To Reduce Contact Between DS and his Dad Because of Expose to Mental Health Chaos(8 Posts)
Before I start; I don't want to create any stereotypes with this post. Many people with mental health challenges (myself included) deserve total respect for living productive lives. I feel this is due to recognising difficulties and finding pro-active ways to deal with them.
I grew up in a family with Mental Health problems and understand intimately the long-term difficulties that living around this can have. My personal experience is that there can be a level of emotional neglect when people are invested in their own worlds.
My DS is 14 and he has had troubles back in Feb with low mood which required a CAMHS referral. I know that he will need pro-active support to help him live healthily with the anxiety/depression he has. I all about recognition; and then putting strategies in place to communicate and deal with this roller coaster.
The difficulty I have is that my ex- partner sees DS every second weekend. He has mental health problems from our break up which he is not facing (7 yrs later) and is only surrounding my DS with others that have very evident mental health difficulties; but are not dealing with them. Some of the situations DS has been put in border on unsafe (see below for example) and some are just psychologically taxing and don't make him happy.
I worry that my DS will get dragged down with emotional baggage after incidents that seem to appear almost every contact visit.
The equation seems to be Ex exposes DS to difficulties and I pick up the pieces and show DS other ways to deal with things. I get emotionally tired when all I want to do is create an easier, stable life for him. Preferably away from those that could drag him down.
To give just two recent examples: Ex moved his gf into the house that my DS was visiting. There was domestic violence that led to her stabbing my ex, court case etc. My DS was aware of the arguing, saw my ex after fights between them etc. Secondly; My brother has had problems which required hospital admissions (psychotic rage, alcohol abuse, bipolar etc). He has made great in-roads recently but his son/my nephew (12); is getting into fights at school; recently breaking his hand.
I have raised my concerns with my ex but we are on different planes at the moment. He cannot see any problems and will not listen which I say it could lead to long-term damage. He has also been in a toxic phase since our break up (2010) and gets joy out of doing the opposite of requests (baby).
What do I do? I can't control who my DS sees when I am not with him and can't trust my Ex to look after my son's psychological future.
Reducing contact will resort in a court case; that I could put a strong case for - but can't afford financially.
You need to reduce contact for your sons sake. It may be that you can get some legal aid but your son is at a vulnerable age and u need to put his mental health and well being first.
Have you talk to your son about how he feel his contact with his dad is? He is 14 so a court would listen to his opinion also.
Discuss how he feels when he shares time there ie. Does he enjoy it. Does he get sad etc.
I think you have every right to be concerned right now.
Ds is in a vunrable state and he need people like yourself helping build his coping strategys not people who add problems.
If you can contact a lawyer and discuss your legal rights with them.
I think there are a number of seperate issues here. Firstly I don't like the term "psychotic rage" with regards to your brother's bipolar. Psychosis is a loss of touch with reality, often a terrifying experience for all involved, but the term rage implies an anger problem. When my DH is psychotic he is in fight or flight mode, he can become agitated and agressive if he feels trapped and unable to escape the situation he believes he is in, but this is survival instinct rather than anger/rage. I also grew up with a parent who suffered with depression, which I feel actually helped me develop my empathy and resiliance and has helped me deal with my own depression as an adult.
Your DS has his own mental health challenges which you are supporting him with. I'm sure that you are aware that bipolar and psychosis tend to run in families (not always down a direct line, my DH has 2 cousins who also suffer epidodes of psychosis with no shared up bringing) and this must be a concern for you. But I think its important to recognise that he is at a very common age for onset of symptoms and his low mood may or may not be directly linked to his Dads MH issues.
The domestic violence in his Dad's relationship is not OK for him to be arround (is this relationship still ongoing? ) and you would be absolutely right to ensure contact is not continuing to expose him to this. But this is a seperate issue from his Dad's mental health.
Your son is with you the majority of the time and you are teaching him emotional resiliance. He may be seeing a different approach to mental health when with his Dad but this is not necessarily a bad thing if he can discuss his worries with you and learn from his Dad's mistakes.
I am taking it that it's his uncle with the psychosis, not his Dad? If his Dad was acutely psychotic that would be different as that can be incredibly scary and difficult to deal with as a adult and I would not want my DC to be directly exposed to DH when he is acutely unwell if at all possible (we are building this into our crisis plan at the moment) It must be hard to see your nephew struggling, but remember his situation his not the same as your DSs.
Most importantly how does your DS feel about it? Does he want to reduce contact with his Dad? Does he enjoy his time with his Dad? Would it actually be more damaging for him to lose the relationship he has with his Dad now through reducing contact?
I'm not clear why you think that your brother's MH problems mean that contact with his Dad would stop. I also think stopping contact on the basis of MH which are only the subject of your own amateur diagnosis is unfair.
Stopping contact during the relationship with his GF would have been reasonable. But stopping it now it has ended IBVVVVU.
I would love to hear someone on MN argue that a woman should be denied access to her children on the basis she had survived an abusive relationship.
It should be entirely up to your son at his age anyway.
Thank you for your posts so far. Just to clarify some points. The term psychotic rage was the Psychiatrist's diagnosis last time my brother was an inpatient. My ex and brother hang out together most weekends - ex started getting closer to him when he knew our relationship was coming to end (subject of separate post). The GF (domestic violence issues_is now out of ex's/y DS's life and court has granted a restraining order. Ex does not have Psychosis. I am not an amateur at diagnosing - I have counselling/psychiatry training - but recognise that I am not placed to do any diagnosis (too close to the situation). DS does talk to me about things said/done at weekend which show that ex is thinking about his needs , rather than those of DS. And not all 14 year olds are the same. A suggestion has been made that my DS has a cogntive assessment for special needs. He appears very young for his age and this vulnerability means that I have to intervene more than would be expected for the 'average 14 year old' (whatever that is).
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