Need some advice for son struggling with depression....


New Member
Hi, I am new to this & like so many others I will apologize for the length, but I could use someone else's point of view. My son is 17 & struggles with severe anxiety & depression. He was once a happy, popular young man & now I do not know who he is or who I am. It started when we moved to Florida because my now ex-husband had a great job opportunity. This was something had always wanted, but it has turned into a living nightmare that I can't wake up from. My ex-husband walked out on us leaving me with nothing financially. I was a stay at home mom & hadn't worked since my son was born. Within months of him walking out, our son developed an eating disorder & over the course of a few month he lost 60 lbs. At the same time my brother was killed in a car accident & he was everything to me. I found a therapist who helped my son conquer his eating disorder, but at the same time his anxiety ramped up & he was a perfectionist about school. My ex refused to believe there was any type of problem even though he saw our son's weight loss. He would do nothing to help. My son's anxiety problems got so bad his last year of middle school that the therapist suggested medication which meant going to another doctor for that.

The start of high school was a nightmare & my son's anxiety was so bad that he could only take a couple classes on campus & the rest online. It has been a difficult process that stresses him out so badly he shuts down. A year ago he told me he wanted to commit suicide. It was at the time the worst day of my life. He hated his psychiatrist who prescribed the medications so we found another one who put him on so many that he became aggressive & violent. He threw things, broke things & threatened me constantly. At this point his father finally became involved slightly, but still refused to believe anything was wrong. Before then he did nothing & refused to believe there was a problem stating I was exaggerating, making things up, etc. By May, he attempted suicide. I have lost my parents & my brother, been in a relationship where I got beat up almost daily, but the pain I feel every day & what my son feels every day is beyond anything I've ever felt. My beautiful son has been hospitalized twice for attempted suicide. My once happy, loving, funny son is gone & I want him back, but don't know what to do. He did go to outpatient rehab for almost a month where he was taken off all but 1 medication, but the insurance company dr. said he was fine so the rehab place said he had to be discharged even though he needs so much more help.

He is still seeing his therapist & yet again a different psychiatrist, but the treatment is going nowhere with either one. He trusts his therapist more than his own father since he father just constantly lies about everything & does virtually nothing still. He will be having formalized testing, but both myself & my son are just existing. He refuses to go to a support group, hates school (he has been bullied horribly throughout middle & high school even by a teacher), is terrified of making friends, literally hates everything & everyone & spends his days in his room playing video games. He is no longer violent towards me, but I am still scared of him especially when he starts throwing things in his room & yelling which has started all over again. I spend nights listening at his door to make sure he is okay when he is more off than usual. I am scared when I go to work & when I come home because I don't know what I will find. I check in with him constantly when I am at work to make sure he's okay, but its still terrifying. He has become more withdrawn again, refuses to do any homework for his online classes & barely talks to me. There is no joy, no happiness; we are both just existing.

I work a part time job for very little money & get very little financial help from my ex. Working full time is a problem since I have no other way to get my son to school except me driving him & using a bus is not an option because of his anxiety. I walk on egg shells every day around him trying to help, but usually I get cussed out or doors slammed in my face. I feel like there is no hope. Things just keep getting worse. The stress of trying to help him, being isolated & the stress of my job have finally taken a toll on me physically as my blood pressure is dangerously high & I can't afford health insurance. My sister is the only 1 left in my family & she doesn't understand or try to understand what my son is going through. My friends at work do, but I don't want to burden them because they are struggling too. I constantly second guess myself; am I too tough, not tough enough, am I doing too much or too little? What do you do when you don't want to wake up every day? I would never harm myself, but the pain of just existing is no way to go through life. I don't what has happened to me as I used to be positive, happy & outgoing & so was my son. If I am having trouble, how do I help my son?
There are others on this board who struggle with the same issues with their children and who'll have much more knowledge than I. All I can do is offer a cyber hug for what you're going through and to tell you you're not alone. Other members will be along soon with their experiences and advice. I just wanted to let you know that your post has been read and isn't being ignored. Hugs, L

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome to our little corner of the world, while I'm glad you found us,I wish you didn't need to. I'm so sorry for all you are going through. Where is that magic wand when I need it?

Does he see the psychiatrist on a regular basis? We had to trial so many medications before we found one that helped our son (he is doing well but has a bipolar diagnosis so not quite the same as depression on its own). My daughter deals with anxiety and depression and she has medications that are helping as much as they can. I'm glad he found a therapist he trusts-that is very important.

I think it is important through all of this that you take care of yourself and, yes, I know, that is easier said than done. Do you have a hobby you enjoy-reading, exercising, anything? I don't know where I would be if it weren't for exercise and this site.

Adding in some gentle hugs to you and your son. I hope you stick around as you will find much support here.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
God bless you and I'll say a prayer for you. My 20 year old son has anxiety and depression and abuses substances and it's tearing our family up so we're not far off from where you are. I don't have any answers but will say a prayer for you.

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
Hello Rokketdog. You two have been through the wringer lately; I'm so sorry. One thing that struck me was that you believe your lives turned around when you moved to Florida. Have you considered moving back from where you came? Do you think that would help your son? Did he have friends where you used to live?

I know money is tight, but it would undoubtedly do you good to see a therapist, too. At least you found this board, and it's like free therapy.

I understand how school must be hard for your son. I have a friend whose daughter took enough on-line classes to graduate from high school. Her daughter was also being bullied and had anxiety. That seemed to work for them. Have you met with the guidance counselor so that your son is still on track to graduate?

I think it's great that your son likes his therapist. But does he have other boys or men in his life to talk with? Have the two of you attended any NAMI meetings? That may be a place where both of you could find support and friendships. Both of you are grieving some serious losses. I know it's tough, but I think the two of you will start to heal when you reach out and form some new connections.

I'm going to include a couple of thoughts about depression. Depression is anger turned inward. I learned from my son that anger is easier for him than grief. I'm thinking that your son is probably very angry about the loss of your ex and the loss of your brother, his uncle. A teenager faced with those feelings is going to have a hard time sorting them out. It's hard to talk to teens about death (and the end of a marriage is a type of death). I'm thinking that if you start to talk to your son about your own feelings that he may decide to open up and tell you his own feelings.

I'm hoping that by joining our group, that you may discover some ways to bring that joy back into your lives. You deserve it.


Well-Known Member
My son is 17 & struggles with severe anxiety & depression.
My son is 27, and those have been his main issues since he was a little older than your own son.
I feel like there is no hope. Things just keep getting worse.
What do you do when you don't want to wake up every day?
Before I address the rest of your post, I want to say that you sound as if you too may be suffering from depression, and need to address that. Not just the issues and vulnerability of your son.
Within months of him walking out, our son developed an eating disorder & over the course of a few month he lost 60 lbs.
By May, he attempted suicide.
I am so sorry.

This is what I would suggest to start.

First, none of this is your fault. We are used to, as mothers, taking responsibility for the ills and hurts of our children, and finding solutions. Your son will soon be 18, legally an adult. However much you may support him, he will soon be by definition the driver of his life.

So now what to do? Recognize you are depressed. You are the patient, too. You will require that you care for you, too.

The most immediate and accessible change might be that you post here as much as you can. Numerous times a day and into the night. On as many threads as you can.

I read as many stories as I could and commented on all of them. I found people whose voice I trusted and who stood with me where I was, which was in bed, actually. I am no longer in bed and I am no longer depressed.

Posting all of the time helped me immeasurably. I know it will help you too, if you post as I did--a lot.

You can start as many new threads as you need, or post on threads the rest of us have begun. That way people get to know you. It is not just the advice and support that help. It is the actual activity of posting. I believe that.

You can come up a plan. I know it is hard feeling the way you do. In my case it helped for me to treat myself more gently. To no longer judge myself so harshly. By letting it be OK to be in bed, I was able soon to get up. (Or at least change bedrooms.) Eventually I left that second bedroom.

Another thing that may helps is exercise. Like walking. Are you sleeping? Are you keeping regular hours?

You have been traumatized. Not just because of the mistreatment. Not just because your husband abandoned you and his child. But most of all because of the constant barrage of trauma and anxiety, lack of control, over and over again with your son.

Which you cannot control, cannot solve and cannot even understand!! Nobody could. Not a mother.

I would try if I were you to acknowledge that you have been doing it. You have been doing anything and everything to help your boy. That the situation has not improved, and if fact seems to get worse, is like a train wreck for you. A never-ending train wreck. Do you see how even the strongest person could not deal with a situation that is so relentless and unchanging, over which they had no control?

I might think about therapy for you, if there is insurance, or Al-Anon. Al-Anon is not just for families of people with addiction problems.

Another resource is NAMI, the group that supports mentally people and their families. They have a series of educational support groups for family members. By googling NAMI you will locate a nearby group.

One thing you can do this minute is acknowledge how important you are, and how important it is to find every single way to support and nurture yourself. Independent of what actions and attitudes you adopt about your son.

One thing you might think about right now for him is this: That he apply for SSI for mental illness. My son receives this. He applied for himself. I did not want to accept he was mentally ill. I preferred to think it was something that he could choose to change. A number of mothers here on the board have helped me gradually accept the situation instead of fighting it. I still have a hard time. Nonetheless, the way he is struggling now suggests that this might continue for a while, in one form or another. He may need financial help. And you too.

Another thing you might do is request an IEP at your son's school and request an educational plan that accommodates his limitations. The school district has a responsibility to modify his educational setting to one that he can handle. This includes residential treatment, if need be.

I have not read all of the posts above, but the one by Pigless is very apt. Depression is anger turned inward. I think her analysis of the suffering of your son makes a lot of self. The age all of this hit him is a difficult age to have your life turned upside down. It may be easier to blame himself. Because with that, over that, he has some control.

Would your son be willing to walk with you, a little bit every day, starting with 15 minutes a day?

This is going to sound crazy, but sometimes it is activity that helps as much as talking. Is he interested at all in Art? Working with your hands with expressive media is very helpful. Bigger cities may have free or very low cost art therapy workshops, for people who are struggling or have been traumatized.

What about you? Do you do needlework? Crochet, knitting, sewing, quilting?

Is there a way that you can think about finding a church group or a needlework guild, so that you can be with other women? With other women you will find support and friendship. Needlework with other women is an age old way that we mended our lives so to speak.

Posting, you have started. With this you have turned the corner. It is the acceptance that you are worthwhile. That there is a way through this.

There is acceptance in this. This story is your story, and you have the personal strength and value to get through this. The integrity to do this. You are doing it. You are a hero who has not yet come out of the other side. This is a hero's journey. Your own. That is what I see as the most essential thing to remember.

It may not be that you can see any concrete changes or effects. Yet. But what needs to change is to see yourself differently. As somebody who is doing it. Doing whatever it takes. There may not be visible results. There may not be for a while. You may not feel recovered for a while. But you are on the way.

Part of what changed for me was that I began to accept where I was. Not demand of myself that I was somewhere else. I accepted that as long as I needed to grieve and to mend, it was OK. Another mother here on this forum helped me accept myself. And with that permission to be as I needed to be, I got better.

I am still on my journey.

As they say here, you are a warrior mom. You have found us!! Good!! Wonderful, in fact.

You are not alone.

You will have support and understanding every step of the way. So many of us have been where you are, and we have made it through. We continue to fight. You will too. I am so glad you are here.

Take care of yourself. Please.

You will find a few parents here, whose stories resonate with you. You will trust their voices. You are no longer alone.

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Active Member
Hugs, Rokketdog. I wish i could fix it for you. You sound like a loving and strong mother. If you are going the IEP route, you have to hurry since he is 17.
I want to say You need to take care of yourself first, but that feels hollow because I haven't been following my own advice. What about moving back home? Do you and he still have connections there? Do you have family somewhere that could be supportive? Can you talk to your school district Special Education department? I don't know how good sped is in Florida. I think you should brainstorm as much as possible because he is not 18 yet and you have more power over him now.
Can you apply for Obamacare, medicaid or whatever for yourself? Like me, you are your son's only advocate, so you NEED to take care of yourself. HUGS!!!


Well-Known Member
Rocketdog, I am seeing that this is a relatively old thread. I hope you have been back since you first posted. I hope things have stabilized a bit and that you are feeling better.

I hope you check in and let us know how you are.


pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
I looked to see when she last visited. It was Nov. 8, 2015. Copa, I wish she had seen your advice about continuing to post, making connections here, walking, and finding some community connections.

I also thought she was depressed. For any other mothers who might be reading here and may also be depressed, there is a way out of the depression. The depression LIES to you. It makes you think that you are worthless and ineffective. None of that is true. What you are is flattened by life: grief, turmoil, worry, anxiety, fear. The negative emotions eat away at you, robbing you of your joy. Robbing you of yourself.

The only way to rebuild and regain your life is by taking action. Copa describes how she did this very well.

What worked for me was gardening. I also needed to talk to other people. For me that means a good therapist and caring friends. You need a therapist who makes you feel comfortable, understood and cared for.

I also had to see a psychiatrist and go on an anti-depressant. That small change helped me to find my hope and strength and get headed in the right direction.