Joann: Impact on Family Relationshps
Jacob is the second oldest out of five children, ranging in age from 19 to 23 years old. Household tension and conflict escalated with his emerging symptoms. Joann explained that since her husband Nathan’s mother lived with mental illness, his experience prepared him to help her “reign in her anxiety” when she became upset and frustrated. She sees Nathan as more direct, treating Jacob as an adult, which differs from her softer, protective approach.
The hardest thing that Joann faces daily is how to talk with her son. Jacob has “built up a wall” against her. She tells Jacob that she loves him. She is afraid of “backlash” from him and being totally cut off. She is afraid of saying the wrong thing and that Jacob will get mad at her. She wonders if she must be forever cautious in interactions with Jacob. He is unpredictable—sometimes nice and at other times says mean things to her.
Joann worked on on setting healthy boundaries in interactions with Jacob. She explained, “Yes, he may have a mental illness but he’s not going to treat me like shit. That’s not okay.” To Jacob, she said, “You need to respect me still. You’re still in my household. You’re still my child. I’m still your mom. You need to respect me.”
She discovered she needed to be selective about what to share with some family members who think Jacob’s illness can be fixed. She does not want to feel judged or scrutinized, which leads her to be cautious about what she shares. When her older sister gives advice without understanding, Joann tries to educate her sister about mental illness.