New here- is there ever an uphill??

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by sosad19, May 30, 2014.

  1. sosad19

    sosad19 New Member

    I am so happy to have found this forum!

    I wonder where my happy-go-lucky, funny, extremely social, caring, sensitive son that I absolutely adored has gone- is he still in there??!!

    My son is 22 and has recently dropped out of college. He went to a local branch of a college for 2 years and did very well. During that period, he lost alot of weight (which he needed to do) and got himself in shape. He did mention at one point that he was "feeling depressed", so we went to the doctor and decided to try St. John's Wort rather than start on medications immediately. He stopped taking that, as he said he did not like the way it made him feel.

    After 2 years locally, he went away to the main campus of the college. First semester went well, though he did not like his roommate. Everything went downhill the 2nd semester! He went to the college psychological center, and started medications, which put him in bed for 3 weeks. That semester he ended up taking a "medical leave". Three fairly unsuccessful semesters followed, though he was in treatment with both a psychiatrist and psychologist. Finally, he just had to drop out, as he was not making any progress and was getting worse mentally (plus the fact that we couldn't afford to keep paying for semesters where he would drop courses in the middle of the semester).
    He has been home since March. We seem to take one step forward and one step back. He is in treatment, but has been on so many different medications that don't seem to work. I have confidence in his psychologist, but we just can't seem to make any breakthroughs!!

    My son is "pained" by the world and the inequalities and inequities in it. He "berates" me for subscribing to a cable company (doesn't want to support "big business"), working for a "for profit" company, not being a vegetarian, and watching certain stations like qvc ("what do you gain by that?"). He does tell me not to take what he says to me personally, that it is not just me, but "most of the world". He has texted me as to why I didn't recognize that he's been depressed most of his life. (Not only did I not see any signs of this, but neither did my close knit or extended family. He has always been extremely social and well-liked.) He has texted me as to why I let him become so overweight as an adolescent. (Frankly, I tried to help him, but didn't make much progress.)

    Also, he lost 3 friends in the last few years- 2 to suicide and 1 in an accident. Each time, he claimed he was dealing with the loss, but I can't imagine how you lose 3 friends at that age and be ok.

    I have suggested to him to get involved in a volunteer program for now- but he has an answer for everything! Habitat for Humanity- "too small". Red Cross- "they will be obsolete soon"

    He is very independent as far as household chores- makes his own meals, does his own laundry, etc.

    But I see him becoming more and more isolated because his friends don't "have the same ideals" that he has.
    He says he would like to live in an underprivileged society or a monastery.

    Frankly, I am at my wit's end! I hate going home after work (though I do have a wonderful husband)! After dinner, I find myself going into the bedroom pretty early just to avoid my son. On weekends, since my husband works, I make as many plans as possible just to stay out of the house.

    I see a psychologist once a month- but there really are no answers. I am also going to try going to a NAMI support group (there are currently no Family to Family classes in my area). But I constantly have to remind myself to breathe!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks, all, for letting me vent- I can relate to many of the posts I have read here and feel all of your pain!
  2. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I would invite him to look into making immediate plans to go and live in an underprivileged society. I am shocked that he would stoop to using a cell phone ( which I am pretty sure you are paying for).
  3. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hello Sosad. Welcome to my world!
    (if you read some of my past posts you will get the gist of my story)

    My son is now 27, but he has been ranting to me about ethical, moral, ecological and political issues since the age of about 15. He is now a jobless, penniless, homeless 'eco-warrior' and lives in a farm squat in a forest with derelict farm buildings, vermin, no running water, heating or sanitation. He has long hair and a massive beard and dresses in rags covered in mud and he smells really bad. He does this because of his "beliefs" in the corruption and evil of society. He is cynical about everything and gets very angry about lots of issues which he can't change. He refuses to be part of society and he dislikes most people.

    BUT... he tells me is is happy and he tells me how much he loves me and I have worked really hard to accept his choices in life. My son has suffered from depression for most of his adult life, but he is less distressed by depressive thoughts living as he is. As it is now Spring, he is currently living in a tree house that he built himself, on a riverbank and only accessible via a mile long track of mud that is knee-deep in places. I have visited him there.

    I would say to you that my son is intelligent, he has a good degree from a good university, but he is driven by his righteous beliefs in everything that is wrong with the world. He is not taking drugs, not stealing or being violent in any way. I am extremely saddened to see him living as he is and to see the state that he is in... but, as I say, I am trying to accept things and to even embrace this drive that he has to live off the land and scavenge to survive and not be part of the 'nine-to-five, rent and bills, 2 kids and a wife' etc lifestyle that he despises.

    We are all different. You can try to change your son and control him, or you can detach from the things that cause you pain and just accept him as he is and love him unconditionally. I do not give my son any money, it is his choice to live with no money, but he comes to stay here occasionally.

    When he stays here we have made it clear that we will not tolerate his ranting or him trying to make me feel guilty because I eat meat etc. If he wants us to accept and not judge his choices in life then he must accept ours too. Your son is still at home with you. He may have high-minded ideas about the injustice in the world, etc. Living those ideas is a totally different thing. Life for my son is very tough and is taken up with survival mostly. Your son may just be going through a phase and may never reach the stage of my son.

    I would say that he could be doing a lot worse. Reading other peoples' stories on this site has shown me that. My son is basically a decent, loving, caring, honest person. He is just deeply troubled by the world and the people in it.

    Sending warm thoughts to you.
  4. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    welcome, and sorry you had to find us. I've been trying to piece together a response about your son...on the one hand this hasn't been going on for very least until March he wasn't living with you..I myself had a nervous breakdown my sophomore year in college and went home and lay in bed for severeal weeks or longer...I finally rousted myself and went back to summer school to make up for missed classes, and actually graduated on time (and went on to get a graduate degree) so I don't want to jump on your son or label him difficult child prematurely...

    On the other hand, a few things jump out. His blaming you for his childhood obesity and depression, and especially acting out and complaining about those things at his age...his excuses for doing nothing (Habitat for Humanity etc), his passing judgment on you and your choices while you house, feed and clothe him, and last, just the sheer lonely fact that at 22 he is not in school, not working, and living off his parents with no change in sight...makes him, ultimately, a difficult child.

    Sooo...first of all, I am very very sorry that you avoid going home. I know that feeling well. I used to avoid it because of my ex-husband, but I know now that my three easy child's avoided coming home because of the conflict around difficult child. I hate that I/we did that to their childhood. I hate that anyone's home becomes a trap, a place of discomfort and pain.

    Listening to where it sounds like you are, you are starting some good stuff...NAMI seems to help a lot of people. Posting here helps. Identifying a problem helps.

    It would be reasonable to have a sit down with your son...a "State of the Union" if you will...we used to call them family meetings, and my son's psychiatrist said everyone should be notified and be encouraged to bring anything to the table that they want. Sit down, make it a real meeting, take notes. Listen to what he says without interrupting. Then also speak with the expectation that you will be able to speak without being interrupted.

    The themes are: We love you. We recognize that you are having a hard time. This is something that happens again and again through out life..its called "life." At 22 you must be productive in the world. Since school has not worked out it is time for you to find work, and to start to pay (utilities, rent, your own phone bill, whatever). We expect you to have a job by July 1 (or whatever). As of July 1 we will no longer pay your (car loan phone bill car insurance buy you clothes give you spending money whatever it is you are doing), even if you have not been able to find a job. You are a smart, talented young man. We know you will figure out how to be the responsible adult you need to be.
    We want to feel comfortable in our own home, and having you criticize my taste in TV, or food choices, or whatever is not conducive to that. Please treat us courteously and considerately and we will do the same. If you start to criticize me I will have to end the conversation.
    You can finish with...lets do this again in a week and see where we stand.
    YOu will very likely meet with a lot of sputtering and anger and resistance. That is normal...why should he want to change? He has it great! Try not to let this don't want a 30 year old man living in your house for free and complaining about the bad things you did in his childhood and how your job and leisure time choices are stupid, right? That will happen if you don't start changing things now.

    There are monasteries here in the US. He should look into one if that is what he wants.

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  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    Welcome SS and glad you are here. I echo everything Echo said (a small attempt at humor on this Friday)...

    Seriously, she and Lucy are excellent people to be first responders to your post. Your stories are very similar and they have been there done that.

    There are the obvious flags to your story like his three friends and being overweight etc., issues I am sure that have been hard to deal with. But, he still has to deal with them... and/or find the help he needs and comply with that help.

    I would suggest adding one thing to the family meeting. "We'd like you to also start making plans to move out and get your own place by ____date____ because that's what 22-year-old people do next." Give him some time to save up a bit and get his bearings and then he needs to launch.

    Busy people are happier people. Get busy and your problems and ideological musings and reflections on life will fade into getting to work on time, working hard and doing a good job, fixing dinner, paying the light bill, doing a load of laundry and falling into bed to do it all over again. Like the rest of the world does.

    Sitting and musing and studying the problems of the world----this said from a big reflector, that I am----leads to very few productive results. Unless, like Echo said, you want to go live in a monastery or in a squat like Lucy talks about, and if that is what you want to do, and it works for you, best wishes and enjoy the trip.

    If he's depressed, he needs to get therapy and medications. And that doesn't absolve him from the very real responsibilities of life, as Echo said.

    And like Lucy says, you need to stop the flow of money. Every single expert you will read will tell you that is the best way to get difficult children up off the couch and doing something. You can give notice and do it in a reasonable and respectful way, but it must be done.

    Otherwise, we are creating big overgrown 20-something-year-old babies. And there is truly no place in society for them.

    Big hugs. Glad you are here. We care and we get it.
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  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Sosad, we're glad you're here.

    You've received excellent advice.

    I want to add one more thing and that is about grief. Your son had 3 major losses back to back, if he did not grieve those, deeply, that lack of grief will wreck havoc. He is the only one who can seek out treatment or permit himself to feel it, you can't do it for him.........however I would like to offer you this:

    My daughter lost her husband to suicide, then she lost her kids, her home, her job, all of it. She did not grieve, she was angry. I believe, among other complications, that the lack of grieving kept her stuck in a vicious cycle which got worse and worse and worse. Had I known that early on, I MAY have been able to make a difference, but maybe not. To help you understand it, I just finished reading an excellent book on grief which is Entering the Healing Ground, grief, ritual and the soul of the world by Francis Weller. He is a psychotherapist in No. Ca. where I live. Reading the book may offer you insight into a place your son may be living.

    We live in a culture which does not honor grieving. I would imagine it would be difficult for a young man to embrace the fact that grieving will be healing and free him, if that is indeed the case.

    I've watched the devastation what not allowing grief can do and if it feels right to you, open that door with your son. Sometimes simply a presence to allow someone to be safe enough let go of deep sorrow is what it takes.

    On the other hand, none of this may be what is going on with your son. I have no idea. I just thought I'd offer it up as a suggestion.

    It helps to keep posting. You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here, it's very informative and useful.

    I'm glad you're here. There are many very supportive and wise people here to offer a helping hand, empathy, understanding and kindness. Hang in there.
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  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Are you 100% sure your son did not lose weight by using drugs? This is a common and scary way to lose weight, but a lot of lyoung people do it. Did she see him watching his diet and working out or did the weight just magically seem to come off? Meth makes people lose weight. So do all of the ADHD drugs.

    Do you live in the US? I ask because most of our kids couldn't give a rat's about the state of the world. At any rate, no matter where you live, I would tell you son, and tell him only one time, "It is fine that you have these concerns, but they are YOUR concerns. You have your life and your choices an d you can not affect anyone's life choices except your own." Thereafter, if he starts ragging at you about these things, Iwould just tune him out or make excuses to go out and leave him to chill. I strongly recommend reading the book "Boundaries" by Townstead and Cloud, even if you're not religious. Your son is seriously crossing YOUR boundaries by telling you how to live, how to eat, where to work, etc. He has a right to live his life your way, but not to try to control YOUR life, which is seperate to him, even though you gave birth to him.

    I would not even bother engaging his talk as our difficult children are not rational, never give up, and use these verbal attacks to villify us, make us feel guilty and keep us supporting them, way past the age when they should be out of the house and on their own.I think that all of our difficult children use this tactic. How dare they! They still live off of us. How dare he tell you how to live in YOUR home and in YOUR life. It is your private decision how to live.

    Look carefully into whether or not your son is now involved in drugs. You may find him too difficult to live with you anymore. You have that option, even if he has to think on his feet for the first time ever and figure out how to take care of any mental health issues he has and how to get a place to live without relying on you.

    Another good book is "Codependent No More" by Melody Beatty.

    You can not fix your son nor should you try and his treatment...he needs to be responsible for it. You don't really know what is going on with that.

    Hugs for your hurting mommy heart.
  8. helpangel

    helpangel Active Member

    you've gotten good feedback from the other parents here, a couple things i think got overlooked.

    there are 5 stages to grief -denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance

    one mom said her daughter instead of grieving was angry, i think she just got stuck in the denial/ anger stage ; I totally get it my x had me stuck in the anger/depression stage for like 15 years and even now having hit acceptance would probably snap and be looking at assault charges if saw him so yep still stuck in angry over here

    grief from suicide is totally compounded with thoughts of i should have told them how important there are to me, could i have done something to prevent it, if only... etc.

    having gone thru medication trials with these girls - it is a test in perseverance, not just for the patient but family, friends, coworkers... everyone involved.

    my kids at times don't approve of something i do or don't like some injustice in society; my thing is ok your feelings are valid. if don't like what i'm doing you're free to move out get your own place, i'll help you pack and get you some boxes. if its some injustice i ask them to make up there mind; either sit alone and whine cause i'm not listening to it or get off their lazy fanny and do something to fix what they feel is broken.

    i'll climb down off my soapbox now use what you can and leave the rest, please know when find the right medications it does get better

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  9. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    I love the way you said this, helpangel. I love the tone, I love the words, I love the meaning. I'm going to write this down.

    I'm so doooooonnnnnneeeee with all of the other stuff.
  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I really like that.

    Shift the focus to getting him independent.

  11. sosad19

    sosad19 New Member

    I want to thank all of you so much for your words of support!

    Lucy- my son sounds alot like yours- he is "troubled by the world and the people in it".

    recoveringenabler- I think you touched on an important issue- I don't think my son ever "grieved" the loss of his friends- he was the one that tried to "be strong" for his other friends to help them through the difficult time

    MidWest Mom- my son lost weight by really watching what he ate and going to the gym everyday- that was one of the best times of his life- he was very motivated, doing well in school, extremely social, and proud of his accomplishments. I do know that there is some marijuana use, but all of his doctors have told me that there is no indication of other drug use. (Would I like the marijuana use to stop? Yes!!!!! But none of his doctors have agreed that it is causing any harm...)

    helpangel- thank you for your words of encouragement on finding the right medications. For now, I actually think the medications are making my son worse.

    I still am having trouble with the "tough love" aspect, though. My son is seeking treatment and keeps all of his weekly appointments. I feel that my husband and I enable him as little as possible. He does not ask for much- he gets by on what he has (and even says he would gladly give up the internet if we would get rid of our cable service). He has always refused birthday and holiday gifts, saying that my husband and I "do enough for him". He rarely asks for the car, because he "doesn't want to pollute the air". He has expressed the fact that he feels guilty having certain "comforts", when not all of the world has them, and he therefore turns the air conditioner off, turns the water off as he is showering, etc.
    If my son had diabetes, for example, I would do all I could to help him manage this disease. Instead, he has a "brain illness" and I do not want to give up on him! I see him isolating himself from his friends more and more, as they do not "share" his ideals. I feel like something in his brain just went "haywire" and I want my old son back! (Will he end up living in squalor because of his ideals? Will he ever come to his senses? I don't know- but I want to allow him a chance to live a productive life, as long as he continues to seek treatment.)
  12. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sosad, your name is appropriate for what we go through here. I know how difficult and sad this journey is for us parents. It's not an easy path to define or navigate through. We all find our own way, there is no right way or wrong way, only guidelines which work for most of us.

    I think it is a good idea for you to follow up with NAMI. They have excellent courses for parents which map out how to maneuver through this maze when our kids have mental or emotional issues. They can offer options and tools for you as the parent to learn how to cope, how to get support and a place to air your feelings with folks who are educated. Getting support for YOU is going to be your best tool to get through this with your son.

    You are right about the diabetes analogy. Of course you would help him. But even with that diagnosis, if your son had that disease and refused help, you would need to let go of his choices at some point because you are powerless to enact change in another, only they can do that. You as a parent can only do so much for him, at some point, which only you can decide upon, you will need to get clear on what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do IF he is not helping himself.

    I am not an expert, however your son sounds depressed, perhaps due to unfelt grief. He would be best served, in my estimation, to seek professional help, however you cannot force that upon him, it has to be his choice. What you can do, is figure out what your boundaries are, recognizing that he is an adult male who is capable of helping himself. You can let him know that a condition of his staying with you is that he seek help. If he refuses help then there is nothing you can do. But you don't have to sit on the sidelines watching him slip further into isolation.

    He is young and from your description of him, he is not disrespectful, or lazy, but removed, isolated and possibly depressed. He has to take the steps to heal himself. What your job is is to figure out what you are willing to do, what you are not willing to do, what your boundaries are, what you can live with, what you cannot live with, and what your expectations are of a 22 year old person living in your home are. Once you are clear on that, you need to communicate that to your son and let him know what you expect. If he cannot live up to your expectations in your home to your satisfaction, then consequences need to be imposed. That is real life. We make choices. There are consequences. For all of us. No one gets a free ride to hang out without expectations placed on them.

    I think where you are now, the crucial steps are for you to figure out what your boundaries are and make that clear. It may require help. It usually does for many of us. Seek out more support then the once a month counseling appointment. Seek out help which is appropriate to your situation, as in NAMI.

    This is a tough road. It goes against our parental instincts, however, allowing behavior like your sons for a longer period of time will likely make it worse. We humans get used to a way and then attached to it. So take some action.

    Sending you warm thoughts as you go through this..................I know it's hard.
  13. sosad19

    sosad19 New Member

    Thank you for your response, recoveringenabler!

    As I mentioned, my son IS in treatment- he sees a psychiatrist monthly and a psychologist every week (that is why I am trying to be patient with him- at least he is seeking help...) Both of these professionals have been in touch with each other. So I tell myself periodically that I need to leave it in the hands of the professionals. Intellectually, I know that is what I need to do, but when I am in the midst of a conversation with him, I still feel my whole body tense up and I want to scream!! I am trying to work on how I react- which I know is the only thing I can have control over. But my "gut reaction" is still taking over- and then I go upstairs and cry, dry heave, etc. I am afraid he will never get better!!!
  14. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Sosad, welcome.

    For me, detachment has been more about learning to identify and detach from my emotions about what is happening to my children than it has been about detaching from my children themselves. For me, detachment was about learning to see what was helpful for the kids in how I responded to them, and which behaviors of mine were undermining them. I had developed something like PTSD where my kids were concerned. I would panic and go into ~ I don't know. Some weird emotional place where I wasn't even able to think. I would function on automatic and lose myself somewhere in the process. So, for me, detachment from my own emotional responses was helpful. Once I was actually functioning rationally, I made different kinds of decisions. I think those changes in my responses have been very good for all of us.

    Your son is very young and, as Recovering noted, he is considerate of you, and he is kind to you. I don't know why life has to be so hard for some of us, but I do know that it breaks something inside me to see my children hurting, or lost in a place I cannot help them out of.

    I am sorry for the pain of what is happening to you, and to your child, sosad.

    I am glad you found us.