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Forums / Welcome and orientation / How can I help my adult son ?

Topic: How can I help my adult son ?

21 posts, 0 answered
  1. Trac
    Trac avatar
    10 posts
    4 August 2021

    Hi everyone , I’m desperate and new .

    I have an adult son that suffers terrible anxiety & now depression, his life has turned into a train wreck. He sleeps all day & stays up all night , drinking & smoking, never sees the sun . He’s put on so much weight & looks pasty .
    the sad thing is he refuses to see this as a problem and just tells me to leave him alone , I’ve had multiple conversations with him . He will not seek help or acknowledge that there is anything wrong . His friends , sister & parents are all very concerned , his girlfriend of 10 years left him because she can’t see any future ( which is sad but I understand her reasons ) this is not new behaviour but lockdown has certainly made it worse . Should I do tough love ? Should I take the door off his room ? I’m scared to leave him the way he is , I can’t convince him to come outside for fresh air let alone come to the doctor with me .
    Any advice?

    1 person found this helpful
  2. Amanda2000
    Amanda2000 avatar
    130 posts
    4 August 2021 in reply to Trac

    Hi Trac,

    Maybe encourage him to join a support group online. WayAhead is running them quite regularly. I can see there are various times to choose from. Here's the link to their calendar - http://understandinganxiety.wayahead.org.au/events/

    If he's not willing to go to the doctor, I don't think anyone can force him. However meeting like-minded sufferers may be the first step to his recovery?

    2 people found this helpful
  3. jessicalou
    jessicalou avatar
    6 posts
    4 August 2021 in reply to Trac

    Hi Trac,

    This must be difficult as he doesn't see it as a problem. I think it would be a good idea to not do this alone, you've done all you can and now it's time to reach for support. It's difficult now with Covid but I would suggest bringing the family together (could be a family activity or socially distanced walk etc) to all sit/walk with him and openly discuss that first and foremost you are extremely worried about him and you all want to help him. Ask supporting questions like how does he feel and where does he see himself in 2 years time, this will get the thinking mode on and hopefully he will open up a little. Does he have many friends? Lockdown is massively affecting him i'm sure but i'm hoping this passes soon so we can look at other options to help you.

    How have your conversations been with him in the past? How have they been tackled by yourself? Maybe there are some other ways to go about wording certain questions towards him that may help?

    Sending socially distanced hugs x

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Trac
    Trac avatar
    10 posts
    4 August 2021 in reply to Amanda2000
    Thank you for the link , I will definitely take a look 🙏
  5. Trac
    Trac avatar
    10 posts
    4 August 2021 in reply to jessicalou
    At this point , our whole family has had conversations with him & he’s not responding yet but we will continue to talk & support him every day until he comes around , it’s just so helpful to have a safe place to talk about this to people . Thanks for taking the time to reply 🙏
  6. Trac
    Trac avatar
    10 posts
    4 August 2021 in reply to jessicalou
    Conversations have not gone well so far they usually end up with him telling us to ????! It’s really heartbreaking to watch someone with endless opportunities & potential, go down this path 😢
  7. jessicalou
    jessicalou avatar
    6 posts
    4 August 2021 in reply to Trac
    Oh i feel for you. The most important is just show him all the love and support him, always remain positive everyday, as hard as it is! Play upbeat and happy music and bake some nice things so the house smells yummy, this will hopefully make him remember the little things. buying some board games and asking him to take part in might be helpful! There's some really funny ones around at the moment.
    1 person found this helpful
  8. Trac
    Trac avatar
    10 posts
    4 August 2021 in reply to jessicalou
    Oh yes thank you , as it happens my daughter played loud music this afternoon near his bedroom for exactly that same reason . He didn’t speak to us but he did have a shower & then went back to his room . We will keep trying as you say 🤞
  9. Isabella_
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
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    Isabella_ avatar
    73 posts
    4 August 2021 in reply to Trac

    Hey Trac,

    It can be extremely heartbreaking when the people you love refuse to help themselves when you know they need it. I'm not sure what the right answer is in helping him, usually there isn't one, but my best friends step mother has used tough love on her foster son - pretty much saying that he has to maintain a job and pull his weight if he's going to stay at home.. a lot of households operate this way. At least this might push him to take the steps to living his life again.. giving him reason not to drink and smoke all the time, sleep all day, be able to get some sunshine, focus on earning some money, so on.

    Honestly I think the most important thing you can do is be there for him, let him know you're there to be non-judgemental and supportive, and it's great to see that you have been. Unfortunately I think it's up to him to take this next step, and maybe an ultimatum will help him do that. As other replies have said, you've done what you can and it's time to reach out for support - but it's important for your own health to understand that ultimately he can only receive help if he wants it. We need the people in our lives to be supportive and encouraging with us to allow us to do that, so I think you and the rest of your family are doing their part.

    I really hope that your son can overcome whatever it is that's stopping from getting the help he needs.. he clearly has a very loving and supportive family around him and that's invaluable.

    Much love, would love to hear from you :)

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Learn to Fly
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    Learn to Fly avatar
    140 posts
    4 August 2021 in reply to Trac

    A very warm welcome to you Trac,

    You sound so heartbroken Trac and no wonder why. Witnessing a downfall of your own child is one of the hardest things for a parent. Feelings of being helpless, frustrated, trying your hardest to help and meeting one solid wall. Just devastating for you as a parent and for everyone in the family who love your son so deeply. I really feel for you.

    I loved Jessicalou’s ideas about trying to coax him into leaving his cave by baking and cooking something delicious, to tempt him with beautiful smells. Loved your daughter’s idea about the music.
    What else does he like that might tempt him? Hearing you Guys watching a family’s favourite movie, perhaps? Playing some games from the childhood?

    On another note: How would you actually feel about playing the “tough parent” role?
    I hope you don’t mind me saying but after reading your posts I get the impression that you are not exactly most comfortable about this option, am I right?

    In addition, having your son going through whatever he is going through, I guess it would be difficult to predict his reaction to this change. I am not saying this would be wrong or great, just wondering.

    How about setting some firm rules or/and boundaries instead? Something small to start with and slowly progressing further?

    I hope you don’t mind me asking: do you have any idea what does he do during sleepless nights? Does he use the Internet? What do you think would happen if you were to limit it?

    That’s just an idea about a firm rule: Yes, you can use the Internet but only between 8pm and midnight (for example). In addition, I want you to have a shower and have a dinner with us (the family).

    Just to initiate the change that would form a rule but at the same time wouldn’t be perceived by him as a punishment because he would be spending some time with his family who cares so deeply about him.

    You will know best how to respond if he manages to do whatever you ask him to do but maybe a smile and a nice short comment would suffice, so he sees it as being positively acknowledged, however, you won’t be making a big deal out of it.

    I have no doubts that this is going to feel like taking tentative baby steps but you are so full of love for him and you will manage, Trac! Trust your own instincts, too. You are doing a great job!

    Take care.

    1 person found this helpful
  11. Petal22
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Petal22 avatar
    1105 posts
    5 August 2021 in reply to Trac

    Hi Trac,

    So sorry to hear that your son is going through this, I understand it is so hard to watch our loved ones in this state……..

    I understand anxiety I had severe anxiety OCD I’ve now recovered from this condition…….. I understand living with debilitating anxiety it is very difficult! It’s difficult for the one suffering with it and it’s also difficult for their loved ones to watch……

    Has your son been diagnosed with anxiety in the past?

    I understand it’s very difficult to watch when the one suffering with it can’t see it and finds it hard to ask for help……

    Can you think of any thing that may have triggered this in him?

    Some times when some one goes through something that they find distressing they can react in this way and turn to other things to try to mask the pain eg…. Drinking

    Im sorry to hear your sons girlfriend left him…. That’s sad….. he really needs support from the ones he loves and love him…..

    I know this is so hard to watch but you can only be there for him and support him…… no matter how hard it is ……… he just needs love and support and to know his loved ones are there for him no matter what……. Keep talking to him……

    When someone is broken , don’t try to fix them ( you can’t)

    When some one is hurting, don’t try to take away their pain ( you can’t)

    Instead, LOVE them by walking beside them in the hurt. You CAN

    Because what some people need is to simply know they aren’t alone.

    here to chat to you …. 😊❤️

    1 person found this helpful
  12. Trac
    Trac avatar
    10 posts
    5 August 2021 in reply to Learn to Fly
    Thank you so much & and to everyone else that has taken time out of their day to respond to me . It’s actually making me feel better having positive feedback & suggestions. I was so worried that I didn’t know what I was doing , but my ideas seem to be the same as my new friends on here. 🙏 I am not opposed to tough love , just not sure how hard to push , a few years ago my FIL committed suicide & left our family devastated, although I don’t think my son is suicidal, it sticks in my brain that we used to see my father in law every week & we did not see his pain . It was a complete shock to us . My daughter has now forwarded the beyond blue site to a growing list of his close friends , they are also keen to help . Focusing mainly on how to talk positively to him . I can’t express enough my gratitude to everyone here , it gives me strength & encouragement for the day ahead 🙏🙏☀️
    1 person found this helpful
  13. Trac
    Trac avatar
    10 posts
    5 August 2021 in reply to Isabella_
    Thank you so much for your encouraging words , I think your totally right , you can’t fix someone & I am glad you said that because as a parent I’m compelled to try and fix the situation but I know logically my son has to want help . I feel a lot better than yesterday hearing everyone’s thoughts . I will continue to do what I’m doing & hopefully chip away at his denial. I’m also setting up a little comfortable outdoor area that I will encourage him to use during lock down , even if it’s in the middle of the night !
    thanks again , I appreciate everyone’s help & advice ♥️
    1 person found this helpful
  14. Trac
    Trac avatar
    10 posts
    5 August 2021 in reply to Petal22
    Sorry I read your message this morning through tears & didn’t answer your question. Yes my son has had anxiety since he was in primary school , he’s now 28 . He had counseling when he was young & I do know his current doctor is aware but he hasn’t taken up any treatment as an adult . I can also understand him fully as I was diagnosed with sever Panic Disorder in my early 30s and I have fully recovered but it took a lot of hard work . The thing is I wanted all of the help I could get . He’s just not there yet I guess 😳 so I know all of the theories to help him , but this is just so hard to execute when he’s not interested . I’m just starting to understand just how hard it must have been for my husband & family to deal with when I got sick .
    im so glad to hear that you have also recovered . Anxiety impacts every bit of your world when your going through it .
    1 person found this helpful
  15. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    5652 posts
    5 August 2021 in reply to Trac

    Hey Trac, 

    Thank you so much for reaching out here. We're really sorry to hear that your son is going through so much at the moment. We understand that you must be feeling very concerned, but it sounds like you're being really supportive and understanding. We hope there is some comfort in the advice and understanding of this community, many of whom will be able to relate to what you're going through in some way.  

    Do remember that whenever you're feeling distressed you can talk this through with one of our lovely counsellors on 1300 22 4636, or using our webchat or email. They’ll be able to work through your feelings with you, and help you to access support for your son. We know it's no easy, but please remember that there are a few places he, and you, can call. There's also our friends at Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467). Many people find webchat preferable, when the idea of picking up the phone and getting help is difficult for them: 

    We're so sorry to hear about your father in law. That must be incredibly difficult to think about, so do remember that it's really important that you also look to take care of yourself during this time. You might find some useful information in the Looking after yourself part of our site, which does have a section for parents. We'd always welcome your call, it might help to talk things through, on 1300 22 4636

    Thank you for sharing this, we hope you find some comfort and support, and really appreciate your kind words to others here. Please keep sharing, if you feel comfortable to.  

    Kind regards, 

    Sophie M 

    1 person found this helpful
  16. Isabella_
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Isabella_ avatar
    73 posts
    5 August 2021 in reply to Trac

    That's really lovely to hear :)

    In my own experiences with mental health, I can tell you now that I wish my family would have had the same concern and put in the effort to try and help.. That alone really goes a mile. Making an outdoor area sounds like a really lovely idea <3

    1 person found this helpful
  17. Petal22
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
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    Petal22 avatar
    1105 posts
    5 August 2021 in reply to Trac

    That’s ok Trac, I’m so happy to hear you have recovered aswell…… we understand what a huge journey mental health conditions take us on…… I also reached out for help when I was going through mine I will be forever grateful to the health professionals who helped me to recover…… but yes it took a lot of hard work on my part aswell…… I feel very blessed to have come out the other side……… I can now help others who are going through theirs…….. I’ve also seen the other side …… watching some one go through it without seeking the help they need …… they just go into denial…..

    Have you thought about having a chat with your son about your mental health journey and how you felt while going through it…..and how you overcome it….. maybe you can be a shining light for him…. It might help him to hear your story it may make him feel more comfortable sharing how he’s feeling with you….

    It’s hard being the parent because we want to fix our children when they are suffering but we can’t ….. we can only be there as an understanding person…… listening to what they want to tell us……

    Thanks for replying to my question sorry your son has been dealing with anxiety for so long…… I remember when I was in the grips of mine I didn’t fully understand what I was going through……. It’s hard for the sufferer I felt like I was living in an internal hell……… maybe your son is having trouble trying to understand what he’s currently going through?

    I know with mine I’d talk about my thoughts and feelings with my loved ones…… I sounded irrational to them but to me it was very real and distressing……..

    Yes reflecting on what you said how hard it would have been for your loved ones watching you go through your condition it would have been hard for them to deal with as it would have been for mine….. I guess we are blessed to have such a loving supportive family……. Just like your son is so blessed to have you and his other family members to support him while he is going through his ❤️

    Things will be ok, it will just take time…… keep talking and listening to your son …… there is always HOPE that he will ask for help when he’s ready…… I know you will be there with open arms 😊

    I’m here to chat to you

    1 person found this helpful
  18. Learn to Fly
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    Learn to Fly avatar
    140 posts
    6 August 2021 in reply to Trac

    You got this Trac!
    You are on the right track and I am so glad to hear that all of us here sort of confirmed some of your thoughts. I am happy to hear this helped you to reassure yourself.

    Thank you for being so brave for yourself and your son. You are full of pure, mother’s strength and love. It sounds like your family is also well and truly on board. As difficult as the situation is for all of you, your son is no doubts a very lucky guy to be surrounded by people who care for him so deeply.

    My thoughts are with you.

    Take care.

    1 person found this helpful
  19. Trac
    Trac avatar
    10 posts
    9 August 2021 in reply to Sophie_M
    I can’t thank you enough , this is great information . 🙏🙏 I don’t feel so confused & helpless now after all of the support from people, willing to take the time from their day to help a complete stranger . It gives me hope
    1 person found this helpful
  20. Trac
    Trac avatar
    10 posts
    9 August 2021 in reply to Learn to Fly
    Thank you so much 😊🙏
    1 person found this helpful
  21. Banksy92
    Community Champion
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    Banksy92 avatar
    57 posts
    20 August 2021

    Hi Trac,

    I'm really sorry to hear how much your son is struggling and how difficult it must be for you and your family to witness. It can be especially hard when the people we love aren't receptive to our concerns for them or want to help themselves. But it's also understandably one of the hardest times to take care of ourselves, when we aren't at our best.

    There are so many wonderful pieces of advice on this thread which I agree with. Shifting the energy in the house with music, food and activities all sound like useful tactics. I would add to this and say that if he doesn't respond straight away, that doesn't mean you should stop - sometimes just having the option there regularly can help people to gradually feel welcome and want to join. When you catch the right moment.

    One other thing that came to mind from more of a 'parental' role was to suggest he take on 1 small task for the house as his contribution. To get him out of the house, perhaps he could do the groceries once a week? This gives him a chance to get out and move, but also to make choices about what he eats which could be exciting - or at least a respite in his mind?

    I think overall, the main message from many others here to be open, caring and supportive however you can for him during this time will make the greatest difference. He's very lucky to have you.

    All my best.

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