Dear Annie: Our only child is 30. "Delia" was diagnosed with serious mental issues as a teen, but with the help of a sensitive child psychologist and an excellent child psychiatrist, she did very well. But as soon as Delia turned 18, she aged out of the child psychiatrist's care. She only sees her new doctor when she needs to refill her prescriptions. He rarely adjusts dosages, and I suspect it's because she tells him everything is "fine."
But everything is not fine. Delia has held a couple of decent jobs, but after a few months, claims that she's bored and either quits or is fired. She now has a minimum wage job and is just getting by. She opens credit card accounts, but ignores the bills when they come. She has no employer-provided health insurance and won't sign up for the government version, so we cover her medical expenses.
We also help pay her rent, but her apartment is a wreck and she spends her time couch surfing until her friends toss her out. Her car is banged up from numerous fender benders and is full of trash. Her relationships start out OK, but she gets clingy and demanding, and pretty soon she is crying to my wife that her boyfriend dumped her. She never takes responsibility for the breakups, so the pattern is repeated. She has had two abortions, claiming that she cannot tolerate birth control.
Intellectually, Delia is a smart woman, but just doesn't seem able to manage the basic functions of living. Without our help, we honestly believe she'd end up on the street. The strain is causing physical stress symptoms for my wife and me, and we worry what will happen when we are not around to pick up the pieces. There don't seem to be any support groups for parents in our situation. What can we do? -- Distraught Parents
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Dear Parents: You sound like loving and responsible parents, and this situation is heartbreaking. But there is support for you. Please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness at nami.org or their HelpLine at 1-800-950-6264. NAMI has a Family Support Group, as well as their Family-to-Family educational program that will help you develop coping skills. They also can make referrals and possibly find a doctor who will be a better match for Delia if she is willing to try.
Dear Annie: This is for "Older and Wiser, Now," who said that she was so terrified when a close friend was diagnosed with cancer that she avoided her.
I developed breast cancer at the age of 50. My sons and ex-husband were of no help, and two of my sisters did very little. My middle sister helped, along with my best friend, who was more of a sister than the others combined. They took care of me every day. I wouldn't be here if not for them. I want to tell everyone who is terrified: Don't be afraid to offer a hand. You'd be surprised how much it will be appreciated. -- Been There, Done That
Dear Been There: Thank you for saying so. No matter how afraid, we hope each person can work up the courage to pick up the phone and ask, "How can I help?" or even, "I don't know what to say, but I want you to know I care about you."
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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