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Responding to son really struggling with bipolar diagnosis now probable autism

Hi, I've had a couple of queries over the past 2 years about my adult son with bipolar, anxieties etc & some really hard times for him. The responses have been very helpful thanks. The problem now is that they're looking at an autism diagnosis which may be instead of bipolar or as well as!

If it's instead of, it means he's been taking bipolar meds for years unnecessarily which is very distressing for him, and if it's as well as, it means he's got yet another condition. He showed me info on the particular form of autism they're looking at called PDA & it's pretty much a word profile of his entire life since a baby, so now he's revisiting everything through the "lens" of autism & causing himself great stress. For my other sons & I it makes it easier to understand a lot of things about him, but we regularly get it wrong when interacting as he's so intelligent we often expect him to understand certain everyday things, but of course he doesn't & we don't realise until too late.


I really need some help in working out how to respond without making things worse. It's been a terrible couple of days as it's coming up to my birthday tomorrow (also the date my husband died in 2002) & my son's been organising it for his brothers & seemed really proud of things. This week he's been getting worse & worse with anxieties though, which makes him really annoyed with me. Wants help but hates to ask, gets upset when I don't pick up on hints (very subtle hints!), hates relying on "his mummy" at age 37 but then gives me "another chance" to help.........  He's just a mess at the moment & my brain's starting to just shut down when he phones or messages as I don't know what to do or how to help. He's starting to get very hopeless & told me he's nearly done. I found some info on autistic shutdowns this morning which describes what's happening perfectly, but I still don't know what sort of reponses or activity would help in the situation. 


His psychiatrist has applied for him to get therapy sessions at the Centre for Clinical Interventions but there's a wait list, he's got physical pain & needs to see a neurosurgeon but there's a wait list so we're going private in August. It's like every thing we try has a waiting period so he's just sitting around his house doing nothing all day & getting more anxious. He can't even play much music which used to be his escape.


If anyone has some suggestions I would be really appreciative as it's making me more & more anxious & teary which isn't like me. I feel I've run out of coping skills.


Re: Responding to son really struggling with bipolar diagnosis now probable autism

Hi @Kal, we're so glad to hear that you've found help in the forums in the past and am sorry to hear that you are going through a trying time now. It must also be frustrating for your son to have one diagnosis and then to be waiting for confirmation for another one, especially if he's revisiting everything in his life. 


Are you able to sit with him and ask him how he feels through all of this and potentially set down a process regarding asking for help? 


Re: Responding to son really struggling with bipolar diagnosis now probable autism

Hi @Ali11 , thanks for your response. Unfortunately I don't seem to be able to say anything much at the moment. A suggestion that we work out a plan to ask for help just upset him as he feels I should instinctively know when he's asking for help & what to do/say when he does & he shouldn't have to be telling me. He's still reaching out though I guess, even if it is to just phone me & let me know how badly I've let him down. It's coming from a feeling of hopelessness though so is really frustrating as it's a cry for help while pushing me away. On one hand he's selling some of his stuff but then he also tells me he's put his name down for some volunteer work. He's forgetting things we tell him about too, then gets upset because he didn't know & I have no idea how to talk to him about it without causing huge offence. I think I'm second-guessing everything I say now in case it upsets him - not a good way to be Smiley Sad

Re: Responding to son really struggling with bipolar diagnosis now probable autism

We can see how that can cause you to second-guess everything @Kal and how that can be upsetting. Do you have your own support network that you can talk things through with? 


Re: Responding to son really struggling with bipolar diagnosis now probable autism

My apologies for not replying sooner, I've barely looked at emails, facebook or anything else for the last couple of weeks - too much energy required. I've got a couple of really good friends who keep in touch (& made me go back to Tai Chi) plus my other 2 younger sons are doing what they can. One of them in particular has taken a huge load as he's realised it's not deliberate when his brother is being angry at the world, or confused, anxious etc & he'll take over some food then sit & chat for an hour or so, or phone him in the evening. Several articles on autism I've found have described things exactly as they are which has helped. 


Re: Responding to son really struggling with bipolar diagnosis now probable autism

No need to apologise @Kal, it sounds like you have a great family rallying around your son. Do you have a family activity that everyone enjoys and you can create some good memories with?  

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