First time here


New Member
I just found this site, while searching google on how to help my depressed son. I have read a few threads, and gained knowledge and suggestions that I find useful. I'm not sure how this works, but here is my story.
I have 2 sons, 17 and 20. I have been divorced 15 years. Was married to an alcoholic that continues to drink. He has never spent much time with the boys, and consistently blew them off most of their childhood.
My 20 yr old started having panic attacks and anxiety at 15, couldn't go to his regular HS, and finished school at an alternative program which was doing his school work at home. He also started smoking pot at this time. He went through a really difficult time, tried a few antidepressants, a few counseling sessions, but quit the medications and therapists. He did improve for a time, started riding motorcycles which he loved. The last year, he has been getting more depressed. Quit going to community college, sits in his room all day, quit showering, lost weight, plays video games all night and sleeps all day. I have begged, pleaded, cried, screamed try to get him to see a therapist. He refuses, says he is sick of me asking him. He says the fact that I bring it up everytime I see him, it makes him want to stay in his room more. I am desperate and don't know what else I can do to help him. This is making my other son depressed, and he hates being at home now.


Well-Known Member
Hi, and welcome.

I have begged, pleaded, cried, screamed try to get him to see a therapist
As you've noticed, this does not work. It just provides a pressure point for them to push back against.

However, he is 20. This is different than when he was 15. He is an adult now.
He lives in YOUR home. Which means: your house, YOUR rules. These rules apply to everybody who lives in your house. So, that includes you, and the younger son.

Some possible rules:
1) NO internet access between (pick some reasonable hours that don't punish your other son... 11 pm to 6 am? )
2) Must contribute to the household. Dishes? vacuuming? weeding the garden?
3) Must maintain reasonable hygiene for the health of the household: teeth brushed at least 1x/day, bath or shower at least 2x/week, sheets and towels changed and washed at least weekly, clothes must be changed after bath/shower.
4) Must be out of the house at least X hours per day (pick a number to start with)

Consequence? The first rule is easy... you can turn off the router, and take it to your room at the intended cut-off time, and then nobody has internet access.
The others... it's your house.
Maybe someone else on the board has some more creative ideas...

Note: You cannot force anyone to take medications or see therapists. They own their own body. All you can do is refuse to support their refusal to get help. If they aren't actively seeking to get better, then maybe they need to leave home and find out what real life is like.


Well-Known Member
Welcome, Maxma. I'm sorry you had to google that question.

A lot of us have kids with mental illness, depression and anxiety common among them. A lot of us have abandonment issues, either ourselves or for our kids.

I feel sad for your son, and for you, and most especially for the younger one.

Here is what I think on reading your short story...a 20 year old who lives off of his mother, isn't in school, and doesn't have a job, is an anomaly. Something needs to change. Since you have tried and tried to change him (by begging, pleading, crying, screaming, and I"m sure by finding therapists, looking for jobs, and talking to teachers etc), you now are left with the only option being to change yourself.

You have a lot of company. You might try to see if there is a local chapter of NAMI, a national support group for families of people with mental illness. You might read some books, starting with one we all like called "Boundaries". You might start by setting some limits and expectations.

I am sorry he suffers from severe depression. That doesn't give him the right to lie around and live off of you without trying to better himself.

Spend some time gathering your resources. Think about what boundaries you can set...that he applies for one job every day? That he pays for groceries? That he pays for his phone or video games?

That he be living somewhere else in three months?

That he sit down with you and your other son for dinner every night?

What do you need from him?

Others will come along and ask questions and make comments. It will give you a lot to think about. Good luck to you, and welcome.



New Member
Thanks for the replies. I have an appointment with a therapist tomorrow to help me with setting boundaries. I will definitely get that book today. It does help to know that I am not alone in this struggle.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Welcome Maxma, I'm so sorry about your son and I'm sorry you are having to deal with this.
You are not alone, there are many here that know what you are going through.
I agree with the others and the advice they have given. There are many people who deal with severe depression and other mental illness and they are able to manage their lives. Your son is no different and there is no reason that he too can lead a good life.
By allowing him to live in your home where he can play video games when he wants and sleep when he wants, there is no consequence and this is not helping him, you or your other son.
There is a fine line between helping someone and enabling someone and it can be very easy to cross over to enabling without really knowing that's what you are doing. You think you are helping but you're not.
I am glad you have an appointment. with a therapist. You also now have this forum which is a great place to vent share.


Well-Known Member

Hi. I am so glad you found this forum because it will help YOU tremendously. And, YOU is who you must concentrate on right now. We had two younger children who suffered because of all the time & effort husband and I were pouring into trying to keep a peaceful home.

....if we had a do-over, it would not have gone like that. Darn. We did the best we knew how. We did! and, it never helped the situation one iota.

But, what you are living with, what we lived with, is not normal. and we, at some sane level, KNEW that, just as you know.

Stay with us, because you will gain much strength and insight.



one day at a time
Maxma, welcome. You have gotten great thoughts here already. I know you will read and reread them.

Start making a list of the "tools" you can use every single day to change your life.

I am so glad you are going to a therapist. That can be so helpful.

Another great book is Codependent No More.

I was very confused about mental illness and what that meant in terms of what I should do, and was responsible to do, both for my husband (now ex---alcoholic too, we were married for 29 years) and my son, who struggled with drug addiction and depression and anxiety.

I thought a mental illness meant that major, major allowances had to be made for people; after all, they were mentally ill.

I will never forget the day my therapist told me this: He is still responsible for his actions.

It was like a thunderbolt. I couldn't even grasp onto that thought at first. I thought a person who was "not all there" couldn't make good decisions for himself. So...that meant I had to make tremendous allowances.

Both my ex-husband and my son were running all over me. I just kept on enabling and enabling, until I started learning how NOT to enable.

Now, I am divorced from my ex-husband, who has stopped drinking. And my son has had one year of progress after more than 6 years of H_ll. Pure H_ll.

One of the major factors in these changes is that I stopped enabling. That was a long road, and a hard road for me, but it was the right road.

May you find that road, too, and start your journey on it.

We are here for you.


Well-Known Member
Welcome Max,

You have gotten some great advise.

The truth is that your son is a grown man and cannot continue living in your house while doing nothing productive with his life.

He must start dealing with his anxiety issues. He is the only person who can get that ball rolling. If he cant function, he needs to go to the doctor and get a medical workup as well as a mental health workup. If he refuses, their is nothing you can do to make it happen, but you can institute the rules that Insane posted (or make your own to suit your household).

You cant allow his problems to affect your younger son. That is the bottom line

Please continue posting. It helps.



New Member
Thank you! This site has opened my eyes, and I finally have hope. I am making my list of boundaries he needs to follow, and plan on presenting it to him tonight, (after I review it with my therapist ).


Well-Known Member
You go Max!

You can do this!

What you are doing is what is best for Difficult Child, as well as yourself and 17yo.

Hang in there, let us know how Difficult Child responded.