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Please help me to help my son(4 Posts)
My son is 16 in 4 months time.
He has recently been put on a SSRI for crippling social anxiety which is also causing a very low mood, especially on school days.
He has only recently told us that he is bisexual (is still yet to ever get close to having any sort of romantic relationship with anyone, not even a first kiss)
He knows that we fully support him whether he is attracted to girls or boys so there are no issues there.
He has recently been shunned by his best friend (female) due to her religious beliefs and because his awkwardness is uncomfortable for her.
This has been a blow to him but her understands that he is difficult to engage with in person due to his social anxiety.
To give you some context, he would rather hide behind a hedge than walk past another human being (whether he knows them or not) just in case they try to say hello.
Anyway I just wanted to give you some background information in case it's relevant.
DS is a bright boy with a fantastic future predicted for him, the problem is that he isn't flourishing in his school environment.
We're in Ireland so have a different system but basically he is in 3rd year and has another two years left to get his leaving cert.
He has very few friends and the ones he does have are backing off now (they no longer meet him at lunch or include him in the odd cinema trip etc)
It could be because of his coming out or because he is so socially awkward and quiet.
He hates the environment from the majority of the teachers to the pupils and is very much alone and frustrated that people just don't get on with their work a lot of the time.
He started there over two years ago a happy, well adjusted high achieving boy and is now a shell of his former self. It's heartbreaking to watch.
We see glimpses of the old him over the weekend but that soon disappears come Monday evening.
He's getting lower and lower. I'm well aware of the rate of teen suicide rates in Ireland too.
There's a scheme here that teens aged 15+ can join in order to get a leaving cert equivalent which would get him into uni etc. It would take him an extra year but they also help with confidence and work experience etc
The classes are very small too, think ten max to a class.
I think we should go ahead with this option but am aware that people who are expelled etc, are on it, as well as people in my sons situation.
He's so bright and education wise doesn't need to go about it the long way (unlike this post eh!) but mental health needs to be a priority.
I'm so sorry for the long post, I just wanted to paint the full picture.
Would you go ahead with the second option or persevere with school and hope that medication and cbt etc might eventually kick in and all will be OK.
I'd be so grateful for any advice.
Thank you for reading x
How long has he been on the SSRI? I think it's worth giving it a good chance to work before trying something else, or you'll not know what is working or isn't (probably about 4-6 weeks to get the full effect, and he might need a different dose or different SSRI if the first one isn't effective). Some sort of counselling / therapy would be really good too if you can access it (but again, might be more effective once the brain chemistry is more stable).
How does your son feel about possibly changing schools? Even though it might work well for him in the longer term, it might just be too much to contemplate at the moment if he is still struggling badly with the anxiety.
He's been on it for two months now. He's still very up and down.
He definitely wants to try the other option and get away from school but is understandably scared.
Cbt is starting in eight weeks.
Sorry to respond late on this. You don't mention how the school is dealing with your son's situation. Are they sympathetic. Is there any support for him?
As Couchpotato3 says, it is probably worthwhile persevering at school because it would be less disruptive (and less anxiety provoking) and allow the medication and CBT to kick in. You say that the other scheme helps with confidence and work experience. But your son has anxiety not low self-esteem - you say he is very capable academically. I would be wary of placing him in a scheme which isn't geared toward his academic needs.
My own DS (17) has anxiety and found ways to help himself at school before he got help.
Simple things like, always try to sit at the front in class so that he is less conscious of the others and can concentrate on the teacher/lesson better. Asking for a 'pass', so that if he did feel unwell in class he could leave and go to a safe quiet space.
Adolescence is really tough for our sensitive and anxious children. You are clearly a warm, loving and understanding Mum and that is a huge plus for him. He might not feel it now, but things will get better and he will find ways to deal with all his problems.