Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Sudden change

Community Member

My wife and I are pensioners. Our son, who is nearly 40, lives with us.

Up until a few months ago, he lived a relatively normal life. Then he became mentally ill. He spends nearly all his waking hours talking to us about something that happened when he was five years old. He just keeps on repeating the same story. All his friends and relatives have blocked him on social media because of his ranting. This only makes things worse because he desperately wants people to listen to him. We have told him that he needs to see a physiatrist but he doesn't think that he has a problem. We listen to him without arguing because that would cause him to become loud and verbally abusive. It's difficult for us to live a normal life. We go out as much as possible for a break. We love him and feel powerless to help him.

18 Replies 18

Thanks again for your support.

My wife and I are okay, but we do think about our son all the time. We tried to contact him in remand but they wouldn't allow it because we're not on his list of contacts. At the moment, he wants nothing to do with us because he thinks that we betrayed him to the police. He hates the police.

Our GP has been supportive.

Summer Rose
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Picket

So glad to hear you are getting support from your GP. This community is always here for you, too.

You are doing all the right things and I just encourage you to hang in there. It might take some time before you can meaningfully engage with your son. Remember, he's unwell.

I have an adult child with a mental health condition. When she first fell ill 9 years ago, she was terribly unwell (and treated in a psych ward) but with the right treatment she has reached a state of recovery and learned to manage her condition. It really can get better.

Post any time. Kind thoughts to you

Release from prison, after nearly three months, incarcerated. My son said that the prisoners had a day taken off their sentence for every day served because of the covid restrictions imposed on them. The judge released him on the condition that he report to corrections. . My wife and I don't know what conditions that corrections will impose on him. We hope that there will be some psychiatric help.

He's living with us again, and so far, he hasn't been a problem for us. He still talks nonsense sometimes but keeps it brief. He was prescribed antidepressants.

Unfortunately, he spends all day and night in his room. He's not interested in anything, even watching TV. He posts online about how bored he is.

Summer Rose
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Picket

Nice to hear from you again.

It must be a relief to have your son out of jail. I’m sure that you and your wife have had quite a difficult time dealing with worry and anxiety for his welfare. Hopefully this moment can be the start of a more positive chapter in your lives.

The prescription for antidepressants suggests that he’s had some mental health care, which is great. Do you know if he takes the medicine? Is anyone treating him at present? Does he have a diagnosis?

No pressure to answer here, but I’m hoping that he is sharing information with you.

I’m wondering if you think it would help to seek family counselling at this point. You’ve all been through a highly distressing ordeal and it might help to talk about it and discuss the future as a family.

I suggest this because your son’s current lifestyle isn’t healthy or sustainable—and I know you know that. He must be lonely and somewhat adrift without the sense of purpose one gets from work or study. And things like exercise, hobbies and social connections are vital to our wellbeing.

I’m not a doctor, just a mum that does her best to care for an adult child with a mental health condition, but my gut tells me that your son would probably benefit from professional mental health support right now. From my experience, recovery is not often a straight and simple line from A to B. And transitions can be really hard.

Given he’s 40 and living in your home, I think it would be reasonable to make family counselling a condition of his continued living with you. Particularly as all of you want to avoid a repeat of past experiences.

If you can get him to go you might get some valuable insight into what he’s dealing with and have the opportunity to influence and support his path to recovery. Just something for you to consider.

It might also be prudent for you and your wife to agree on a plan of action should the situation deteriorate. For example, you may choose to call an ambulance to ensure he gets a proper mental health assessment. You may also want to make a list of relevant emergency numbers. You may want to identify an alternative place for him to live.

I’m not trying to be negative, it’s just easier to prepare a crisis plan with cool clear thinking before you’re actually in the crisis.

Kind thoughts to you

Hi Summer Rose,

Our son is still living with us. Part of his release conditions was that he had to get a mental health plan from a GP, which he has. The GP gave him a referral to a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, all this takes time. He also has video appointments with corrections so they can check on him. He still comes and talks to us about nonsense now and then. This usually involves saying how badly all his friends and relatives ( including us ) have treated him. He swears a lot, which is out of character, in our family, and has said that he will kill them all. We don't take his threats seriously because he has never been a violent person. I think it is his way of trying to get people to listen to him.

He says his family and friends have treated him badly because they have all blocked home on social media, email, and phones. They did this when he was at his worse, ranting about nonsense. Now he's very lonely. His brother and sister have spoken to him on the phone, which helps.

We find it very difficult to talk to him or try and change his way of thinking, so we usually just listen. This can be for hours at a time. We hope that it helps him to have someone listen to him. Seeing a counselor would probably help him but a counselor once told his wife to have nothing to do with him and she is long gone.

His only social activity is to go to a club and play the pokies occasionally. The problem with this is that it's very expensive (he gets a small amount of money from the government), the people who play the pokies are not very sociable, and we can't join him because we live on the pension.

Hi Picket,

We appreciate you reaching out for support, as it sounds like you are in a very difficult situation at the moment with your son. We can understand that you may feel as though he doesn’t have the capacity for physical violence, however considering his marked change in behaviour and his verbal violence towards you we feel there is potential for unpredictable and potentially dangerous behaviour. We encourage you to reach out to your local police station or his corrections officer to report his threats so they can be made aware of his escalating behaviour.
In the interim, for support for yourself and your son, our beyond blue support team are available 24/7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 or on Webchat 1pm-12am AEDT on our website: www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport. One of our professional mental health counsellors at our Support Service will give you support and point you in the right direction for help in your area.
In addition we would strongly urge that you contact 1800RESPECT. They offer confidential information, counselling and support 24/7 for people impacted by family violence and abuse. The lovely supportive counsellors have a lot of experience offering advice to support to families  who have been through trauma like this. You can contact them on 1800 737 732 or https://www.1800respect.org.au/
If you ever feel as though you are unsafe within your home environment, or his behaviour becomes erratic, we would encourage you to contact 000 right away.  Please continue to reach out for support to our community during this difficult time.

Summer Rose
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Picket

Lovely to hear from you again.

Your son is really lucky to have you and your wife in his corner. It's extremely hard to listen to someone who is unwell "talk nonsense" (I have done this many times myself), so please know that I applaud the care, patience and concern you are giving your son.

However, I'd be less than truthful if I didn't also say that I'm worried about you. Like Sophie, I also would not take his threats to kill people casually. This is because your son is experiencing an undiagnosed and untreated mental disorder.

There really is no way for you to know what risk he presents to you, others or himself, and I know from personal experience that when people are seriously unwell they can act in ways that are totally out of character, unexpected, hurtful and even violent. I also don't believe that just because your son has never been violent in the past that he won't be in the future. This is because he is now unwell and none of us know how serious his condition might be.

I think Sophie has made some really good suggestions. I have two additional thoughts. First, I would call the psychiatrist's office and inform them specifically that your son has made threats to kill. Ask if you can get him in to see the psychiatrist sooner or ask them to tell you what they would suggest you do.

Second, I encourage you to talk to your son about how it makes you feel when he "talks nonsense" for hours on end. If I were in your shoes, I would do this when he isn't highly agitated. I would explain that his behaviour really worries you and it appears to be a signal that he is experiencing an episode of acute illness. Ask him if you could plan to call ambulance for him the next time it happens. I'm thinking that a professional assessment when he's displaying those symptoms might be helpful.

My last thought is for your and your wife. I'm wondering if you two might go to see a counsellor to seek advice on how to manage your son in your home. I did this when my daughter was really unwell and found it to be enormously beneficial. I would tell the counsellor what was happening at home and she would give me strategies and ideas on how to respond. She was sort of like a coach because while I desperately wanted to help my daughter I needed to learn how and I needed to better understand her illness (OCD).

None of this is easy but you are not alone. Hang in there.

My kindest thoughts to you

Good news. It's been a while since my last post and there's been a big improvement in our son's mental health in that time. In the last few months he's been completely normal. We weren't expecting this.

He sees a counselor once a week and we get on well with him. He doesn't have any friends and the relatives still don't talk to him, because he "burnt all his bridges" when he was unwell.

We keep an eye on him, knowing that he might slip back into the way he was, but so far, so good.

My wife and I have been able to have a normal life and we have our son back.

Thanks again for your support.

Summer Rose
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Picket

Thanks so much for sharing your good news. It really does mean a lot to me that you took the time to post.

I’m so pleased that your son is feeling better, getting the right care and that you have your lives back. I know it was hard for you, but your love and support got your boy through. What a blessing!

Kind thoughts to you