Reply To: ADHD College grad refuses to look for work

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Dad of ADHD Son

Thanks for your advice, everyone.

My sister (the non-mentally ill one) said that if I was going to work on my son, other things would have to be pushed aside. I’m stretched too thin, and can’t do everything. It’s very difficult to delegate many legal things I’m doing because of power of attorney and executor restrictions, and my mother is being stubborn about accepting help, as most elderly are when they reach the point where they really can’t be independent any more.

To answer a few of your questions:

Yes, I have been getting counseling. I have PTSD, plus caretaker burnout, and last time I saw my therapist, I told him that I simply wanted to get out of this family. Wanting to run away is a classic symptom of caretaker burnout. One thing he brought up earlier when I mentioned my son’s behavior is that I should cut myself some slack for not working with my son and helping him to move along, because I am taking care of so many other people (living, deceased and mentally ill).

Regarding my son: he did get good accommodations from the first and 3rd college he attended (the first was an ADHD college, which he attended for a year before transferring to a traditional college). He was diagnosed with ADHD in Kindergarten, and has been medicated since 2nd grade, so this has not been a new discovery.

I hired an ADHD coach for him when he started at his 3rd college. Six weeks after he graduated, I rehired her, and she is working with him, and establishing goals, which he makes little attempt at completing.

His behavior is really no different than it has been since he was 12. Without enormous pressure, he does nothing. I have found that praise lets him feel like he is off the hook, and after praise, he goes back to entropy.

Despite the in-depth look that Firemoons gave (very insightful) and Mary.n.ben gave (the comment essentially saying that you’re never good enough when you have ADHD was helpful, even though I’ve heard it before and been trying to convince him otherwise for years, pointing out his strengths), I think I align myself more with Penny and an approach of setting some boundaries.

A lot of people – very successful people never feel they are good enough (Trump …), by the way, and a lot of people with ADHD can become wildly successful (many other U.S. presidents, as well as trend-creating company CEO’s, have had ADHD …).

The next part is going to be counter to what some of you have said. Three mental health professionals told me to strongly consider forcing my sister to go to a homeless center, because hitting bottom often has to occur before changes will be made with a non-compliant mentally ill person. For perspective, she had been hospitalized for 3 weeks and released with no place to go, because we had made deal with her landlord that charges wouldn’t be pressed against her after she caused $20,000 in damage in a day if she would vacate the cottage she had been renting. She was living in my other sister’s house and resisting doing anything to get better. When after 3 months, I finally got a cushy, for-pay (expensive) treatment center to accept her, she balked at going, and that was when we were at our wit’s end.

Finally, my father, who had cancer at the time, told her he was going to cut off her inheritance if she didn’t move out of my sister’s house and go to the treatment program. My parents had been subsidizing her and rescuing her for over 25 years, and she was expecting them to continue; she planned to live her life as she always had, continually relapsing and falling apart, and using my parents as a safety net until she got this wake up call that the rescues were not going to continue.

And although people told us that forcing a person into treatment wouldn’t work, it has so far. She liked it after only a few days, and 20 months later, she is medication compliant and much better (she’s still narcissistic, entitled and can be rude, but that’s far better than delusional and bizarre, and she still seems to improving and is becoming more personable).

Unfortunately, I don’t really have time to work on my son or help my son (if that is possible). He is going to have to want it himself, and unfortunately, making him comfortable has always led to him moving into the lounging mode.

I don’t know if there is an easy answer.