Parents, how did you respond when your adult children stopped medication?

mindinggaps

New Member
Hi all, I am curious to hear insights and thoughts from parents about how they addressed adult children who decided to stop medication. For context, I am currently 32 years old - I am a former difficult child who was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety and ODD and medicated with Prozac at age 5. I recently posted a thread detailing my full experiences and I'd encourage you to read that if interested, but as a brief summary my life has turned out mostly okay certainly in no small part due to my proper treatment with medication. Prior to being medicated I was a nightmare child who had uncontrollable anger outbursts, hit others, destroyed property and basically could not function. Prozac worked incredibly well - it allowed me to function normally and I went to university, built a career and a stable life. Growing up the doctors periodically tried to see how I would do at lower dosages, but without an adequate amount of Prozac, I would become filled with rage. As a result, most psychiatrists recommended I remain medicated with Prozac for life and from age 12 to 30 I took 60mg.

A couple of years ago, in collaboration with a new doctor I decided to see how I would perform off medication. At this point in my life I had built much better coping skills, had done extensive therapy and felt the timing was right to wean off Prozac. I successfully came off with fairly decent results. I am able to manage. It is admittedly more challenging without the Prozac which was clearly providing a lot of stabilization - I am quicker to anger and more irritable but I do rely on techniques learned in therapy. The doctors feel it okay for now - they think the Prozac definitely helps but using other methods is okay if I can manage.

My parents were IRATE when they first discovered I had stopped my medication and it has been a point of contention between us ever since. They believe that I must be medicated and have constantly been trying to get me to take Prozac again. I feel that I am an adult capable of making my own decisions in collaboration with health care providers and at this stage it is not really their business. They say they want what is best, which I believe is true.

We recently had a big fight about this - they were over for dinner and casually brought up the topic. I snapped and told them I would not be discussing it and they made a joke about how my temper wouldn't be as bad if I simply got back on medications. I found this to be extremely offensive, completely lost my temper and asked them to immediately leave.

I know many have dealt with adult children on and off medication. Are my parents out of line here? What are your thoughts? What would you do?
 

Ascending

Member
I am not in this specific situation as a parent.

I am going to make a suggestion or three though.

Instead if leaving it to be “casually “ brought up at a dinner (it clearly seems like an unsuitable topic for casual discussion and likely to ruin everyone’s good experience), how about asking to have a time when it is specifically going to be discussed . And a length of time for the discussion. And perhaps some parameters, guidelines for the discussion. Even maybe with a therapist to help talk about it if needed.

You clearly are adult enough to know that this is important to your parents. It also obviously important to you. So a special conversation about it seems reasonable. And you may be seen as more mature even to be the one to bring it up. Then once hearing them out and them hearing you. Really listening. I think decision does have to be your decision. Perhaps if there’s any belief in God they could be asked to trust God to help you (and them too) as needed.

I got my mother who was worried about my son (relapsing) to pray and give it to God, because her worries were making things worse all around.
 

KTMom91

Well-Known Member
My daughter stayed on her medications throughout college, but stopped after graduation. She seems to be coping well, through a divorce, job stress, and now a new job with more responsibilities. Her college years were not easy for her; the college she had been attending as a sophomore let the kids know at the beginning of August that the school was closing down, leaving her scrambling to find a new college to attend. She ended up in the next state, about 800 miles away from home, and after an initial rough patch she settled in well. I think once your kids are adults, and no longer living under your roof or driving your cars, there's not a heck of a lot you can do about it.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
I agree with KTMom and the other posters.

My adult son does not want to take medication he needs, but he wants things from us. In particular, he wants housing. He does not accept that if he wants our help, he needs to be tolerable to be around. On the contrary, he seeks unconditional autonomy refusing to or unable to grasp how difficult he is to be around. He is disrespectful, he is impulsive, he is paranoid, and he looks for fights. It is not farfetched to say he brings trouble to our door.

While I do not direct him to get onto medication or seek psychiatric treatment, and I do not make it a condition of trying to help him, I do factor this in, in how much I tolerate him. Which is to say, I tell him he can act insufferably and I tell him his suffering can be helped, by psychiatric medication and treatment.

In your case, it seems you are autonomous, respectful, considerate, and functional. Which is to say that you are a responsible adult. I think medication for you is a private matter.

But the thing is, your parents have been through a lot with you. If they are anything like me, they love you and they are fearful. They care. They want the best for you. It hurts them to see you struggle. They want your life to be easier.

I think it might be a loving thing to do to cut them some slack. You could call upon yourself to understand where they are coming from and consider the possibility that their primary motivation is NOT to control you, not to undermine you, and NOT to disrespect you or cramp your style. It's that they love you.

Of course, you will still react when they seem to step over a line and act disrespectfully towards you. Anybody would feel this way, and you have a right to react. But I would try to approach it as is recommended above, and sit them down maybe in a cafe or other public place and kindly and calmly tell them how you feel, and kindly and respectfully ask that they give you this space.

They may handle this well, and they may not. But you will have done all that you can do to take responsibility for yourself, for respectfully articulating your needs and wishes, like an adult.

If they act badly, I would hope that you give them time to get used to being parents of an articulate, responsible, respectful adult who is able to and does voice their needs directly and firmly, even if they have not quite caught up to you, in this regard.
 
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mindinggaps

New Member
Dear all, thank you very much for your thoughts and comments - it is extremely insightful and helpful to hear input from those who have been on the other side.
I think it might be a loving thing to do to cut them some slack. You could call upon yourself to understand where they are coming from and consider the possibility that their primary motivation is NOT to control you, not to undermine you, and NOT to disrespect you or cramp your style. It's that they love you.

Of course, you will still react when they seem to step over a line and act disrespectfully towards you. Anybody would feel this way, and you have a right to react. But I would try to approach it as is recommended above, and sit them down maybe in a cafe or other public place and kindly and calmly tell them how you feel, and kindly and respectfully ask that they give you this space.

Copabanana, I appreciate you sharing this and it was a helpful reminder that while I may find what I perceive to be badgering somewhat annoying, they are coming from a place of love and caring. I have never doubted this but it can be easy to forget the challenges they have faced along their journey.

We have discussed the topic further in a calm and healthy way over the past couple of days. My parents now understand that I am using other therapies to manage things and do agree that I have been coping well. They expressed that their main concerns are simply me making my life more difficult than it needs to be, which I do respect. I also explained to them that this decision was made in collaboration with a psychiatrist who continues to monitor things and I am not resistant to medication if needed. Since I was 18 they have had a strict policy that if I am accepting any financial help from them or living with them, I must be medicated and they said that will remain in place. Fortunately, this hasn't been an issue since I have been totally independent since I left for school. I completely understand and respect their viewpoint on that and believe we've reached a place where this topic doesn't need to be a source of tension moving forward.

My daughter stayed on her medications throughout college, but stopped after graduation.

@KTMom91, it sounds like your daugther has done very well in adulthood and is independent and adjusted. I am extremely curious if you as her parent have ever felt that she would do better on her medications as an adult? Have you ever felt that despite her doing well, she could be better with medications?

I know how much Prozac helped me throughout my life and won't hesitate to get back on it if required. I am very much in the process of figuring out to what extent medications were still helping and how they will be needed moving forward.
 
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KTMom91

Well-Known Member
@mindinggaps, sometimes, yes, I think medications could have been helpful, especially during her divorce and the more stressful aspects of her previous job. Her coping skills are not always the best and she "freaks out" but not in front of anyone, she just calls me. Her boyfriend is very supportive and helpful, unlike her former husband, and having her personal life in order has been a blessing. However, she knows that medications are always an option she can revisit, whether it's for ADHD or anxiety or depression. I trust her to figure it out, though I will offer an opinion if asked.
 

mindinggaps

New Member
@KTMom91 Thanks for sharing this. Her situation doesn't sound entirely dissimilar to my own. Since stopping medication I am aware that my anger can flare up, although I only direct it to very specific places and I am generally much more irritable. My coping has improved tremendously over the years, but I know it not perfect - I do get stressed more easily and I feel more tightly wound. Prozac was a strong stabilizing force and I do feel its absence despite my growth and improved coping skills. One option which was recently presented to me and which I am considering is rather than stopping medication entirely, simply reduce to a lower maintenance dose to help balance things out while also relying on my improved coping skills.

Do you mind me asking, did your daughter take many different medications or did she take high doses of medications?
 

KTMom91

Well-Known Member
@mindinggaps, she started on Concerta when she was in the fourth grade, don't remember the dosage. She was on Concerta until the beginning of seventh grade, when it really wasn't working for her any longer, and we switched her to Strattera. Had kind of an uneasy truce with Strattera, it didn't really help her focus all that much, and when she started high school we switched her to Ritalin. Ritalin worked well, and my condition for her driving my vehicles was medication compliance, no joke, no kidding, no oops I forgot.

She remained on Ritalin through college, and I think her then-husband had a lot to do with her stopping medications. He was very anti-psychiatric anything, tough it out, all that stuff isn't real, I'm sure you've heard the routine.
 

mindinggaps

New Member
@KTMom91, my parents also had strict medication compliance policies and looking back I think these were very important. I know medication compliance can be a challenge for many parents and there's often a lot of questions about how to best handle it. As an adult, I am actually grateful that my parents did what was required to keep me properly medicated as I think it was crucial to my long term success. I think it is important for parents to recognize when medication is a necessity and in this case and ensure that proper medication happens even if there is resistance. I know a lot of parents fear that if they enforce medication their children may resent them later, but for me this is not the case at all.

I was fortunate to have success with only a single medication, but dosage was an issue. I'm not sure if this was the case for your daughter, but when I was properly medicated I did tend to be more compliant. My Prozac needed to be adjusted for growth and sometimes I would resist increases, or if they didn't happen promptly, I didn't have enough medication to keep my behavior under control and a result was that I would rebel against the medication. So efforts were required to make sure I was taking medication and that the levels were kept adequate to keep things balanced. However, once the right dose was in place I tended to be fairly compliant.
 

Nomad

Well-Known Member
Copa said …

“But the thing is, your parents have been through a lot with you. If they are anything like me, they love you and they are fearful. They care. They want the best for you. It hurts them to see you struggle. They want your life to be easier.”
Also mentioned …cutting them some slack.

I would agree. Would add they have likely been the direct repeated recipient /target of your anger, anxiety , depression (negative emotions) in the past and could be extraordinarily anxious of repeat great difficulties.

Indeed, the entire discussion was probably brought up at an inappropriate time, quickly went south and they were asked to leave.

An indication that you might very well still might need this medication (perhaps a lower dose?) , or more time to work it all out.

in my humble opinion, best to treat your parents with kindness and respect and to learn skills to appropriately and kindly express when you feel they are crossing a line with your privacy.

Ironically, our special needs child has an abundance of issues, but stopping her medications has never been one. She wants to take her medications. She recently changed one with her doctors guidance due to side effects. So, this has not been a discussion.
 
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Ascending

Member
The start of Barry Long’s book From Here To Reality has within the free Kindle sample, a part on having a conversation with parents which I think might be valuable
 

mindinggaps

New Member
Thank you all. @Nomad I agree with the statement that my parents should be treated with respect, but at the same time feel it is important to respect and establish boundaries. As I mentioned to others, I operate as an independent and functional adult - I have a job, I don't live with my parents, and I don't receive any practical or financial support from them. With that in mind, I think they also need to respect and recognize that they are not in control of my life decisions anymore and my frustration stems from the fact that I have explained this to them many times but it seems to not be understood. They do have my well being in mind, no doubt, but at some point it is condescending and like they cannot trust me to manage with doctors on my own.
 

mindinggaps

New Member
Dear all, I wanted to share a brief update on this topic. After some time off medication, in collaboration with the doctors we have decided it is best to reinstate the Prozac. Lately I have had increased difficulty managing anger, have had some challenges regulating emotions and have experienced short bouts of oppositional behavior. Similar to what @KTMom91 explained about her daughter, I had some freak outs, but not in front of anyone indicating control but in a reduced capacity.

According to the doctors, despite many improvements over the years, they feel there will always be some lingering symptoms of ODD and anxiety regardless of other therapeutic tools and as a result, they do recommend medication for life. They think that it is simply to difficult for me to have proper emotional regulation without medication and we agreed to go back to a 60mg dose of Prozac. They think that things may change with time, but the recommendation is to maintain a minimum 40mg dose at all times.

I let my parents know that I am once again medicated and they were thrilled. We did have a very positive discussion - I explained to them my frustrations with them harping on this issue and explained that I believe I am clearly able to manage these things independently. They agreed to respect my privacy and agree that since I was working with the doctor to manage things, I am more than capable of handling it. I feel this is a positive outcome for all.
 

KTMom91

Well-Known Member
It does sound positive, and I think you made a good decision, fostered by what you experienced. You did what was best for you, and I am proud of you for that.
 

mindinggaps

New Member
Thank you @KTMom91 - I appreciate the thoughtful, non-judgemental and helpful insights you have provided. As an update for you and others, now that I am back on the recommended dosage of Prozac things have been going much better - I am calmer, better in control of my emotions, have better impulse control and haven't experienced any anger or oppositional tendencies. Based on the situation, the doctors have emphasized their opinion that it is best for me to remain properly medicated at all times.

Looking at this situation as a whole, I see two valuable takeaways which may be useful for others:

1. The importance of medication. It is clear that for at least some people who had symptoms as children, they must remain medicated into adulthood and perhaps for life. This may be hard to accept, but it is clear to me that I need medication in order to properly function - understanding this is better than denial.

2. For children who have displayed an ability to operate and function and independent adults, you have to have some trust that they will manage and figure things out. Indeed, while my parents were upset with me stopping medication, their response didn't necessarily help matters and I reached where I needed to be on my own. Circumstances vary, but in this case, I wish they had more trust in my abilities.
 
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