Am I worrying too much???(41 Posts)
My 14-y-o ds has had issues with bedtime for several years but over the last couple of months things have gone from bad to worse. He is very attached to his 90-y-o grandma, probably to the point of "anxious attachment", to use a technical term. She had a fall nearly ten weeks ago, sustaining a bad fracture and ending up in hospital, and she's now in a rehab unit. He visits her twice a day if he can, when we were away recently he phoned her every night and he's saying he doesn't want to go on a school trip abroad next month (which he's been looking forward to for months) as he won't be able to speak to her every day.
Ever since she's been ill he's refused to go to bed at any kind of sensible time and most nights I find him sitting in the dark wrapped in his towel after showering and staring into space. He very often falls asleep in the chair, at c.2 or 3am, and it's virtually impossible to get him going in the mornings, with the result that he's late to school virtually every day. He also has activities on Sat and Sun am's (for which he's also nearly always late) so doesn't get the chance of a lie in, and he refuses to give these up.
He's gone into overdrive with physical activities, going for late-night runs or swimming multiple lengths at the local pool, but he's not eating properly either and has gone from being chunky to being stick-thin.
He says he doesn't care about looking after himself and almost seems to want to suffer so that he can empathise with her, and he says that he'll be all right when Grandma gets better - but that might not happen. I think he's depressed and he kind of admits it, but he refuses any outside help, saying that he can deal with it.
During the day he carries on just about as normal in spite of being desperately tired so h reckons I'm catastrophising and that the problem's in my head. However, h always goes to bed soon after 10 so just doesn't see what goes on - and to my mind just buries his head in the sand, a long-standing problem. I'm terrified that if ds is this bad ATM when she's making progress, albeit very slow, he won't cope at all if/when the worst happens as he doesn't appear to be able to cope without his grandma.
Is this just over-dramatization or should I be pushing for some help??
x-post with you over. Given what's going on at school, I would definitely second going in for a meeting and bringing someone in from the pastoral side - all your ds' actions seem to be a pretty loud cry for help.
Flow4, I agree with what you say about CAMHS, and dh says he doesn't think ds would qualify for support. Rusticlanguage, I tired to repeat to dh what ds had said about not being able to help himself and about being OK about feeling down but he denied he'd ever said it... I thought that trying to force help on him might work, as it seemed to for his friend, but maybe it only has a chance of working if it's a peer who asks for the support - and he won't talk to his friends about his feelings.
over, ask the GP for some counselling yourself, and make sure DS knows you have. Talk about how you believe it's helpful for dealing with stress and difficult emotions, and for heading things off before they become a problem. Arrange some fun things for yourself to do - exercise, time out with friends, something creative, and/or something that will make you laugh - and make sure DS knows you think looking after yourself is important...
Yes, that's a very good point, flow4, as I'm not good at looking after myself so he doesn't exactly have a great role model. Might check whether I can get counselling via work as I think this could be quicker than GP. Thanks again for your support.
It's easily done. We're often so focused on looking after our DCs that we forget to look after ourselves. Accessing counselling thru work sounds like a good idea.
I found counselling through work really helpful because it gave me a safe place to sort out my own feelings and see more clearly what I could do something about and what I couldn't.
As for what would work or not work for your ds- the truth is we never know that until afterwards.
Some teens genuinely do benefit from somebody stepping in and saying "look here, I am not going to stand by and watch you destroy yourself, you are getting into that car now". Some teens don't even particularly mind if it's a parent.
But other teens most emphatically do mind and the same thing that does good in a different case might end up doing harm by driving a wedge between you. Your ds does sound as if rebelliousness is part of his particular packet. If it's a control issue, then taking more control over him won't help him.
In any case, looking after yourself can never do any harm and it might help you get that little bit of extra perspective that we all need.
Mindfulmum, thanks for your helpful post. The fact that dh is a counsellor yet seems to bury his head in the sand makes me really angry, which of course exacerbates the situation. I have told the school about some of ds's behaviour, but that annoys dh as he doesn't think they need to know. This also makes me angry (in truth I'm a very person!) and ds is very like me in lots of ways, whereas dh represses his feelings.
Re taking a break and leaving dh to it: TBH I don't think I trust him enough: half the time he seems oblivious to what's going on and my vivid imagination would have ds drowning in the river or hanging from his high bed without dh even having noticed that anything was amiss! Oh dear, that sentence shows my fears and why I need counselling - but I have two friends whose children have committed suicide and they always come into my head when things are bad.
A couple of vaguely hopeful developments last night: I tried to be calmer and more matter-of-fact with ds and he eventually stopped grunting inaudible monosyllables and actually spoke, then he seemed faintly interested when I told him I was going to try and access some counselling for myself. And also dh did respond a bit better to my written note the other night: he's been depressed in the past and IMHO his way of preventing that happening again is just to shut out emotions.
over, that all sounds positive - like you are ready for counselling and will benefit from it. I think you will probably find it makes a big difference. It's totally understandable for you to worry about suicide under the circumstances, but hopefully counselling can help you manage that fear without it disabling you.
And meanwhile I've had a message from the pastoral person at school to say that she's had a chat with ds and would like to speak to me (she's not in again until Thurs, though, which is a bit frustrating). I asked ds about this chat and he was very non-committal so I guess he didn't disclose much/anything, but she obviously feels it's worth ringing me to discuss.
Thanks for asking, flow. A glimmer of hope I think as she saw him for half an hour and has booked two further appts to see him, which he won't mind as he'll be missing lessons! Although she didn't get very far really, she said he seemed quite down, but when he talked about his grandma a smile lit up his face. Awww! She said that there is the option of referring him on to a primary mental health worker who comes into school, and they also have a close link with Cruse, who also send in counsellors to help kids look at bereavement issues. Of course, he may very well refuse to take things any further but it seems like progress and is at least a start.
Meanwhile his grandma has just been discharged home so a lot rests on how she gets on over the next week or so....
I'll keep my fingers crossed for you, your DS and grandma
Before reading halfway through your post (at the beginning) I thought that sounds like me before I became anorectic and bingo! you said he stopped eating and had become stickthin. Watch out for the eating disorder because this seems to be worst in your post.
I have not read the whole thread and wish things will get better again for you and DS
Palika, when I first read your post at 23.45 I was despairing as he'd not had tea tonight and was still refusing to have anything (we had only come back from his grandma's at 11pm), but then he finally came downstairs and, after saying the usual: "Don't give me very much" actually said it was nice and had second helpings followed by a pudding. Not ideal at gone midnight but better than not eating, I guess! Ironical because a couple of years ago he used to eat far too much, was overweight and I was always on at him to eat less: you can't win with children, can you??
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