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Lethargic son

(5 Posts)
RoseWei Sat 11-Jun-11 17:58:10

DS, 15, barely goes out. After school, gets stuck on the x-box, laptop, sometimes both at the same time. Bright, used to have outside interests and ambitions but now stays in his room all evening, all weekend.
Oh, I have tried so hard to limit his use, to get him out, to get him involved. DH and I work some evenings - have to - though I am looking for more day time work so I can only be out one evening a week.

DS pretty well friendless, certainly out of school. Only one lad comes round and DS has never been round his. We have an open door policy - have hosted parties - but DS's former school pals have melted away.
Not many, not really any, kids his age round here - live in a road full of older people whose kids have grown up. School some distance away so we encourage him to join things - not necessarily sporty groups. DS so reluctant, really gloomy about prospect of meeting anyone else, leaving the house to do anything other than go to school.

Have talked to school - to see if anything is going on there. Utterly hopeless - head of year couldn't have given a toss.
DS1 has left home (that is a story in itself) and DS2 (who is very gregarious, out a lot - almost the opposite problem ..) off to Uni in September.

I see DS 3 getting paler and paler, complaining of sore legs, arms etc (chiropractor, osteopath and optician, all of whom he's seen for various reasons over the months) all tell him to limit his exposure to the screens to 45 minutes and then to have a break. They would be gobsmacked to know it's hours and hours and hours on end. Windows, curtains shut.

DH and I talk of taking internet connection away - but reluctant until DS2 exams over end of next week. And the consoles etc. Have tried but DS3 got moodier than ever. I know that his moods with me, his anger, his criticisms are not really him. He was such a loving, chatty chap until a 2 years ago when DS1 made life at home very difficult and when, at the same time, DS3's friends started to ebb away - we know not why.

Anyone any experience along these lines? Any thoughts/ideas - please!!

teenidentity Sat 11-Jun-11 21:06:26

OP, your son sounds very much like mine was for a good six month period until quite recently.

He was really reluctant to phone friends to ask them to go out, having been previously out all the time. On NY eve, if I hadn't nagged him to have one of his (then, only two remaining) friends round he would have sat in his room by himself, later on FB there were loads of pics of his former friends at parites etc.

This started in about Nov last year. By Feb, it was clear that he'd self diagnosed depression, and when I looked into it, I agreed that he had the classic symptoms (low self worth, not wanting to socialise, poor sleeping, dropped hobbies etc). So, went to the GP. First one v. dismissive, 2nd one I went along as well and he was referred to a counsellor who he started to see immediately.

He found it immensely helpful to talk to this lady once a week, as she just listened, whereas I'm guilty of always trying to find a solution (nothing on this weekend - phone your friends) which came across to him as nagging.

At around the same time, he decided to do a new sport, having lost interest in the one he'd trained in 4 times a week for the last 2 years.

I think it was the combination of these two things which started him turning a corner. He still had lots of bad days when he said he was stupid, ugly, unsuccessful (he's none of those things), but they became much less frequent and I'd say since early May he's found his wings again. He's become much more confident, made new friends through his new sport and this made a big difference as he'd drifted away from his old friend s through quitting the old sport.

In early May, he and a friend set up a FB group arranging to have a field party (where everyone gets together with some beers around a camp fire near a local lake (I know, sounds horrific!), lots of people came and every weekend since then there's been some sort of field/lake/beach party where pretty much everyone's invited. It's much more democratic than waiting to be invited to a house party, which are few and far between.

So for the last 6 Saturdays, he's been out and whilst in theory, field parties sound like a nightmare, they all have a good time, they look after each other and pick up the mess.

He's like a completely different person to the one he was in Feb, he's back to being happy, confident in his popularity, working reasonably hard for his GCSEs and just giving off a sunny vibe again.

I do strongly recommend that you try to get your ds to the GP to get some counselling. Depression (if it is that and it could be transitory as it was with my ds) is extremely common in teenagers as they try to find their identity. Nagging didn't help my ds, but being able to talk to someone did.

After only about 8 sessions with the counsellor, she felt that he didn't need her any more. She told him he was a lovely young man, with loads of attributes and very bright, and that was really helpful. I remember when he came out from the last session and said she didn't want to see him any more, he looked like a weight had been lifted. He went straight to the flower shop and bought her a big bunch of tulips and dropped them off. The depressed DS would never have thought of that.

Hang in there. Sorry this is so long

RoseWei Sat 11-Jun-11 22:28:18

Thanks very much for this, Teen. Reassuring and hopeful. So glad your ds turned that corner. Your story is very encouraging.

I've thought about counselling for ds - when I go into his room and see him heaped in a chair, listening/watching his ipod (the type with a video), curtains drawn, window shut on a sunny day, I do wonder about depression. And the hours and hours on a screen - seems like escape from something.

Like your chap, he used to be outgoing - now the only interaction is with a console or two, especially as he and his older siblings are going different ways and he all too often wants us as far away from his room as possible - and he rarely ventures into the family living room.

But I am encouraged by your story of a corner turned and will talk to dh and, of course, ds about him seeing someone - just to talk. He's clearly not happy.

cybbo Sat 11-Jun-11 22:33:08

Has he seen a GP about his health?

GnomeDePlume Sat 11-Jun-11 22:45:38

Rose, I do wonder also if there is also a certain amount of self-fulfillment in it. The lack of daylight is depressive in itself (My mother suffers from SAD so I do see this). This then encourages staying in the dark which makes the depression worse.

My DS is younger (12) but we have seen a marked improvement all round by limiting his screen time. Not so much a case of saying 'now you have had enough' but more a case of saying 'before you go on computer/xbox you have to do X,Y and Z. Screen time is then a reward.

Can you give your DS a few simple chores to do? He's 15, do you have a lawn he could mow? I know that this sound really trivial but my mum's SAD was massively improved by having a conservatory built so that she had a lot more daylight in winter. Sometimes the solution can be quite a simple one.

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