To ask for help and advice about my ds(41 Posts)
Name changed as very delicate. Will try to keep as brief as possible without leaving anything out.
Ds is nearly 21. A milestone in a child's life but, as he did on his 18th Birthday, he'll spend it alone in his room.
He was diagnosed with depression and anxiety 3 years ago. He was put on antidepressants, which he is still on. He gave up college soon after the diagnosis and with that went his friends, although he didn't have many friends anyway.
Background: He was absolutely fine until the age of 13/14 when he withdrew and became the typical lonely gamer. 'Normal teenage boy' is what we thought and what others told us. At that time he was still socialising within the nuclear and extended family so no alarm bells were ringing. 'He'll be fine when the hormones sort themselves out' we thought. That never happened and he withdrew more and more.
So, fast forward to now. Nearly 21. Spends pretty much all of his time in his room. He's doing one driving lesson a week. Rarely talks to us or his younger siblings. Is due another load of counselling but he keeps putting off calling 'will phone tomorrow'. I've looked into private counselling but it's expensive and why pay for it if he's not going to go, and not going to take their advice? He is supposedly doing a distance learning course but if I ask about he he says it's 'going ok'. I get the feeling he's not really doing it.
Personal hygiene not good. Only shaves before driving lesson but he doesn't do a good job. I buy his clothes..
Dh has tried so hard to help him. Offering him 'jobs' around the house - doing gardening, decorating etc for money but ds either says no or does such a rubbish job that dh doesn't ask him again.
We try to encourage him to get a part time job but get the 'will look tomorrow' answer. He uses his 'depression' card as an excuse to do nothing. I know people who suffer mental illness but they work, they push themselves and they manage to live a productive life.
So, all in all we're in a desperate situation. We have a 'man' living in our house that does nothing, pays nothing, upsets us and his siblings with his... miserableness (can't think of a better way to describe it). No one comes to our house. Extended family have retreated to the odd text or facebook message only. I don't blame them - this is a miserable depressing house! Dd1 is in college and looking to go as far away as possible to uni (don't blame her). Dd2 suffers as she can't have play dates here (would you want your child going to a house with a strange hermit man living there?) and she often flips out at ds when he ignores her or tells her to leave him alone. Only 2 of my friends know the situation, other friends have probably guessed but don't say anything. I put off seeing people in case the subject of ds comes up.
I feel guilty, powerless, embarrassed and utterly devastated. I've got my son but he's not my son. I care about him but don't feel the overwhelming love for him that I used to feel
Any help and advice much appreciated but please don't make me feel worse than I already do
Your sadness really comes across in your post. The sad fact is your and your DH are enabling DS's lifestyle choices. He needs to be engaging with his GP and other mental health services.
It isn't fair or acceptable that DS's lifestyle is affecting your other children or you.
You and DH need to explain to DS that he cannot continue to live the way he chooses whilst under your roof. Sorry but I think he needs to move out. At the moment you are providing a warm safe home, food, driving lessons etc what motivation is there for him to take responsibility for himself.
I'm sorry, I don't have any advice but just wanted to offer unmumsnetty hugs. It sounds like you're an amazing mum
This is a difficult one as he has reached 21... is he playing online as I would be restircting his access.
I think you need to set down conditions for him to continue. If he makes the effort once a week for driving lesson then that is your leverage..
Depression can be very difficult to find his way out of however he cannot play the depression card if he isn't willing to get help for it?
sorry to drip feed but one thing I forgot to add is that hardly a day goes by without news of a young man taking his life. I believe it's the biggest cause of death in young men . Even though I don't think ds is suicidal, I'm terrified of pushing him over the edge.
Will check that link, thanks Juliascurr
I don't have much advice to give.
My exp was a depressive, and also violent on occasions.
So ds didn't have many play dates. But we tried to meet at neutral places with friends. Or take them to the beach or park, without exp.
Can you go and have a chat with your GP?
Explain you are worried about him, and you feel his behaviour is depressing the rest of the family too?
Cut the Internet off or just block his computer from connecting.
He's not paying any towards it so why should he use it?
If he needs to do his distant learning course he will have to get to a library to do so.
Don't know if I'll be much help but didn't want to read and run. My teens don't have depression but i do (Sertraline 200, maximum dose).
Yes people with depression often do push themselves to do things, partly because we know that is the advice for tackling depression but partly because we have to.
There have been times when I could easily have sat at home every day, all day, but i have to go shopping, used to care for my DM, had to work, drive Dds about etc. Your son dosent have to go anywhere. That's just his personal circumstances. But until he starts to want to do things it's an uphill struggle for you.
Could you make him a GPS appointment and go with him and explain your concerns in front of your son? Let him know how much you love him but how worried you are, the gp may also want to check out his meds, do blood tests. I usef to have the community psychiatric team come to see me at home and used to attend the recovery unit at the hospital which I found a massive help in my recovery.
Does he have any cousins/family friends who might take him out? Cinema or gaming conventions might appeal to him, I think a break in the routine of staying in his room may show him that there are things to look forward to and worth leaving the house for.
Finally op I think you need support, some people find MIND helpful in supporting families of people with mh issues. There is absolutely no need for you to be embarrassed, You have done nothing wrong, You just have an Ill child that you are caring for, You might find that people have a greater understanding of mental health issues than you expect and may even have had their own experiences. If things get too bad you can talk to the Samaritans, who won't judge but will listen. Good luck to your and your son x
I would also go back to the GP and ask about changing his medication as by the sounds of it what ever he is on is no longer helping him.
Stars - I don't feel amazing at all. I keep thinking I must have done something wrong. I worked full time from six months. He went to a childminder. He was a bit naughty at school and maybe I didn't deal well enough with it (was cross at him instead of trying to get to the reason why). Money was tight when he was younger so he only did the free after school clubs. No scouts or anything nearby he could join. Maybe I didn't facilitate his social life enough (although my dd is fine, has lots of friends). I just turn all of this over and over in my mind. I must have gone wrong somewhere.
Hi op, I really feel for you in this situation
Dh 's family have similar feelings towards his 14 year old cousin who has no social life and just sits playing games.
Is it online gaming he is doing? If so have you considered help for him from addiction specialists? As he could have an online game addiction. This will add to his depression and explain his lack of hygiene, interaction and general energy for life.
It sounds like the depression is definitely a blanket over him and the family now and small steps could be what is needed to pull him out a bit more. Online games will give him a sense of achievement he is lacking in real life, so he will be susceptible to addiction.
This is kindly meant, however harsh it sounds: you cannot stop him committing suicide by enabling him to hole up in his room for life. He is ill and he needs your support - but your support to get better, not to maintain the status quo. Pull the plug on the internet and talk to him about how things are going to be. This will include seeking medical help, contributing to the household and some reasonable level of interaction - whether that's eating breakfast with you or helping your dh in the garden or going with you for a walk. (Physical exercise is very, very helpful with depression btw).
I am so sorry. But I've had depression in the past and the post describing it as a 'lifestyle choice' really makes me angry.
Yes some people with the same condition may function better than your son does, in the same way that some people with cancer manage to keep on working; it doesn't mean he's chosen to live this way.
Have you thought of posting this in Mental Health? I know you'll get less traffic there but you've more chance of reaching people who can advise you properly.
Best wishes to you
OP..You can beat yourself about what you could or couldn't do...However I think you need to look at where you are now rather than what you could of done differently.
I have no experience & can't help you OP but I just wanted to say that its not your fault & you didn't cause it.
It is not your fault, it is just his personality. I had social anxiety and depression at your son age but I was working, going college...I forced myself get out there and so did my parents. I knew I couldn't stay a hermit at home! They wouldn't have let me.
Time get strong. He must be more depressed just being in his room all day. You need force him get out in the world. Of course help him but you need push him.
Don't beat yourself up about it, it isn't anything you've done x.
I have been depressed myself (around that age actually), and I know how hard it can be but your DS has to take steps to help himself.
I'm another who says you need to pull the plug on the internet, sitting online all day isn't going to help him. And he isn't going to get any better sitting in his room.
He's luck he has a loving family to support him, but that's not enough, he needs to help himself.
How much time in his room is spent online/gaming? Is he getting any/enough sleep?
I think it would be a good idea to limit his internet/gaming access, not withdraw it completely, but only give him a couple of hours access.
Does he communicate with you? Or is he completely withdrawn? I have no experience of severe depression but I feel that he needs some targets to be set, that could help him lift the cycle he's fallen into - he manages to get himself to his driving lesson, what else could he be encouraged to engage with that gets him out of his pit?
I second the advice about you getting some support from a group like MIND.
We had a similar situation with my DM, but with my DF as her enabler. Her depression and OCD means that she eats the same food everyday, does the same things at the same time, wears the same clothes and is very negative in her outlook.
My DF enables all of this, as he won't wash her clothes incase she 'kicks-off'. Always makes the meals she wants incase she 'kicks-off'. He can't throw flowers away even if they are rotting and smell because it makes her too anxious. There are just too many examples of his enabling behaviour to mention. All of his behaviour enables my DM to stay the way she is and never get better.
Please do not make his situation worse by enabling his behaviour.
Sit him down and tell,him how worried you are, but you cannot go on enabling his behaviour and want to help and support him. Turn the internet off and he only gets it back if he comes and eats tea with the rest of the family and wears clean clothes every day.
You need to book a GP appt for his Meds to be looked at and also book the counselling sessions and actually take him there. Mind have lots of things that you and your son can get involved with.
Please do not blame yourself. I went to a child-minder when my Mum worked full time and I have never suffered from depression.
Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.
I long for the day when I 'get' my Mum back'. As my DF has been 'enabling' her to be the way she is for the last 9 years, it won't be anytime soon.
Thank you everyone. You're all so kind. He's sleeping around 16 hours a day. Gp said this is the classic depression symptom. He does sit with us for meals - I insist on that. He's very nervous. If I start to press him on an issue he visibly shakes. He's not got any ocd traits, eats well (which is a relief as he was painfully thin at one point). I just know if he could get a part time job it could be the making of him. He did work experience with school at a local business and loved it and got excellent feedback. He's very bright, did really well at school, despite not really trying! If someone would just give him a chance I think he'd be an asset - it's just such a tough world out there.
You've all helped a lot. I feel like you're all standing behind me giving me a push.. to push him forwards. Thanks x
Please don't allow him to continue like this any longer.
My older brother was the same - similar problems with hygiene and computer obsession starting when he was a teen.
My parents have never been the type to address problems and were reluctant to pressure him to do something with his life and I suppose for me it was a case out out of sight out of mind.
This has resulted in him living in their home almost as a recluse for over ten years. No job, no friends and no life. He rarely left his room, participated minimally in family life and was extremely uncommunicative, giving one word answers to questions: maybe, possibly, perhaps....
In the last year and a half a lightbulb has switched on and he has made some positive changes - he now has a job! But he has wasted his twenties, and due to his social isolation over the past decade he is now extremely shy and socially awkward. Don't allow this happen to your son by enabling him and pretending nothing is wrong like my family did.
OP, it is not your fault he has depression. It's really not. It's not his fault either, of course. But there are things you can all do to make things better.
I've also got family experience of a similar situation. My older brother had depression throughout his late teens and well into his twenties, and it was basically a secret which gradually shut down elements of the social world for the rest of the family. We lived for years and years with the (often unspoken) fear of suicide and got into some very unhelpful patterns. One problem is that this can push a person with depression more and more into acting selfishly. If a person is miserable enough, other family members' fear of their suicide will basically make everyone else bend over backwards to appease the person with depression, even if that person is not acting at all considerately to anyone else. This can set up some very troubling dynamics in the longer term. It took my parents (who are brilliant, by the way - this can happen with the best of parents) years to start insisting on change. One (very gradual) change was that we were allowed to bring people round and didn't have to tiptoe around DB any more. Another was that they learned not to allow him to get away with whatever he liked just because he was not well. All very easy to say, I know.
It goes without saying that your DS might be finding things really hard at the moment, and that must be really distressing for him and you. That doesn't mean that you have to like him all the time. People with depression can be extremely hard work to be around. When it's someone you're close to (and even more so when it's your child, I think) it can be a mixture of heartbreak, anger, guilt, fear and all sorts else.
If you organised a proper talk (perhaps when your other children are out, over dinner one day?) with you and your DH, might he engage a little? Could you set out clearly how much you care about him and don't want to see him unhappy, and that you think there are some real problems that you can help him with? Can you get some self help books for him about mental health problems? Perhaps the counselling he's had is not a very "activating" type? It may be that activity scheduling by a professional would be easier and more effective. Incentives can help in the early stages. Very small steps (e.g., you can have access to internet once you've walked the dog tomorrow). Choose the activities to be ones which get him outdoors and into the daylight as often as possible, and as early in the day as possible.
Thinking of you and your DS. It must be very hard, and it sounds like you're a very thoughtful mum.
Is he actually taking his medication? If he's still sleeping that much and he is taking the pills he needs to try something else.
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