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Psychosis aftermath

Community Member

My son has been struggling with addiction and related psychosis for around three years. Recently he had an acute psychotic episode, suffering delusions and mania and was hospitalized under the Mental Health Act. While he was having the psychotic episode he went online and verbally abused some of his friends and family. He's since come home and is getting back on track with his medication and drug treatment. The issue is that he sent apologies to some of the people he abused but none of them have responded, except for one person who responded angrily and doesn't seem to want to accept his apology. I'm stuck in the middle of this and am torn between understanding how everyone feels and feeling defensive of my son, because he was not himself at the time. I can certainly understand their anger and hurt for his behavior, bit I feel that my family members and friends don't really understand his mental illness and the state of mind that he was in when he made the comments. He was not in his right mind at all. He was not himself, hence the hospitalization. He hadn't slept for days, he was manic and his thinking was chaotic and delusional. He's upset that nobody has responded to his apologies and the one person who did responded with anger. He still hasn't fully recovered from his psychotic episode and I don't think their response is helping. He was very embarrassed and regretful about the things he said and while they're understandably hurt, he's hurting too and he needs a bit of compassion and understanding. It's hard to know what to do in this situation and what his level of responsibility is. I only know that I would be forgiving of somebody who was that unwell and would take that into account and try not to take it personally, especially if they apologized. My son is very sensitive which is a big part of his drug problem and I fear this rejection is just going to make things worse for him. He's never behaved like that to anyone before. He's always been known as a gentle soul despite his addiction problems. It's only the recent psychosis that has made him verbally aggressive and abusive. Any suggestions in how to deal with the fallout of his psychotic episode would be appreciated.

4 Replies 4

Just Sara
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Mari and welcome to our caring BB forum community;

It seems your situation is heart wrenching and no wonder. Dealing with psychosis in a loved one can make you feel very helpless indeed.

Sleep deprivation is a leading cause of psychosis. I'm not sure if your son lives with you, but if he does, it'd be ideal if you could help him form good routines. I'm no stranger to sleep disturbances which led to psychotic episodes after my breakdown a few yrs back.

People can't truly comprehend the ramifications of MH problems in others until they experience it themselves. They can have empathy, but this is more about love and faith than actually understanding.

It can be a lonely path for us, and lonelier still due to situations like you've mentioned. Words can't be revoked; it's collateral damage of the illness unfortunately. Having you in his life would be a shining light though. I'm sure he appreciates your love and comfort.

My concern is for you. Finding a sense of detachment from your son's illness is really important. Supporting him doesn't mean you have to live it with him.

Ensuring he makes it to psych appt's, helping him keep quality diet/sleep habits, asking if he takes medication routinely and being there for him when he needs a hug, would be priceless for the long term. There's not much more you can do except look after yourself.

Feeling as if you need to be a go-between with people he's hurt, is too close. You'll expose yourself to a situation that wasn't anything to do with you at all. It's his burden to carry and learn from. If he continues to 'use', the psychosis will probably return and it starts all over again.

He needs professional support; you're his mother, not his counsellor. You can't take his pain away or fix him or what he's done; this is a painful lesson parents need to accept.

Take it from me, I'd rather have a loving mum who instils boundaries, than a mum who's in pain over my MH.

I wish you and your son well. Please come back and continue writing. If anything it's a place for you to vent and discuss your feelings with others. I hope I've helped..

Kind thoughts;


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Mari,

I too welcome you to the forum. I'm sorry to read what you and your son have been through.

Unfortunately we have little control on how others act or react when it comes to mental health issues. Some people try to be understanding, others just don't have a clue. Sez has explained it well in her reply. Everyone has their own ideas on mental health.

It is wonderful your son reached out and apologised to people. The person who responded in anger may be more accepting in time. I know I sometimes react to anger with anger! It isn't right, it can be a gut reaction or like a type of protection perhaps.

Feeling like you need to stand between your son, family and friends can be exhausting. Be supportive of everyone as much as you can and realise that you too need some care and support in all of this.

Using the word "TIME" is a bit of a cliché , but hopefully as time passes people will realise your son was not himself when he sent out the messages and they will accept the incident for what it was, ill health!

Like Sez wrote, this is a safe place to share how you are feeling.

Cheers for now from Dools

Community Member
Hi again. Thanks for your replies. They were very helpful. Sorry it took me so long to respond. My son is back in hospital. This time he seems to be worse and taking longer to recover. I don't know when he's going to get out of hospital or if he'll ever fully recover. So far his psychiatrists have been conservative and are viewing it as drug related psychosis. But im not really sure anymore. What im struggling with is where do you draw the line between caring for my child and having boundaries around his illness when he is so irrational, unwell and unable to take care of himself. Yes he made the decision to take drugs and lapse with his meds. But now he is unwell and needs support. My family and friends don't seem to get this. They say I'm too soft. I should let him suffer the consequences. I should show him tough love and let him hit 'rock bottom'. But this is not just addiction anymore. He's gone beyond rock bottom. I'm just tired of the lack of understanding and support from my family. Im not just going to let my seriously unwell child wallow alone in a locked mental ward with no visits and no support, regardless of his choices and his hand in it. They say addiction and mental illness are just like any other illness and the patient deserves respect and dignity, but it seems like everyone just wants to punish my son and get up on their moral high horse. I don't know how that's going to help. And its not helping me . Im being made to feel guilty for visiting him, for speaking with his doctors. I was called an 'enabler'. I would love for someone to explain how abandoning someone who is suffering acute psychosis or serious mental illness is going to help them.

Hi again Mari;

Whew! You've described a very difficult situation indeed. I'm so sorry things have turned out this way. I hope you're taking care of yourself amid all this extra stress. We don't want you suffering MH issues as well.

Firstly, your son's in good hands. People working with him understand - his illness isn't 'who' he is, it's what he's experiencing. There lies the problem with on-lookers; they tend to judge 'actions' as the bottom line and forget 'he's a man suffering' the effects of a mental illness.

You're obviously very defensive of your son and the way you've stuck with him. People give unsolicited opinions and unfortunately they advise without thought for how devastating it is to be in your situation.

Tough love isn't about doing more harm, it's about protecting yourself as well as doing what's right for your son. You've done this and honestly, trying to defend your position probably isn't helpful. Even though their opinions are skewed, maybe you need to let go of trying to justify yourself, or change their attitudes and ask for help.

Your son has you in his corner with visits which I'm sure he really appreciates. If he brings up the issue of others not seeing him, tell him they're ignorant because they are, and don't deserve his attention. He needs to focus on recovery and learning from this experience.

I spent 10 days in a psych ward last yr and was only visited by a couple of family members; not my mum though. I've tried bringing the issue up, but she refuses to talk. There's nothing more I can do except pull her up when she has an opinion that's ignorant and hurtful. Instead of arguing, I ask her to walk in my shoes if she's so confident with what she says. End of conversation...

It's bloody hurtful knowing people we love won't understand, but it's self preservation and survival to shrug it off instead of dwelling on it ok.

Counsellors and psych's are there when you need time for you to find solace. Your GP can organise it thru a mental health care plan which gives you up to 10 medicare rebated sessions. Use this as a support for you.. please.

Come back and post whenever you feel the need. Someone will always care and listen. I wish you well...

Warm thoughts;