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Dear Abby: My 38-year-old son is mentally ill and refuses medication, counseling or any type of help. I’m 63, and he physically and mentally abuses me. I had him committed, but he refused to cooperate, so they released him after two weeks.

I have no time to myself except when I sleep or take a nap. I can’t even open the blinds to let the sun in because “people are watching him.”

I know he needs help desperately, but I don’t know where else to turn. My family tells me to have him committed and not let him back home. I feel guilty about sending him out of my home because I’m afraid of what he might do or what could happen to him.

I go for counseling once a month, and I have discussed this with my therapist, who says the same thing as my family: “Commit him and throw away the key!” I am so torn! I suffer from depression and this lifestyle does not help.

I’m planning to move to another state where I have family, and I don’t know what to do with him. I feel like I’m trading one cell for another. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

– Loyal Reader in New York

Dear Loyal Reader: Listen to your therapist. If your son is institutionalized, he will be in a safe environment. The alternative could be that he would become one of the multitude of mentally ill individuals who are living on the street.

If your son is medicated, he might be able to live in a group home where he could be sheltered and taken care of. With medication he might be able to have more of a life than you have provided.

You may feel guilty, but you are not responsible for your son’s mental illness. It is very important that you are successfully treated for your depression before making the decision to move. Your depression may have been caused because you have become the prisoner of your son’s hallucinations.

Call it what you want

Dear Abby: I was wondering if a woman can be considered engaged to a man if she is still married to another man, but separated?

I have a friend who has been separated from her husband for two years. They live apart, but not “legally.” Can she be considered engaged? Wouldn’t her ring be a promise ring and not an engagement ring? Please help me clear up this confusion.

– Confounded in West Virginia

Dear Confounded: To declare oneself engaged while legally married to another person does appear to be premature. However, your friend can call herself whatever she wants if it pleases her. The same is true for what she calls the rock she’s wearing. If you value her friendship, you’ll let it slide and don’t contradict her.