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Mom feels imprisoned by mentally ill son

Published: Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Dear Abby: My 38-year-old son is mentally ill and refuses medication, counseling or any type of help. I'm 63, and he physically and mentally abuses me. I had him committed, but he refused to cooperate, so they released him after two weeks. Life after that became worse.

I have no time to myself except when I sleep or take a nap. Family and friends are not allowed in the house because they make him uncomfortable. I can't even open the blinds to let the sun in because "people are watching him."

I know he needs help desperately, but I don't know where else to turn. My family tells me to have him committed and not let him back home. I feel guilty about sending him out of my home because I'm afraid of what he might do or what could happen to him.

I go for counseling once a month, and I have discussed this with my therapist, who says the same thing as my family: "Commit him and throw away the key!" I am so torn! I suffer from depression and this lifestyle does not help.

I'm planning to move to another state where I have family, and I don't know what to do with him. I feel like I'm trading one cell for another. Any suggestions would be appreciated. – Loyal Reader in New York

Dear Loyal Reader: Listen to your therapist. If your son is institutionalized, he will be in a safe environment. The alternative could be that he would become one of the multitude of mentally ill individuals who are living on the street.

If your son is medicated, he might be able to live in a group home where he could be sheltered and taken care of. With medication he might be able to have more of a life than you have provided.

You may feel guilty, but you are not responsible for your son's mental illness. It is very important that you are successfully treated for your depression before making the decision to move. Your depression may have been caused because you have become the prisoner of your son's hallucinations.

Dear Abby: My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 1/2 years, living together for two. He says Valentine's Day is a made-up holiday to get people to spend money. I told him every holiday is geared toward people spending money.

I find myself feeling angry and hurt that I'm not receiving anything for Valentine's Day.

He never buys cards or flowers for me. How do I communicate to him that this is important to me without making things worse? – Craving A Little Romance

Dear Craving: Your boyfriend may be cheap, but he also has a point. According to a report on npr.org, the celebration of Valentine's Day started in ancient Rome and contains elements of both Christian and pre-Christian religions. In the third century A.D., two men named Valentine were executed by the emperor Claudius II in different years on Feb. 14, and a few hundred years later, a pope (Gelasius I) combined St. Valentine's Day with Lupercalia -- a fertility feast -- to replace the pagan ritual. (Research this online if you wish, because I found it fascinating.) The holiday didn't become romanticized until the Renaissance.

That said, allow me to point out that there are few things more unpleasant than feeling forced to give someone a gift. If you have already discussed this with your boyfriend and he's still resistant, then instead of focusing on what you're NOT getting out of this relationship, try focusing on what you ARE getting. It may help you to feel less deprived.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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