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This article is excerpted from Minoti’s book, Beyond a Parent’s Love, which is available from Amazon using the link on this page.

Mental illness can cause immeasurable devastation in a family. The illness often surfaces during teenage years or later and is not easily diagnosed. Denial and lack of cooperation from the mentally ill person can make treatment, caring, and financial planning more difficult. Those with mental illness may not be cured, but can remain stable with medication and counseling.

It was the darkest night of Filip and Helena’s life. They were forced to admit their son Adam to the hospital after an excruciating manic episode. Adam was 20, diagnosed with bipolar and obsessive-compulsive disorder. His behavior had become increasingly unusual the past few days. Adam had insomnia, paced the house all night, and had not been eating well. It was painful for Filip and Helena to watch him suffer.

Adam was obsessive about cleanliness. It was common for him to take three to four showers a day, wash his bed sheets every day, wipe his bedroom furniture several times a day, and wear double socks all the time. Lately, he had become phobic about germs in his hands and washed them every 10 minutes. He became dissatisfied with soap and hot water and began using Clorox bleach. Filip and Helena’s fear mounted, and they begged Adam to visit his psychiatrist, to no avail. They were alarmed when he demanded they buy him long rubber gloves but believed they did not have a choice and hoped it would help him. Adam tied rubber bands around the opening of the gloves and his elbows to avoid letting germs enter the gloves. It was late July and a very hot summer in Detroit. Adam showered and ate with his gloves on for three days. Helena was very concerned how the heat was impacting his hands and begged Adam to remove them. Adam became furious, began pacing the floor of their small home, and started screaming. He pointed fingers at his mother and used extremely foul language. Filip, usually a patient man, became irate and pushed Adam in a corner with all his strength and held him down. Helena cut the rubber band with scissors and pulled one of the gloves.

The scene was horrific. Adam’s fingers and arm were blistered from the bleach. Some were infected from the heat inside the glove, and the smell was foul. Adam lost control, shook loose from his parents, and let out a wail. He panicked, opened the front door, and ran out of the house with Filip in pursuit. It was late afternoon on a Saturday, and some of the neighbors were in their yards. Helena sat down helplessly, then knew instantly that she had to take action and called 911. The EMS arrived followed by a police van. The police found Filip with Adam still agitated and out of breath and brought them back to the house. Adam was scared and needed to be calmed down. The EMS team asked Adam if he was ready to go to the hospital. Filip and Helena were concerned if he would resist. They had chosen not to be his legal guardian when he turned 18 and could not force him to be hospitalized. Adam protested but finally relented, and Helena and Filip followed the ambulance. Adam was admitted to the hospital in the psychiatric ward for an acute case of manic depression.