I am struggling to cope

hi There,
This is my first time on this forum, and I have been reading posts about other peoples struggles and have found it to be very helpful.
I am hoping for some advice about my 19 (nearly 20) year old son. He is suffering from severe depression, but refuses to accept any help. Looking back now I think that his depression has been coming on for a few years, but came to a head when in June this year he had a toxic relationship with a girl, which ended very badly, and he became very very depressed. At the time he pushed me away from giving him any help, he just wanted to be left alone, and said if I called anyone, he would disappear. He was suicidal and kept disappearing in the middle of the night, going out all hours for hours on end with no way to contact him, Once he came home drunk and had been sleeping in a field whilst pouring with rain. He told me that he stood on railway bridges and thought of jumping off... Anyway I tried and tried to help being here for him and offering to pay for a counsellor, said I would go with him to the doctor etc. Initally he refused ANY help, although eventually he reached out to me and I then could start to help him. I gave him a lift to the doctors and he tried 4 times to get on anti-depressants, but the made him violently sick so he refused (and still does) to go back on them. I found him a lovely counsellor which I paid for that I thought he would get on with, and he did go to see him as often as he wanted, and I think that he found this helpful. However after accepting my help for a while he would then push me away again. I took him to A & E after hurting his hand after punching a door repeatedly, and as soon as we arrived he told to to go, and leave him there at 3am in the morning with no way to get home, and no phone to call anyone. After protesting and offering to sit in the car I eventually pushed a £20 note in his hand for a taxi cab. This change of heart is totally out of the blue, I tread on egg shells whenever I talk to him for fear of saying something wrong. Although I always have told him I am always here for him and Love him.

Anyway for a while things settled and although still depressed seemed to move on with his life, this September he started University and i was hoping this would be the new start he needed. However a couple of weeks ago he told me he was still feeling depressed and said a few worrying things, however he told me that he was happier at Uni than at home, so I took this as a positive step. Then 3 weeks ago I sent him a text to ask him if he was keeping warm, and got a long list of verbal abuse, totally out of the blue... saying he hated everyone and everything including Uni, friends and me. That he wants to die and be alone forever etc etc. I told him I was here for him if he ever wanted to talk and that I loved him (ignoring all the abuse) I offered to go and visit him and or go with him to see a dr. He told me he didn't want to see anyone including me, and that he wants to be left alone in no uncertain terms. I left him in peace, but did contact the Uni confidentially and said that I was worried about him etc. the lovely lady said that she would keep an eye open for him to see if he was going to lectures etc.

Roll on a couple of weeks and xmas looming I sent him a text asking when he would like us to pick him up etc. ... he ignored me. Then last night he sent me a string of messages saying that he HAD to leave uni at xmas( which is not true as the Student support officer said that it was possible to stay but no food or facilities to cook were available) but that he didn't want to see anyone didn't want presents, etc etc etc. I said that no questions would be asked and that he could be left alone if he came home, however he has now decided Not to come home and to stay alone at uni with no- one and no food.

I am so so so desperately sad, whatever I said,however I tried, he just pushes me away, I tell him, he can do as he pleases and have the space that he wants, that I love him and the door is always open and just say the word if he changes his mind I can pick him up. Said to him he is an adult and as such can choose to do as he pleases. I told him this in an email along with saying that I am always here for him, and Love him deeply.

I feel helpless, I can think of nothing else to do, I am sooooooo sad and unhappy I feel that I have let him down, I cannot eat, sleep and am going out of my mind.

I spend all my time wondering what I did wrong? , how could this man who had a loving stable family with all the support have become so screwed up> I keep thinking where I went wrong and what I can do to fix the situation. I am so so so so unhappy and now ontop of everything, I have to put on a brave face for Christmas


Well-Known Member
I spend all my time wondering what I did wrong? , how could this man who had a loving stable family with all the support have become so screwed up
Hi, and welcome... sorry you had to find us.

First... it is not your fault.

There are all sorts of reasons for depression. It goes unnoticed in a lot of men. It's hard to get them to accept help.

Others will be along with more help than I can give.


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Staff member
Welcome. I am so sorry you find yourself struggling with your son. It's extremely difficult to love someone and watch them self destruct. It is impossible to change or help someone who doesn't want help. Since he is an "adult" there is little you can do.

It appears as if you are not in the US. Here we have an organization called NAMI, which is the National alliance on Mental Illness. Even if your son is not seeking help NAMI offers wonderful courses for parents to learn to cope with Mental illness and to find strategies and guidance to learn to accept what you have no power to control or fix. Wherever you live, it may be prudent for you to look for an organization which is similar and offers support for parents.

It is very sad. I am sorry for your suffering. You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. It may be helpful for you. If there are equivalent groups where you are like the 12 step groups we have here, they might offer you some relief, they are very helpful to many of our members here.

When we're in a situation like you are in, where an adult refuses help and leaves us on the sidelines feeling helpless and out of control, the best advice we can offer is for YOU to seek help so that you can learn to live within a situation where you have no control. It isn't easy which is why we advocate professional counseling or some kind of support for YOU. Going against our own beliefs about what a parent can and should do when our kids are struggling is like trying to control a runaway train. As long as you remain in the mindset of guilt, or enabling or grief or trying to "fix it" you will suffer. You didn't cause this and you can't fix it. Only he can.

This is hard. For many of us, this is the hardest thing we will ever have to face. I have a grown daughter much older then your son, who has no diagnosis but has acted out in many self destructive ways. For me, the way I learned to cope was to seek out as much support as I could to help ME to learn how to accept what I had no control over. Otherwise, I would be running around in a hamster wheel for the rest of my life trying to fix the unfixable. It is out of our control. We are powerless. Accepting that is very challenging.

Your story is not unlike many of ours. If you have been reading along you have likely identified with many of us. This is a positive, healthy place to land for those of us with troubled adult kids. I'm sorry you find yourself here, but I'm glad you found us. I'm glad you're here. Take a deep breath and recognize that this is not your fault, AND, there is little you can do. Find support, find a therapist, or a parent group, or somewhere YOU can go to vent, express, get support, guidance, empathy, understanding.........help so you can learn how to find joy in your own life, separate from what your son is doing or not doing. It is a tall order, but it CAN be done. I did it. So can you.

Keep posting, it helps. Sending a welcome hug for your hurting heart...............
Thank you so much, your words are of great comfort to me, no I live in the UK, but as you say, can identify with many of you as I read through your own sad stories. I hear your wise words and they make much sense, but I am just feeling so responsible and down, ATM I cannot eat, or sleep and just feel that I, am responsible for this somehow. I am no stranger to loss, having had twins die years ago, now I feel that I am losing my son and there is nothing I can do,but watch him from afar, on self district, . My dad and Grandfather both committed suicide, and I am sitting here wondering if the same fate awaits my son. Sorry to sound so negative, on there own each of these I can deal with put them together and I just feel desperate
I will try to get some support for myself, but unfortunately this will now be after Christmas. I appreciate all your advice, sorry my last post sounded so ungreatfull, forgive me.


Well-Known Member
DS... don't be so hard on yourself... please? Around here, when we need help, any one of us can be pretty much "flying off the handle" or "flying in the dark". You need us. We understand.

Please keep posting. People like RecoveringEnabler and others around here are wise warriors.

Depression has a genetic component. From your second post, it sounds like depression does run in the family.

Do you have a suicide help line in your country? Here (I'm not in the USA either) any of us can call that if we are having trouble coping with our own thoughts of self harm, or if we are having trouble because of someone in our lives who is at risk of self harm. This gives us access to people who understand. It might help you deal with your own feelings.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
I am just feeling so responsible and down, ATM I cannot eat, or sleep and just feel that I, am responsible for this somehow.

I know those feelings quite well, having lived with them myself. My bio family is riddled with mental illness and my son in law committed suicide which is what sent my daughter, my only child spinning out of control. I understand. I know how hard it is to stop blaming yourself as the parent of a child who has gone off the rails. However, realistically , you have done what you could for your son, you have given him many, many opportunities and for whatever reason he is not accepting help. Mental illness is extremely difficult for the rest of the family. It sounds as if you've been dealing with it in one form or another in your family for a long, long time.

I feel your pain. It can rob you of every ounce of happiness. Particularly if you feel responsible. Feeling responsible in families where mental illness reigns, is a common response to what we have no control over. It is a mindset, not a truth. With a lot of help, I got out from under that rock. It likely goes beyond your present situation with your son and goes back to your younger years when your Dad and grandfather committed suicide. It is very common for children to feel responsible for what the adults around them do. It is not your burden to carry, but it will likely take support to let it go.

You may find solace in some books.....Codependent no more by Melodie Beattie, The four agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, any books by Pema Chodron, Youtube videos by Brene Brown, particularly the one on Shame and vulnerability and books or youtube videos by Eckhart Tolle. Those all helped me a lot.

Guilt is what a humorist called Erma Bombeck called "the gift that keeps on giving." Unfortunately what guilt does is demand a need for punishment. We punish ourselves by eliminating joy because how can we be happy when we are responsible for so much suffering in our kids lives? Well, we are not responsible. And, you can be happy. You can choose it. But it takes work on yourself to do that. You've lived with great loss, unimaginable loss......and I am so sorry for that. I have lived with a lot of loss too. It can certainly color your world. But it is NOT a life sentence.

Do something kind for yourself today. You deserve it. Even if you believe you don't, YOU DO. Take steps to stop blaming yourself for what you can't control, you can't control the actions of another. Powerlessness is a difficult concept to understand and accept, but in the acceptance of it, you free yourself from all that blame and guilt.

Hang in there. It will get better if you begin focusing on what it is that you need. You are as important as your son.
Just thought i would write an update. After him telling hm that he was not coming home, I sent him an email, basically saying that I love him, but acknowledge he is an adult and i could not, and wouldnt want to force him to come home, that it was his choice. I also said that like a broken leg rarely heals correctly on its own, mental illness often needs counselling to fix, and that one day, when he was ready it may help him to find someone who can help him. I told him the door was always open for him here, this was his home, and if he changes his mind text me and i will pick him up, i told him again i loved him and hoped that whereever he was this Christmas I pray that he was safe.
Out of the blue this am, i got a text saying can I pick him up!! I couldnt believe my eyes. Only wanted me to go not husband, so I drove and collected him, and spent the journey in silence, as he dosnt want to chat, or have christmas, meet people. Etc. etc. but I am just over the moon, that he is safe and has food to hand. Thank you all so so much for all your support yesterday. I know this is not a magic cure and all the problems resolved, but baby steps, he is home and safe for now, and for that I am over the moon, and very happy. Thank you once again, and sure i will be re-reading all your advice for the next episoide.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
I am glad that he is home. Enjoy your moments with him.

Bear in mind, that whatever his next action is may be to do something which will send you back in to the darkness and the pain. The best thing you can begin to learn is to not allow his behaviors, actions and choices to drag you down. How we do that is by getting support to keep us balanced so our well being does not depend on the choices another makes. We learn how to respond to the chaos differently. That requires support because it is a tall order, but it is a doable one.