How do I help my depressed son?
March 9, 2006 8:04 AM Subscribe
Me: "Do you think about hurting yourself?" My son: "Suicide? All the time." Help us please.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (63 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
So, my son calls me at 8 am this morning as I pull into work. "Can you come home?" he asks. "Because I am having this lame breakdown."
Background on my son: He is a magnificent young man who I love beyond measure. He is 22, my stepson actually, we have been a family for 11 years. He lives with us and goes to college, where he does quite well. He spent the last year studying abroad. He has a huge outgoing personality that really attracts people and a first rate mind. He is very alternative, grew up in a big city living with his worthless father. He has lived with us 3 years.
I drive home and we talk. It turns out that he has fought depression for years and years. I had no idea. He self medicates with booze, nicotine, and pot, though not in very large quantities. (2-3 drinks a day he says, though I think more, pot a few times a week.) He has trouble focusing, has no ambition for school (though has done some good work in some of his classes anyway) and most of all feels overwhelmed by anxiety and self loathing. When people like or trust him, he says, he feels compelled to disappoint them. I held him while he cried and spelled it all out.
Many years ago someone told me that when a person is displaying this kind of behaviour, you should always ask them if they think about hurting themselves. I asked. He told me how, every day, he thinks about killing himself, usually by driving into something. He rejects it immediately, he says, but the thought comes back.
He wants to tough this out with some help from his family. I said no, we need professional help, and he is not dead set against it. Tomorrow we go to see the school counsellor. (Also, tomorrow I tell my wife!) So I think I am doing the right things.
What else should I be doing? What can I expect as he enters therapy (I guess). What do I need to know and do to be the best possible dad to my son right now?