Help me to help my son !!

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My 19 year old son has suffered from depression and anxiety since his mum suffered with cancer when he was 14/15. She is doing well now but Over the past 8 months or so, his issues have been compounded owing to a number of factors including moving to a flat in London with his girlfriend and problems with their relationship. He now appears to have severe depression with anxiety, he can't work and is hopeless. He has had some anger issues which have caused problems with his girlfriend (involving the police) and he is currently living back with us. He seems obsessed with getting back with his girlfriend although she is saying she needs some space before deciding if they have a future. We are lucky in that he talks to us very openly and let's us help him through the worst times (I'm finding it so tough to counsel him the whole time when he is so negative and says he can't carry on). He smokes weed and at the moment I'm just letting him do so without judging as it seems to help temporarily but I am sure that in the long term it is compounding his problems.

It is a constant battle to try to drag him from the depths of despair and each time we do, something comes along to knock him back down. It's taking a toll on our whole family but we'll continue to support him as much as we can.

I have considered some horrid options including trying to get him sectioned when he said he wanted to end it all. I'm not proud of that but I just want to do something that will force him to get help. He refuses to get medical or psychological help as he says he can't open up. But he talks to me for hours on end so I sm sure that if he found the right person, it would be a huge step towards recovery.

There have been some positive steps. His destructive anger has diminished, for a while he was estranged from us but he now has come back to us and we're extemely close. He is just so negative and has lost his desire for anything which destroys his mum and I.

Please, does anybody have any practical advice as to how we can get him some help.

Thank you

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  • Posted

    Don't you perhaps mean it was your mum who suffered with cancer when he was 14/15?

    Anyway getting to the point, whether he likes it or not he does need medical help because if he doesn't get it the load on you could become unbearable.

    Point out to him that anxiety and depression are illnesses like any other, but unlike say a broken arm it cannot be seen.

    One suggestion would be for you to contact 'Mind' whose address and phone number and nearest office to you are available on the internet.

    They deal with this type of problem all the time and usually have some really practical advice. 

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply Archemedes,

      Firstly, I do indeed mean his mum, my wife , who suffered from cancer.

      The load on us is already unbearable. For the last few months , most of my time is spent supporting him in some way. We are unable to plan much as a family as we need to be there for him in one way or another and a number of events have been disrupted by his actions and it is certainly "all about him" at the moment. But we see this as part of the issue and will continue to support him as much as we can. My wife and I are struggling with this and I am already seeing a counsellor to try to get help for my own sake.

      Unfortunately, as he is 19. We can't force him to get help and he is fairly dead set against it. I think this is due to past experience. He had counselling before when his mum had cancer and I don't think he clicked withe the counsellor and couldn't express his feelings so he now thinks that talking therapy etc won't help him. He was also prescribed sertraline but says it made him feel worse and stopped ( I think too soon) taking it. Based on that he now won't see a doctor .

      I have tried Mind and they basically say that unless he goes to the doctors himself, there's nothing we can do.

      The first step in my view is for him to recover from the pain caused by his obsession to see his (ex ?) girlfriend who won't see him at the moment. He says that being able to talk to her face to face will 'sort him out' . Their relationship has been toxic recently and I doubt that this is the answer. I think he needs to start to get over this pain and I think that in the first place he probably needs to be prescribed something very strong which will just deaden these feelings for a bit and then maybe we'll have the chance to get him help in other ways. He did say last night that if the doctor came to us and just gave him something then he would take it. I don't know if docs do home visits any more but it has to be worth a try. As always theses crisis points always come at a weekend/bank holiday so I'll have to wait until tomorrow now

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    • Posted

      The problem is that he is as you say a 19 year old and it is almost impossible to get them at that age to do what you think is good for them.

      I'm not even sure that if you contacted his doctor the doctor would in fact come out without your son's agreement.

      Having said that, as you are not left with many options, maybe a phone call or better still a visit by you to his doctor for a private chat may get something going?

      I do empathise with your problem as many years ago my eldest son had a breakdown while taking his finals.

      He too thought he was fine and steadfastly refused to seek medical help and refused to listen to me.

      In his case, after some very strange and very destructive behaviour I was forced to have him placed under a section, and that gave him no alternative other than to accept medical help.

      Initially he would not talk to me at all because he felt that I had betrayed him, but after a year or so his attitude changed when he finally accepted that what I had done I had done for his own good.

      We are now some thirty years down the line and he is well able to cope on his own and things between us are as they should be - at peace.

      As I said to start with this is a difficult one, but sometimes the only way forward in such cases is to appear cruel to be kind.


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  • Posted

    Markus I just want to say that you sound like a great Dad.  I've never been that close to my parents and so have never been able to sit down and chat openly as you do with your son.  Your close relationship with him is going to pay out in the long run as he is going to remember back to having a Dad that always supported him.  I don't have anymore advice then what Archemedes has already given but I just wanted to tell you what a good job you are doing.  Wishing you well
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    • Posted

      Sorry, just one thing.  It may be something to chat to your GP about but weed is known to cause depression and psychosis in the long term so it might be beneficial to cut it out or down.  I know this would be hard because as you said, it appears to help him.  Others might disagree with me.  There have been quite a few posts on weed on this forum so it might be worthwhile to go through and read them.  Take care.
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