term is imminent, the only question being whether or not it will be before you are either physically injured or robbed blind. You need a restraining order and working relationship with your police department. I assume he has no siblings, cousins, etc. to buttress you against looming abuse. Put and KEEP the police in the middle of it. You have no choice.

snowberry's avatar

@Jeruba If you could find a way to redirect his messages to a file of some sort so you didn’t have to read them all the time, that would help.

@Hawaii_Jake mentioned a sponsor. Perhaps if you had a sponsor they could keep track of his messages and only notify you when you needed to be.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jeruba ”I have been seeing a therapist…”

I’m glad to hear it. That was what my previous comment was suggesting. I would let your therapist help you figure out the best steps moving forward to protect yourself emotionally from this person. Wishing you the very best.

Inspired_2write's avatar

My older brother hand a common-law relationship with a woman that had episodes of

violence among other things and this would come on after drinking heavily for days.

He tricked her by saying that her illness was probably physical in nature and thus got ahead

of time an appointment at the Hospital for a Mental Health specialist to see her.

That day after a short private interview it was obvious that she needed treatment and was

admitted .

( of course she was angry and violent and they subdued her, for her own safety as well as the attendants).

Months later she is off alcohol and on proper medications and diagnosed as a mental illness .
She now lives in a “Group Home”.

Something you might consider offering him a place to stay.

At that Group Home experts will eventually observe his behavior and then offer mental health options for him.

Once the person is diagnosed, he is offered treatment or advised to go to a Mental Health

Facility as the Group Home will not let him stay, plus its NOT forced on him, but gives him

control of his life choices, which is the fear that he may certainly be afraid of?

Just a suggestion by explaining how my older brother handled this woman
who had taken too much of his younger he aged quickly so often
as extreme stress can cause.

Inspired_2write's avatar


Since I don’t know what State that you live in. But phone around in your State to find one to talk with on how to proceed. ( in terms of finding a place for him to stay and the rest will be figured out by them if and when he decides to go there?)

“Residential treatment facilities
People who live in a group home offering support services may be developmentally disabled, recovering from alcohol or drug addiction (e.g., who may have attended a youth drug court hosted by the judicial system), abused or neglected youths, youths with behavioral or emotional problems, and/or youths with criminal records (e.g., a person in need of supervision). Group homes or group facilities may also provide residential treatment for youth for a time-limited period, and then involve return of the youth to the family environment.[20] Similarly, drug, addictions and alcohol programs may be time-limited, and involve residential treatment (e.g., Afrocentric model for 24 women and children, as part of Boston Consortium ”

janbb's avatar

@Inspired_2write Your suggestion is a good one except that Jeruba has written this above:

“I can’t get therapy for him. I can’t force him to get help. He is an adult. He refuses every kind of counsel and treatment from any professional or institutional source. I can’t control what he does or where he goes.”

She is stuck.

JLeslie's avatar

Just reading what you are going through, I can’t imagine how hard it is. Have the Al-Anon parents been able to tell you if there might be a typical pattern once you start tough love? I’m just wondering if it would be helpful to manage your expectations. I like to have an idea how long a situation is going to last, it helps me handle it. You would have no guarantee he would be similar to others, but if there is a typical pattern he might fit into the average.

That he wants to come back to you maybe is a good sign, even though in a way it’s making it harder for you.

A woman I know gave a presentation a couple of years ago, and she said that she has heard the saying that a parent can only be as happy as their least happiest child. She said, “that’s not true.” She said she doesn’t let her adult children drag her happiness down like that. I don’t know if that makes her unfeeling or wise?

You might be able to get him into a 72 hour hold if he is considered a danger to himself or others, but from what you have written it sounds unlikely they will hold him. I was just thinking if he was under medical care at least you would get some relief for a few days and if you are lucky he would agree to treatment, but there is probably a big chance he wouldn’t. Do you know if he wants to quit, but is just freaked out about the process? Or, does he actually think he is not an addict?

I think your choice for tough love at this point is the right one. My heart goes out to you. Must be incredibly scary and upsetting.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie “She said she doesn’t let her adult children drag her happiness down like that.” That’s a great point actually. But hard to do in a situation like this when the adult child is actively hurting you. I can see that you realize that.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I don’t have children, I don’t presume to understand how painful it is. I know in my own family my mom seems better able to detach than my father regarding my sister and me.

I don’t want to clog this thread with analogies that don’t quite match up to the OP’s situation, but I’ll just say I think my mom would decide I screwed up and am impossible and she would compartmentalize her disappointment and pain and do her best to ignore the situation. My father would continue to try to do something, anything, to fix the situation and my father’s way usually makes things worse.

Possibly, the OP can block the messages. Is that the hurt you are talking about? Or, did I miss something when I read through?

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t want to derail any more but if you read her posts you can see how anguished she is.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb Yes, of course. She will need to reframe the situation I guess. It’s the only way I can typically get out of my own anguish. Sometimes it’s impossible.

Inspired_2write's avatar

All she can do then is to give HIM the number and address and HE DECIDES whether to follow it up or not.
If he need a place to stay, he may just deiced to go there.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Enough of this. This isn’t about “someone you love going crazy”. He has ARRIVED. The question “how can he be saved?” no longer tops the list. As far as I’m concerned, the situation which matters is the threatened destruction of our friend. The emotional destruction is already well in place and only CERTAIN to increase. There is no defense against the opportunities for your kids to cause you either joy or pain. And life being what it is, the question of joy or sorrow more than any of us would care to admit, is a matter of a rolling of the dice. Whatever salvation remains for our friend’s physical OR emotional well being requires a brick hard ice cold exterior impervious to emotional or empathic considerations. Tough love means a ruthless tougher than nails demeanor without wavering.

raum's avatar

Lots of experience with this.
Yet, sadly, no good advice to offer.

Mostly just waiting until it got bad enough to call in a 5150. :(

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@raum What’s a 5150?

raum's avatar

(Sorry about that. Didn’t realize 5150 was specific to California.)

California legal code for 72 hour mental health hold if they’re deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Ah. We call it a 72-hour hold.

Brian1946's avatar


I think a 5150 is book theft in NYC, although I don’t know how seriously my source can be taken. ;-)

raum's avatar


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