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Son with no insight into his mental condition

Hi, I am new to this group. I have an 18 year-old son who is mentally unwell. He has got progressively worse over the past 8 years despite trying numerous avenues to get help. He was initially diagnosed with depression, anxiety and OCD. He was prescribed antidepressants and psychotherapy. He was on those for about a year during which he improved though they made him feel drousy and disconnected. He reached a point where he refused to continue taking them. He said they were changing his personality. His OCD behaviour became progressively worse. He has also started to threaten self-harm and be violent towards us. He has become paranoid that we are trying to drug him to suppress his personality. He is very controlling and demanding. He won’t touch any door handles out of fear of contamination, so we have to do everything for him. If we don’t he gets violent. He has kicked in about 5 doors this year which we had to replace.  He dropped out of year 12 because the anxiety made it too difficult to continue.  He now spends his time researching conspiracy theories on the internet and watching YouTube videos. He won’t let anyone get within a metre of him, is constantly asking us to confirm if we have touched a bin, or touched him or something. Life for the family has become unbearable. Twice this year we have had to call 000 when he got extremely agitated and we were concerned for his and our safety. The second time was the day they moved house. He became convinced the smartmeter in the new house was giving him headaches, cancer and was a form of government mind control.  He was admitted to hospital involuntarily and we hoped we would get help. However, the psychiatrist didn’t think his condition warranted being made to take medication against his will. It is difficult since he is 18 and can be very convincing and hide a lot of what he is thinking and doing. The doctor did not seem to reach a conclusive diagnosis. He said he may be suffering from a psychosis or he may just have a very eccentric personality.  So he was discharged with a referral to Headspace. He has been to one appointment there, but he wouldn’t tell us anything about it and since he is 18 we don’t have permission to find out from them.  


We are also going through several other major issues in our family. I am transgender (male to female) and in the process of transitioning. As a result, my wife (his mother) and I have separated.  Our other child also came out as transgender (male to female) and is also transitioning. We sold our house and my wife and the kids moved to a new house. I am living an hour away in a flat in the inner west because it is a more accepting environment. So there have been a large number of stresses. In addition we are immigrants with no family here to help us. And as a result of our son’s OCD and my daughter and I being transgender we have become very isolated. My wife has taken all of these things on her shoulders for so long and is severely depressed herself now. I am not sure what to do or where to go for help. We only seem to get limited help. I feel that we either need someone to stay with us for an extended period and coach us on how to deal with his behaviour, or for him to be hospitalised and made to take medication. I don’t know if the first option exists and if it did would probably be too expensive. We tried the second option, but the doctors didn’t believe it necessary, it seems like they need someone to be injured before they will consider it necessary to hospitalise.  

My wife works I’m disability care and people with physical disabilities get provided with some care. I feel that my son needs a similar level of care, but mental illness is less tangible so doesn’t seem to get the same priority.

Any suggestions as to how we could get more help would be appreciated.

Many Thanks,





Re: Son with no insight into his mental condition

Hey there @Stefanie welcome to our Forums and thank you so much for sharing your story, for taking further steps to seek support. I hope this space provides a welcoming community, we really do have a lot of people who would relate to much of your narrative so in posting you've also empowered them to feel less alone.


It sounds like there's a bit of weight on your shoulders (and your wife's) in regards to the notion of support. Everyone deserves to feel supported, and please know you are not alone in the journey. I just want to list below a few services that could be of benefit to you.


1. Carers Australia - If you get in touch with them and connect to your State they may provide a bit of info on your rights as a carer as well as support services available to you.

2. ReachOut parents coaching - an online program, it's relatively new but we've heard good things; it specialises in supporting parents who care for children with mental illness, I believe your Son is just at the age cut off so you may be eligible.

3. QLIfe - Just want to check that you and your other child are aware of the supports available as you transition as well Heart 


The community is here to listen as you need.

Re: Son with no insight into his mental condition

Thanks so much @nashy. I have made an appointment with reachout.

Re: Son with no insight into his mental condition

@Stefanie Hi Stefanie and welcome to the forums. Wow do you have your hands full. I have a transgender child (male to female) and a mentally ill son2 I also have a mental illness. So I can appreciate a little of what you are going through. You have to get your son back into hospital. Easier said than done isn't it .... I am lucky as my son2 is aware of his mental illness and takes his medications as he doesn't want to go back into hospital or worse have the police involved again.


So sorry that you family has become isolated due to all of the drama but it happens so easily when you have a mentally ill member of the household. Same has happened to us for many years and it is only now that we are getting ourselves out of the hole my son2's mental illness has put us all in.


Stephanie I will be around during the Chrissy period so if you need someone to talk to please do not hesitate. A really great guy is @Dadcaringalone, he has done the hard yards with his son and I am sure won't mind me tagging him into the conversation.


Don't forget to put a @infront of people's names to let them know that you have messanged them. :Love greenpea xx

Re: Son with no insight into his mental condition


Dear Stefanie, that sounds terrible concerning what you describe re your son. I had similar challenges with my son until we got him the right care. He is now functioning much better and is on the correct medication and is receiving excellent therapeutic support. Unfortunately psychiatric care is not an exact science and it takes a lot of trial and error until you get the right medication to subdue the symptoms. My son is really high-functioning and his mental illness was very allusive and he and his psychosis was extremely manipulative. Is your son hearing voices and psychotic? I am online throughout Christmas and I know greenpea is also around. It often helps to chat online to people who have experienced similar challenges to help you cope. As a carer for your son, you have a lot on your plate and need to give yourself a break from what you describe because it can be extremely full-on! I wish you a very happy Christmas and I assure you that things will get better if you manage to get your son the right. I send you a lot of positive vibes to get through this tough time. There are some great people on this forum who can help you a great deal.

all the best and stay strong 

Re: Son with no insight into his mental condition

@Dadcaringalone @greenpea 


Hi, thanks for your response. It would be great to chat sometime. How can I best contact you? We have just battled through Christmas Day. His behaviour has been extreme and quite upsetting for the family. 

Thanks Stefanie

Re: Son with no insight into his mental condition


Congratulations on getting through Christmas Day in one piece Stefanie. That’s a big achievemBoth greenpea and myself are contactable on this forum throughout the entire feastive season. You say that your son’s behaviour was extreme and upsetting for the family! I can certainly empathize with that, we don’t see my parents and my brother anymore at Christmas or family functions because they are all triggers for my son. It started about 3 years ago and its not really anyone’s fault. My son had a ranting exchange with my brother, who’s an alcoholic and my parents sided with my brother and it was the worst possible experience for my son because he was at the prodromal stage of psychosis before his symptoms got really bad. I was not there, but it involved a sharp object, visit to emergency and a lot of f words and screaming etc. My father and my brother are particular strong triggers for my son so it’s much better we just stay away at Christmas. They don’t understand my son’s sick because of his mh condition and they lecture him, pressure him and expect my son to just get over it! I still get lectures that my son should see his grandparents but I have to be strong and keep them apart because we don’t want to risk another relapse!!


My wife and myself had a very low key Christmas with my son after he has had 2 major hospital admissions this year we just wanted to stay away from the stress described above and as my son’s now very stable on the correct medication, it was a beautiful Christmas. My daughter is away with her boyfriend but we will see her on Friday and spend New Years together. After dinner tonight we had a really interesting discussion with my son about his complete loss of insight this year when he was sick and it’s only really fully coming back now after his symptoms are managed for the past few months by daily medication. My son was shocked to hear that and he had no control over the loss of insight but it has almost completely came back now, so don’t loss hope.


How was your Christmas greenpea? It’s a pity there isn’t any other way to chat but we need to respect the forum rules which work really well. It’s great to hear from you Stefanie, I know it’s really tough what you are going through and we are here to support you as much as we can. All the best and well done again navigating the Christmas eggshells today!

Re: Son with no insight into his mental condition

@Dadcaringalone @StefanieMerry Christmas Dadcaringalone and Stephanie Smiley Happy  Dadcaringalone, my dear friend if only we could catch up for a cup of coffee sometime as we have discovered we live close enough to .... nevermind at least we have this avenue to talk which I really appreciate Smiley Happy.


So happy that you had a lovely Christmas day with your wife and son. That is super nice to hear. We also had a quiet day celebrated Christmas on Christmas eve with ex and kidults which went really well. Christmas day was low key with gardening with son2 which was was a lovely way to spend the day.


Funny you mention 'sharp object' we also had a incident with a sharp object in the dark days of psychosis.... so many of our experiences mirror each other. Thank god those days are in the past thanks to medication and therapy.


Stephanie we are here to talk or listen whenever you feel that you are able or want to. 


Dadcaringalone wishing you a fantastic New Years Eve and a fabulous 2019! Smiley Very Happyxxxx

Re: Son with no insight into his mental condition

Merry Christmas @Dadcaringalon @greenpea.

Glad you both had a good Christmas Day. My son was extremely agitated and refusing to go to bed or to let anyone else go to bed. He was demanding to get out the house into nature. To try to at least give the others some peace, I took him to a nearby national park. We got there at 1am, found a small clearing in the dark and pitched a popup tent. We managed to get a few hours sleep. It was so difficult as he doesn’t want to touch anything, and is very controlling and demanding that you do everything just right. In the morning when I was packing up he was swearing at me and I lost my cool and started swearing back. It’s so hard to always treat him as a sick person. I go between treating him as sick and treating him as an arrogant, rude, difficult child that needs discipline.


We came home around 10am. He refused to take part in Christmas gift-giving, saying we are all sick slaves under society’s control. So my ex partner, our daughter and I continued on with Christmas while he sulked in his room. Later when we had Christmas dinner, he was very disruptive at the table, throwing decorations into the food bowls, swearing and talking in a random new language he’d just made up. The kind of behaviour you might expect from a naughty 5-year old, not an 18-year old. After dinner, our daughter wanted to watch Lord of the Rings, but he wanted to play his music. We asked him to wait until she had finished, but he refused. He just seems to have no capacity to share or accept that others need a turn. We didn’t want to just give in to him, so kept refusing. He then stomped around the house, shouting and banging things, making it impossible to watch the movie. Our daughter gave up trying to watch it, so he got his way in the end. As always. We told him he needs to take his medication if he is going to continue to live with us, and he is not in a fit state to live on his own, so the alternative is going to hospital. Today we are going to try to get him to take the medication. Any suggestion as to how we can go about it? Are there any strategies that have worked for you in the past?

Re: Son with no insight into his mental condition

@Stefanie Hi Stefanie okay this is how I think you should play this for everyone's sake and in particular your son (as he needs to be assessed and on the right meds asap). He has to go to hospital. This will sound really tough but when my son2 was threatening me with sharp objects or throwing his dad around therefore being threatening to family members I called the ambulance and the police.


You have to be strong here as I think you said he is a smart cookie and will act all 'normal' when they arrive. You have to be firm and tell the police what has happened and that you feel threatened in your own home. Particularly you and your ex have to be united on this. It will only work if you are. We had the police on speed dial with my son2 for several years because of the behaviour.  


Even if you feel that is overkill getting him into hospital for a proper stay is so important for getting his medications working propertly as they always take time to take affect. 


Next time he is banging cupboards and screaming etc. police and ambos and tell them what is happening and that you are in fear of the family's wellbeing. He is being abusive you know and getting away with it and he sounds very ill.


I wish I could be there with you to help I really do as I have walked the walk in many ways and come out the other end intact. There is light at the end of the tunnel Stefanie.


I am here over the Chrissy period so don't hesitate to let me know how you are going. Lots of love greenpea xxx

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