DS is depressed and in denial.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-1998
DS is depressed and in denial.
11
Fri, 03-08-2013 - 12:47pm

Many of you already know our story of angst with our DS, 19, freshman in school.  No motivation for school, acts like he's depressed but says he's not.  Always has lots of friends, although ones that I'm not crazy about.  Anyway, since he was 14 he changed.   He used to be loud, smiling, laughing, full of life.  But then in 8th grade things started to fall apart, and got worst thru high school.  Anyway, things are bad in college, he's on academic probation and i KNOW he wants to succeed..but he CAN'T.  I 100% think he is clinically depressed and has been for awhile.  He just is adamant he's not, so we kept hoping he'd mature, grow up and whatnot.  But things are worse.  I know he's skipping classes.  He's home right now on spring break and is in bed until noon, then says he's tired at 4.  He has gained 30 lbs in 1 year (stress eating I think), he got caught shoplifting last fall in a major department store, he's unmotivated, he never smiles, he's withdrawn from his immediate family, I'm sure he's filled with guilt.  when you look google teen depression he's the shining example.  so, after 5 years of being wishy washy, walk on eggs around him I finally brought the subject up kindly, but loud and clear yesterday.  He was irritable, wouldn't engage in conversation (he's not a talker anyway, but part of it was defiance).

Really, if he could have shot daggers at me he would have.  After the discussion he went to his room and I woke him up after 2 hours.  His father had a discussion with him last night and he was more respectful (of course, don't we Moms get the crappy attitude?)  He denies there is anything wrong, acts like he's being punished, doesn't offer up much in discussion.  We told him when he comes home for the summer, (whether he's excused from uni or not), we would like him to go to therapy and even perhaps med, but first see what's wrong.  You could tell he would, but that he was being forced. 

Anyway, I'm going to find a doc and go visit him myself first.  We really don't know what else to do.  The Vyvanse he is on for ADHD (which he's not inattentive) really isn't working.  It is a stimulant, so it does "wake" him up whenever he takes it, but it isn't doing much else.  We are at our wits end.  He has such a blah, sluggish personality.  It's like he hates being around us, avoids us at all costs.  He really don't like being around someone like him, either, if truth be known.

anyway, I just needed to vent today.  Anybody else been in this situation?  Con

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-21-2004
Mon, 04-01-2013 - 1:34pm

Hi con, oh boy, so so sorry to hear this.  I have been MIA for a very long time with ivillage but I remember well the problems this son has brought you over the years.  I think you are headed in the right direction.  I would offer up a few possible things though that might help you long term.

First of all, if he's depressed, let the Dr's diagnose, I know you can't help but want to pigoin hole him as this or that, but let a competant physciartrist diagnose and then take him off or anything that has not been working and put him on what will.  Also, when he goes, send him back to his regular DR. and ask for a drug testing to find out if he's been self medicating with anything.  He probably has.  Then insist that he address this as well, but be prepared that he won't do much of anything, because as you know, at his age, if he's not seeking treatment it may not work at all.  LOVE that you will go to see the psych first.  Give him your perspective, it probably will not surprise him at all.  But then you need your own therapist I think to help you learn how to set boundries with a depressed adult son.  You may have to ask him to live elsewhere, and you may have to fund it for a bit.  You may have to ask him to live elsewhere and you may decide not to fund it at all.  IF he communicates better with your DH then let him.  You can back off, in fact, I'd recommend it.  This may be a long term problem and the sooner you get some professional guidance on how to deal with it in the best way for you the better off you may be.

Mostly Con, I feel complete sympathy for you.  He's not well.  And you feel as his mother, and rightly so, that you need to fix it and save him from himself.  But our resources and power are minimal once they grow up.  We need never stop, but we need to be realistic and set boundries and learn just how little we may be able to do.

Hugs and more hugs and find an outlet, a friend, a confident, a therapist, someone that you can talk to so you can begin to create a space where you can go and let your concerns be heard and then find real life strategies for how to deal with him and your life.

All my best...

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Thu, 03-14-2013 - 5:28pm

That does seem to be the case with many psychiatrists.  20yo DS sees a regular therapist but she referred him to a psychiatrist for anti-anxiety meds.  It seems like the psychiatrist's job was to focus strictly on alleviating anxiety in this instance, since the therapist can't prescribe medication.  DS fought this for years but finally realized he really needed to do it.  When he compared it to his asthma medication, I knew he was starting to see how it can help him function like everyone else does.

12yo DS sees a neurologist for a severe and rare form of migraines, and the neurologist can prescribe anything his friend the psychologist thinks he should.  DS already takes daily medication for migraines.  Neither of these doctors take my health insurance, but what am I earning money for if not to help my kids grow into the people they were meant to be?  Who needs a new kitchen when DS has been cooking in this one for 18 years?! ;)

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-1998
Wed, 03-13-2013 - 12:35pm

I mean pdoc sees 30 patients a DAY, 15 minutes each. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-1998
Wed, 03-13-2013 - 12:34pm
Mahopac, thank you so much. I got a referral from his doctor (who I really like). Coincidentally, he referred a client of my DH's. The pdoc/client and DH have discussed my son, but not at any considerable length (his own son has mental problems) so when client told DH about his son, DH told him about ours. He did tell him that he doesn't work with adolescents, but that was about 2 years ago. DH called him this week, and the doc said that going to a psychiatrist is not the way it used to be...mainly due to insurance. He sees about 30 patients a week, only about 15 minutes at a time...it's not like a psychologist. he said it used to be that way, and it still can be but you would have to pay out of pocket. Anyway, I've been looking at the facility that pdoc says he sends patients to for that type of counseling and hope that he can at least help us in choosing someone he thinks is good. As far as PMS, the last 5 or so years before I stopped my period, I had about 3 days where I was just miserable and made my family miserable. It's been such a huge relief in my life when I finally went into menopause. It's been 6 years now and it's awesome not to have that 3 day "rage". I agree with the comments you made about your sister. As I said, my father has been so miserable all of his life, i would like to avoid that for my son if I can. Of course I hate the thought of him being on medication, and he hates it even more. But compared to having an unhappy life, I don't think there is a contest. I appreciate your been there, done that post...plus the statement that depressed people don't have the energy to get help. We told him that, too. He's back from school the beginning of May. i know he won't like this, but like DH is going to tell him...what's an hour a week if it might help?
Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Tue, 03-12-2013 - 1:42pm

Actually, we are in *exactly* this situation with our 12yo.  We sent him for psychoeducational testing, which uncovered a very significant learning disability and - his biggest problem - depression. This was sad but not surprising.  In our family, only 18yo DD has never received counseling and/or medication for depression (even though I'm a real "glass is half full" type, I have very bad PMMD and take 10mg of Prozac for two weeks of every menstrual cycle).

Everything you described sounds like someone who is depressed.  However as DH would say, depressed people usually don't want to deal with their own depression, because it would require effort.  It is probably going to require that you take him to a therapist and make sure the therapist works closely with a medical doctor who can prescribe medication.

When my sister started taking Zoloft in her late 30s after a lifetime of depression, she said it was like she suddenly understood what everyone meant when they talked about happiness.  She'd never been really happy in her whole life.  What a sad thing, to have gone so long without knowing happiness.  I thank God all the time that she was able to find it with the help of Zoloft.

Don't let any more time go by. . . your son needs help.  I wish you all the best with it.  I know you've been through so much already.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-25-2006
Mon, 03-11-2013 - 4:04pm

Sorry I can't offer any advice, but I can say that I'd be doing what you are--encouraging him to seek counseling, probably on campus first if he'll do it.  Friends can make a big difference.  When our DS23 was in HS and a follower, I noticed a definite change in his disposition when he came home after spending time with certain friends of his.  He was a non-talker like yours, and that makes things even tougher for us parents.  I did demand back then that he see a counselor psychologist (2 or 3 visits?) even though he thought it was a stupid idea,  and I think it helped shore up his self-confidence after it had been shaken by the poor choices he'd made.  The psych was one my boss recommended--don't be afraid to ask around. Sending lots of hugs to you both...

(Edited to clarify that it was the psychologist DS saw who I think helped, and not some other type of counselor.  After he'd admitted to drinking the school req'd that he see an addictions counselor and that was usleless, as was anything he heard from the guidance counselors at his HS.)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 03-11-2013 - 3:25pm

I don't have anything else to add, but sorry things aren't going well.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-12-1998
Mon, 03-11-2013 - 12:11pm

Thanks everyone.  He did have a physical last week while on spring break.  I have a call in to the doctor for some references to psychiatrists.  I know how much he will hate this...who wouldn't, especially if you think there is nothing wrong with you.  I think I'm going to do a visit first, and discuss with the doctor all the issues and their recommendations.  How do they diagnose, how do they deal with people who are in denial, who aren't talkers, etc.   I just see his personality really being a detriment to him long term.  I know for a fact he can't stand the thought of having to take medicine to be "normal".  But, if that is the route, maybe feeling good and finding some joy will change his mind.  My Dad suffers from undiagnosed Bi-polar, and I know some level of depression.  I didn't understand what was wrong with him until I was an adult and aware of these mental disorders.  He's really made a mess of our family life, and I still don't like to be around him...he's been such a miserable man..then he acts all manic and happy,.  It's bizarre, and now I understand it.  Of course, he has always thought there is nothing wrong with him.  That's why I'm so insistent with DS.  I really don't think he's bipolar (believe me, i never see mania), but I recognize the unhappiness, or rather lack of joy.  Wish us luck.  He went back to Uni yesterday, already the atmosphere has changed in the house.

Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Sun, 03-10-2013 - 5:43pm

No advice from me, you received some good stuff already. I hope that he gets a physical first. My dad has always dealt with depression, I know it is difficult. Sending hugs and prayers to all of you.

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2000
Sat, 03-09-2013 - 11:32am

Aww Con I'm sorry. I've been thinking about you and wondering if he's been able to pull things together this semester. I think you are right in insisting he get help. I'd recommend he get a full physical first and then get a referral to a therapist (unless you already have one you like). Unfortunately if he feels he's being 'forced' to go he may not be very receptive to counselling but it does sound like he could benefit from it. Is the regular family doc someone he likes and trusts? Perhaps if the suggestion comes from him it will help. Many hugs coming your way.

Pam

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