Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for CatholicPhilly.com. Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for CatholicPhilly.com. Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

She says:

Torrie says: When my father-in-law (Ron’s dad) died, I was very open to having his 35-year-old son, Todd, who has mental health issues, move in with us. My husband, Ron, and I have been very close to Todd and involved in Todd’s care for years. We were familiar with Todd’s daily schedule and medication regime. However, since Todd moved in with our family, the strain of keeping Todd on an even keel has been formidable. I knew extra effort would be needed to blend Todd in with our kids, but neither Ron nor I had any idea of Todd’s developing breakdown.

Nor were we prepared for the maze that is the mental health system. We knew this would be a huge responsibility, but had no idea we would be dealing with what we have now. We need help and we need it now!

He says:

Ron says: When I was growing up, Todd was our family’s “special” child and from day one I was on board to be involved with him. I love Todd as if he is my own son. Torrie and our kids have been great also.

The reality of Todd’s decline since he moved in with us, and our inability to secure what is needed for Todd, leaves us reeling in a wake of frustration and confusion.  We were not prepared for the changes that occurred, presumably because of Todd’s grief over Dad’s death. I have rearranged my work hours to spend more time at home, but even that is not sufficient to meet Todd’s needs. I want to keep Todd with us, but we are at our wits’ end trying to cope with his unexpected negative behavior, regression and depression. Will this be temporary or a new life pattern?

Todd’s insurance changed when he could no longer be on Dad’s insurance and as a result he is not able to use his former doctors. This has been a major issue. Our inability to receive needed mental health services is really tough to digest and trying to secure needed assistance for Todd is creating a great amount of stress and jockeying about with the mental health system. Insurance dictates so much of what can be done.

Dad did not leave a large amount of money, and we intend to use all the inheritance for Todd’s mental health, but even securing a decent psychiatrist is very expensive, and long term, probably beyond our means.

I am now afraid caring for my brother will drive a wedge in my relationship with Torri.

What do they do?

Todd is fortunate that he has loving family members who want to provide needed care for him. Ron and Torri must work together to ensure that their challenge of caring for Todd, this very special child of God, does not negatively impact their marriage and family. Todd needs them too much!

“Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Most county mental health systems are not equipped to address every patient, especially after such loss and trauma of change as Todd has experienced. And doing so usually takes a lot of time and patience.

You should continue to seek proper diagnosis and treatment. Whenever any child or adult with chronic mental health issues has a change in living and care-provider situations, they go through tremendous adjustments that can take time.

If Todd’s prior psychiatrist is made aware of your difficulty with his unexpected and dramatic decline, he may possibly reconsider taking Todd back into his practice and craft an affordable financial arrangement for his care.

If Todd continues to have a difficult time, perhaps a hospitalization is in order.  Often, hospital social services are able to open up new avenues of assistance for a patient. This may help in securing needed services for Todd.

Ron and Torri sound as if they are in for a long haul to provide proper, needed care for their brother, Todd. Allow prayer and your trust in God to lead you on this journey. It is crucially important that Ron and Torri keep clear lines of communication open with each other to avoid resentment or dejection from overwhelming their relationship.

Tremendous adjustment is needed for everyone in this case, but with God, and with persistence, this family will prove to be a resource and true home to a man who cannot live on his own. God will provide what is needed. He always does!

“Those whose steps are guided by the Lord, whose way God approves, may stumble, but they will never fall, for the Lord holds their hand” (Psalm 37:23-24).