Parenting adult child with depression
After a series of disappointing life events, periods of unemployment and under-employment, combined with clinical depression, my son who is in his forties has, in my therapist’s words, checked out. Bottom line is that I support him financially in terms of keeping a roof over his head. He is compliant with his meds but is in need of a new therapist due to our move and to his therapist’s downsizing her practice. He is in grad school to obtain an MSW, edits online to earn minimal pay, and does some community activist volunteer work but, in essence, is not gainfully employed. The major manifestation of his illness is episodes of profound lethargy, e.g., sleeping all day. His seven year old son sees this and I worry about that though he does take some responsibility for his daily care. In summary, he’s like a teenager again in some ways. It’s as if being a student has brought him back to his late teens or early twenties. With the help of my therapist I have acknowledged that this all causes frustration and anger in me but due to his history of suicidal ideation in the past – and years ago he was in both residential and IOPs – I’m obviously reluctant to rock the boat, turn on tough love, or whatever. It’s not the money, believe me. It’s the concern that my support is enabling and that isn’t good in the long run. Any advice from either those of you with depression or those of you caring for a loved one with it would be appreciated.
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You are wonderful! Don't forget it!
Maybe, just maybe, and see what other people think about this suggestion– you could ask him? Tell him that, yes, you are human and do get a little aggravated sometimes, but mostly that you love him and want to help. Ask him if he needs some more TLC or some tough love?
If he's in his 40s, I'm guessing that you are in your 60s? Maybe you could suggest that he be responsible for some of the house chores that you find difficult. You could suggest the ones that are hard for you and he could pick the ones that he thinks he can fulfill. Helping you might help him reconnect with the world.
I've had issues with depression and anxiety for a long time. They don't sound as severe as your son's, which is why I keep writing "maybe" everywhere. But when my mother got sick ( first a broken hip, then an aneurysm, etc.), it sort of snapped me out of myself. I wasn't really un-depressed but I was moving and functioning better, and it did last beyond her illnesses.
Bless you for being such a good, caring parent! I hope you get good advice and that your son feels better.
Speaking of someone who has struggled with depression myself, I think my biggest question is whether your son has told you his thoughts on his current/past treatment for depression, and what are his goals (if any) he has.
I think trying to help a depressed loved one can be a very tricky balancing act. On the one hand, it's unreasonable to expect a depressed person to just snap out of it and pull themselves together. On the other hand, depressed or not, people in a bad spot in life must first be willing to take steps to help themselves. I haven't gotten as extensive treatment as your son has for depression (i.e. residential & IOP). However, I realized as supportive as my family and friends could be, it's still up to me entirely to talk to my doctor about my medication's effectiveness & my depressive symptoms, and to make an effort to have meaningful conversations with my therapist.
It's good he's compliant with his meds, but how often is he getting a follow-up appointment with his doctor? If he's been on this medication and dosage for a while, perhaps a change is warranted? Also, sometimes it can be the medication (instead of the depressive symptoms) that makes a person quite lethargic. Does your son feel like the medication is working at all?
I think the same question applies to therapy. Does he feel like he's making progress with his therapist? Does he have any goals (big or small) he would like to achieve? Is there small, achievable things he can do in the short-term to help make himself feel better?
Sleeping all day sounds like it could possibly have something to do with a physical cause. Has your son ever had his thyroid function thoroughly evaluated? How are his eating habits? Are his vitamin D levels good?
Or does he sleep all day because he stays up all night, either working or socializing or . . . watching movies? Those last two would be a bit irresponsible, in my view. If that's not the case, though, maybe there is a doctor who would be interested in finding out why he can't stay awake?
I wouldn't worry that your 'enabling' is handicapping him. There are a lot of people with problems like his who are simply on the streets because no one close to them can or will take care of them. It is especially helpful that you are giving your grandson some stability that he might not have otherwise.
Oh, I just saw in another thread that he is vegetarian. Has he had his iron and serum ferritin checked? Men can get low on iron, too, not just women, and low iron can sometimes be associated with fatigue, even if he doesn't actually have anemia.
So can sub-optimal levels of zinc, selenium, iodine, and especially the B vitamins.
I also saw in the other thread that your daughter-in-law is also living there? Would you feel comfortable approaching her with your concern about your son sleeping a lot? If she is also concerned, maybe both of you together could convince him to talk to a doctor about it?
I imagine they might both be slightly offended by any suggestion that their vegetarian diet could be contributing to his daytime sleepiness. What do you think?
Hi. He has been in transition with his health insurance – finally has it (we’re in California so it’s basically our state’s version of Medicaid since he is unemployed.) So I have been nagging him about getting himself to a new PCP. Comprehensive bloodwork sounds like a good idea. My “daughter-in-law” is in reality my ex DIL, that is, his ex-wife. I know it’s an odd situation but for financial purposes and child-rearing purposes we live together on a property that has two dwellings. So she’s not really in a good position to tell him to do anything!
All of what you say sounds so familiar to me! I've known quite a few couples living together after a breakup for the same reasons. Housing is so expensive and scarce! And I am also in California and also newly on medi-cal. I was actually concerned about my own iron when I had my first appointment and when I asked the gp about it, she asked if I had been anemic; when I said I didn't know, she asked if my hair had been falling out! She did not add an iron panel to my bloodwork– and I don't think an iron panel is even that expensive. I started taking some supplements anyway, including a very cheap iron pill, and started to feel better.
The gp did add a vitamin D on top of the basic metabolic panel, which was something I hadn't thought to do. That was helpful because mine was just a little lower than the 'normal' range– in sunny so-cal! She offered to write me a prescription, but since I already had some on hand that I was taking only sporadically, I started taking it daily or almost daily.
By the way, do you mind if I ask if your DIL and son are ovo-lacto- vegetarian, (including eating milk products and eggs in their diet), or 'strict' vegetarians (which excludes all 'animal products', even honey)?
Hi. They both are ovo-lacto and will also eat a few different types of fish. So not strict, primarily just no meat or poultry.