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When I am having a bad day my goals are- take a shower. That's it. So, to me, if I did something monumental like sign up for a class to have someone then say "What are your goals?" would pretty much be telling me there was no point in me even bothering because it wouldn't be good enough. Depression can feel like being pressed under a huge rock with no way to lift it. Any new challenge is another rock placed on the top of the stack. 

(I did and do see a doctor when those days occur more than a few times in a row.)


Today it's a shower, tomorrow maybe a shower and a walk. But you don't go from depression to "goals" (beyond get through the day.) If your child can get through the day, count is as a good day. Focus on him collecting the strength to make it to a doctor and get help. Not a single other thing matters.


Encouraging for my Aspie would be, "Oh, you decided to try that class? Cool. You know you can watch the lessons even if you don't do the assignments. So if you don't like it or decide to quit it's no biggie." I congratulate him on the effort and give him a way out that doesn't make him feel any pressure. 


If you cannot get your DS to see a doctor, consider trying to find a therapist who deals with families in crisis and go see him or her yourself for advice on how to handle the situation. That is probably a better solution than trying to do what strangers on the internet tell you. If you present the situation as one in which you are struggling because you are uncertain and worried about making a mistake, then the advice given will be a part of your treatment, not your son's. I often asked my therapist whether she thought I was overreacting or responding to something wrong. Just having an outside person who wasn't emotionally involved give an opinion helped a lot. A therapist might also be able to role play or demonstrate ways that you could bring up seeing a doctor to your DS that you haven't tried. 


Edited by MomatHWTK
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I don't think it is possible for us to answer your questions. Only you are there to guage the specific dynamics of the situation.


It might be OK for you to put your son in charge of, for example, making an appointment with a psychiatrist. Or it might be that you encouraging him to do that will push him to shut down and shut you out.


I don't know.


I do believe that the appointment needs to be made, and soon. So if I were in your shoes and was uncertain that he would be on the ball about that I would go ahead and do it myself. Then I would watch carefully for a moment when I sensed him to be in a receptive mood to talk with him about it.


Same with the lease, I would watch for a time when his mood and energy were up and address it then.

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He didn't tell us that.  His exact words were " I've prayed for God every day to take me."   He has no concrete plans.

OK, to me this means I would act.  Here's how it would play out for me with a hypothetical son, Bob.


Me:  Bob, I am so sad that you feel so bad!  You know that your father and I see patients like this (this is true because dh is a physician and I'm a pharmacist) and you know that we can help these patients.


Bob;  I don't want someone to tell me I'm crazy.


Me:  You are not crazy.  Depression is a physical illness just like any other and we can treat it...usually quite effectively.  But you have to help me to help you.  


Bob:  I'll figure it out myself.


Me:  No, that isn't going to happen, because you are my son and I'm going to help you just has I've helped you since you were born.  We are in this together.  Let's make an appointment and just see what happens.


Bob:  But what if they tell me I'm crazy.


Me:  Well, if you're crazy, I'll still love you just the same (some levity for a difficult conversation can go a long way esp. with boys).


Really, really, you need to have a conversation with him.  Don't wait for him to figure it out because he cannot do that in the state he is in.  Sometimes we feel like we have to treat our kids like china teapots.  They really aren't that fragile and sometimes they really want us to take the reins and guide them...even when they are 21!  They are still kids in so many ways, but they feel the burden to be an adult.  Take over....I've actually told one of my kids that he could not do XYZ until he was paying for his own health care.  Even if your son acts like he doesn't want help, I think he really does or he would not have told you that (quote above).

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I guess my problem is this.  If I say, you must go see a therapist.  What is the consequence if he doesn't?  Take away the car?  Not a problem.  He isn't using it anyway.  He hasn't gone anywhere all summer other than to go interview for one of these or to go pick up his 14yo sister at my request.  His brother's car is under recall for an air bag issue, so his brother borrows his since he isn't using it.


Take away his phone.  I guess.  But then he loses what access he  has to his friends back from college.  


Other than that I'm not sure what I am willing to do.  Not pay for his last year of college?  When he is doing well academically and has close to a 3.7?  The line in the sand for the middle one is that he couldn't live here if he is not going to school or has a job.  He would land on his feet.  He would live with a friend or whatever until he could figure it out.  That said, it won't be a problem. He wants to be out on his own.  Oldest....  I'm afraid he would find pills to take or something.  I mean he has no friends?  Where would he go?  How would he find a place to live?  


What would the line in the sand look like?  Plus, we are going to have to find him a therapist here. That will take time.  Hubby, daughter and I are leaving in a week in a half for our 2 week camping family vacation to Colorado.  The boys are invited but don't think they want to go and they are old enough they shouldn't have to. 


I'm just not sure what leverage I have. 


I think these are legitimate questions to ask. 


I had typed out a long response before I went to work this morning, but then the internet ate it, and I didn't have the time to retype. So, I'll just say that it does sound like your son is likely depressed. And, in the long term, therapy is probably in order. However, I know from experience that it's not a quick fix. It took us nearly a year to nudge our daughter into starting counseling. And for the first few months she was convinced it wasn't helping and kept saying she wasn't going to continue. Only now, many months later, does she recognize that it has been/is helpful for her.


In the meantime, since it also sounds like it's possible at least some of his depression could be situational, it couldn't hurt to try and find a way to nudge him toward making some positive changes.


Each of my kids reacts to overt pushing badly, although in different ways. Each does better with a different approach when we have found it necessary to give a gentle shove.


In my daughter's case, she got kind of stuck several months after graduation. She had applied for a bunch of jobs, but never got past filling out the online applications. She set her sights on  an internship at a local theatre, but then didn't really follow through on a couple of tasks that would have increased the odds of being successful. She fell into the habit of staying up most of the night watching YouTube and then sleeping most of the day. I tried making some suggestions, which only seemed to result in her getting more resistant and more adamant about finding reasons why none of those things would work.


Finally, one evening, I was sitting at my computer, and I had a thought. I sent her an e-mail, in super casual wording, just kind of mentioning that I had an idea that might be worth pondering. I hit send and then never mentioned it to her.


A day or two later, she responded to the e-mail, saying it might not be a terrible idea and asking me to proofread the e-mail she was considering sending out.


Keep in mind that, while we were doing this e-mailing, we were usually sitting in rooms not 50 feet apart. However, using e-mail seemed to allow enough distance to keep the emotional tenor in check. It also allowed her to read my thoughts when she was ready and to take time responding.


When she did follow up on my idea, it resulted in her being offered an informal internship that allowed her to develop some skills she was missing. And it ended up breaking the log jam and getting her unstuck.


For my son, when I feel like he's losing focus or falling into problematic patterns, what works best is to make an appointment with him to sit down together and have a meeting. We choose a time when both of us will be rested and cheerful enough to speak pleasantly. I try to give him at least a couple of days to get used to the idea that the meeting will be happening. Meanwhile, I do whatever research I feel is necessary and type up notes and suggestions. At the appointed time, the two of us sit down (just the two of us, so that he doesn't feel outnumbered or like the parental units are ganging up on him) and go through the agenda. 


I try to make it clear that I am happy to be his support staff, but he needs to make decisions and own the process.


We had a meeting when he made it impossible for me to continue homeschooling him and needed to figure out how he was going to finish high school. (We came up with a plan, which he stuck to, and graduated two years later.)


We had a meeting when he couldn't seem to get in gear with choosing colleges to apply to and draft his essay(s).(He looked over the charts and tables I had made, chose the schools he wanted to apply to and decided he could adapt an essay he had written for one of his dual enrollment classes.)


We had another meeting when deadlines were approaching and days/weeks were passing without him actually checking anything off his to-do list. (We brainstormed a daily routine that allowed him to devote a certain chunk of time during each school day to application tasks and check in with me by e-mail to let me know what he'd accomplished.)


We had one over spring break this year when he kept nodding every time we reminded him we expected him to work this summer but hadn't gotten around to updating his resume or submitting a single application. (By the end of the meeting, we had drafted three versions of his resume so he was prepared to apply for the various types of jobs he thought he might like, and we had generated a list of places he would apply.)


The in-person thing works better than e-mail for him, but the principle is the same as with my daughter: offering myself as a resource/support while keeping any emotional drama out of the conversation and placing the ball firmly in the young adult's court. 


I don't know if any of that helps, but maybe something will spark a thought.


It's tough. I wish you the best.



Edited by Jenny in Florida
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That is how our conversations tend to go.  Am I more forceful and sit him down with pen and paper and let us make a plan, which he won't sit down he will pace.  He leaves the area with uncomfortable conversations. 


So, in my completely unprofessional opinion, it sounds like he may be tired of having so many conversations revolve around (or circle back around to) this one topic. My son occasionally expressed to me that he hated it when all of our interactions wound up being about school, which is one of the reasons that making a formal appointment for a meetingseemed to be helpful; it allowed us to section off that stuff from the rest of our relationship. We concentrated on that one topic until we reached some kind of stopping point and then were able to go back to being mom and son. He could relax because he knew I wouldn't be "nagging" him throughout the days.

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I'm late to your thread, but having had a suicidal teen... You need to get him to a dr- even if it's just primary care to start with.


I would not start with a "therapist". Primary care dr can refer to a psychiatrist & therapist , but can get the ball rolling & treat depression in the meantime.


If he's spent a year praying for God to kill him, he needs medical treatment. Now.


Get him there, however you have to.


Eta- I know there are huge wait lists for mental health- get him on them now. At home & near school. But he can start treatment with a primary care dr immediately. They are not my first choice, but they do it daily.

But don't just try to have a therapist threat him. See a dr.


(Did he stop his treatment from last year on his own when he started feeling better?)


As far as seeking a diagnosis for ASD as an adult, one of my good friends husband did this. After trying hard to get jobs & being let go from several places for inappropriate social/ work skills. He's been able to access social skills & job coaching services with a diagnosis & also just understand his struggles more. It's made a huge difference for him professionally & personally.

I highly recommend. And if your Ds can get in with a decent therapist, perhaps they can work through that with them.

Edited by Hilltopmom
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  when I was that depressed I was still doing all of my "normal" stuff.  


Comparisons are of absolutely no value. What one person can or can't do when depressed has no bearing on the next person, and there is absolutely no sensible way of deciding if one person is or was 'as depressed' as another person. 


We're not there and don't know your son, so no one can tell you exactly what to do. I would definitely advise getting him in to a primary care doctor; they can run a blood test to check for any deficiencies and they can write a scrip for antidepressants. If you think he might object, I'd say whatever I had to in order to get him to the doctor: I have a vitamin D deficiency and the doctor said to check other family members as well, you need a checkup while we have this good insurance, whatever works.


You can tell the doctor ahead of time to screen extra carefully for depression. Your son may be more willing to talk to, and take advice from, a medical professional, especially if no one else is there. Definitely do not go in with him. Almost every medical writer will prescribe antidepressants even if you're not currently in therapy, because they take time to work. Your dh should easily be able to find out who might be a good choice. 


I also agree that you should not ask a stressed or depressed person about their long-term goals. I think this holds true in the face of any major disappointment, like not getting the internship, whether the person is clinically depressed or not. 


Another thing you might consider is virtual counseling. This eliminates a waiting period, some people are more comfortable not being in person, and he could keep the same counselor at home and at school. And it actually might be a great idea for you to speak to a virtual counselor and explain the situation with your son before proceeding with anything; they might be able to give you advice on how to word things and such. 

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Ok, I'm just having trouble with you guys saying not to send him back when he only lacks 20 hours of his degree.



thank you

I don't think I am up-to-speed on everything that has transpired. I *know* I know nothing about mental health issues and how to treat them. But (gently) I do not understand what the urgency is to get him back to school and finish the degree. I also am unclear on why you are not rescheduling your upcoming vacation. I am heartbroken for you that you are in this position.


One of my favorite sayings on CC is, "Love the kid on the couch." We are all easier to love at certain times than others. I tend to be a pretty controlling person (I'm not bossy; I just have better ideas 😂) and I like it when things are going the way *I* believe they should. There are certain environments where that controlling nature can be helpful, but that is definitely not the case in parenting an adult child. In my completely non-professional opinion, first and foremost your ds needs to know that he is loved by you and loved by you unconditionally. While this won't address the medical issues you are facing (and they need to be addressed), you will NEVER regret that.

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I don't know what I would do in your shoes. I do know people can be depressed without being suicidal.

Since your son is a good student and seems like school, has he thought about graduate school. That would give him more time before he needs to find a fulltime job. I would send this as a simple "what are your thoughts on grad school" email. I would send this sooner rather than later, because some of his friends will be coming back to campus from internships with job offers, and that may increase his stress about not having a job.


Also, please know bad things/crazy things happen to good people. The failed internships do not reflect on your son.

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