My 20 yr old clinically depressed son refuses help

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by WaveringFaith, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. lauraasheville

    lauraasheville New Member

    yes, it's ironic that everyone kept telling me that i'd really have a problem with empty nest etc since it's mostly been the two of us. and then, she leaves, and I'm having this great year; i loved my privacy, i met someone new, and of course i am thinking my daughter is a poster child for college and that finally she's found her place, based on her texts, her visits, her stories. ha.
    she did send in her local coffee shop job applic and is also looking at apt shares in the college town. day by day. i'm going to try to start a new thread since I have my laptop and a bigger screen to work with. thanks again for your very kind and understanding words. laura
  2. halfquarter

    halfquarter New Member

  3. halfquarter

    halfquarter New Member

    Thank you for your post as I feel you are living my life. My son is 18 and sits in his room all day and can barely get out of bed for school. He says he is mentally ill with depression but won't take medicine. I cant kick him out and if I do, he will be on the streets and die. I can't do this to my son, but my family and I cannot live like this anymore. Our family is completely broken, and my husbands job is at stake and so is mine. My son says his life is over.

    My son is self loathing and told me that the worst thing I did in life was to give birth to him. He says hes ugly, a loser, and hates himself. He is obsessed with his complexion and his height. He is 5'10" and not short, and very good looking.
    He started college at a local community college and now at the end of the semester he says he can't do it (finish). He was getting straight As. My daughter who is 13 is suffering, my husband is depressed and I am taking Ativan to sleep. I have nightmares every night and I wish I could fix this and help him. He has no friends, and is lonely. He wants help, but is afraid of the medication. I think we need to send him somewhere for help but don't know where. He has been to 25 psychologists/therapists in the past and it has not helped. My heart is broken.
  4. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Hi there.

    First of all you answered an old thread and you'll get more of a response if you start a new one of your own. People will not know that somebody new is here. Click on top on "new topic" and started!!! It's nice to have you here, although I'm sorry you felt the need to come...

    The short answer is, you can't do anything for an eighteen year old and there is nowhere to send him. If he is a danger to himself or others, you can call 911 and he could be admitted for observation in a psychiatric hospital. It is rarely a long term stay.

    By eighteen, we have no legal rights to our children. All you can do is hope he decides to get help because, since he is mentally ill, only HE can take care of his illness and make himself better. I hope he isn't using drugs too.

    Sounds like your whole family could use help and therapy. I recommend you and your husband go for serious help and the younger daughter too. You can not make your eighteen year old son go, but it would be helpful to him if he would. You can take are of yourself, but you can't control eighteen year old. You can't make him happy either. I have endured a lifetime of fighting depression, but I went for help early on and take very good care of myself. I was in bad shape. If I did it, your son can do, but he needs to do it himself, like I did. Nobody will accept a parental call about an eighteen year old. By that age, he has to want to get better and get the help for it. Otherwise, he is choosing to stay sick. It takes more than just medication to help people prone to clinical depression, but t is highly treatable for those who get treatment.

    Sounds like you could ALL stand to see psychiatarists and get evaluated. If you are depressed and anxious, you will not be any good for anyone, including yourself and you matter too. Nobody can help a legal adult except the legal adult helping himself/herself. But there is lots of hope if you individually seek out good treatment! Try a psychiatrist, not a therapist or even a psychologist. Therapists and psychologists can not diagnose correctly...they don't have the training. They can't medicate either and the rest of you may need antidepressants. Even if 18 won't take medications, that doesn't mean you, your husband and daughter should follow his destructive lead. Maybe your example of getting help will motivate him. Either way, it is all on him now. Eighteen is the magic number where we no longer have any authority. Was your son always this way? Do you suspect drug use? Has he always had problems?
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    If ur son is not abusing drugs and is compliant with treatment I would allow him to heal. I had agoraphobia and it's treatable. He may need to be forced to work at least part time. If any of my grown kids were mentally ill but respectful and law abiding I personally would let them long as they tried hard. Most of us don't put our kids out unless they are dangerous to themselves or others and being disrespectful and refusing to try. Assault and substance abuse are the usual reasons. Only u know if that is going on. If so then there is really no option but to put him out or be abused. If he is just sick and is trying to get better, I wouldn't make him leave. Only u knowhow full story. One thing I'd do is insist on a job and household chores to push him along.
    U may want to start a new post. This is an old one.
  6. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I think that most people here say "tough love" for those kids who are out of control as opposed to depressed or mentally ill, but willing to work, compliant with medication and generally good kids that need help.

    My kid disrespected up, stole from us, smoked pot in the house. Does he have problems? I'm sure he does. But we can't be expected to continue to support a kid who steals from us and refuses to do anything to help himself.

    Please, start your own thread and let us know what's going on. Give some background and I'm sure there are those here who will be happy to give you advice, or just lend a sympathetic ear.
  7. Wow, I didn't expect to get feedback so quickly. I didn't mean to offend, when I spoke of "tough love". You and others have given excellent feedback, and I will consider options I hadn't thought of. Im not kicking hi out, he has done nothing to deserve that. But, he could start doing some chores. I will continue to research, and all input is appreciated. Thank you so much.
  8. LauraLee

    LauraLee New Member

    Hello, I read your post with a kindred heart. How are things now? I am in this spiral with my 20 year old son...trying to do the right things by him but always feeling damned if I do and damned if I don't.
  9. Seeking Peace

    Seeking Peace Member

    My heart goes out to you. I don't have the answers, but my first thought is whether the Dr's have considered more than depression? Many illnesses can come to light at this age. Oftentimes manifesting as depression first. I believe the right combo of medicine can do wonders. Being willing to give any one of them at least 6 weeks is vital.

    I oftentimes wondered what I've done so wrong...felt like God was punishing me. That's what prompted me to reply to you....knowing that feeling firsthand.

    You're not alone. There's a lot of us out here. Together, we can carry one another through another day.

    Hugs to you!
  10. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    You didn't do anything wrong and God isn't punishing you. You know He wouldn't. It is your son who is doing this to himself because he is making bad choices. Why? He wants to. It is not because of anything you did or did not do and a lot of very fine parents find themselves in our situations. Please, don't feel like this is on your shoulders. It isn't.
    As for mental illness, it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Depression is very treatable with the right medication. Often depression stays just a very bad mood problem (like with me) and does not progress to anything more, however depression is horrible and without medical treatment it can last for years or forever. The afflicted person must be proactive about his health or nobody can help.
    I urge everyone here, whether believers in God or just believers that everything that happens to our adult kids is due to our own bad parenting, that very bad parents, who did not care about their children at all, often raise very nice, kind, successful adults (Dave Pelzer in "A Child Called It" never got into any trouble and tries to help other disturbed foster children) and some of the best, most loving parents are shocked to see self-destructive adult children.
    Drugs and DNA are both at play in most cases. Both can be treated, but that is totally up to the adult child. After 18, parents just do not have any rights. That doesn't stop us from caring, but it also doesn't make what happened our faults. I personally think DNA is the biggest factor. If, as a young 'un, we had sex with a disturbed boy and broke up and our child has similar problems, for example, a great deal of that, I believe, is inherited. The DNA does not change just because the young father is no longer in the picture. Or we ourselves may have mental illness or addiction in our families and that can also be inherited (tendencies to addiction are inherited).
    Hopefully, this depressed young man will finally want to get help. Until he does, he will probably stay ill, but that is not on his mother's shoulders.
    Just my soapbox opinion. Moms, be good to yourselves. You have and are living in the trenches and surviving and learning how to survive even better. You are all heroes.
  11. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    I have a son who was like a zombie most of his life and still is I guess granted I did nothing as his room was most of his life and sleep his pastime I taught he was just lazy. He might have a mental illness or a illness of any kind but now I have no way of finding out. I mean really there are symptoms that are the same for so many mental illnesses that unless you are a very trained professional you can not find out what the mental illness is its so stupid how do you know someone in bipolar or depressed how do you know someone has Dislexia or ADHD its just so annoying that they have so many similar symptoms.
    My point is life sucks that everything is so out of your power and I believe you when you say your son does not take drugs people seem to not grasp the thing that you can not be a addict when you get of the house once in a blue moon meaning at worst once a month and that is forced out. What addict can live with drugs only once a month assuming that that hour he is out is spent on taking drugs.
    These are difficult children that stress you by not stressing you by ignoring anyone and everyone that live in their own world and let no one in their life they do not abuse you psychically or swear at you or blame you or even a drain on your resources as they only eat and sleep that is all sometimes there are days they do not even eat. How to put it their stressful for who they are not what they do they are stressful for being so in their world that it ahhhh I just can not explain it.
    For example we do not get stressed and mad that our pets are lazy and only sleep and eat but we do get if our fellow humans do that I can not explain why but do you all get what I mean?
  12. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hi Believe

    Welcome to the site. If you look on the Parent Emeritus forum you will find that the first thread, posted by Childofmine, is all about how to start your own thread. I have asked someone to help you do this.

    I did the same as you when I first found this site. I couldn't believe what I was reading. I posted about my son at the end of a very old thread. Someone helped and I started my own thread. That was the start of a long journey that changed my whole outlook on life.

    hugs x
  13. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Wavering,
    I'm on my break so just a quick note. You have received a lot of great comments and sharing. So sorry for your need to be here, it is definitely a place to get help and guidance. I am compelled to jot off a fast post to you because of your parents comment that you " have to help".

    By not helping, you are helping.

    We tried to help our two for many years under a cultural code that says you do not turn your back on family, no matter what, ever. I do not think that is even correct, because in many olelo noe'au or Hawaiian proverbs there are old sayings geared to a value system of working together. There is nothing "working" when an adult child lives at home and sucks the life out of everyone there.

    I will write more later, after work. I wish the best for you and yours, this is tough. Very very tough. Hang in there dear we are all routing for you. You are not alone.
  14. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Oops I mean hello Believe. I hope the site gals can get you on your own thread then more will come along. Hugs
  15. Still learning

    Still learning New Member

    I realize this is a very old thread but I'm new here and it's the first one I found. I have read all of it and feel very discouraged. What I'm getting is that there is nothing family members of an adult person can do to help them and that we should detach for our own good. But how can that be? There must be things that can be said that can help otherwise what's the point of therapy? Depression takes over the young adult's mind and tells them everything is hopeless and pointless. As long as they believe that they won't seek help. How can people say that it's their choice when the illness has taken over their ability to think straight and make good choices? Does anyone have a positive outcome to share because after reading this thread I'm terrified. We are just starting on this journey and now I'm more scared than ever.
  16. Seeking Peace

    Seeking Peace Member

    Still learning,

    Detaching doesn't mean giving up or walking away. It simply means recognizing it's not in our control. Believe me, if any of us could control things, this forum would not exist.

    Like any medical problem, such as heart disease or diabetes, there is help and treatment. You can certainly help find those Doctors and help cover cost of medicine and treatment, but in the end, if the actual person is not onboard, not following guidelines that are established for their own health and well-being, no amount of love can change that. Especially when they're adults.

    We detach for our own health and well-being. Reality is we won't be here forever, so trying to control our adult children's choices will only hurt them later. We're still parents who love and are concerned and worry day after day. We just finally accept we can't do it for them.

    We all believe there's still hope :)
  17. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi Still Learning and welcome to the forum.

    Yes, you are exactly right. This is the conundrum we are faced with. Denial is part of the disease itself (mental illness, addiction, etc.) so if a person is sick with a mental illness, they will usually deny it as part of the condition. As long as they said there is nothing wrong with them, and they don't need help, they won't seek help and they won't take help and the circular process continues.

    It is infuriating. Frustrating, terrifying, awful.

    In my case, I tried for years to get my son's attention and get him help. Get him to even give help a chance. I reasoned, argued, cried, begged, pleaded, yelled, drug him one place after another, pulled him out of the car, pushed him through the door...over and over and over. It didn't work.

    But. Here is what happened with me. I turned it all over to my Higher Power. For you it might be God, the Universe, Mother Nature, the support group, this forum, whatever it is. I realized I couldn't make it happen.

    I got out of the way and allowed, yes allowed, him to continue doing whatever he wanted to do and I watched from the sidelines. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and it took a complete re-orientation of my thinking first. And a lot of missteps.

    In my son's case, it took more time---years---before he started changing and working for change. I mark the worst years with him from age 19 to 25, but he was tough in high school and the "trouble" started in middle school, but it was slow to ramp up. He was always a hard kid and was even a hard baby (colic, formula intolerance, very shy, etc.).

    I have had to learn the hardest way possible that I can't fix people. I can't fix my stubborn 84-year-old father. I couldn't fix my ex-husband. I can't fix my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) friend. I couldn't fix my precious drug-addicted son.

    I had to accept this, and that there are many situations in the world I will never be able to alter or fix.

    I wish there was a kind and gentle way we could gather up people who really need help and somehow...somehow...force them to try. I have thought about that a lot.

    but we know that if a person doesn't want something, anything, they will fight it with all their might, heart and soul.

    My son did that. But last year, after being in jail for about the 8th or 9th time, he came out of jail and he started working to change. I didn't trust it or believe it at first, and I stood back for a long time. But after several months of watching him (not listening to him, because he taught me that talk is cheap. I want to see action) and seeing the difference in him, my ex-husband and I started giving him some help. Not doing it for him, but helping.

    Through it all, we maintained a relationship with him. With limits and sometimes very strained, but we never cut off contact, and we always told him we love him. There were ugly conversations and a lot of very stringent limits set by me and his dad (like, if you come to this house again uninvited I will call the police). That is what it took. I hate to say it, but it did.

    Please share with us more of your story. If you would like to, please create a new thread and tell us some of the details.

    We know how hard this is. It is the hardest thing in the world. We are here for you, and we care. Also, there are many ways to walk through this journey. You will do whatever you feel is right and best and we will support you. Everybody is different and every situation is different. We can only share here what we have learned through experience, in hopes it might help you.

    Warm hugs.
  18. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    Hi SL,

    If you are able to tell us your story, we will be able to validate and support.

    It is a long, hard road and there are no easy answers. There are some success stories on the board, but they came about after very difficult philosophical changes on the part of the parents here.

    Recommended reading: the sticky at the top "Detachment" and the book Codepandent no More.
  19. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Greg, welcome to the forum, I am so sorry for your troubles with your son, it is a tough road.
    There are no judgements here, just lots of folks with similar experiences who offer advice and support. The rest is up to you, in what you choose to do. This is your path.

    If you are going to hang out with us for awhile, you may want to start your own thread on this PE forum.
    Also, you may want to add a signature, it helps others understand your situation a bit more.

    Please do not continue to feel badly, it does not help. You are not a failure, our children grow up and make choices, that is all. The guilt we feel, is what our d cs pounce on, to keep us in the game.

    I hope you continue to post here, it has helped me tremendously.

    More will come along and offer support, even more if you begin your own thread.

    So sorry for your sorrows.
  20. Thissiteishopeless

    Thissiteishopeless New Member

    Do something normal with him, not necessarily normal for you but normal for your kids - if you know them well enough to know what that is. If you don't, than i feel sorry for your kid and he 'DEFINITELY has a higher IQ than you and anyone who may be helping you. Sorry for the harshness, but you guys are being harsh behind your kids back. Doesn't that pain you a bit? cause it does to me.