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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Living with a -polar, borderline schizefrenic son, age 38.

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living with a bi-polar, borderline schizefrenic son, age 38. Verbal abuse, mood swings. Alcohol dependency. Not working. how to set boundaries
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.
It can be very difficult to deal with someone who is verbally abusive to you. It sounds like it is possible that your son may have a personality disorder. Abuse is usually a sign as is lack of boundaries.
It is very hard to deal with someone with so many difficulties who also hurts you in the process. You want to help them, but their behavior gets in the way. So you find yourself having to find ways to protect yourself instead of being able to have a relationship with the person.
There are two ways you can address your son. One, you can lower your expectations. If he is acting in a harmful or hurtful way, you can walk away. Keep in mind that reacting to what your son is saying or doing only makes him want to do it more because he wants a reaction out of you. Trying to reason with him is not going to work because he does not use reason with his emotions.
Also, try to keep your emotions out of your dealings with him. People with personality disorders and other issues often provoke emotional reacts in others because their behavior is so offensive and hurtful. Training yourself to not react and to remain neutral can help. Develop a few non emotional responses you can provide to just about anything he says to you, especially when he tries to provoke you. "I'm sorry you feel that way" is a good response to just about any comment. It leaves your feelings out of it, negates a reaction and keeps him from feeling offended.
If he is able to be independent or live with some outside assistance, you can also set a time limit as to how long your son can stay with you. Figure out a date and talk to him about it. Let him know that you intend on helping him to leave, but that he must leave. Assist him in settling up new living arrangements and be there for him but otherwise, let him figure things out.
Most of all, be sure to care for yourself. Having a son with these issues is trying on you. Get some time to yourself even if you have to rearrange things. Take time to get a haircut, spend time with friends and family and find ways to relax and laugh when you can. Also, get enough sleep and eat a balanced diet. These things will help you feel ready to cope better with your son's issues.
I hope this has helped you,
TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

many thx. you are spot on. Happy to hear we are on the right track, although it is not easy, as chap manages to get under our skins more often than not. To let gross misperceptions (to say least) ride is very hard at times. But we try and muddle on. Life is messy at times. with many thx. tanja

You're welcome, Tanja! I know, it can be very difficult. It can be like walking on eggshells at times trying to cope. And you may experience anger, frustration, anxiety and even depression just dealing with his behavior. That is why self care is so vital. You can also consider family counseling (with or without your son) so you can get support.
My best to you,
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thx again. you are very right. Situation is challenging, also we live in Ethiopia right now (my husband is Ethiopian, I am Dutch). Being of mixed ethnic background is something our son has not been able to cope with easily. He is super bright and hence super (may i say) stupid as well, not acting in his best self interest. My husband and I are international civil servants, having worked for the United Nations in various countries. That did not help our son getting roots, although he lived in France from age 6 to age 18... Our son travelled far and wide in Central America, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Canada. He lived in the Netherlands for 2 years... but never took root anywhere. Have feeling he is at the end of the road. But so are we..... To get a hold on what to do/not to do is not easy. Boundaries need to be set. He is bullying and verbally very absusive. Cultural differences are also apparant. My husband has a PhD and I have 2 Master Degrees. Our son resents... But you know all about pattern of behaviour.... And so do we. So, once again, thx for confirming we are on right track, more or less... BTW, I worked for WHO, closely with mental heatlh colleagues. But theory is always easier than putting it in practice. thx again. t

You're very welcome. It sounds like you offered your son the best. The rest is up to him.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thx for that! except that he does not always, most of the time see it that way and hence verbally abuses us.... But u are right. we try. Life is messy at times. thx again. t