When your Child Disappears Down the Conspiracy Theory Rabbit Hole

At A&G we are always interested in women’s stories. When we received this one from a reader who, understandably, wishes to remain anonymous, we felt we should publish it. Perhaps you have some advice or comfort to offer her. If so, please leave a message in the comments section at the end of this article.

I must admit that I’ve been having a very difficult time since lockdown last March. One of my adult children has become drawn into this whole Covid conspiracy theory, anti-mask way of thinking and it has caused myself and the rest of the family, considerable heartache.

My child is in his early 30’s and has lived alone for a long time. He has some mental health issues and struggles with depression. He hasn’t worked since he was 18 and receives a disability payment each month from the government. He’s was difficult to manage when he was a child and has had very different ideas for as long as I can remember. But these differences have always been what’s made him special and unique and funny and interesting.

But things have changed. Now he seems to have been drawn into an almost cult-like way of thinking. This includes disturbing (to me) beliefs about the earth being flat and vaccines being used to inject chips into our bodies so that the government can track our every move. He’s losing interest in the things he used to love and is instead spending more and more time on social media.

At first, I was openly dismissive when he began dropping the odd conspiracy comment. I assumed that he couldn’t possibly hold such outrageous beliefs. But as time has gone on, it’s become obvious that he does and he feels disrespected if I disagree. Like most conspiracy theorists, he has an answer for everything and seems unwilling to listen to logic or science.

We all have our own opinions and beliefs so this isn’t meant to be pushing any type of agenda. It makes me feel sad that I’m losing touch with my precious boy. I’m very worried that he may disappear so far down the proverbial rabbit hole, that he won’t be able to find his way back out. I believe that these types of theories and beliefs appeal mainly to those who are disenfranchised and not feeling comfortable in their own world. I worry about what thoughts are going through his head and where these thoughts may lead him in the future.

His refusal to wear a mask coupled with attending anti-mask rallies has made seeing him indoors impossible. He hasn’t been inside my home since March. We’ve had a few physically distanced visits outside, but that’s all. With two parents in separate retirement homes and as an essential visitor, I feel that I must protect (not only myself) but them, as well as all the other residents in both homes.

I’m wondering if this thinking will change once we get back to a semblance of normalcy in the world?  I’ll continue to listen to what he says but have learned not to argue or disagree as it does me more harm than good. I know I can’t be alone in this, so I’m sending virtual hugs to anyone else in a similar situation and wonder if others have come up with a better way to cope?

For now, I continue to struggle, not really knowing what to do or how to reach him. He ‘prays’ that I see the light and I desperately hope that he does, because there is light at the end of this tunnel. I will continue to offer my unconditional love and support and to believe in brighter days to come.

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8 Comments

  1. I have a very similar situation with my brother which I have found upsetting and stressful. Recently we did have a more helpful exchange of ideas when I empathised with his feelings whilst maintaining my own beliefs. I told him that I knew he worried about me and I about him and that I was concerned that it was him who was being controlled by unseen forces. I think he was a little happier following the exchange and I definitely was.

    • I’m glad you were able to have a reasonably good conversation with your brother. I think being honest and continuing to reach out with love and understanding, is all we can do! Warmest wishes.

  2. This is a heartbreaking and important story. It opened my eyes to a very real situation that some people are grappling with. I’ve made a commitment to embrace empathy and compassion: 2020 was a very difficult year and we all need to remember that while we may be experiencing the same storm, we’re all in different boats. Thanks to this article I decided to subscribe and look forward to reading more. Thank you!!

  3. Thank you so much for your kind words Sarah and what a wonderful way to journey through 2021, with empathy and compassion. I know you’re going to love receiving a copy of Annabel and Grace each week! Warmest wishes.

  4. The writer is doing the single best thing by keeping an open line of communication with her child and not arguing with her child’s views. She may find helpful resources by searching for exit counseling, deprogramming, or how to get someone out of a cult. Yes, it may see odd, but this seems to have the best success. This has become a larger problem over the last several years so hopefully the writer may find books or therapists that can help her. I’m touched by the author’s compassion and willingness to stay close to her child. I hope that she is able to find something that helps.

    • Thank you so much T, for your words of encouragement and support. I hadn’t thought of looking into exit counselling, but it’s an excellent idea.
      Take good care!

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