General Question

aneedleinthehayy's avatar

Realistically, what do I do about a crazy, suicidal, drug-addicted ex-boyfriend?

Asked by aneedleinthehayy (1186 points ) October 27th, 2008

He refuses any help I give him. We aren’t that close, but I feel bad just letting him do this. He has serious mental issues and needs professional help, but what can I do? I’ve tried talking to his current girlfriend so she could help him, but he threatened me and told me to never speak to her ever. I don’t want to have to deal with all this, but I can’t just walk away feeling like I haven’t done SOMETHING.

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36 Answers

Judi's avatar

Unfortunately, the only thing that you can do is pray. The only way he is going to get help is if he gets so bad that he has some sort of psychotic break and the police haul him off. The truth is that he will probably be arrested and sent to prison where he will finally get meds but no other help. The system sucks for the mentally ill, especially those that aren’t obviously schizophrenic. really.

poofandmook's avatar

@Judi: That depends entirely on where you live. Here in New Jersey, there are some really excellent facilities, programs, and services for the mentally ill. I know this because I worked on the involuntary inpatient admission unit for Morris County for 2 1/2 years.

Judi's avatar

But someone has to be “crazy” enough to be admitted involutarily. Usually someone bi-polar can fein sanity long enough to be released. Add drugs to the mix and he may never even be properly diagnosed.

bodyhead's avatar

I agree with the other responses. There’s nothing you can do. Let him go until he learns his lesson. It might take a long time. It’s not your problem. It’s not your job to save him.

poofandmook's avatar

@Judi: Have you personally worked in the mental health system?

hoosier_banana's avatar

I thought people could be committed for threatening to harm themselves or others.

You might be in a codependent relationship, maybe. That would not be good for either of you.

Lovelocke's avatar

All of the wishy washy crap aside, speaking as a man here:

“Go out to a movie, order the largest size popcorn available, eat a few palmfulls and throw the rest away. After that, go out for a banana split at a place that plays oldies music, preferably from the 40’s and 50’s. When that’s done, go home, do whatever things you like to do when you’re alone and fall asleep by 9:00pm”

In other words, treat yourself in a better way than he likely did, and continue to do so day after day before you realize that you are your own person, and since he is no longer a part of your life, you have to be able to let him go and put more interest back in your own life. I say this to everyone who gets hung up on an ex… YOUR LIFE IS NOT THEIRS! THEIR GRIEF IS NOT YOURS.

susanc's avatar

@needle, go to a 12-step group and learn about detachment with love. You don’t have
to stick around. But you’ll find that your situation is widely shared and that people have been working on “saving the saver” for a long, long time. It’s a tragedy that this person you care for is ill and in danger, but .. you have no control. Your task – to make peace
with that awful reality. So sorry. And you’re not alone.
my parents were alcoholics, all 4 of them, so naturally I married a deeply courageous and kind-hearted drug addict, and I still love him desperately and wish he were here no matter how hard it was for us a great deal of the time.

Malakai's avatar

Realistically, there’s not much you can do.

cyndyh's avatar

If he threatened you call the cops. Other than that, get away from the situation. Don’t let the guy yank your chain. By continuing to try to “help” him, you’re feeding his drama, game, control trip, whatever it is. Just don’t participate in his crap.

Lurve to Lovelocke for that piece of advice.

Snoopy's avatar

You have no obligation to this person. More importantly, for your own safety and mental health, you should not have anything to do w/ him. Period.

scamp's avatar

@Judi mental health professionals can tell if someone is “acting sane” to avoid being admitted. If this person is a danger to himself or others, he can be admitted under the baker act. If drugs are involved, it will become apparent and the court can order him to stay longer for treatment. The link I provided is for Florida, but I’m sure other states have similar laws.

jvgr's avatar

You tried. He doesn’t care. In the end, only he can make a choice to get help.

aneedleinthehayy's avatar

@Everyone; Thank you for all your helpful advice.

Judi's avatar

@poof,
actually I have worked in the mental health system both in Oregon and in California. I never appreciated how hard it was until I had to try and get help for my son who is bi-polar, with auditory hallucinations. Someone who is articulate, good looking and charming has next to an impossible time getting help. When we finally convinced him to get help he was told that he was just an alcoholic, mostly because the county didn’t have funding and he didn’t “look” mentally ill. He was not insurable because of his “pre-existing condition” and even if he were, most insurance excluded in-patient mental health.
His first suicide attempt was in grade school.
Finally after nearly killing my husband with a car and after spending nearly $300,000 in one year to get him treatment which was not even the most appropriate for his serious mental illness and 3 years in appeals he got on disability and is being treated. If he had not had me fighting for him I know he would have been one of those statistics that ended up in jail. Believe me, I know how the mental health system works, I have been fighting with it for years.
On a positive note, my son is now in school and is a founding member of a NAMI sub organization called Outspoken Young Minds, trying to break the stigma of mental illness. He speaks to groups all the time.

poofandmook's avatar

Had he been in the system here on the east coast, I can assure you, things would have been much different. What you’ve described would’ve gained him admission onto my unit immediately. I don’t know what crackpot system you’re dealing with on the west coast, but my bosses and the judges and county officials I dealt with would have kittens if they heard what you said.

Judi's avatar

After the car incident he was in the emergency room for 2 days because there was no room on the mental health unit. I finally negotiated a rate with a local mental health hospital because I couldn’t stand him just sitting in the emergency room for so long. The place was disgusting and the doctor barely spoke English. We transfered him to a private hospital for 2 months. He was still denied disability because he was having a good day when he talked to the Social Security doctor. Had a request for reconsideration and the expensive doctors failed to send in the reports. That’s what cost the 3 years in appeals.

chicadelplaya's avatar

@aneedleinthehay- Everything we do in life IS A CHOICE. It sounds like you have done SOMETHING. I know you are just trying to be a good friend, but ultimately he is not your responsibility.

scamp's avatar

There are so many people filing for disability through social security under false pretenses that it has made it difficult for those who have a real claim. It’s sickening to think that the lazy people who don’t want to work and feel like they are “owed” something have put such a monkey wrench in the works.

It has been increasingly difficult for the people who really need help to get approved. A rule of thumb these days is that everyone gets denied on the first try, and most have to appeal all the way to court to get benefits. I’m sorry you had to go through all of that with your son. I hope he is getting the help and treatment he needs now.

Judi's avatar

The problem with mental illness ans disability is that it’s hard enough to admit the problem in the first place, much less to convince someone else of the problem. My son’s entire being wants to believe that he’s “Normal.” He was extremely courageous to admit he had a problem, but then to have the courage to take his meds every day and humble himself even when he feels “normal” to explain his most intimate symptoms to not only doctors but also to attorneys and judges. Asking this of a normal person is bad enough, but for someone who is mentally ill…..it’s almost impossible, especially with the stigma.

wundayatta's avatar

First of all, I think it is admirable that you want to do something for him. That is very caring.

Like the others say, I don’t think there is anything you can do personally. But, there may be something you can do indirectly. Perhaps you can work to alert his support system (whatever it is) to the things they can do.

To some degree, you’ve already done this, when you tried to talk to the girlfriend. Even though he threatened you, you could still try to find a way to talk to her where he doesn’t know. This could be dangerous if he does find out. I would really want to know more about her—how old she is; how mature she is, in order to assess whether I would want to attempt this step.

However, perhaps there are others in his support system that you can talk to. Parents? Siblings? Other relatives? You must know of them, even if you haven’t met them. Perhaps they would want to try to care for him.

Also, we don’t know what his mental problem is. If it is Bipolar, then he will move into depression at some point, and that would be a better time to try to help then during mania. That could be the most important time, too, as that’s when he may get closest to suicide.

If he’s got some other mental illness, I can’t really help, because I haven’t experienced them. I have often wondered about Schizophrenia, because I think I might be able to relate. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. Good luck. And thanks for caring.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Aneedleinthehay, I have a friend who just went through the same type of heart-wrenching experience. His ex, (another friend of mine, back in the day) is bi-polar, she’s about 21, and she decided to move to a small town and marry this man with a 12-year-old daughter just as soon as he got out of jail. He tried to reason with her, and he thought about calling her parents, but in the end he had to let her make her own decision. We haven’t heard from her, and I think the whole thing is still somewhat painful for my friend, but he does seem to talk about it less and less.

I’m so sorry you’re in a similar position. I know it must be very difficult.

deaddolly's avatar

he obviously has not hit rock bottom yet and until he does, no one can help him. he had to be the one to ask for and recieve help. he has to be ready. let him know (and his gf) that you’re there if they need you and walk away. you did all you could.

Judi's avatar

@dolly;
the problem is that hitting rock bottom for a drug addict is very different for a drug addict than it is for a drug addict who is also mentally ill. The mentally ill addict has a harder time recognizing the bottom and even if he does he has a harder time seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. It can be very life threatening.

deaddolly's avatar

@judi Irealize that, but at the same time, a person who refuses to acknowledge there’s a problem, will never be able to face it.

Judi's avatar

I just come from an experience where my son had a behavior problem, that turned into a drug problem, that really was a mental health problem from the beginning. I was being advised to abandon him and let him “find bottom.” It was against every instinct I had. History has proven that the wiser choice was to fight to get him the best mental health care available. He didn’t like how he was feeling either and now he embraces his medication.

deaddolly's avatar

Yes, I would do the same for my child. But this is a friend. I’m sure there’s more to his story than even she knows.

Sloane2024's avatar

Please, don’t do this to yourself. You are inevitably going to get entangled into an inescapable web of hurt. He’ll eventually find your soft side and utilize it for monetary resources amongst other things. The very best thing you can do, as Judi said, is pray. Maybe go to your local mental health and substance addiction center, pick up some pamphlets and acquire some contact numbers. Offer the information to the gf (because, more than likely, he will refuse it) and ensure them that you’re always there to lend a helping hand, but nothing more. My sincerest apologies for your predicament, and I’ll be praying for your strength and his health.

cyndyh's avatar

deaddolly beat me to it. Judi, I appreciate you sharing your story with us, but I think what I’d do for my son or daughter is really different than what I’d do for an ex-boyfriend.

augustlan's avatar

Daloon brought up a point I’d like to reiterate. Tell his parents/siblings/whoever, then walk away.

sbrannon's avatar

I think that you need to take care of yourself first. It is nice that you want to help, but do not let this situation take up your time and blur your focus on your goals and life. These things can be very draining…I do not want to seem cold, but he is not your husband, nor is he your boyfriend…you can pray, support, listen, love as a good friend, but always remember to keep your own balance.

wundayatta's avatar

@sbrannon: If I am interpreting you properly, it sounds like you are saying that she should set her boundaries, and hold to them? She can help him, but if he takes up too much time and energy, she knows when to quit.

I hope you are not saying she should cut him off entirely. The mentally ill need lifelines, or they can drag themselves off into the most disgusting pits they can find, and then either rot themselves to death, or throw themselves off nearby tower. Anyone caring about them can help pull them to a place where they can get help.

Believe me, they want help. They might say they don’t and they might push back really hard, but they are testing you to see if the love is real. Many of us can not believe we can be loved. We fight help to make sure.

Violet's avatar

Get a restraining order. He is not your problem.

JeffVader's avatar

Realistically…... keep your distance!

anartist's avatar

[redacted]

snowberry's avatar

The laws regarding helping the mentally ill varies from state to state. In New Jersey they offer a much higher level of services than they do in many other states.

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