My 20 yr old clinically depressed son refuses help

Hello, I am hoping to get some advice as I am at my wit's end and in a state of depression myself over this. I'll try to make this as short as possible.

My 20 yr old became severely depressed about two years ago when he left for college. He did not do well in classes and we could all tell something was not right. One day he completely disappeared, leaving phone and identification behind. He was gone for 2 days on the streets of Philadephia. We made missing person posters and he was even on the local news as a missing college student. I thought I would die from worrying and of course thought the worst. He finally showed up, disheveled and dirty from living on the streets. He never, to this day, explained where he went or why he took off.

That was almost 2 years ago, when we realized the extent of his depression. He came home to live with me and his 10 yr old little brother (I'm a single mother). We thought taking a break from school and being with me and his family (we are all very close) would help. He stayed with me for 6 months. In that time, we saw a therapist and was prescribed prozac. He ended up throwing them away as he didn't want to depend on "big pharma". He seemed to get better (or acted like it) and said he was ready to go back to Philadelphia. I should add his dad's family lives there, he was living with them. In the next 6-8 months he deterierated even worse. He would call occasionally and he sounded so defeated. I begged him to come home and he would not.

Fast forward a few more months, I get a call from his dad that he is admitting him into a mental rehab clinic because he tried to end his life by taking a bottle of pills. I was absolutely besides myself. My son later said he was not trying to kill himself, he was just "being stupid" and to his credit, he did call his dad for help after he had taken them. In a strange way, i was relieved because I thought this was just a cry for help.

He only ended up staying in the clinic for 3 days, he was able to just sign himself out by saying he was better and agreeing to take anti-depressants they gave him. Of course he was not better. I made plans to fly him home here with me and he's been with me now since August of 2013. It has been a living nightmare. He's tried a therapist, different anti-depressants, never sticks with them for even 4 weeks, says he can't be around people, hates to even be around me and his little brother, which he hates feeling that way, he has told me that he has given up completely on life, that this is it. He refuses to go back to the therapist, he had a great job lined up that an uncle was able to find for him and all he had to do was show up for a 4 hr safety training, and he couldn't do it. He had to walk out because he said he couldn't handle it.

My parents brought him a paid off car, he got insurance which I paid the first month's premium and he agreed to begin taking care of it when he starts work. Now he refuses to even go back to the employer to try again. They are calling and calling him and he will not answer them. He says he would have failed anyway. I was at my wit's end and at the advice of my family and friends decided to try tough love (which I never have). I was always catering to his sensitive mental state and feared pushing him over the edge. But I had to try it, I've tried loving and supporting and beint patient and ignoring, hoping he would snap out of it and want to start treatment again. So I finally just told him that he had 2 weeks to find a job and an apartment of his own. This job would pay for more than enough for him to care for himself - he just needed to go to it! He was already hired.

Unfortunately he took it as me wanting him to just not be there anymore. I tried to tell him that I love him so much and I'm trying everything to motivate him. I have a younger son and I'm losing my mind and angry and crying all the time over my older son's mental state. So now he's saying he'll be out tomorrow. He has no plan, no means to care for himself, it was 28 degrees here yesterday, I took the keys to his car away and hid them fearing he would take off. I know he plans to just go away and who knows what. He said his life is over, he doesn't see the point of anything anymore.

What can I do?! Am I supposed to sit ouside his bedroom door like a jailor and make sure he doesn't escape? I have a full-time job and a little boy that needs me to keep it together. This has devastated my entire family, as this is a completely different child that we all knew. He was always the most popular outgoing kid in school, now he talks to no one, never keeps in touch with old friends, is in his room day and night, doesn't shower or eat anymore. He is like an invalid living in my home. I feel like God is punishing me for something I don't know.


one day at a time
I was at my wit's end and at the advice of my family and friends decided to try tough love (which I never have).

Oh I am so sorry. I can hear and feel your pain and fear about your precious son.

My son has threatened suicide multiple times. One time he locked himself in his dad's garage, cut his wrists and texted a picture of them to his girlfriend. She called me, I called the police, and met them at the garage. They transported him to the ER, and from there he went to his second rehab.

In our state, threatening suicide is against the law. After my son had done it multiple times, I got in his face and I said this to him, very directly, firmly and clearly: Every single time you threaten suicide, I will call 911.

He never has again, even though he has been homeless, in jail x times, etc., since then.

I am not saying your son is the same, please hear that. But I do know the fear that comes with that threat and that action. It is awful as a parent to bear witness to.

Does he take drugs? You didn't say anything about that. If not, it sounds like you are dealing with serious clinical depression at the very least.

If he won't get help himself, what can you do? Can he be hospitalized? Psychiatrist evaluation or complete workup? How much manipulation of you is part of this?

I keep going back and rereading your post, trying to be careful about what I write here as I know you are in deep pain and fear right now.

Ultimately, if he won't get any kind of help or he won't sustain any kind of treatment that the experts do provide and recommend, there is nothing you can do.

You said you were at your "wit's end" and that is when you tried something different. When our difficult children are at THEIR wit's end, they will try something different. We hope it will not be a final, fateful decision, like you said he has done before. I do know and believe that for any of us to really, really change, we have to be sick and tired of our lives today, so very sick and tired that we will try something new.

That is when I started to change. My son, even though I continue to work hard at detachment (tough love, etc.), continues to spiral down. But I believe this is the right path for me.

Welcome here. We have lots of care, warmth and support for you. You can take what you like and what fits and leave the rest. We are respectful of each other and recognize while so much of our stories are the same, we are the only ones who can decide what we will do.

Blessings and prayers for you and for your precious son today.


Well-Known Member
I have had depression problems most of my life. Severe ones. And I never had family to depend on. So you may not like my advice...from one who knew I needed help and did something about it, such as medication and serious therapy.

There is absolutely nothing, zilch, zero you can do to help your son. In fact, the more you baby him, the less he is motivated to help himself. I had to live on my own and support myself, even though I could barely stand getting up in the morning. But that forced me to find the best help I could, eventually become hospitalized, and work very hard my entire life to do better. I certainly wouldn't have discarded medication after four weeks. That is your son's decision. He is choosing not to keep trying and you, not being him, can't make him try to help himself.

There are a few things you can do that I think will force him to get off the pity pot and try to help himself. This is my opinion only, as one who has a mood disorder.

You can cut off any money you give him making him have to get a job or be broke. Yes, he will say "woe is me, I don't want to live." But, although there is always a chance he means it, he more likely will curse you for forcing him to move when he feels rotten, but he won't kill himself. Secondly, I think it is fair that he need to at least work a good twenty hours and pay some rent to stay in your house. Nothing fuels depression like sitting on the couch all day, doing nothing. Exercise, moving around, forced activity is GOOD for depression. You can cut off his toys that he probably sits in front of, just staring at them. If this were my kid, knowing what I know about living with depression, I would:

1/Insist on medications and therapy

2/Insist on at least part time work so there is less time to wallow in self-pity, which is a byproduct of depression.

3/Pay part of his own bills.

Yes, he will whine and say you're mean and maybe leave for a few days because you dared to challenge him to try to get well. When you feel as lousy as you do while depressed, he may get angry at you...I used to get angry as a way to mask my depression...I found it was hard to feel angry and depressed together. So he may pout and stay out all night just to give you a good scare so that you will do what he wants. So it probably won't be pretty because you have pampered him, understandably, since you are worried about his state of mind.

But he isn't doing anything to help himself and it's been two years. It's time he take control of his illness and get better and the only one capable of doing that for him is himself.

Are you 100% sure he doesn't use recreational drugs? Pot is the living hello for depression or any mental illness so that counts too as does drinking. That just makes everything worse. That's one thing I decided to never do. I knew I had mood issues way before they were diagnosed formally and I knew that drinking and drugs would only make things worse...make sure he isn't using, say, pot as his "medication" of choice.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and reply. I appreciate your thoughtful response. It is so heartbreaking to see my once healthy vibrant handsome popular hilarious boy become a living zombie cooped up in his room day and night. It is the most horrible feeling to never know what to expect when I get home each day from work.

When he was a junior and senior in HS, he experimented with pot and later admitted he also took some hallucinating mind altering drugs (I think like mushrooms). I'm sure there are risks that they can damage your brain permanently, and it was right around that time that, looking back, he started to change. But who knows. However to answer your question, he has never done any drugs or drank alcohol while in my home. I've watched him like a hawk, so I'm sure of it. It's so sad that he has no desire to even see what the future might hold. I've talked his ears off saying that maybe this job is what he needs, to just be busy, using his hands, I mean.. I'm a very happy person (well, used to be before all this), and I would get depressed if I was staring at 4 walls all day and night. And he did try to go, but couldn't sit through the classroom setting of the course.

My mom, who adores him, has told me that it is all in God's hands. I've done all I can do, aside from having law enforcement take him away in shackles and keep in a padded room. He's such a sweet talker, he will say anything and sound believable. It's funny that you mention that he might be manipulating me, my parents all believe he does - to an extent. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are the single most special days that I love so much and I'm always on cloud nine with happiness during these days with my family, but my difficult child chose both of those days to be the WORST he had ever been, yelling that he didn't want to be alive anymore, etc.. I've had to detach myself, like you, in order to function each day and care for my other son.

I thought maybe I should try and have that affidavit signed where I make decisions for him, since he clearly can't function on his own, can't even shower or get out of bed. But he is so able-bodied and in shape and the very few times he has seemed to come around (never last for more than 2 days), I can see him doing anything his heart desired! So for me to consider committing him to a hospital just seems so extreme. But in the meantime, each and every single moment I'm in my home with him is a living hell. I never smile or laugh or find true joy in my life anymore. I mean, how can I be happy when my child is suffering every moment of every day? I feel so guilty the rare times my younger son makes me smile or laugh. I don't want his childhood ruined because of my older son's issues.

I went home at lunch to check on him and he was still upset and saying he would be out by tomorrow and "out of my hair", as he said. That's when I took the car keys without him knowing. But I know if he's determined, he will just walk out the door, not caring about impending cold weather or how he will eat or the dangers of the city streets. he just won't care, he will just walk out. Like he did last year in Philly, when the whole world was searching for him. I've offered to go with him to the therapist so we can both sit and talk about what to do. He no longer wants to continue treatment or help. He's completely given up. My dad says I should tell him to wait until saturday when my mom comes back from her cruise. I wanted to laugh at my dad, they are so sweet and naive, they do not know what I've gone through and the extreme of the situation. I with I could just say "Ok son, hold on to that thought.. grandma will know what to do on saturday". God bless them.They are both recently retired and instead of enjoying their new retired life, they have been worrying themselves ill over my son.

Thank you all for hearing my story.. I feel a little better reading other's stories and that I'm not alone. I only wish I knew how to help my poor son. I wish I could just shake him straight, or slap the depression out of him!
Midwest Mom-Thank you for everything you said. You have a good point. I really have babied him since he came to live with me after the "attempt". I have been so scared of upsetting him in any way for fear of him harming himself, that I have bent over backwards trying to make him as happy as possible at home. I've driven him around town when he had a rare moment of going somewhere, I've sacrificed nights with no sleep because he was up in the middle of the night playing guitar (in my mind, I thought this was good because he was doing things he used to enjoy), but I haven't really considered how I've bent over backwards to appease him. My social life has completely disappeared. I have been seeing a lovely man for 3 years and lately I refuse any time with him, not wanting anyone in my home, not even my good girlfriends because of the "zombie in the house". it's horrible. I feel like I've aged physically in my face like 5 years the past 6 months.

On on hand, I know for a fact there is something wrong with him - mentally, psychologically. He needs medication to function, or to at least get out of this slump. But I am starting to see that I have not helped him in anyway by walking on eggshells around him. Should I just let him do what he wants to do (leave tomorrow, by foot), or should I do my best to convince him to stay a little longer to buy some time until I figure out something. Of course, this has been the case all this time. Just waiting for the next step, or course of action. In the meantime, weeks and months and now years are going by. I'm a very religious person (not extreme, but my faith is strong). And part of me wants to keep praying and hoping and believing that God has a plan and we can't understand it, only be strong and accept it. But as my username says, my faith is wavering. There's no end in sight.


Well-Known Member
To me it sounds like, although he may not have used drugs at home, he has used them, maybe a lot, and probably still is. As soon as you said he once disappeared for two days, I thought "drugs." I had a drug using daughter and they are masters at hiding their use. Psychodelics can mess BIG TIME with their mental health. When he isn't home, I'd check his room, his facebook and his cell phone that you probably pay for to see if there are signs that he is using drugs. If so, you have your reason why he is acting like this.Then you can make decisions about what YOU want to do about it, what boundaries to set.

Also, since he is now an adult, you can't commit him. It's hard enough to do that even with a minor child. The person has to be an imminent threat to himself and others and can't be calmed down by the time they see him in ER. I have a friend who tried taking her son in after he had attacked her husband and they said, "Well, he's calm now" and sent him home. In fact, you have no control over the situation at all except to, the best of your ability, learn the truth about what is causing his odd behavior and to decide what you want to do about it while he lives in your house.

I am hoping Recovering Enabler answers this post. She is so good at explaining detachment and how you still have a very separate life outside of your son and how you should enjoy your life even though your son is choosing to make darn sure he doesn't enjoy his. Yes, he is choosing it.

Have you ever drug tested him? It's hardly a perfect test and drugs like spice will not show up. But you may be shocked at what you do find.

Hugs for your hurting mommy heart. I hope things get better very, very soon!
Midwest Mom, it's true.. I guess I really may not know the full truth. All I can see is what I witness in my house. But he never leaves his room, like EVER. He's deactivated his facebook long ago and is now planning to discard his cell phone, another attempt at shutting himself out of the world I guess. This is a major fear of mine, not being able to communicate with him. I know he can't get a job in this mental state, so I know he won't get a new phone. And I've been doing research all morning about options of committing him and sure enough, not much I can do here in Texas with him being an adult. My mother told me a while back there was a place around here somewhere that would accept mentally ill patients but they would have to prove they have a mental illness and are homeless also. Maybe he needs to be homeless (for more than 2 days) to be scared straight.

I am going to try and detach myself more. I think it is the only way I can survive. As of late, I was still cooking dinner, saving him a plate, wrapping it and putting it in the fridge. He would get up in the middle of the night to eat it apparently since it would be gone the next morning. He's like a raccoon, sad.

I'm feeling better and stronger just talking about this, THANK YOU! He is choosing to live this way. My family and I have provided every single opportunity to help him help himself. Therapists, offering gym memberships, music classes (hobbies he used to enjoy), offering round trip tickets to see his old high school friends in another state to cheer him up, putting up with his zombie like state, he doesn't help out cleaning, etc. We've even tried acupuncture, and all sorts of homepathic methods. Nada.

It's time for a change.


Well-Known Member
OH, Waivering, my heart goes out to you. You've gotten good advice and comments here. Your son is mentally ill...I too would bet he is using drugs (I too was quite sure I was 'all over' my son, and that the people who kept telling me his behavior seemed like it involved drugs just didn't 'get' him like I did...). and I completely agree wtih MWM

There is absolutely nothing, zilch, zero you can do to help your son.
Read this again...this is true. There is no key you can turn, no right or wrong decision you can make that will magically turn this ship. He has the control. He is choosing not to take medications, to get therapy, to be hospitalized to get that job dangling in front of him. I do think he is manipulating you, through his illness and with his threats.

You are right, you don't deserve to live this way, and your 10 year old definitely does not. The image of you hiding the car keys...that makes me so so so sad. We all tried to hide the car keys metaphorically. It doesn't work. Its like magical thinking on our own parts.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are the single most special days that I love so much and I'm always on cloud nine with happiness during these days with my family, but my difficult child chose both of those days to be the WORST he had ever been, yelling that he didn't want to be alive anymore

this made me smile sadly. We had a long discussion on another thread about how our difficult child's pick major holidays to act out...either they can't stand the change in activity, they can't stand the loss of attention, they can't stand...I don't know what. But it is nearly universal that they ruin holidays for everyone. Yours is no different.

Sadly, some of the options you are considering are not options. Unless he is smack babbling drooling crazy you most likely can't get guardianship (the affidavit you are talking about) over him. My lawyer told me that 'if he can stack one box on top of another you can't get guardianship against his wishes'. You can't commit him. You have essentially no cards in your box either continue this miserable path that ISN"T HELPING HIM OR YOU, or to let him go. Let him leave. Tell him you love him, and you hope he doesn't just rush out into the cold, but takes advantage of the two weeks you offered him to get things in order. HE is creating the drama out of this, not you. Try not to get drawn in. You love him. You are making healthy decisions for both you and for him. He can stay for the two weeks, but then he must move on.

I say this as though it is took me several rounds and a few years before I could say that to my son. He's been out of the house for over 2 years now, for the most part, and it still isn't easy..but waivering, it is much, much easier.

Hugs and hope for you...


one day at a time
At one point I was crazed and desperate to do something, anything and I looked into guardianship. It is nearly impossible.

You are going to have to let him go. Let him leave. Stop trying to be one step ahead of him and "manage" him. Believe me, believe all of us, it does not work. We have all been there and tried it all, just like you have.

Once we finally stopped, sat down, and looked back at all we had tried...and realized NONE of it worked, in fact, things were worse, we started the long, long journey to stopping.

I still make mistakes. I still get confused and try to interfere with my son. I still get scared and react. I am so much healthier than I used to be, but it is super hard.

So be gentle with yourself. Take the first few steps in the opposite direction (metaphorically) of your son. Let him do what he wants to do. Quit talking to him and everybody else about this. Be silent for a while. Quit taking action. Quit staying up all night. Quit fixing his food.

Just stop. Breathe. Begin the process of reclaiming your own life. We are here for you as you navigate the days and weeks ahead.
Thank you all for your encouraging and powerful words! I had no idea so many other sweet mothers in the world have been hurting in similar situations. I know I've done all I can do. He's a grown man. I even sent him a text yesterday telling how much I loved him and couldn't wait to see him climb out of this black hole. And I told him this was his flight or fight moment and said Fight Dammit! I feel like he can have more power over this but he's just giving up.

Well my dad just called me 5 minutes ago and we talked about all this and how bad it's gotten. He said I'm his parent and they are his grandparents and he's a lost soul and we need to take care of him, it's our responsibility. And told me I need to do everything I can to keep him in the house until we figure this out. He also volunteered to let my son stay with them for awhile. But I fear it will all just continue over there. The withdrawn zombie like behavior. My poor parents don't deserve to deal with all that.

I think I know what I need to do. Reclaim my life (I like that, Child of Mine) and stop doing all the stuff for him. I really can't force him to NOT walk out the door, he's bigger than me. I can try and have a talk with him, which usually calms him down for a day or so. But it always returns.

I can't tell you how grateful I am that I found this website forum. I have felt so alone. I have a job as an assistant to a VP in my company and I have to be chipper and smiling and helpful all day. It's the hardest thing to do. All of my co-workers think I am the happiest and cheerful person on the planet. If they only knew that when I leave my desk and get in my car, that's when I break down in tears. Then I have to stuff it down again before I pick up my little one from child care. I feel like such a fake person with a fake smile every day. But I'm seeing more clearly now how horrible it is that I have lived this way. I can't do it anymore. I don't deserve it, neither does my family. As much as I adore my older son. He needs to find his own way.

God Bless you all for making a difference to me <3


Just a few suggestions. Im living a very difficult life as well. But one thing I am learning is if there are other kids at home you need to focus on them too. My daughters are 30 and 23 and they have lived their whole life with the dysfunction of their bipolar brother. I always thought I was doing the right thing but now looking at my own situation I have realized that my girls have suffered terribly. I am now just seeing this. Do what u can for your son who is bipolar but if he isn't trying to help himself then you have to let go and put more focus on your other child still at home. I wouldnt wish this life on anybody. Please take care

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Good morning.. Yes Aud, your advice rings so true. Although I didn't mean to, I have ended up spending more time worrying over my difficult child than my younger son. I noticed little one is always telling me he loves me, like every half hour. I don't know if he knows that I might need to hear it, or to get a little attention also? He's so sweet and I should be focusing more on him - he's the only one doing everything right around here!

I don't want to look back and see that I took joy from his childhood because of this mess. Thank you for reminding me :)


Well-Known Member
Be sure to be very good to your youngest. Don't punish him because your oldest chooses to be a terror and gulp all the air out of a room. Oldest doesn't deserve your time and youngest needs it. Maybe when he keeps saying "I love you" he is hoping for attention.

Huggles :)


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome WaveringFaith. I am so sorry you are going through this with your son. You are in a tough spot, I can certainly understand the anguish you are feeling. You've come to a safe and caring place where we know how you feel because we've been in your shoes.

I think the others have given you very good advice. The most difficult thing we parents have to do is stand on the sidelines and watch our kids self destruct. The feeling of powerlessness is almost unbearable. We want to do SOMETHING and what is the most crazy making and the most hurtful is that we can't do anything. It is entirely up to your son to pull himself out of his depression.............or not. There is nothing you can do to make that happen, other then ruin your own life and the life of your youngest son. I am sorry.

It may be helpful for you to read the article at the bottom of my post here on detachment. It may be helpful for you to contact NAMI, which is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They have very good courses for parents, to help you to cope with the mental illness of your son, to give you tools and to offer understanding and compassion. It would also be helpful if you find a therapist, counselor, parents group, some source of support which can help you negotiate this territory. Most of us cannot do this alone, we need a lot of help because our love for our kids makes detaching end up being the hardest thing any of us has ever done. So, please find avenues of support for yourself. It will ease that broken heart you are experiencing right now.

For me, the hardest think I had to deal with was facing the fact that my daughter could die and there was nothing I could do. If your son makes a decision, whatever that decision is, you can't prevent it. We parents somehow believe we have the control and the power to stop the outcome from happening to our kids, with our sheer force of will and our love.............but we can't. We are powerless. Only they can choose life. We cannot do it for them.

Mental Illness brings with it a devastation like no forces us to recognize our powerlessness, our complete lack of control, our helplessness in the face of it. I have mental illness throughout my family. My brother is schizophrenic and lived on the streets of L.A. for many years before we got him a room in a boarding house. My daughter has mental issues and has been couch surfing for the last 4 years. My sister is bi-polar yet has managed to survive and in many ways thrive. All different choices. Choices I had no power in changing.

My heart goes out to you. I understand your pain. This is the hardest thing for us parents to do. My advice to you is to let him go. Get support for YOU. Focus on you and your younger son now. Call NAMI. Being around other parents facing what you are will be enormously helpful. Do nurturing, nourishing, kind things for yourself. Do not isolate yourself, call your boyfriend and your girlfriends and rejoin life...........isolating yourself will make everything so much worse. Read and recite the serenity prayer. Place your son in the hands of what you perceive as a Higher Power and recognize that this is his life, his fate. Keep posting here because it helps. I'm glad you found us, but sorry you had to. I wish you peace.............hang in there, we're here for you...........

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
Although I didn't mean to, I have ended up spending more time worrying over my difficult child than my younger son.

I noticed little one is always telling me he loves me, like every half hour.

Wavering, our daughter's adolescence was so rough. She was in and out of treatment, on and off the streets, in and out of school. We had a younger son too, Wavering.... People would tell us not to forget how much he needed us, too. And he was such a good boy, Wavering.

He is a good man now, in his heart.

But when he was 16, he got into drugs, Wavering. We were so focused on our daughter that we never even knew, never once suspected this could happen to him.

He was like, the perfect kid.

Outrageously funny, confident, uber well-dressed; had a paper route and then, a great job that would have taken him through high school and college, too. Good looking kid. Running for president of his Student Council when...I don't know. Something snapped.

And just like that, we lost him. I know he is still in there? But he grew into a cynical, angry man, Wavering. He detests his sister to this day. He is angry that we did not put HIM into treatment. Who knew he was using drugs?!?

By the time I finally found this site and got my thinking straight ~ well, I was going to say it was too late. That isn't all together true. Because of this site, I was able to get a handle on what was really going on. (Not depression, not failure to thrive, not poor parenting, not rage at his sister ~ though that played a part.)


That is what was going on.

He refused treatment by the time we finally understood what was happening, to him and to us. He was old enough to refuse it, by that time.

He has pulled himself out of it, I think. He works hard...but he never did complete any kind of education that would matter. He so resents me, Wavering. He so resents me.

Know how I am learning (again, thank you to everyone here on the site who has been so patient with me) to help him and me?

By standing up.

By demanding better of him, telling him so, offending the heck out of him. Changing myself, and hoping that will change him, but refusing to accept anything less than the man he should be for him, Wavering.

Who else knows who and how he is supposed to be but his own mother? Who else can know what his potential really is, whatever it looks like?

His mother.

You have that same power.

But whatever happens with your oldest boy (and I think he should leave your home and never come back until he is himself, until he is the man you raised him to be) take time, take care, take every opportunity to parent your youngest child.

Please read my signature, Wavering. Not so long ago, I was like you are, now. So focused on that child who was acting out, so torn up over it. So kind of distracted, where my youngest was concerned.

I am so truly sorry this is happening to you, to your son, to your parents and extended family.

MidwestMom, RecoveringEnabler, and ScentofCedar - I can't tell you how your words touched me. All so true! I know my little one needs me, and I need to let my older one go find his way, I need to put my focus on ensuring my little one doesn't follow in this same path.

I joined this site last week on Thursday, I was at my wit's end and had no idea where to turn. I can't believe how much I have learned even in the days since then. Reading other people's stories and the advice those of you have take the time to share with me. Really has opened my eyes. This past weekend my difficult child was stable, well.. when I say stable I mean no emotional outbursts or telling me his life is over. He basically was a zombie in his room, only coming out to eat and use the bathroom. But to me, that's a stable weekend. Sad isn't it? It can't go on like this. I'm slowly but surely gaining the knowledge and strength to realize he needs to make a decision - and quickly. Since he is now refusing to see therapist and to refill his medications (which he's only taken wellbutrin 1 month), he leaves me no choice.

I will keep you all posted. And thank you again for chiming in. It was like a big hug I needed :)


New Member
So the answer is to wait until they decide they want to help themselves? My son, 33, is also a zombie in his room. He has been on medication for years and has gradually gotten worse. He says angry and extremely hurtful things to his family members, now they barely speak to him. He won't seek any outside help and as much as I try to encourage him to try something, he refuses. My son lived in Canada for a time and my daughter still lives in Melbourne, so the rare times the whole family were together was rare. Unfortunately, every single time we united as a family for birthdays or other special occasions, my son would start an argument (and still does) over something ridiculous and the whole family time is ruined. Now he is not included in anything and that breaks our hearts. What else can we do? Is the answer just to leave him alone and hope that one day he will try to help himself? At the moment he just says he doesn't care anymore.


Well-Known Member
Hi. I'm so sorry for your hurting mommy heart.

You would get more feedback if you started your own thread and I recommend doing it on Parent Emeritus. We are all moms of legal age adult children.

I have had a depression problem since childhood.

There is nothing, nada, zilch you can do if your son will not get and follow professional advice. It's not that we want to give up, it's just that, realistically, after a child turns eighteen it is 100% up to him to seek and agree to get treatment and it's too bad. Depression IS treatable. It took me a decade to get the right medications, but it was sooooooooo worth it. I also went to self-help groups and I exercise a lot and I never gave up on myself. If your son gives up on himself, no pep talk will help him (although you can try...I suspect you already have tried). Usually severe clinical depression, where you can't even get out of bed, requires medical treatment plus therapy. A lot of medications didn't help me either, but once I found one that did, my life has never been the same. If your son will not keep trying and if his solution is to stay in bed each day, I think, if he lives with you, the best thing you can do is force him to get out of bed by not doing anything for him. He can do it himself, depressed or not. And once he does get out of bed and do chores, get a job of any sort, see people again, he WILL feel better.

If your son is unpleasant at family get togethers, the natural consequences are that he won't be invited to them. I would NOT feel sorry for him. He is thirty-three and depression does not make you unpleasant. THAT is his choice. It should not break your heart. You didn't do it and he doesn't have to do it. It is a choice he has made. He is not a young child anymore...he is a middle aged man. He can decide to be nice, depression or not.

Do you have a life of your own? Work? A significant other? Other kids/grandkids who give you pleasure? Activities? Groups you enjoy? Hobbies? At this point in time, you need in my opinion to start enjoying t he rest of your life an d to just pray a lot that your son decides that, since you will no longer minister to him like he is a child, he needs to get appropriate help and comply with treatment.

Does he have any other issues such as substance abuse or legal issues? Does he threaten you verbally or physically? Does he make monetary demands of you?

Depression is horrible. It does not get better if you sit around doing nothing and boss everyone around to get your needs met. It is a hard fought battle that you can win. I don't see what you can do if he refuses to fight other than to refuse to help him be helpless, so to speak.

I am so sorry you had to find our board, but you have made many caring, supportive friends now and others will come along to give advice too.


Well-Known Member
Depression is an awful illness. My son has suffered with this since he was a teenager. I tried to help but, with hindsight, I wasn't helping at all. I know you think you are doing the best thing for him by taking care of him practically so that he doesn't need to do anything for himself. I was the same as you, it's a normal reponse from a mother to look after and protect her child.

But your child is no longer a child, just like mine, he's a grown man. If you weren't there to see to him then he wouldn't have a room to hide away in, not needing to even find food for himself. He would have to go out into the world and find a way to survive. The worst thing for depression is to sit in a room isolated from reality. I know this sounds harsh, but you know that it is true. All the things you have tried to do for him so far have not made him better. Maybe they have made him worse. I made my son worse by trying to solve all his problems. He had to find his own way in life and I was just getting in his way. My son is not great now, he is homeless and peniless because he just can't cope with living a 'normal' life and conforming to society's expectations. But he seems well mentally and he is managing and seems happy and I have accepted his choice to live like that, without supporting it or interfering, but just loving him as he is. You have to let your son find his own way, and that includes finding his own way out of this depression. He needs to get out of his room and get moving and you need to stop doing anything for him, because then you will be actually doing a whole lot for him.