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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1374
Experience:  Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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My 22 year old son, who has a history of clinical depression,

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My 22 year old son, who has a history of clinical depression, started a technical program in woodworking (since all the union carpentry programs are closed). He had to move 2 1/2 hours away for this 10 month program. I thought it would be helpful with his accountability issues since it's Mon-Thurs 8-4:30. He attempted college several times, but really has only completed 1 semester. he would start out strong and confident, and then get behind, and stop going to classes.
He's been in the program for 10 weeks, and said he's behind and wanted to drop out and start again in January. I told him he couldn't move back home if he didn't complete the program, & told him to talk to the department head. He did, & my son said he was very understanding, & would work with him. He comes home every weekend, he has no friends, won't exercise, do hobbies or go to a movie.This weekend he slept & didn't interact w/anyone-he's not hostile, but I see us heading in the same direction as before-hospitalizations didn't change anything, neither did ECT. He says he takes his antidepressants, who knows?
I think he wants to be happy-but doesn't do anything to find happiness. He wants things to just happen. He frequently comments that things don't seem so hard for everyone else. How do I get him to understand that he's the only one that can make the choices necessary to get him a life that he says he wants. He's perfectly willing to let other people make suggestions, so he can shoot them down.
My husband is afraid-I feel that our being involved didn't work - he just became too dependant on us. He has made progress - living on his own, attending the program, etc - many things that he didn't do in the past. I feel that we need to be strong and not get "sucked in". He needs to build a life - when we talk I tell him that he needs to do this so he can feel proud that he has finished something he started, and then he can build on it with other things.

I need advice/help. I love him dearly - I know it can be worse - there's no drug or alcohol issues - but he's soo unhappy! What else can I do?

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for using Just Answer. I am sorry to hear about the issues with your son. Is he still in the woodworking program? Does he ever talk about his future? Is he overweight by any chance? Thanks!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes, he says he is still going to the program. I know that he feels that everyone else (12 other people in program) have greater competence since they had either previous experience or woodshop in high school. The dept head told him that he had a good work ethic, and that everyone has their own learning curve, but, he has a history of giving up if he can't do well.


Never talks about his future in specifics except that he rated having a family "very high" on a questionairre he took in the hospital once. He is overweight - he was on a boatload of antidepressants - he's been weaned down to 2, and was diagnosed with pseudoCushings disease caused by his depression this summer.

Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for responding. Since you have already tried the counseling route and your son is already on medication for his depression, your choices are very limited as to what can be done. First of all, your son has to be willing to want to complete tasks and make a change. He seems to highly value your opinions. Therefore, it is your responsibility as a parent to an adult child to keep providing the much needed encouragement and motivation that he needs. Ask your son what would make him happy. Ask him about his goals. Have him write them down. Every couple of months revisit the goals and see if progress is being made toward meeting them. Some adult children need a little bit more guidance and direction to reach their goals. Does your son go to church? That would be an awesome place to meet and interact with people. We all need each other. Your son seems to have low self esteem as well probably because of his weight and lack of friends. He is isolating himself from people which adds to the depression. Invite family and friends over more as a start. Have your son present as well. Have them ask your son about his latest woodworking projects so that your son starts interacting with people. Maybe he can even do some side projects for family and friends to make some extra money. He needs to feel like he is making an impact in other people's lives. That will improve his self esteem tremendously. But you may have to continue to push him so that he will not give up. He sounds very talented and you should be proud.

Have a great evening.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for your response. I may have been unclear, but my main concern (right now) is how I can keep him on track - he gets derailed, and then gives up. Should I try some "tough love" consequences? I have told him that he can't come home if he doesn't complete the program-I said he can go live w/ his dad in the apt in the little town where my husband works -3 hours from home(so it's not like he would be homeless). My husband comes home every weekend.


I feel he should be able to attend the program Monday-Thursday, and then come home every weekend if he wants to. It's only 4 days! He gets so down on himself for not finishing anything, yet, he looks for excuses and gives up. I fear that he is going to try & repeat behaviours (excessive sleeping, not bathing, etc) that landed him in the hospital before so he can have an excuse to not finish the program. Should I proactively tell him that I see where this is headed, and I will stand firm - he finishes this program by hook or crook!

Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
I have to step out of the office but will promptly answer you when I return. :)
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
If you can stand by your demands through the tough love approach, then utilize it. Many parents cannot follow through with tough love because they start feeling guilty and sorry for their child. However, you seem to be fairly certain with what you expect from your son. Maybe you need to set up some sort of contract with him to hold him more accountable and everything will be in writing.
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