Is it about you?
anonymous Asks ...
Hello, I am writing to you because I read a question that someone had asked you a few years ago which was similar to my situation but not exactly.
My 26 yr old son lives with me now and suffers from severe depression which is getting worse all the time. Since high school he has entered school multiple times but never finished. He moved to a larger city for almost a year and seemed to be happier then, met a girl he really liked, decided to go back to school.... He was in a very high pressure and stressful program and in the semester before what would have been his last he fell apart. He dropped out, came home and that was nearly 2years ago. About 14 months ago he broke up with the girl, said it was too hard to keep a relationship going if he wasn't going back to school where she lived and that she wouldn't want to stay with a failure like himself. Since then he has sunk lower and lower. He constantly lives in his head which is not a happy place. He beats himself up over all the failed attempts in the last 8 years since high school. Last fall he got a job, minimum wage and I think it perked him up temporarily but he quit it 2months ago and has done nothing. He doesn't do drugs and drinks very minimally. He was very addicted to a video game as an escape from reality but the last weeks I haven't seen him playing it much. I begged him to take some classes at the local community college and he has been doing that for a month now.
So that is the history briefly. He says the constant mental chatter never ceases and that he will never be able to meditate. He has no friends, except his best friend who lives away and is about to get married. He goes no where and does nothing except school now. His health is starting to be affected. He eats very little, usually 1 meal a day, if that. I am single and I do not have the funds to support him. I paid for his school with a credit card. I have been able to get him to go to the chiropractor for his back which I also pay for with credit card. He has done minimal counseling the first year he was home, but he doesn't believe there is any help out there for him. He is loosing hope and he has said to me many time that it isn't worth it, that there is no point.
I'm a pretty upbeat person but this is getting really, really hard. My other son also suffers from depression he is only 21. He also entered college right out of high school and didn't make it through the first year. We did get him treatment which he kept up for about 8 months after that he stayed home for another year. He went back to school last year, nearly dropped out in the spring semester but stuck it out barely getting by. He is back there again and is on meds and seems to be doing ok. I just have stay in touch with him regularly and try to make sure he's alright.
Honestly, this almost sounds like a plea for help for myself, but if my kids are doing well then I can easily get on top of the world. I just don't know what to do for my oldest son that is at home now. He feels he's wasted the past 8 years and just can't get out of that place and he won't seek help. He has no joy, no goals, no interests and has virtually cut himself off from all emotion. He is basically shutting down. This situation would be a tragedy for any young person, but it is even more so for him because he is brilliant, an extremely intelligent and very handsome young man.
I have to say that where we live I'm not sure we have access to quality mental health care anyway, but I would find the means somehow to pay for it if he were willing to get help.
Rev. Christopher Smith Says ...
When your children are suffering, it is something that a caring parent does not like to see. Parents like the person asking this question can be defensive and realize that it is sounding like it is about them and not their children. This may in fact be the most appropriate place to start. If the young adults were engaged in addictive behaviors, the actions described might be seen as codependent. Being able to truly address these situations as the children's situations and to keep responsibilities where they belong is the first component of a healthy response. As a parent, you have to be healthy yourself and be coming from a good emotional place to be providing the best responses possible.
Having said that, it is important also to have a good evaluation as the starting place to getting help and for the child to believe that help can actually make a difference. While this can only really be done by someone local who can do this in person, there are some things in the description of the oldest son's experience that I would want to know more about to ensure that we were going down the right path and optimizing the chance for him to find a way back to wholeness and peace. I would want to know more about the "constant mental chatter". I would want to know more about his historic goals. What supports have helped matters in the past? This gives more direction.
Depending on what is going on for the young adult, things that seem positive may in fact not be. If there was a lot wrapped up in prior attendance in a quality four-year school and being almost done may mean that there are greater negative impacts to being back in community college than the positives that are initially thought of (especially until work is done that helps to guide a particular direction and helps to begin to heal older wounds). Also, what supports have been accessed for the fact that serious mental illness with these impacts would certainly meet the criteria for being a disability.