Need Help With My 20 Year Old Son
Please help. My 20-year-old son has such uncontrollable rage at times, that it is very worrisome to me. He was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at about 14 years of age. We tried a lot of different drug regimes, and it seemed to work for a while.
But as he got older he decided he didn't like the side effects, so he went off all drug therapy. He seems to be doing well with the depression—it's the rage that is the problem now. The episodes are very scary, and I am afraid for him and afraid of him.
The symptoms on this site describe exactly what it is like. They are uncontrollable and last about 20 minutes. Then it's as if nothing happened, and you are left scratching your head going "Wow!"
Can you help us before it's too late?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Lori. Thanks for asking for help on this site. A lot of people face the kind of problem you and your son are having, and reading this will be helpful to them.
I'm going to assume your son is living at home with you--that is how it sounds from what you wrote. If that is not the case, write again and I'll make adjustments.
One thing is for sure--you cannot do anything about his anger. Only he can. You cannot help him unless he wants help.
At 20 years old, your son needs to be responsible for himself. You didn't mention whether he is working or not, but I assure you he will not be happy as long as he is dependent on you in any way. I have seen this over and over in my 35 years of counseling. No young adult is happy living with their parents, at least in my experience. So, if he does live with you, he needs to get out on his own as soon as possible.
Don't expect him to like this. I know you love your son very much, but you have to do the right thing no matter how he responds. If you are afraid of him, then get other adults to support you, or get the police to help you. If you feel threatened by him in your own home, as it sounds like you are, he needs to leave. It is you asking for counseling here, not him. If he decides to get help, that's a different story.
You're going to have to use tough love. It is not loving at all to allow him to stay in your home and frighten and threaten you with his rage. While it might seem cold to make him move out, it would be even more damaging to him to allow him to continue to rage and threaten you.
What I've said so far is all for the purpose of insuring your physical safety. It will also help to insure that he does not commit violent acts that could mean incarceration.
Tell him you want him to be happy and successful, but that you will not allow him to continue to rage and threaten you in your own home. Make it clear that you are the authority--that is absolutely necessary!
In the privacy of your thoughts, pray for him, and trust him to make the right choices. Expect him to surprise you and do the right thing. Believe in him more than you fear him or fear for him. This will help you, and he will feel it too. Reach out to friends and family that are healthy and happy, and they will support you.
Make up your mind that you will resolve this in a way that is good for him and for you. Then take one step at a time until you've reached your goals. Never give up on him or yourself.
I wish you all the best in your efforts to make the right choices.