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Forums / Supporting family and friends with a mental health condition (carers) / How to help and support my 20y old son through deep social anxiety, self-hatred and depression

Topic: How to help and support my 20y old son through deep social anxiety, self-hatred and depression

  1. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    25 February 2018
    Hi, my son, aged 20, has been suffering from social anxiety and depression for over 2 years, probably a lot longer in a not-so-obvious way. Since finishing his HSC he has cut himself off from all his friends, dropped out of uni 3 weeks into a course, and has been increasingly living a reclusive life eve since. After working night shifts at McDonald's so he could sleep during the day, hide or justify his antisocial behaviours, most of last year, and going to leave in a remote country town by himself with the hope and good will to 'sort himself out' and understand his existential and identity crisis and overcome his depression, he came back home last September, to my relief, and was very welcome back by both his father and myself ( we have been separated fo a few years). After spending a month or so with his father and trying to discuss and unravel with him the roots of his deep malaise and antisocial behaviours, as well as the effects of his father's over protective and controlling parenting over his development and mental health, which ended up in one too many arguments, he has been living with me since October, and had cut off all communication with his father. Small talks with me on how he feels and why keep him going as I am the only person he ever talks to... though this is on the decline as he increasingly shuts his bedroom door when I gently try to challenge his thoughts or ask what the next steps and future plans may be . He hardly goes out, spends all day in his bedroom, and has been refusing categorically and fiercely to seek (professional) help in any form - whether counselling, mentorship, therapy, group meetings, online forums (despite one brief participation in your forums last year) etc... I was hoping for the best when he accepted to see our GP in December to try antidepressants, which he did for a couple of months but stopped recently as he believes they had no effect whatsoever, confirming his belief in the uselessness of seeking help... As his mother, it has become increasingly hard for me to cope, to know what to do and say, given his fragile state of being and the barricades he has built to protect himself from any trespassing... he is very unwell, and I feel I need help and advice! I should also mention that he has taken great interest in the ideas and work of Canadian Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson... me too... but he is going nowhere beyond understanding what's wrong with him... weak, too agreeable... HELP please !
    5 people found this helpful
  2. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    8212 posts
    25 February 2018 in reply to valanne

    Dear Valanne~
    You are in a horrible worrying situation and it really is hard know what to do. While you wish with all your heart for your son to get better it looks like you have no avenues open to you.

    Before talking about your son I'd like to take a moment to talk about you. This is a highly stressful situation and I'm wondering what sort of support you have? A parent, partner or friend who you can talk unreservedly with and who can provide care and perspective is a great thing. Then again being in touch with your doctor would be a sensible thing too. There you can have your health monitored and may even receive productive advice

    Talking to his doctor might be helpful too, please excuse me if you have already done these things.

    For your son I guess the first thing is to say the two things you are aware of already. If you ever think he is immediate danger you call emergency services (000 or CAT or whatever your doctor advises). I know there may be the problem afterwards of seemingly broken trust, however it is the only thing you can do.

    The second is that competent professional help really is needed. it is just you are unable to make him see that. I'm sure you have tried every way you can think of to persuade him, unfortunately without success. I guess in the process you will have used up all your 'cred' with him and he may be resisting either on principal or simply discounting anything you say in that area. In fact he may find it annoying.

    Is there anyone in his life that he has respected or might take notice of, a relation, teacher or old acquaintance that might better persuade him?

    Perhaps you dropping the persuasion for now and not mentioning it might allow you to spend time with him doing things he might enjoy, at least as a companion, not just a mum. Anything from scrabble to swimming. Similarly if there are any remaining friends they might be encouraged to drop around.

    Trying to be a companion over time might make him more open to suggestion.

    If you want a really long shot (which personally I'd give a try) give the Uni of Toronto a ring and ask Professor Peterson if he would have a quick word. Probably a really silly idea, but parents tend to try everything no matter how far fetched.

    If you would like to keep talking here I'd expect other's may have more concrete suggestions.


    1 person found this helpful
  3. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    1 March 2018 in reply to Croix
    Many thanks Croix, you did sum up perfectly everything I have been trying to do and still doing ... including playing Scrabble! I have many supportive friends but there is so much they can do. I am going to see a psychologist on the advice of my GP, I need help to find ways to break through to my son or I am going to go down with him. As he has cut off from everyone he knows, refuses to see anyone, even going to the local shops in case he runs into someone he knows and has to engage in some form of conversation is a dreadful thought... there is little I can do to make him connect with the world outside his bedroom... I don't know if I should be tougher with him, as his mum, it is difficult given his unwell state of being, should I ask him to go and work and pay rent if he wants to keep living with me... pay bills... take more responsibilities.... Should I discuss a timeframe within which he needs to do something about seeking professional help if things don't improve... As you say, I am being a companion to him, but any suggestions I may make, no matter how light, go unheard or he runs away into his bedroom. He hates any forms of questions, to the point that I am scared of making things worse, saying the wrong things, asking the wrong questions, and of another year going past without any light. Jordan Peterson is coming to Australia next week.... ! He is inviting me and has bought two tickets... He is going out of the house to see and hear Peterson, mainly to talk about his new book '12 rules for Life - an antidote to chaos' which he has read, and I am trying to get through it in my limited free time. Let's hope this can trigger something positive although he had already contacted Peterson directly in the past but he never listened to his advice of seeing his GP and a psychologist... (apart from trying antidepressants). Perhaps as you suggest I should try to contact Peterson myself... I may have a chance next week, or later .. Anyway, any further advice on how to be, what to say, how far to go, as a mum is very much appreciated , very much needed and comforting! If anyone has had any similar experiences, please share!
    2 people found this helpful
  4. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    8212 posts
    3 March 2018 in reply to valanne

    Dear Valanne~

    I can't see that much you are not doing already. It's like so many things in life.

    There are a couple of points though that I'd like to emphasize, mind you they are things you probably are well aware of already - so please excuse me if so.

    The first is in relation to being tougher. One simply can't judge on normal everyday standards with someone who has a mental illness. A self-absorbed and lazy teenager may well merit a wake-up call about contributions to the household and personal development via employment. For someone who has great difficulty exiting his secure room I'd be most hesitant.

    While I understand your motives if you went that way it is so similar an action to what many parents do I think it might be open to being misunderstood and create a greater feeling of isolation for our son. I guess you are the best judge. As for time-frames, they are fine if they work, otherwise what do you do when time is up and nothing had changed?

    Maybe you can get him to help more, if you can't do a physical/mental task easily maybe he can help. He would be able to see it was not just 'treatment'. Sell him on the idea of female frailty:)

    If there are any decisions you can let him make that might be an idea, say what should be for tea, (and associated grocery list). Anything you can think of where you can defer to his judgment (obviously not on treatment) which will do little harm but may boost his esteem.

    The other thing is that no one person by themself can do everything for another permanently, keep them alive, make them well, not even make them happy. It has to be a joint effort, and you are shouldering your part, his part, and a medical teams part - all by yourself. You are doing an imaginative, loving fantastic job, and really your son is incredibly lucky to have a mum like you.

    I'm very glad to hear you are seeing a GP, and now a psychologist. Hopefully they will also say your burden is a huge one, and prevent the chance of you descending into feelings of failure and self blame (totally unwarranted of course).

    So what are you doing for you? There must have been things you have done in the past for your own personal enjoyment, are you doing them now? I've found enjoyment and distraction from hard circumstances is essential. The distraction provides a moment's relief and the rewarding of self had a positive psychological impact. It's not being selfish or frivolous, it's being realistic (it also helps perspective).


    2 people found this helpful
  5. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    14 March 2018 in reply to Croix

    Thank you Croix. I am looking after myself as best as I can, friends, distractions, movies, books, yet my thoughts always come back to my son. It is good indeed to get some support from a psychologist, yet very hard to know what to do... I feel he is getting worse by the day and I feel totally powerless and hopeless, scared of asking the wrong questions, of setting boundaries, of making it worse... I've got to find little steps he will accept to take, but without any goals, even very small, it is impossible. He happily does a bit of cooking and gardening but that's about it. He doesn't want me to ask him anything personal, or he runs away into his bedroom. When I ask him what it is I can do to help and support him, he gets angry, just 'being there' and 'being a role model' is what he needs he says... what does being a role model means when one can't do or say anything... what kind of role model is that... and the worse part now is that he is taking his anger out on his younger brother, the only person he seemed to care about, had fun with... now I've got to protect his 12 year old brother ... tough times.

    3 people found this helpful
  6. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    8212 posts
    15 March 2018 in reply to valanne

    Dear Valanne~

    I guess being a role model is more about a question of being you than doing anything in particular.

    Having a person who is loving, has common sense, deals with things and generally stands for normality - a trusted figure - is a huge tower in a dark landscape. I found this with my wife, who was all that and more.

    While it might be sensible to ask how to help it does not mean your son knows the answer -any more than I did.

    You mentioned barriers. I would think they come in different sorts. Barriers to protect yourself, to try to protect your older son, and those to protect your 12 year old. I do not know for sure of course but suspect those to protect is younger brother might be more understandable and acceptable to your older boy. I'd think part of being a role model is to demonstrate how to protect both your older son and others.

    Perhaps I'm off track - what do you think?

    Doing some cooking and gardening is great, encouragement (or reliance) on him doing more seems an obvious avenue to take. While it may not seem directly related to your son becoming less depressed, it may be a more effective way than encouraging talk.

    I have the feeling you are doing a pretty good job. It is not one where progress is immediately visible, but I'm sure is there anyway. Please do not get discouraged, many things in life require us to simply persevere


    2 people found this helpful
  7. PeonyRose
    PeonyRose avatar
    14 posts
    8 May 2018 in reply to Croix


    I have just joined BB today to ask for help on the forums and as I read your post ... I could have typed it myself.

    I too am facing the EXACT same situation with my 20 year old son .. which also started after VCE ended. Every word you wrote above is happening daily in my household .. even down to the point of him now hardly speaking to his father (who lives elsewhere).

    My son will not leave the house, has no friends and will not help out around the house at all. Initially he asked for help but after a few visits decided they couldn't help him and has refused to see anyone else since then. We have not tried medication as he also refuses that in any way.

    I have tried to get him work via friends, co-workers, ex-co-workers, family .. but every single time he said yes at first and when it came down to it .. he wouldn't go. We had a family meeting and tried to get him to see that he either needs to get a job, go back to some sort of education or if he can't then he needs to seek help from professionals and he agreed at the time, but when it came down to it .. refused to go. Open days, physiologist appointments, jobs lined up for helping out etc ... all let down. Even when his father or I take time off work to attend with him .. he refuses.

    I am at the point now that I do not know where to go for help as I feel I have exhausted everyone i know for ideas or help. I feel like I am totally alone and try not to talk about him with anyone anymore . I wont give up but sometimes I feel like I'm drowning.

    Recently he has taken to being very rude to me (in a childish way) .. like rude gestures and when I ask him why does he do that to me .. he says because he hates me ! My heart just breaks daily. I can see him going deeper and deeper into this rut or whatever I can call it ? I need to do something but dont know what.

    2 people found this helpful
  8. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    11 May 2018 in reply to PeonyRose

    Hi Peony Rose

    Thank you for responding to my post and sharing your own story, it does help a lot not to feel alone... It is very difficult as a mum to try help one's adult son when they shut the door and resent you more and more if you try to get close to them... It has been over two years for me and my son is increasingly isolating himself while trying to get better by himself, refusing any form of help... and going nowhere... I have been seeing a psychologist so I can get a little bit of support and advice on how to cope and support my son... It has been helpful as I understand better his deep social anxiety and depression, yet there is very little I can do until he accepts to seek help. However I am learning to step back, trying to engage him in 'general' conversations rather than personal ones which make him run away, and I am slowly and gradually asking him to contribute to more and more bills and living expenses as he is living full time with me (I am separated from his father), to take responsibility for his actions, or inactions! soon he will have to find a job and face his fears... only exposure to his fears can help him face his demons, and learn to cope with his suffering and change his mindset .... There are also some ('self-help') books that can be useful if your son is happy to read - mine is not, well, anything I suggest is rejected, and there is no one else around who can reach out to him... I would be more than happy to continue this conversation with you if you feel it could be useful. Take care of yourself too!

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Soulmumma
    Soulmumma avatar
    20 posts
    13 May 2018 in reply to PeonyRose

    I too am in this exact situation except our boy is 15. Its easily the hardest most heart wrenching thing I've ever had to endure! I feel like I'm losing my beautiful boy to his demons and i am failing in my job as a mum....we are supposed to protect them, even from themselves. I'm failing at this miserably 😟 I've never been so scared in my life and i feel we have no direction moving forward. How can i help him if I don't know how?? I also found out this week a friend of mine took his own life at 27 yrs old. I'm gutted and now more scared for my boy 😭

    You are not alone in this, I know the pain your heart feels as mine feels it too xx good luck to you and Valerie and each of your boys. Sorry i have no answers for you xx

    2 people found this helpful
  10. PeonyRose
    PeonyRose avatar
    14 posts
    14 May 2018 in reply to valanne

    Thank you Valanne for responding. When I came here to seek help and read your post I nearly couldn't believe it. Someone else going through the exact same situation. It is so hard as they are adults and you really have no way to make them listen anymore. It has been over 2 years for me too now since it started and definitely getting worse all the time. Yesterday "mother's day" ... my son didn't even talk to me. I had visitors and family over for a get together for see a friend traveling back to USA, and he literally didn't speak a nice word to me the whole day. I always wonder to myself that one day ... when he is better, will he look back and think to himself what an awful person he has been to me ? Will he ever see things differently.

    I have a daughter too (who is a year older and doesn't stay at home a lot of the week as her boyfriends house is closer to her work). She had some difficulties when she was between 14 - 18 or so, but has come around and has achieved so much in her life so far .. is so determined and full of get up and go, that I could not be more proud of her. I raised them both alone - just the three of us always. I just dont know what has happened to him.

    It started with anxiety of not wanting to go out with his friends to clubs or out at night .. to not seeing ANY of his friends and staying home ALONE all the time, and barely leaving the house.

    I can tell he is frustrated with himself and bored as he gets quite angry at times, but he is not willing to accept any help at all or do anything to help himself. I have given him MANY books on self help as has my sister etc, but I don't think he reads them ... or at least he wont admit to reading them .. BUT he is very obsessed with those motivated people on YouTube etc -- watches them and even preaches to me about it but seems to not take action himself. He is a health food and organic foods fanatic .. that is the ONLY thing that seems to get him talking - occasionally. I have tried to get him to open days at Swinburne etc to look at nutritional courses .. but he won't go. Says he will ... but never goes.

    1 person found this helpful
  11. PeonyRose
    PeonyRose avatar
    14 posts
    14 May 2018 in reply to Soulmumma

    Soulmumma ... I feel for you .. as they are still babies really at 15. As I said above my daughter went through a rough patch between 14 - 18 .. and it was VERY ROUGH .. attempting to end her life at times and often lashing out at me as I was the only one around. BUT she was different as she was very verbal and told me everything she was feeling and how bad a mum I was !!! ... at least I know what was wrong with her and she was very agreeable to getting help ... or maybe for the attention .. but either way her physiologist was AMAZING .. and she helped us all get through those years and now my 21.5 year old is just the most beautiful, thoughtful young nurse working in mental health !!

    What I am saying I guess that at 15 you can still guide him maybe more so I think that if he is older .. guide him to seek help and even if you are not included in the meetings or sessions at least you might be able to get him THERE more that I can a 20 year adult.

    Medication helped my daughter get through her high school years and as soon as VCE was done .. she went off them and has been well since then. A change of school helped us too (but as I said her issues were different that what my son is going through now).

    I wish you all the best.

    2 people found this helpful
  12. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    20 May 2018 in reply to PeonyRose
    Hi PeonyRose, we are definitely in a very similar situation … It is very hard because despite all the help available, our sons won’t accept any… I have tried and realised that the more I try, the more he runs away from the idea, and from me. So I have given up for the moment and I just remind him of what his hero, Jordan Peterson, says:
    "If you are sick you get everything that is necessary to get better, leave your pride behind… you want to hit the problem with everything you have at your disposal.” But my son wants to prove to himself that he can get better by himself, that he is good enough… He is so ashamed of himself, finds himself so pathetic, too agreeable that the pain of opening up to anyone is unbearable… Yet unless he starts confronting his fears by placing himself in social situations that will make him realize that in fact he is as good as anyone else and that people will appreciate his company, what he has to say etc… nothing will ever changes. In fact he is just getting worse, more and more out of touch with his family and community… What can we do ?

    With the help of a psychologist I have seen a few times to help me cope and understand better what my son is going through, I am slowly and gradually setting up limits and asking for contributions … I will not tolerate rudeness, I got very angry a couple of times when he was rude and behaving totally inappropriately and told him that if he wasn’t going to sort out himself quickly or seek help, I won’t be able to continue supporting him… The next day he was a lot more pleasant and communicative… for a moment… but at least there was some form of response and acknowledgment.

    I ask him to contribute to all bills and soon he will have to face the necessity of going out to look for a job… or again seek help if he wants me to continue supporting him. It is very hard emotionally for me to do this as I know he is in a very fragile state of mind… but then again, I believe that supporting him by doing nothing and letting him be rude and antisocial is not helping…

    I feel there is so much more I could share with you but it is not easy in writing with a limited number of characters! If there was a possibility of meeting, I would welcome the idea, but I am in Sydney and I am guessing you are in Melbourne! Anyway, we certainly can continue these posts. We need to be patient and supportive, but within limits we need to learn to establish gradually. Very tough, worrying and draining!
  13. PeonyRose
    PeonyRose avatar
    14 posts
    21 May 2018 in reply to valanne

    HI Valanne,

    Yes you are right .. I am in Melb. I would love to meet too, but I guess distance is an issue. Its feels nice to talk to someone though that know what I am going through. As nice and supportive family / friends are .. I feel like they don't truly understand what is going on and how I feel.

    I like the quote you put up there. It is so accurate. I feel a major problem with my son is that he is not prepared to put himself outside is comfort zone .. which seems to be getting a smaller zone by the week ! I feel he is getting worse and worse at a rapid rate. He almost cannot even communicate with me at all. Mostly he just mumbles answers or makes noises .. like he is losing his ability to communicate in a normal way.

    I feel just like you .. that at times i want to give up and just let him be, as it he pulls away more every time I try to talk about things or suggest ideas to do... but then that is not helping to leave him alone ... but then he refuses ANY help from anyone ... so the cycle goes on and on ... deeper and deeper into his rut ... not helping himself and not accepting help from anyone else. I have run out of ideas at the moment.

    We do have good days every now and then when he seems to make an effort .. like cooks dinner or asks my mum (whom lives on our property) if he can help .. but they are very few and far between. If he shows an interest in anything I try to research all I can and get info and try to work out a way to get in or get there etc .. but its always the same in the end - he refused to do anything about it.

    He recently wrote ... "he feels nothing and wishes he was dead". I would give anything to help him back to his old self when he was happy and loved life .. when he had friends that he went out with and laughed and was so active in sports and fitness on a daily basis. I would give my blood, my kidney, or any other parts to fix him - if that would help. Sometimes I really feel so scared ... and so alone. So helpless to do anything. As a mum my job is to make sure my kids are well and safe ... and sometimes I feel I am not doing my job. I wish I had done things differently when this first started to happen .. but I didnt realize what it would get to .. get so bad. Now the things I could have done 2 years ago are not going to help now.

    I've raised my kids alone their whole lives ... I've always been strong and dealt with anything ..but the first time in 20 years Im stuck !

    2 people found this helpful
  14. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    27 May 2018 in reply to PeonyRose

    Hi PeonyRose, re-reading your posts… I feel very moved… please don’t think you are not doing your job as a mum, I think you are doing far more than a lot of mums would or could do… I think your son is very lucky to have such a caring mum… and I am sure he knows he is lucky to have you… even if he says the opposite. He sounds like my son, do you think he is trying to create conflict for the sake of it so he can learn to stand up for himself? Affirm himself? Sounds quite unbelievable given that they are 20…

    I spend a lot of time trying to understand what events or relationships (or lack of relationships) have led him to withdraw to such extent… social anxiety can be a very deep, severe and debilitating mental disorder and there isn’t one day when I don’t try to understand and remember events or phases that could explain it… And I feel guilty for not having recognised some earlier signs clearly showing he was not well… he did hide his malaise and anxiety so well… he was just a grumpy and moody and cold teenager… but worked so well as school that it was hard to detect anything else… We can’t blame ourselves for anything and everything… We are doing the best job we can possibly do for our sons… they need us… they know we are there for them, but we must act within reasonable limits or else they will hate us even more…. The more you do for your son without establishing limits and perhaps imposing some conditions, the more he will hate you and treat you badly for it… You’ve got to look after yourself… and show him that you do. I know it is easier said than done…. I must be talking to myself!! May I ask if his absent father could be a reason for his depression and anxiety? Does he have any contact with him? Sorry to ask if you feel it is not appropriate….

  15. PeonyRose
    PeonyRose avatar
    14 posts
    1 June 2018 in reply to valanne

    hi Valanne .. I sometimes forget to check back here .. sorry. I wish there was a way we could talk better but I think we are not allowed to contact outside the forum. Maybe moderators can clarify this ?

    My son has always had a good relationship with his dad - from whom I have been separated since he was 1 year old. His dad moved overseas a few years back (to get married) and my son even went over there for the wedding and stayed for about 4 mths (which was great). I got lots of photo messages with smiles and looked like all was going good, ( I hoped that things were getting better), but the new wife was not so acceptable of him being there and not doing much ( so i believe from second hand information), so he came back home. He did do some labour work while there, which he said he enjoyed, but then nothing came of it at home again.

    Anyway .. not too long after (less than 12 months) his dad moved back to Australia (alone !) and although he had been seeing him on a regular basis at first - especially since my son has his own car now .. now days he rarely wants to see his dad. His dad tells me that he messages my son all the time to catch up etc, but he rarely replies to him and doesn't want to see him. My son tells me that he doesn't enjoy being with his dad. I often try to encourage visits, but since their father has had an argument with my daughter also - he is not coming to the house any more !!! We tried many times over the years (working together) for the sake of my son to encourage or help him out. Im sure his issues are not to do with his dad not being around. Although it would be nice if his dad had the room (he lives with other people in shared accommodation) to take him for a while and share some time with him. I have raised them both pretty much 24/7 for the last 19 years. Not that I want to shirk my responsibilities ... but a little break from the gloom now and then would be good.

    I have been reading about something called the Thrive Program, and although its not too cheap .. I wish I could get him to take part. I would be happy to pay if it helped him get back on track. So far I have not had any luck as he refuses. Have you heard about this ? I called up and one of the people sent me the first chapter from their program to read.


    1 person found this helpful
  16. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    1651 posts
    1 June 2018 in reply to PeonyRose
    Hi PeonyRose, this is addressed in the Forum FAQ (pink button at the top of the page):

    Can I give my email address or phone number to someone on the forum?
    No. This forum is an anonymous space, and for the safety of all our members we don't allow information to be shared that would facilitate offline personal contact.  This also includes sharing the details of other online channels you may be a member of.
  17. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    2 June 2018 in reply to PeonyRose

    Hi PeonyRose, yes it is a real pity we can’t find a way to talk more easily outside this forum, I think it would be greatly beneficial as our stories and sons have so much in common.
    Again there seems to be more similarities between our sons’ relationships with their father… or unwillingness to have a relationship… My son hasn’t seen his father for 8 months now and refuses to see him, even to talk about him… I had to stop encouraging him to contact his father as he would get terribly angry with me for mentioning his father. He blames his father for a lot of his problems and feels deep resentment and hatred towards him… I can only hope this will pass when he gets better and is able to look at the bigger picture. We have been separated for many years now, sharing custody of the three children, as amicably as possible for the children, ‘working together’ as you say, and his dad has always been there for him, in fact too much present in a controlling way… The separation wasn’t easy and my son has certainly found it difficult to live through the conflict and see me being abused and bullied… I think our sons can’t relate to their fathers and some of the decisions they made in the past that affected them, their family life and their developing sense of identity… Your son must have been very disappointed and hurt not to be accepted by his father’s new partner… He may find it difficult to accept his father put him in that situation… trust was broken perhaps… My son was never able to find other male role models or men he could identify with… interact with ... learn from... as all he did was to increasingly withdraw and hide... At the end of the day, they have us, but our love and support is not enough for them to construct their own identity, in fact, I feel my son is starting to resent me as much as he resents his father! The communication has become nil... Wondering if your son has a job? If he has any contact with the real world outside home? Mine has none...

    Thank you for sharing the Thrive Program, I haven't heard about it, I will look into it, sounds like another possible great source of help… if only we can make them see that… I am still waiting for my son to open Steven Hayes' Get out of your mind and into your Life. Anything I suggest in a no no. But please let me know if you find a way to inspire your son to seek help.

    I think I have reached the word limit!

    1 person found this helpful
  18. PeonyRose
    PeonyRose avatar
    14 posts
    5 June 2018 in reply to valanne


    Oh my ... so so much the same. I read your posts and think DITTO. I don't think my son has seen his dad in months either and I too have stopped encouraging to him to go see him. Sometimes it makes things worse when they do catch up as he gets into a bad mood afterwards. I used to reach out to his dad for help but now realise that he cant help and often makes me upset as our views are different.

    My son once told me (a while back, when he still talked to me on a personal level) that he felt he had no one to talk to ... no good friend to listen to him .. he felt totally alone - which of course broke my heart, and he didnt feel he could talk to me at that level .. which double broke my heart. He has NO male role model either in his life that he responds to and I guess that is why he spends so much of his day watching youtube about motivational guys regarding health and fitness mainly. He watches this but I cant see him taking action. He is literally frozen from anxiety to leave the house or step outside his comfort zone.

    I have to say that I have been single mostly their whole lives until 3.5 years ago when met a lovely man who, in my opinion, is a perfect role model for any boy, but my son for some reason doesn't warm to him. He does not live with us and although he has tried in the past to talk to my son, now days he keeps pretty much out of it unless I ask him for help - or if my DS steps out of line and upsets me.

    My son does not work (nor has he for 1.5 years) so has absolutely NO contact with the outside world. He will only visit my uncle and aunts house - 10 min up the road occasionally and maybe my sisters family now and then .. but rarely. He has not seen a friend for at least 6 months or more and basically only goes upto the mountains every couple of weeks to get fresh spring water from a stream !! I sometimes do this with him too.

    I liked that Thrive Program on FB and have watched and read some great outcomes. I try to send him a little video every week by messenger as that is the main way we communicate. I tell him to please watch and I am here to help and willing to do anything it takes to allow him to live the best possible life he can.

    I have run out of space but will write another post as I feel I had a very minor break through this past couple of weeks .. very minor by encouraging to keep going in this direction.

  19. PeonyRose
    PeonyRose avatar
    14 posts
    5 June 2018 in reply to valanne

    I was thinking how nice it is to get a warm long hug from someone when you are feeling down .. it sort of lets you breath and relax a little. My son hardly speaks to me or says good morning etc., so for us to hug is unheard of now days. But the last couple of weeks I have made an effort to actually go over to him .. what ever he is doing and give him a hug .. or try to.

    He usually pulls away and squirms etc .. but this week I feel he has pulled away a little less and let me hug him more often. I have on occasion even just given him a little kiss on the top of the head (when he is seated as he is so tall) to say good night etc. I took a Friday and Monday off work a week back and just spent 4 days at home doing some stuff around the house and spent that time with him in a way too. I didnt go out - just stayed at home. It was just me and him most of the time and although we didn't "talk" about anything much .. I felt a slight change in his attitude towards me. He has cooked a few (really good) meals and has shown slightly more enthusiasm to do so. We have had a couple of good days followed by a bad day (stays in bed all day and is grumpy when up) but I am looking at it as a slight shift.

    I dont know if it is because of the hugs and positive kind words I am using daily or something else but I do feel maybe a few degrees of less hostility towards me. It feels so nice to hug him and just give him that extra squeeze that I have not been able to do for years.

    When he was little he was such a sweet boy .. always on my lap wanting cuddles and hiding behind me shy etc. He was reserved but always been very considerate and respectful and so loving a young boy. He was compassionate and very calm. I KNOW that person is still in there somewhere.

    I got him this book last week .. which I see he has been reading - The Reality Check-Up: Finding the perfect non-perfect version of yourself by Dr Andrew Rochford (dont know if it helps but he seems to be reading it). I don't actually give it to him .. just left it on the coffee table where he sits usually ! He knows its for him, but we don't talk about it !

    So my suggestion this week .. try love ♥

  20. Jetrd
    Jetrd avatar
    8 posts
    6 June 2018 in reply to valanne

    Hi Valanne, We have similar children but I have changing gender in the mix as well. i could have written the behaviour you have stated but maybe your son gets out more than my child. All is not lost if the reading is ok from books you suggest and I will follow with interest this thread. You are not alone.

  21. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    11 June 2018 in reply to PeonyRose

    Hi PeonyRose, it is always good to read you, a bit like looking in the mirror and seeing an extension of myself and my son’s… It is great to see you are managing to break through some ice, thank you for sharing, I wish I could move closer to my son, he won’t let me get close to him, he times his movements around the house so he can avoid me, I think the idea of a hug would horrify him, the last and brief one we had was when he took me to the airport last Christmas as I was going overseas to see my mother for a few weeks on my own. I think he felt lonely in my absence. Again there was a quick hug at the airport on my return…
    Like your son he was such an affectionate and adorable little boy…. always happy to play with other kids. I could never have imagined he would become so resentful and anxious around other people.

    When I spend days at home, it makes no difference to his mood(s). A few days ago, I tried to engage the conversation, again, at dinner time, willing to tell him about the Thrive Program, some interesting books, and hoping to see where he is at… He got quite angry at me for talking, how dare I asking how he is, he wants no help, he doesn’t need my help, he wants to sort himself by himself, and he asked me to leave him alone. The conversation was over in 2 minutes. I can clearly see he is getting worse , 6 months ago he would still talk a little, now he only comes out to eat or use the bathroom! However I think he goes out very early in the morning, around 6am , for a quick walk around the block or into the national park where we live… at 6am, he is unlikely to run into anyone he knows, especially in the bush!

    I will continue to show support, attention and care even if I go nowhere… Eventually he will need to earn some money to keep contributing to living expenses…. I am waiting for that moment where he will need to talk or go out to earn an income…

    I don’t know if you feel the same but my biggest fear now is to think I am doing the wrong thing, I feel I am letting him go down because I don’t know what to do, because whatever I say or suggest falls on deaf ears, and his eyes are full of anger and resentment.

    I leave books I think could be useful on the coffee table too… But I don’t think he is reading them… I will add The Reality Check-up to the pile…

    Thanks PeonyRose, I will write again soon as I wanted to add more thoughts to your comments but I am running out of time and words tonight.

    1 person found this helpful
  22. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    11 June 2018 in reply to Jetrd
    Hi Jetrd, thanks for contributing to this thread, please share your thoughts and story if you think this can be helpful... My son hardly gets out... and doesn't read any of the books I suggest! In fact the communication has become almost dead... Anyway feel welcome to share your story... There are many of us on this difficult journey with our children... adult children...
  23. PeonyRose
    PeonyRose avatar
    14 posts
    14 June 2018 in reply to valanne


    In response to your message :

    "I don’t know if you feel the same but my biggest fear now is
    to think I am doing the wrong thing, I feel I am letting him go down because I
    don’t know what to do, because whatever I say or suggest falls on deaf ears,
    and his eyes are full of anger and resentment.

    I feel 100% the same ... I question myself daily .. am I doing enough ?? I try to talk to many people to get their options and suggestions, but ultimately I am the one living in this situation with him and I have to trust that I know him best.

    People say to me I should just kick him out - be tougher on him - give him ultimatums etc ... but in the end I don't think that will help him. One, he will hate me MORE .. and two, THERE IS NO WAY IN THE WORLD I COULD THROW MY CHILD OUT. He is unwell and needs help. We just have to work out how we can do this.

    Of course by them refusing help makes it very hard .. but never under estimate the love of a mother. I would do anything to help him. I WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES. I guess I just have to turn over every stone until I find that thing that will help .. the one thing that will start to make a difference so that he can realise what a wonderful life he could have. I just want my son to know that I am here for him .. when he is ready. I try to tell him this every now and then (when I get him at a good moment) . I want him to know that I love him no matter what ... sometimes I don't like him much !! BUT I love him :)

    Valanne ... don't think you are doing the wrong thing. You are a good mum - I can tell. Just by being here and trying to get help shows what a great job you are doing. ♥

    Hopefully our sons will see one day how much they are loved and that we are here to help.

    1 person found this helpful
  24. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    19 June 2018 in reply to PeonyRose

    Thank you PeonyRose for your kind words and insightful comments… Your questions are my everyday questions too, and more and more so now that I feel my son is getting worse rather than better… It is quite unsettling to hear people say we should be tougher and expect a lot more from them… I hear it too, not knowing what to do… as I hit a wall every time I try to utter a word... My biggest fear about being tougher and confronting him is for him to leave given his fragile state of being and deep anxiety in the presence of other people, what would he do, where would he go… homeless he could quickly become…

    Yet we need to engage them as to why they refuse so fiercely any form of help… I just don’t understand why after a couple of years my son is so opposed to it… Can’t he see he is not getting better, in fact he is getting worse without realising it…. without being able to admit it, so obsessed he is with proving himself he can stand up for himself… he has lost all sense of perspective. He is either totally mute, or aggressive and rude and he is going insane because he can’t bear the heavy burden and weight of his loneliness. At twenty…

    We need to find some cracks, some openings somewhere in their heads, some contradictions they can’t deny, to make them see some light… but that means being able to converse with good will, trust and love …. Something that seems to be slipping away further and further for me …. The last few days haven’t been good…

    What does your son say about not wanting to get help?

    There has to be ways where we can get tougher gently, slowly and safely… I feel I am being far too passive because just like you I know I will do whatever it takes… Perhaps we need to reflect on and redefine what that 'whatever it takes' really means...

    1 person found this helpful
  25. Try
    Try avatar
    1 posts
    29 June 2018 in reply to valanne

    Dear valanne,

    Reading your post was like reading my story. My son is 24 and suffers deep depression,feelings of worthlessness, and anxiety.

    He too is a follower, for want of a better phrase, of Jordon Peterson, which has helped him in a number of good ways to get a better perspective on a number of things. We have listened to podcasts as well..

    I’m trying to help my son to realise he may need medication, but to no avail, his last try ended badly with him feeling numb and then the withdrawal...but that’s not to say that another type will help, but he won’t take the risk, which is leaving him feeling nothing will help.

    His psych says he just needs to get his life in order in place and things may get better, but he isn’t with him 24/7, the tears and agony...

    He wants to go to uni but just doesn’t know if he will manage the we are looking at other ways to gain the education he wants where there is less stress.

    I guess I’m just saying I know your pain and frustration at not owning ‘that magic wand’.

    I often say to him I wish I could fix this...but he just wants me there and to just listen...that’s what I can give him.


    1 person found this helpful
  26. PeonyRose
    PeonyRose avatar
    14 posts
    29 June 2018 in reply to Try


    I have started to type a response many times and haven't been able to finish it for various reasons. There is so much I want to say and its so hard sometimes to express it here.

    To answer your question .... I ask my son often if I can help him. Do you need any help ? Can I organise anyone to talk to ? I'm here to help you etc. but usually he just shakes his head or doesn't respond at all.
    I feel the longer I leave it .. the harder it will be for him to get back "into" society. The more time that goes by, the more set in his ways he will become.

    Your question above has really made me think though, I say I would do anything but now I am reflecting ... will I do whatever it takes .. even if it means something drastic that seems wrong to me. Am I just being too soft as it seems easier than pushing him until he breaks ? My fear is that if I keep pushing him he will think that I don't care .... that I am angry at him and want him to get out of the house or something. His perception of me trying to help him is not help but annoying or nagging him. I want him to know that I understand his difficulties and want to help him to overcome them ..together. Just writing this and thinking about it does make me wonder .. maybe I am too soft .. after all no one else is pushing him to do anything. I just don't know. But I think you are definitely right .. we need to reflect on what it means to do whatever it takes !

    We had an incident last week where that rapper in the USA was shot .. a young guy .... I had never heard of him before but the other day when I got home my son was a little more angry and upset than usual and I really didnt think much of it as he has bad days often. Later in the evening he told me that one of his favourite rappers died today and he burst out in tears. I have not seen him so upset in a very long time. I asked him to tell me about the boy and what he liked about him etc .. trying to encourage talk but he just got up and ran to his room crying .. I mean sobbing hard. I left him be .. but when he eventually came out I just sat next to him on the couch and just patted his back (as he wouldn't let me hug him). We just sat in silence for a while but he didn't want to talk about it.

    I've used up my characters again .. :(

    1 person found this helpful
  27. Soulmumma
    Soulmumma avatar
    20 posts
    30 June 2018 in reply to PeonyRose

    Thank you for your encouraging comments Peony Rose. It's definitely the hardest thing we've ever endured as a family. I spend every day trying to ensure my heart doesn't break completely 😭

    He has such horrible feeling toward me when i offer any kind of advice of what to do to help him feel more positive. He hates taking any medications and looks at me with such distrust when i give it to him. I just wish he would understand i only want to help.....

  28. valanne
    valanne avatar
    17 posts
    8 July 2018 in reply to PeonyRose

    Hello PeonyRose a bit late after a few busy and difficult times.

    I hope you son is feeling better and the death of this US rapper an opportunity perhaps for him to open up a little? I thought it was really touching that he would show his emotions in such a way, faced with life’s fragility. He is very sensitive and must have a lot of emotional baggage bottled up…

    My son is the opposite here, well he used to be a very sensitive child, and got abused or bullied for it I am guessing from the little bit I know, now he is icy cold and trying to be as anti-social as possible, building barriers and working on avoidance strategies, everything but what he should be doing…. To the point that he has become very rude and aggressive lately… I got quite angry a few times following a few incidents and told him I couldn’t go on living like that and believed that my support was just feeding his resentment, his spiralling down, his anti-socials behaviours, in one word, I was making things worse despite my good will, support and love. He told me he didn’t like me, quite openly… in fact he hates his entire family… I told him he didn’t have to live with people he doesn’t like, the door is open. Moreover, he has run out of money, as I was expecting would happen soon. He can’t contribute to any expenses anymore until he finds a job. He tells me he is not ready yet to go out in the world and look for a job… He could relapse into depression, he needs time. It has been two years of refusing any form of help, and I got quite angry and wrote to him a letter, hoping he would read it as any words I say falls on deaf ears and I find writing easier and fairer especially when I am angry and say things I don’t mean!

    Anyway the opportunity has come for me to set limits and make him face reality: if he wants me to keep supporting him, he needs to seek and get help, or find a job, or enrol into a course and study something … Again he refused categorically, telling me he was getting better, and I had to trust him or kick him out! I have given him until the end of August to prove his point that he is getting better…. After that, I won’t support him financially, meaning the fridge will be empty. It is not for me to kick him out, I could never do this, however, I told him he has to take responsibility and leave if he doesn’t like his family, he can’t expect support and resent where it is coming from!

    I have to be firm, I think it will help him, I have run out of characters :( more soon

    1 person found this helpful
  29. blondguy
    Life Member
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    blondguy avatar
    9845 posts
    9 July 2018 in reply to valanne

    Hello Valanne

    Please forgive me as I have posted late in your thread. I understand the pain you, PeonyRose....Try....Jetrd and Soulmumma are going through

    My daughter is 25 has been brought up well. I am presented with the same 'attitude' as you have mentioned

    I am well versed in human behavior and have never been a 'helicopter' parent yet I find my daughters attitude belligerent and confusing despite my efforts....My daughter lives away as she wanted to have her own independence....unit etc etc...and is becoming worse now

    Just a note if thats okay......the rapper that passed away in Florida was Jahseh Onfroy aka XXXTentacion. He was 20 years old.

    I understand what you are going through Valanne and will try to be of some support...if I can

    my kind thoughts for you


    1 person found this helpful
  30. PeonyRose
    PeonyRose avatar
    14 posts
    9 July 2018 in reply to blondguy


    I am being pressured into the exact same thing - about not "supporting" him, and I am finding it very hard to enforce. I too can never throw him out of the house but by saying I am not prepared to 'support' you if you are not willing to accept some form of professional help, or go back to school, or find a job, sounds easier said that done.

    Food and a roof over his head, with heating and comfort are all I provide for him at the moment as he doesn't ever ask for anything else .. so food is really the only thing I can ask him to provide himself. I have not asked him to contribute financially .. but that is something I will need to look at soon I think.

    Talked to a friend on the weekend whose son is very similar to mine. She said if they were sick or had a broken leg .. you wouldn't throw them out on the street .. mental illness is the same .. they are sick and need to be repaired or taken care of. But saying that .. it is so extremely difficult to help someone that refuses to be helped.

    I think one the hardest things is being told all the time that you are hated, and being pushed away or looked at like you have done something horrendous .. when all you want to do is help. Its very trying. I understand Valanne and Soulmumma that feeling you have too well. I tell myself that he doesn't really feel like that about me .. it's just that he is not thinking straight at the moment. But is very had to keep loving and supporting someone that is constantly pushing you away.

    Valanne .. I too have written many a letter to my son .. as I find it much easier to write things down, clearly and directly without getting distracted. The last one I wrote him was torn to shreds in front of my eyes (before he read it). That hurts ... he wont let me talk to him and he wont even read my letter. HOW can I communicate with him ?

    At least Valanne he is saying that he is getting better .. that sounds positive .. right ? I would be happy with little steps at a time .. maybe going out and doing the groceries or going out and doing something in public alone. Or even just listening to me and how I feel ... doing something at home like cleaning or cooking, rather than sitting around all day. That would mean that he cared ... right ? I work long hours and am not home till 6.30 at night so hard to monitor him all day.

    I am eager to hear how the setting the limits go. I have to do something similar I know.

    1 person found this helpful

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