A parent's fight: Caring for an adult child with mental illness

Liz, who asked that her full name not be used, shares some of what it's like to care for an adult child with mental illness.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: June 9, 2013

No one was supposed to help Liz that night at the crisis center.

But a doctor pulled her aside and told her the next steps she needed to take.

Schedule your son a doctor's appointment. He'll need a psychiatrist. And try to keep him on his medicine.

At the time, it felt like the doctor was saying, “I'm not supposed to tell you he's psychotic or that he needs a prescription or that he should see a doctor ... and I'm not going to keep him either.”

Liz quickly learned that she had no legal rights to know anything about her adult son's medical records. No one was supposed to tell her what his treatment plan was.

Rather, after her son had spent about two hours at the crisis center, he and Liz were sent home. He was prescribed two weeks of pills.

That night was her son's first of five visits to the crisis center. It didn't matter that he was paranoid and didn't know who he was. For him to be held against his will, he had to be a danger to himself or others or unable to meet his own basic needs.

Liz started contacting psychiatrists' offices the next day. It'll be at least six weeks before we can see you, each administrative assistant told her. What was she supposed to do for the four weeks he didn't have any medicine?

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, medicine and fitness, among other things. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a news-editorial and broadcast production degree. Outside of work, she enjoys riding her bike, taking pictures of...
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