Dear Annie: Thirty years ago, our son was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He has been hospitalized more than once, although he believes it was only to "punish" him. In the past few years, he has refused all psychiatric intervention.
"Robert" has lived independently for 18 years. He displays delusional and paranoid behavior. We do not know whether he still takes the antipsychotic medicine that was prescribed 20 years ago. We are grateful that he doesn't drink or do drugs, but he is a chain smoker and eats voraciously. His weight is more than 300 pounds, and he is diabetic and takes blood pressure pills. He has anger issues and an irrational fear of being injected with anything.
Mental health professionals have given up on him. Robert doesn't seem to fit in anywhere. Living alone only worsens his illness, but he is averse to being told what to do. How do I help him? — Fear for My Son
Dear Fear: It's terribly sad and stressful, but there is only so much you can do to protect a mentally ill adult who refuses to take medication, get therapy or be helped in any way. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers a 12-week Family-to-Family program for those dealing with family members who are mentally ill. Please contact them at 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6264) (nami.org).
Dear Annie: My husband often must go out of state on business for months at a time. In order for us to be together, he buys me a ticket to join him whenever he accumulates enough frequent flyer miles. Right now, he's in California. He recently missed my birthday, saying he didn't have enough mileage to fly me there.
However, I discovered that wasn't true. He had enough miles, but his mother and sister demanded that he use them for them because they've always wanted to go to California. So he's saving his miles in order to have enough for their two tickets.
I am furious. I have no intention of sitting home alone while they enjoy the time with my husband that should be mine. How do I make them understand that by requesting two tickets, they are using up two future chances for me to spend time with my husband? And how do I make my husband understand how hurt I am that he would even consider doing this? — The Wife
Dear Wife: While we understand that you want every trip to be yours, the real issue here is that your husband didn't consult you first, and then lied about the availability of his frequent flyer miles. We think he avoids confrontation, not only with you, but also with his family members. This is how workable issues turn into major arguments.
Here's a possible compromise: Suggest that his sister pay for her own ticket, allowing Mom to have the freebie. You would only lose one trip. Your mother-in-law likely doesn't get to see her son very often, and she misses him. This would be a special treat. If you approach it in a conciliatory way, your husband will not only appreciate your generosity, but he also will be more inclined to discuss these things with you in the future. And that should be your ultimate goal.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Ex-In-Laws," who are getting calls from debt collectors looking for their ex-daughter-in-law.
Please inform them that all they need to do is call the phone company and put a block on the unwanted calls. They should then inform the ex-daughter-in-law about the route they took to rid themselves of what is a nerve-wracking intrusion. Hope this helps. — Ann from Louisiana
Dear Ann: Blocking calls can work, but it requires regular maintenance because debt collectors often will call from different numbers when the old ones are blocked. But it's worth trying.
Happy Easter to all our Christian readers.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.