Lost & Confused: 18 YO Struggling With Depression

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by mamato3, Jul 1, 2017.

  1. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    Hello. This is my first post, but I've read lots and while I'm glad to see I'm not alone, I hate that so many parents and their children are struggling.

    Long story short, my son is 18 and was diagnosed with depression a year ago. Prior to that, he was seeing a psychologist for a few years off and on. I had known something wasn't right for a long time, but it took him a while to open up and talk. (Stubborn!!)

    Within the last year, he has made some bad choices.
    -Threatened suicide. Ended up in a horrible inpatient facility that took me two days to get him discharged (he was 17, no holds, the calming medications they gave him at the er turned him into a monster, and the facility lied to me to get me to admit him. Horrible experience).
    -2 totaled cars. Neither drug or alcohol related. Just bad choices.

    He is in a relationship with a girl who is also battling mental illness. They have broken up and gotten back together about 7-8 times in the nearly two years they've been together. Every breakup, he falls apart. Can't function.

    Currently, my son is up or down. One day/minute he is ready to get help and get better. (These moments are far and few between.)
    The next he minute/hour/day, he:
    -wants to die, end the pain, give up.
    -doesn't want to/won't take his medicine and doesn't want to consider other options because says he has tried medicine and it didn't work (he's tried 2).
    -says he's tried therapy and it didn't work (he's been to one psychologist and while it was good at first, he hasn't really done much to help recently).
    -says no doctor can help him. He's been to his pediatrician who we left because he wasn't taking my concerns seriously, started visiting a PCP who was also not interested, and a psychiatrist. I agree this psychiatrist is not interested in my son. Long story, but he basically took the "diagnosis" of the inpatient facility where my son NEVER even saw a doctor and went with it. He has asked my son very few questions and when my son told him that he didn't feel the medicine was working, that he couldn't eat because it made him sick, and that he rarely slept, the doctor simply said, "let's give it more time".
    We have looked high and low in our area for doctors to help and cannot find one that is reputable. Any tips on finding a good one?
    -says he's too far gone and he doesn't want to feel what he feels for another 18 or more years.
    -says doesn't want to depend on medicine for the rest of his life.
    -is very mean and hateful.
    -says no one understands his pain. I explain that no, I don't, but I want to help.
    -screams and yells that there is no help and that he's not worthy of help.
    -says he's felt this way for years, blames me for not seeing it sooner. He blames me for putting him in inpatient treatment. He blames me for expecting perfection (my other kids will tell you I expect perfect effort, not perfection). You name it, it's my fault. When he says he doesn't want to live and I tell him I need him, he says, 'it's all about you!"

    When he's up, he is the sweetest, most caring person I know. He has the biggest heart and loves everyone. He's hilarious, kind, and super smart. He has plans for the future. He sings and dances (just to be goofy or have fun). These moments are becoming less and less lately.

    My son is a 'quitter' by nature. Not something my older and younger children do. If my son makes a mistake, doesn't fully understand something, or if it's the least bit challenging, he quits and beats himself up for not being "perfect".

    He's a people pleaser and always worried about what people are thinking about him. This backfires all the time. If he upsets me or assumes I'm not happy with him, he gets mad, frustrated, 'quits'.

    He has a very short fuse and we always feel like we have to walk on eggshells around him. His girlfriend says she feels the same way. Here's an example: we were traveling and we stopped to go to the restroom. My daughter and I take a few minutes too long. My son tells me that we shouldn't take that long and stomps off to the car and slams my door. I tried to explain that we are in no hurry and I don't appreciate how he treated my car (calmly). He starts a huge rant about how I don't understand what he's going through and he just wants to stop living, etc.

    He is also the master manipulator and lies a lot.

    Just to add, my son was born hypothyroid. He was medicated his first five years of life. At five, the doctor took him off of the medications and tested his thyroid. The test results were "normal". His thyroid has been tested several times through the years and has always fallen within the high-end of "normal". Recently, though, his thyroid (I can't remember if it was TSH, T3, or T4) was 5.4 and normal is 4.50. The new PCP that we had heard was so great and good to listen to her patients refuses to refer him to an endocrinologist since his levels are so close to "normal". I know that being hypothyroid can cause depression so I really want to get this looked at. We just seem to have a really bad bought with doctors. My mom is a nurse in a different field and I have a couple friends that work with closely with mental health professionals and they have given me many recommendations based on reputations. All of these recommendations have not been

    I want to lead him to help. I want him to take it, but I can't make him. At what point do I stop helping? Also, any ideas as to finding the doctors we need? I've searched and searched and asked and asked and keep coming up empty.
  2. runawaybunny

    runawaybunny Administrator Staff Member

    You are not alone. You want to help. You are doing as much as you can at this point in your parenting journey.

    I support you. You are navigating a difficult course. It may be a challenging course, but you have courage and are going forward. Just wanted to let you know that I read your post and know how difficult parenting can be. Hang in there.
  3. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Keep shopping for a psychologist or psychiatrist. Google them. Most have web pages that state what areas of treatment they specialize in.

    Ask the psychiatrist if he orders DNA testing to find the right medications for the patient. Medicines need certain enzymes to metabolize...and not all people have the same enzymes, or too few or too many and it affects the way your body metabolizes it.

    Is there any family history of mental illness?

    I am sure others will have more suggestions.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Truth from one who battled severe, suicidal depresiion but accepted help: the best psychiatrist on earth and most skilled psychologist you can lead him to will both fail him if he refuses medication and thinks nobody will help him and refuses to try HARD. Nobody can help him if he wont do what the doctor says. No doctor can make him try either. You can look all over the world.

    I have been on medications (antidepressant) most of my life it took a while to find the best AD for me, but it transformed my life and I never quit therapy or reading up on the latest therapy for depression (did much self help). I was my best advocate. Nobody else could be.

    Your son is his own worst enemy.

    On top of that it sounds like either substance abuse (which I never did at all) or possible personality problems co-exist with the depression. Depression doesnt cause reckless behavior, bad choices or verbal abuse nor car accidents and DUIs.

    But whatever is going on, healing has got to come ftom him. By 18 I knew I had serious issues and was eager to find out what was wrong and to fix it, and mentally I was very depressed snd suicidal at the time. Still... I tried very hard, even though I was terrified nothing would work.

    You cant do anything for your son. He has to do it. I had no parental support at all. None. I did it all on my own and your son also must do it, even at only 18. Legally you can not force him to get help. Maybe he shouldnt drive. If that were my kid, my letting him drive while under my roof would have ended long ago. With the first crash probably. After the DUI definitely.

    He could work and buy his own older car in his own name and pay for his insurance or walk or ride a bike or take public transportation. He is able bodied and can work with depression. Depression is very common. Most work. I had to work.

    Cars are a luxury your son has proven he is not able to use responsibly. I stopped allowing my daughter to drive our car after her first irresponsible accident which destroyed our van.

    Please take care of your own health and state of mind. Your son will get help when/if he is ready and is not making excuses to NOT get help.

    His quick good moods are more indicative of maybe substance abuse than depression. In my years of depression, i was depressed all the time. It did not remit even when life outwardly got better. The medications and therapy helped only.

    Whatever is going on with son, dont drive yourself crazy trying to fix him. Get in therapy to help YOU cope and try to live a great life in spite of your son because you matter too and your other loved ones want you to be healthy.
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    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
  5. Blighty

    Blighty Member

    Your post resonated with me. My son too is a perfectionist but lacks resilience in putting in the necessary work and gives up. It is very frustrating to watch them sabotage their lives. He was a sensitive and clever child.

    My son used to say he felt depressed. But then we discovered he was only depressed when he lived alone and was on his computer nearly all the time. When he could not longer afford to live alone and was living with us and we banned his computer, so he got 'clean' and improved and then we went to a psychologist who said he was not depressed at all ( just frustrated with his living situation). I'm not saying that is the same with your son, but just what they say is depression may not be. My son also lied and manipulated.

    The other posters have given you great advice about taking care of yourself.

    I am also a great believer in the effects of diet on mental health, and any other health for that matter. While he is your home eating your food there may be an opportunity to cut out the availabilty of any food that is not helpful. You may want to research this yourself if you are interested. Additives, sugar (including fruit juices, cakes etc), processed foods, white bread would be the first things I would eliminate. The effects may not "instant" because its not about food allergy per se; its about gut health which takes some time to rebuild. There is a book called "gut and psychology syndrome" which goes into it in more detail.
  6. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    Thank you so much! Knowing there is support is so helpful.

    What's funny (not really) is that his psychiatrist does the DNA testing, which I just learned. Even with us both telling him more than once the medications weren't working, he never brought it up. I have found another practitioner in the area that does it and I plan to call her first thing Monday morning. I also want to have his cortisol and other hormones tested and plan on asking the doctor I contact about the DNA testing.

    Yes, there is a history of mental illness. Dad-anxiety, Me (mom)-possibly depression, diagnosed by PCP and taking Cymbalta which has been helpful for several years. Paternal grandmother-not sure of the official diagnosis as that side of the family doesn't talk much about mental illness. Maternal grandmother-possible depression, off and on AD, irritable, tends to isolate.

    Somewhereoutthere, I totally agree with you!! I will say that the psychiatrist truly did not do his job. My son was open and honest with him, I was in there and I even voiced many concerns. His response was, "let's try a little longer." I told him, my son is not eating, my son is not happy, my son's moods change quickly, my son is not sleeping. We visited him three times. I have called his office numerous times and a small percentage of the time have gotten a callback. And YES, I agree that it is up to my son to fix himself and do the hard work. I have told his psychologist, that I also see for therapy, that if he didn't think my son was being open and honest that I was fine with him cutting the appointment short, or doing whatever he had to do (this was before he turned 18). The last time my son went to therapy, he said he told him that he was very depressed and he told him to come back in a month. Now, I realize my son may not be telling me the whole truth as this is quite common.

    I learned of a new therapy option in the area and I called to make an appointment. They told me to allow two to three hours. I nearly cried with joy as he has never seen a professional for more than thirty minutes (except therapy).

    The car, somewhereoutthere, I totally agree. Unfortunately, we live in more rural area that does not have public transportation and bike riding is also not really an option (dirt roads, crazy drivers, non-bike friendly laws). After the DUI, we did drive him to/from school or make him find a ride, then he got a job and paid for an interlock device. He was (and still is) only allowed to drive to/from school, work, and therapy. The first car wreck, I did take him immediately to his pediatrician and have him drug tested. There was nothing. I have suspected drugs for quite some time. The second wreck, it was raining and he slid into a ditch, the oil pan was ruined and he drove home (the engine got ruined due to no oil). I did not drug test, but I do imagine that he was driving too fast. Currently, he is driving an older car that we purchased, but we do have a "contract". He is allowed to drive to/from work and college if/when he goes this fall. He does work (for now) and the only way he can drive is if he pays us a large majority of each paycheck and he has done that twice so far. I'm not holding my breath this will continue. The car is an "extra" at our house and not his, and he knows that or has signed a contract that states this.

    I have often wondered about a personality disorder. Would this be something I bring up to the therapist, or do you think that with such a long appointment they will assess this? The lady that scheduled the appointment did say they would spend time with both him and I together and just him. He is very open to having me as a part of his appointments and usually recommends my presence. I don't hold back, either. I'm not rude or pushy, but if he isn't completely honest or doesn't fully share information, I will re-ask the question or share the truth. (I do truly think I do interfere too much, but it's so hard to step back.)

    I have often wondered about substance abuse, too. He did admit to drinking too much alcohol following his DUI. It has been nearly a year and we have continued to monitor in the best way we know how. He has also been randomly drug tested by myself (ebay has cheap-ish tests), his parole officer (thanks to the DUI), along with a state program he will/may use to help with college. Honestly, I sometimes wish we would find drugs in his system as this may be (I'm only assuming) an easier (not that it's easy by any means) fix.

    Thank you for sharing. How is your son now? Has he been able to find productive options for himself?

    I also appreciate you sharing information about diet and mental health. This makes total sense and I will definitely be looking into this more. My daughter and husband (his father) are both allergic to gluten and I have asked my son to try giving it up for a while. My daughter totally avoids it, my husband, not so much.
  7. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    He might be bipolar. Did they rule it out? The insomnia, mood swings, and reckless behavior make me suspicious of manic depression/bipolar disorder.
  8. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    If they want to do DNA testing...check with your insurance first to see if it is a covered expense. It can be costly if ins denies... Ksm
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    People with personality disorders are hard to diagnose. They tend to hide them to professionals and not mention symptoms. Does your son have empathy for others?

    I thought of bipolar too. That was a diagnosis i once had. But it also does not tend to swing so rapidly.

    Substance abuse of any kind is not easy to treat. And often our difficult kids hide it well.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  10. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    He never got a "real" diagnosis. The first time we sought medical help was when I brought him to the ER for threatening suicide. I think that doctor put depression on his paperwork. Then, he was in the inpatient facility and never saw a dr, but they diagnosed him with depression. After that, he saw a psychologist that just went off the inpatient doctor's diagnosis.

    Bipolar been something I've often thought about.
  11. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    My son is extremely empathetic. Almost to a fault. Always worried about what others think and working to please them. For instance, he used to work at a restaurant as a cashier and quit because the people who worked there were so 'depressed' and 'always down'. He didn't like being around people who are unhappy.

    He is very good at hiding symptoms and doesn't like talking about the times when he's down. I will ask him questions such as, when you feel like that, how can I help?
  12. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    I think they do, but if not, a friend said she didn't pay more than a couple hundred dollars (she didn't have insurance). At this point, if he's willing, I'll help with medical expenses as much as I can.
  13. Blighty

    Blighty Member

    He lives away from home and communicates with us rarely; probably good for both of us although I suspect he will be tucked away in his room on his computer most of the time, letting more of life pass him by and not making the most of his chances. I may be wrong. I am practising detachment. I will no longer enable his poor life choices. I hope he is moving forward.
  14. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    My first bill was for $4,000! But before we did the test, the lab had offered a deal to the clinic...they would accept what insurance paid, or $25 to $100 based on income, if they paid nothing.

    I about had a heart attack! My insurance didn't pay...not because they denied it, but because they requested more info. The lab never sent it, so it was in limbo for months. Eventually they wrote the whole thing off. Whew!!

    Good luck... Ksm
  15. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    Hi there, and sorry that you have to be here.

    My family has lived, and is still living, a version of your story.

    You speak with wisdom when you say that while you realize your desire to lead him down what you believe to be "the right path", ultimately, you lack any control over his choices.

    This is very smart thinking on your part and at the risk of sounding arrogant, I think it may prove to be "the right path" for you to take as you learn to let go of your adult (no matter how immature) son.

    I've learned the hard way that no amount of worrying, fretting, planning or even manipulating on my part will make one iota of difference to my stepson (or anyone else).

    My stepson refuses to take his medications, too. Refuses therapy, also. We've had to let go of our dreams for him and turn him loose to live his life, to have his experiences, to learn how to exist in the world, on his own terms.

    He doesn't live with us, but his custodial parent doesn't have any more influence than we do.

    You and your husband, and your other child if she is still living in the home and therefore directly affected by his behavior, will have to decide what boundaries might be necessary in order for you to be safe and happy while your son fulfills his destiny. He will do it his way with or without, frankly, your meddling.

    If you have not already checked out Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous, I recommend both of these free fellowships very highly. They might help with detachment and learning how to love our mentally ill/potentially substance abusing children from a distance that is healthy and safe for all of us.

    At 18 your son is in a grey area between adulthood and childhood, but legally he is an adult, which gives your family some options.

    Best of luck.
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  16. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    Oh wow!! I'm glad it was written off. I will definitely check with the doctor's office and insurance.
  17. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    Teenagers are extremely difficult to treat. We went through this with my son. Ugh. I remember how desperate we were to find something, ANYTHING, that would help, as the medications were not doing the job. We spent hundreds of dollars on neurofeedback. Back and forth to the p doctor, the therapist, the tutor. I really feel for you. As we lived it.

    Are you anywhere near an academic university medical center? If you could get him into a clinic at one, that would be good. (And I mean a clinic, not just a private doctor on staff at the medical center.) Get him a proper evaluation. And be there. Go to the appointments with him, and be his advocate, if he'll let you, that is.
  18. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    Teenagers are extremely difficult to treat. We went through this with my son. Ugh. I remember how desperate we were to find something, ANYTHING, that would help, as the medications were not doing the job. We spent hundreds of dollars on neurofeedback. Back and forth to the p doctor, the therapist, the tutor. I really feel for you. As we lived it.

    Are you anywhere near an academic university medical center? If you could get him into a clinic at one, that would be good. (And I mean a clinic, not just a private doctor on staff at the medical center.) Get him a proper evaluation. And be there. Go to the appointments with him, and be his advocate, if he'll let you, that is.
  19. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    Unfortunately we do not. I will look at cities within a couple hundred miles to see if they do. I'm desperate!
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Sometimes you have to travel. But keep in mind that no matter where you bring him, if he refuses to try, he won't get better. I would not spend the money on travel unless he is committed to being compliant.
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