Shrink my kid
August 6, 2015 10:13 PM   Subscribe

Psychiatrist recommendation in Long Beach, California? And how can a mother help her son with an upsetting episode and general unhappiness? Wall o' text inside.

My son is 23, got out of the USMC a year ago, and had been supporting himself in San Diego working a good job testing electronics ever since. He would come up here almost every weekend, and he was due to quit and move to LBC to live with me while he goes to school in a week and a half. Seemed cheerful, seemed good.

On Monday morning at 1:30 am he texted me, "I miss you, Mom. I love you. I hope you're sleeping well." The text-message chime woke up the dog, who woke me. I responded, and we got into a long text message conversation. He tells me he's depressed, and he wants to see a psychiatrist. He doesn't have health insurance, but I offered to pay for it. He tells me that he tried to kill himself last week, but won't discuss that further. (Christ, had he been saying goodbye THAT NIGHT when he texted me?) I suggest that he quit his job immediately and come the hell up to LBC to live that morning, as soon as he was sober. He did. I could not take Monday off work, the world would have ended, but I saw him as soon as I got home. He seemed cheerful, if a little scared and vulnerable.

Last night he had a party to welcome his best friend back after a month away. I went to bed, and woke up about 4 am. I find him sitting in the detritus of the party, alone, looking very sad. He tells me that he had befriended a couple of (apparently) homeless teenagers earlier in the evening and invited them back to the party at our house. The teenagers drank and socialized with him and his friends for a couple hours, then, when everyone had left, and my son was walking down the street with them, tried to rob my son of his wallet and phone. My son used his Marine Corps training to get the knife away from the one kid, and found himself smashing the kid's face into the concrete and stabbing the other kid in the abdomen (with his keys, not the knife). As soon as the situation was stabilized, my son just came back home. He did not want to call the cops.

He was unhurt, but completely shaken, and pretty drunk still. From what he was saying, his faith in humanity was shaken.

We talked until about 7 am, then we both went to bed. I got up and went to work, late, and when I got home he was still asleep. He got up at 7 pm, ate, and cleaned up the party trash, stood around looking lost for a minute, then told me he was going back to bed. I said, "No, come talk to me." He said, "Mom, I don't want to. I want to sleep." I said "OK, goodnight."

Well, he just got up (930 pm) and is off to see a friend, so that's good? I said, "I thought we could handle the psychiatrist thing on Monday." He said, "I told you I don't want to do that until after school starts." I said, "What was your reasoning on that?" He said, "It's because I want to wait until after school starts." I said, "OK."

Questions for you:
  • Can you recommend a psychiatrist in LBC?
  • How do I help my son?
  • What the Hell, I mean -- what the Hell?
Throwaway email:
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Human Relations (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know when school starts, but unless it's like, Tuesday, then no. He is having a mental health crisis. He has recently been suicidal. That's when you see a psych right away because it's an emergency. Imagine if he had a life threatening infection or virus and he says he wants to wait and see the doctor in a few weeks instead of right away. You would overrule him, right?

You can probably persuade him to see someone sooner, but if you can't do it with persuasion, this is the sort of situation where an emergency mental health hold is something that should be seriously considered. I don't know your area, but there will be a crisis line you can call to find out what to do.
posted by lollusc at 11:46 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, did he come home from saying he had violently assaulted several teenagers, as in not adults? You might want to get in touch with his friends from the party and find out what's going on because that is a big deal. "As soon as the situation was stabilized" - what does that mean? He doesn't want to call the cops because in this case, he's the adult who may have crossed the line (alcohol to minors? his word against several minors?), he could have created a legally very dangerous situation.

I would call your family lawyer as well as a crisis line and take emergency personal leave at work or something. This is edge of the cliff stuff, and you need to reach out to family and friends and get help to cover work/home so you can get some resources in while he's willing to talk to you about what's happening.

I've been in your shoes with legal/psychological chaos from teen/adult children and even if it's not from depression, a suicide attempt is basically them screaming help me, help me, something is wrong and I can't fix it. You sound shell-shocked, which it is because it's like oh my god, I could have gotten The Call yesterday from his landlord, and what the hell is happening - it's horrible, the whole world suddenly feels brittle and fragile and upside down.

Reach out to people. If there's a helpful other parent, pull them in. Pull in relatives and friends. You and him both need support. Reach out to the school for help if he's already been enrolled. Take care of yourself, get enough sleep and take long hot showers, listen to loud music or whatever self-care you need to keep going, and forget all the small stuff for now - screw the little things. Just focus on the essentials and getting resources together for him and support for the two of you to handle this crisis.

It is a crisis. But you can get through it with friends, family and support, and probably some big changes (is he dealing with mental illness like depression? Is it PTSD? Is he struggling with the school decision, moving home? Etc.) in his life. Not just a couple of counselling sessions fit around school and work.

Talk to your boss about flexible hours or whatever you'll need but this is a crisis way above work.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 12:02 AM on August 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yeah, this is very, very worrisome. He needs to talk to a therapist right away. Please, treat this as an emergency.

I see an excellent shrink up here in LA. I don't know if she knows anybody down in LB or thereabouts, for a referral. If you're not finding anybody down there or if traveling up the 405 isn't a barrier, send me a memail and I'll give you her info.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:40 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you or he have any guns in the house, get rid of them RIGHT NOW.
posted by MsMolly at 5:56 AM on August 7, 2015 [10 favorites]

Take him to an emergency room - he needs to be committed.
posted by Toddles at 6:41 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

LA County Department of Mental Health has a help line: 1-800-854-7771.
posted by zennie at 7:04 AM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

I don't know how much immediate help he can get from the VA, but he should try.
posted by theora55 at 11:14 AM on August 7, 2015

Yeah, this is kind of drop everything time. dorothyisunderwood is right: contact a lawyer, get him into inpatient mental healthcare right now.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:20 AM on August 7, 2015

And no more party guests in your house. You should get rid of the booze, too.
posted by Scram at 3:45 PM on August 7, 2015

I've had good luck with the ratings and profiles on
posted by bendy at 4:11 PM on August 7, 2015

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