Teenage Depression and Antisocial Behaviour (Very Long, sorry)

(8 Posts)
cowardlygirl Mon 28-Jan-13 15:11:18

I need help as I just don't know what to do for the best sad
My son is almost 13 and he used to be the most loving, affectionate child. He's always been quite deep and very sensitive, but generally happy.

He started puberty very early compared to his peers, as did his dad and his brother, when he started year 7 he was mistaken for a year 9 or 10 child frequently. He seemed to change overnight, and all the affection dried up and he seemed very closed off. This never happened with his elder brothers who at 17 and 15 will still talk to me about their life and problems, still give me a hug and tell me they love me before they go to school/college. Although I found this upsetting and miss the closeness we used to share, I accepted that children are different and that it's just his way. I still try and keep the lines of communication open with him but it is difficult as he seems like a closed book.

He doesn't have a massive circle of friends, but he does have a few close ones, and he is very close to his brothers- they are all good mates but he doesn't really 'confide' in them either. They are all very bright and top of all their classes and I have never had any real trouble from them at home or school (aside from the occasional broken heart etc, the usual kids stuff). They are good boys and I feel very lucky to have them.

But my younger son is really starting to worry me now. At first I put it down to hormones but now I think he may have a problem. Aside from being very deep and quiet, he seems to have a general dislike for the world and most people in it. He spends a lot of time reading and like his brothers is very interested in politics and current affairs, and seems to be unneccessarily and unhealthily worrying himself about the state of the world and adult problems when he should be enjoying his childhood. He says he is not sleeping properly at night, and has been coming home from school and going straight to sleep. He doesn't really leave the house much.

I don't want to give too much away but there has been a minor incident that is very out of character for him and then he ran away from home. It was at night, it was freezing outside and he was missing for 5 hours before he eventually turned up at my mothers house 5 miles away. He has run away before if we have told him off (not for a year or so now though), and in the past it was not so much that he runs away as he hid from us. He is so sensitive that you only have to use the wrong tone of voice with him and he takes offence, I admit to being a bit like that myself sad

Anyway his dad and I were up most of the night trying to talk to him after the incident and subsequent running away. He says he doesn't know why he did it, he does not feel proud or ashamed. He says he feels nothing but empty. We asked him if he would like to persue any interests or hobbies to distract him from the problems in the world. He says that he does not enjoy anything in his life anymore and that there is nothing that interests him anymore. He insists he hasn't got any problems, that we haven't done anything to upset him and that there is no reason he can think of why he feels this way, he just does. Not sleeping properly will be making things much worse. We have a few money worries at the moment so I wonder if this is his way of dealing with the stress, maybe unconsciously. They are not serious money worries, the bills are all paid and we are all fed but we don't have any spare money left over these days. We have tried to shield it from them as much as possible but obviously they are not stupid, and they know we haven't had a holiday or done much 'fun stuff' for a couple of years because we can't afford it right now. I suppose life has got a bit dull for us all and I am very aware that we seem to be just 'existing'.

I think he is depressed and I want him to see the GP, he said he will cooperate and help us to help him. There is a history of mental illness in the family so I am keen to get this sorted but I feel out of my depth and don't know the best way to support him, apart from keeping him off the internet and stopping him watching the news to keep him away from things which upset him. Should I see the GP without him first, or take him with me?

Also I feel he needs to be punished for this 'incident', it as he needs to know he cannot hide behind his problems and he must take responsibility for his actions, but am afraid he will run again. I'm not sure how best to tackle that. It is a first offence but I want to nip it in the bud now and not allow it to be the start of a slippery slope.

I feel I'm rambling and making little sense so I apologise for that. I love my son and I feel like I'm losing him sad

Any help or advice much appreciated.

PenelopePisstop Mon 28-Jan-13 19:52:13

I would get him to the GP as soon as you can, the key words for me are not sleeping, feeling empty. It looks like he may have clinical depression and the sooner you get him assessed by CAMHS the better.

Don't punish him for the inicident, get him some help. Please don't let it carry on. I Work with 16+ and often feel so frustrated that their issues and problems weren't picked up sooner.

PenelopePisstop Mon 28-Jan-13 19:52:53

The school can also refer straight through to CAMHS if your GP is reluctant.

flow4 Mon 28-Jan-13 20:15:50

Yes, take him to the GP, cowardly. It may or may not be depression, but it needs checking out. I think he needs to see the GP himself - he'll need to be assessed. You can then ask him to step outside for a few minutes or make a follow-up appointment if you feel you need to speak to the doctor privately too.

Since you haven't said what the 'incident' is, I don't feel I can say whether or not you should punish him. I can say, though, that punishment generally doesn't work (I said more about this the other day on this thread ). Maybe you do need to do something further - but I can't judge without details...

Also, I don't think you were saying you wanted to punish him for running, but I want to double-check... I think this would be a very bad idea: many kids run when they're in trouble - it's the 'flight or fight' instinct I think - and they need to learn to control the panic. Punishment won't help with that.

It's painful when they start to grow away, isn't it? My youngest son is just starting to do it, and I think perhaps it feels a bit more painful because I know that when he has grown up, I'll have no 'babies' left, IYSWIM.

borninastorm Mon 28-Jan-13 20:28:35

TaKe him to your GP asap and make sure your GP gets him to do the 'depression test' a simple questionnaire that'll confirm if he is depressed. Accept medical help (including medication) if your doctor thinks its necessary.
Do not wait for a CAHMS assessment (waiting times can be upwards of 6 weeks but obviously it differs in each area) get him a private counsellor. I got one for my son after his PTSD diagnosis and she was just £30 a session. She did wonders for my son.
Unfortunately any nhs help will involve waiting time and teenagers are vulnerable (by their very nature) I don't suggest waiting to get help. You can always drop the private counselling when the nhs kicks in.
He also needs to know you're behind him, support him and will do your utmost to help him get well. But it sounds like you're doing a great job of doing this already.
Personally I wouldn't punish him for the incident but I would make it v clear that it was unacceptable but given his state of mind (for want of a better description) you're not going ahead with a punishment but if it happens again, or similar, your punishment will be serious and severe.
You are doing a great job. you've noticed he is troubled. You're supporting him and helping him. He'll appreciate it when he's much, much older smile.

cowardlygirl Mon 28-Jan-13 21:18:57

Thank you all for your responses. I am reluctant to give more detail about the incident for fear of somebody discovering his identity and report him to the police sad It is an act of vandalism that he has committed, but I fear the effect getting into trouble will have on his already worrying mental state. At the same time as wanting to help and protect him, I also feel like a rubbish parent for not making him face the consequences of what he has done and I am upset and disappointed by his behaviour sad
I do not want to punish him for running, although the fear of him doing it again has me walking on eggshells and not knowing how best to handle it. I know he is not a bad person, he just made a bad decision and at the minute I'm viewing it as a cry for help.
I'll make an appointment with the GP for him tomorrow.

PenelopePisstop Mon 28-Jan-13 21:42:52

OP, that convinces me even more of his need to see the GP. Violence, punching walls, throwing chairs etc., is a symptom of mental health issues.

flow4 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:19:08

Those things can be a symptom of mental health issues... They can also be a symptom of drug misuse... Or out-of-control hormones... Or simply anger they haven't learned to handle properly...

I understand you not wanting to give away too many details, cowardly... If you are viewing the vandalism as 'a cry for help' then don't punish, I think. You wouldn't punish other cries for help (such as self harm), would you?

That's not to say he shouldn't put it right though... Can he fix/repair/repaint the thing he's vandalised?

My DS1 was involved in something like that when he was 11. He 'owned up' to someone who reported him to the police (rather than telling me angry sad )... The whole process of being arrested, having his DNA and fingerprints taken, being interviewed and then being reprimanded had nothing to recommend it. It was terrifying (for both of us) at the time, but quickly faded from his memory. The police advised us not to bother making or paying for the repair (it was damage to someone else's property) because 'the matter had been dealt with' through the reprimand; but that did not sit easy with me at all, so I took him round to apologise, and he helped make a temporary repair, and paid for the full repair from pocket money, which seemed to me to be a much better way of dealing with it, and to have greater impact on him, than the reprimand.

So I don't blame you for wanting to deal with it yourself if possible.

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