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Horrible behaviour over uni problem(9 Posts)
Youngest DS3, 19, left to go to uni last September but is now back, having been anxious and depressed most of the time, stuck in his room almost all the time, not going out, sleeping all day, eventually cutting all lectures. Driving us up the wall by not having his phone charged/on for days at a time when we knew he was feeling really down. Basically, he wasn't ready to go to uni at all, something we feared before he went but he was adamant he wanted to go.
Not surprisingly, he's much better now he's back home, where he has his eldest brother to talk to (DS1, 27, is living at home but working full time), plus his parents of course. He's applying for jobs, but he's not exactly knocking himself out.
Big issue is student accommodation fees; we're on the hook for the whole academic year unless we can show that he was ill, then they might consider waiving. And of course it's several £k.
But his attitude towards all this is absolutely enraging me & DW. He does nothing towards the necessary steps to get us off the financial hook, i.e. going to GP and getting a doctor's letter, writing to the student accommodation company to make his request for waiving the fees, etc. We're shouldering it all - as per usual - but whenever we bring the matter up, or try to give advice on how to approach it, he's plain bloody-minded and horrible. Stop telling me what to do, I want to do it my way, why do you have to lecture me all the time, etc etc. Honestly, as I'm writing this I'm on the verge of kicking his arse out the door. I KNOW he's feeling bad about it all and that's what's behind all this shitty behaviour but OMG I just can't cope; I've got plenty of other stuff to worry about, like lots of people: work stuff, health stuff, other DSs stuff, MIL stuff...
What's my next move? I know I'm painting a picture of a really awful teenager but he normally isn't; he's pretty even-tempered most of the time, and although prone to laziness - which teenagers aren't? - he'll normally do stuff, chores etc, when you ask him, without any fuss. Just had a massive row with him about the exact wording of the email to the student accommodation company, which I drafted and sent him. I've asked him what's the matter, tried to discuss the whole thing. Basically, he wants to soft-pedal it, can't we just send the doctor's letter, why isn't that enough, why do we have to tell them how bad it all was. I can't believe how bloody moody he's being about it all, he's putting his wounded pride ahead of thousands of pounds of our money, which we'd have been happy to pay if he's been studying for a degree but which is now money down the plughole. I'm fuming.
Sorry you're going through a tough time, OP.
In my experience people who suffer from depression are apathetic and sometimes lack the ability to reason. You've known him all his life, did he use to be fairly responsible and have incentive and his behavior changed suddenly? Or does his mental health issues stem way back?
Right now, is he getting treatment for his depression and anxiety, or making steps towards getting treatment? This is very important. You may have to push him. I understand that this would be very frustrating, feeling like you have to organize his life for him. But people with MH issues to need an extra "kick" sometimes.
I was wondering- if he is unable to deal with uni, do you think he will be able to deal with a job? I'm assuming he is applying for minimum-wage type jobs. If he had different aspirations (assuming so as he wanted to go to uni despite difficulty) won't that depress him further? Of course its better to do something than nothing, but it could be why he is not "knocking himself out" to go and get a job.
Difficult to know what extent of his behaviour is due to the mental illness, his level of maturity and his individual character. You seem to hint at his behaviour being due to his mood. If I were you I'd try and get to the bottom of his depression issues and get him on a treatment plan (therapy, medication etc).
If you were to "kick his arse" out the door where would he go?
So to answer your question, if I were you, I would try and stay as calm as possible, make sure you get some time for yourself, too, and try and get your son's treatment sorted out. I don't have any practical advice about the money issue, sorry, I hope you are able to sort that out.
What a horrible time for you all, this must be very difficult. University isn't the right thing for everyone at 18/19, yet the feeling that you 'should' go can be huge.
"Basically, he wants to soft-pedal it, can't we just send the doctor's letter, why isn't that enough, why do we have to tell them how bad it all was."
Depending on what the doc's letter says, may it not be enough? I suppose ds must be feeling as though life is pretty out of control at the moment, so wording of an e mail may be a 'small' thing that he wants to decide?
It might be worth posting on the higher ed board for advice about the accom fees - others have experience of the same thing and may be able to help.
As he is unwell and there is a lot of money at stake would he consider signing something to say you are his representative in this matter due to the stress it is causing him? You can be clear that you are only doing this because the situation needs to be resolved and it is difficult for him because he's feeling low ( not because he's too young/ incapable) You can also let him know the alternative is you work on it together. Might focus his mind, or sit down together with his older brother there too so he feels he has someone on his side?
i think the last poster has misunderstood the situation.
as I understand it, the young chap is not depressed because of debts, but because he has dropped out, debts have piled up, which his parents will have to pay.
that is the problem for the parents. and that the son will not co=operate in mitigating the debts by getting supporting evidence that he dropped out because he was ill.
it is a bit circular. he does sound immature/ spoilt; expecting his parents to pay for everything with no care for how that adversely affects them.
part of that may be due to depression.
perhaps being the baby of the family maybe, that an happen; not take responsibility.
could OP use some intermediary, his brother, or an aunt/uncle, to try to speak to him calmly and get him to see how his situation affects his parents.
you may have to get him to leave the house eventually if he does not become self-supporting, else it could go on for years and will stifle your lives. hope not. but there are people who never leave their parents' home, nor contribute anything.
there is supported housing available for people with mental health problems, but obviously they have to seek professional help to get put in that category. good luck.
Sounds like he is embarrassed by it op and doesn't wish the extent of his issues being known. And he's doing the selfish thing of rather you pay than he admits it.
I think uou need to sit him down and talk to him quietly explain the cost again, that this isn't going to be a constant discussion and that he has a responsibility here.
Otherwise just take it into your own hands and do it youtself.
Thanks for replies, everyone. Things have moved on a bit: in particular, DS3 just got a job. And yes, it's a minimum-wage, pretty unskilled job. And I think he's really surprised he got it because he's quite lacking in confidence. I'm pleased because a job is exactly what's needed to give some shape to his days, tire him out, bring an end to listless days at home & staying up all night online. And it doesn't tax his mind very much so the theory is, he can relax a bit & give some thought to what he really wants to do. We're in the lap of the gods re the accommodation fees; an email has finally been sent setting out the situation. He IS depressed; he's doing exactly what I used to do when faced with unpleasant situations, splitting his mind so that most of the time he's in a short-term happy place, ignoring the bad stuff. What's the alternative? He's more or less powerless, and in my experience powerlessness often leads on to anxiety and depression. I think you're right sakura, the job might depress him further. He's already had a bit of a rant about 'wasting his time'; the trouble is, the motivation to move on & do something more with his life is there, but the social skills, the necessary outgoingness & basic self-confidence, isn't. It's like having to re-do a year at school, except it's just life. It all makes me wish we'd understood more about the effects of computer games on teenagers. We thought the content of the games was the main issue, but it's not. It's the way they displace other activities, they isolate players & enable them to avoid socialisation. With the result that, when it matters, they can't talk to people, be it flatmates or tutors or whoever might help them fit in.
Is he seeing a psychotherapist? I’m working if there is an element of shame regarding the accommodation and therefore not wanting to deal with the situation (guilt - I did something bad. Shame - I am bad)
A lousy job he is too good for may be the motivation he needs to move forward. My DS loved his pub job at 16 and the money as he got to know the staff who had nowhere to go but down it opened his eyes to what life is like if you are aimless.
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