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lsue

Adult Son with Dellusional Disorder

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Hello all,  Looking for feedback and help in supporting my adult son (43) who is suffering from delusional disorder.  A little over a year ago I was away on business (he lives with me) for 1 day and he called me to tell me a car was sitting outside of the house watching him.  It grew from there.  14 months later he does not leave the house. He is on long term disability because he cannot go to work.  Will not use his cell phone because he believes it is hacked.  Doesn't go on computer because it is hacked.  Doesn't want family or friends over to the house because the people that are watching him will see this and the danger might be heightened.  He has an 18 year old son whom he is very close to that he now only sees or speaks to occasionally.  He doesn't want to put him harms way. What started as 1 car is now 30+ people driving past the house, walking dogs or children past the house to watch him.  In the past month he started suspecting the neighbors all around us.  He doesn't know why they are doing this or what they have in mind but he feels threatened.  

He's not violent (thank god) and not one to confront (again, thank god) but he's exhausted, depressed, frustrated. A no time during these 14 months has he ever considered that he is sick.  He believes 100% that he is being watched.  He has this elaborate story in his mind that all of these people are working together and communicating to watch him.  He feels that the only reason something bad hasn't happened is because he doesn't leave the house. 

He's seeing a psychiatrist for meds and started therapy a month ago.  Both he is doing for me.  He doesn't see the benefit.  The meds take the edge off of the anxiety but haven't helped with the delusions.  Doctor prescribed new meds that require weekly bloodwork and he refuses.  He won't leave the house for the draws and doesn't want anyone coming in.   

Our relationship is strained because I try to rationalize with him on the things he is feeling, suspecting.   I tell him that yes, the cars the people are there but they have nothing to do with him.  It's normal life.  I sympathize for what he is feeling but he doesn't want to hear it.  He doesn't understand why I don't believe him, why I'm in denial.    He wants to hire a private detective to find out who all these people are.  I've tried to explain that he'll never get the answers that he is seeking.   He's heartbroken that no one believes him and that he has to go through this alone.   I've been researching investigators but would they take this on?  The cost?  Will my son ever have enough information on people to satisfy his fears?  

I'm looking for suggestions on what to say to my son when he's struggling to show support without agreeing with his delusions.   Also welcome feedback on the investigator idea. 

lsue

Thanks in advance

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Hi, Isue, welcome!

This must be very difficult and frustrating to go through :( . At least you've been able to persuade him to see a psychiatrist and a therapist - that's a huge success!

I know that the med that acts against delusions requires regular blood tests. If only he would take it for some time (without the testing) and it would make him feel better and less paranoid, then he might agree to "go out" to be tested. I would ask the doctor about this possibility (= not to require his consent with the blood tests before some days after starting taking the medication). Also, I've heard that there are some alternatives to this med that wouldn't require regular testing, but I'm not only not a doctor, I also don't know what the alternative is called, but that's not important - the psychiatrist should know and be able to inform you (if not, I would try another one). 

Here is some info about different types of antipsychotics (what sounds, to me, relatively suitable for your son are the injections one can get only every few weeks (= not taking tablets every day), but I don't know...) https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/expertadvice/treatments/antipsychoticmedication.aspx  Perhaps it's not a good idea to read it because talking with a professional is always better than "consulting the internet" (which may easily scare us), but it's up to you.

Besides medication, there is a therapeutical approach that seems very promising for most people with delusions, but I'm afraid it's not yet practiced in many places, so it's practically inaccessible almost everywhere :( . However, you might have a look and try to find out if there's someone practicing it in your area:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/hide-and-seek/201507/open-dialogue-new-approach-mental-healthcare

(and here is a scientific article about it: http://cochranelibrary-wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD012384/full )

I suppose you already have found some resources of information about how to cope when you're living with someone with delusions, such as:

https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0033/444597/delusions.pdf

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2016/04/10-things-you-should-do-with-someone-who-is-delusional/

I wouldn't hire a private detective for several reasons; besides waisting money, there would be a high risk that the detective would become suspicious to your son, too. Because it's not his function/profession that could make him credible to your son. To his brain, he would very probably look (feel) like everybody else who's not familiar to him from his past.

This may seem silly, but I wonder what effect could seeing a film about someone with a similar condition have on your son's attitude towards his problems: I would watch this film with him and then talk about it and then slowly try to "make connections" between the main character's delusions and his own: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Beautiful_Mind_(film) But perhaps it's a bad idea, I don't know.

10 hours ago, lsue said:

Will my son ever have enough information on people to satisfy his fears? 

Based on the nature of the disorder, more information couldn't help, because it's (when I describe it in a simplified, perhaps even not exact, way) "the ill part" of his brain that makes him feel in a certain way about people and his "rational part" (which is the only one that "can listen to information") only creates the "stories" that explain to himself the feelings. The people he sees feel menacing and thus the mind creates the explanation that it's because "there is some bad intention in them" and a real danger. At least that's how I understand it. (But there are apparently several ways even professionals can look at it: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16600666 )

Here are some more articles, perhaps you'll find some useful insight there:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201709/explaining-delusional-thinking

https://www.verywellmind.com/the-internal-experience-of-schizophrenia-2953095

I wonder if there is a peer support group of people living with someone with a mental illness in your community. I would search for it and try to benefit from the experiences and support of others in person. That said, you're always welcome here and I hope communicating with us will also be somehow helpful to you :) .

Good luck!

Edited by LaLa

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Hi Isue,

Re. meds, there are many different ones as LaLa says, I'd also suggest going back to the psychiatrist for another recommendation that doesn't involve such regular bloodwork.

I don't know what therapy your son is having, it can take time to work, but there is a therapy called CBT for psychosis which could be a possibility if it is available in your area. 

Technology can be a real fear, when I had psychosis I turned it all off, just a thought but could your son be persuaded to keep in touch with his son by regular letters/cards for example, just in the short term? It is all about trying to reduce the fears, I found art therapy (drawing what made me feel safe) and peer support really useful too. 

I think you sound very supportive Isue, just listening is important.

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