10-19-2020 07:37 PM - last edited on 10-20-2020 12:40 PM by Janine-RO
Hi. My only son has become a complete stranger to me. I don't know why he took the path he did, there was no reason. He has always been so close to me, a good kid. Worked through school, got a traineeship straight after school then after 3 years it all went downhill fast. He started hanging with a kid, my gut instinct was that he was no good. Then commenced the lies, not coming home, disappearing for days. Of course deep down I knew he had got into drugs, but he kept denying it. I tried tough love, but it just made the behaviours worse. I found drugs in the house, in the car. He would stand there and blatantly say i was making it up, seeing things etc. He was spending all his money, and then started not showing up for work. Sooner or later, he stopped working - he lied and said he needed a break and there was no work. He wasn't fired, and had 6 months left of his apprenticeship. He told me nothing despite me trying to find out. He said he wanted to do something else. He would never be home, in and out,phone never stopped dinging. He stopped doing all the things he used to do, and hanging with all his other friends who shared a similar outdoorsy, beach, camping type of life. He changed from surfer dude to dude wearing expensive trainers and tracksuits virtually overnight. Of course by then I realized that he was into something seriously not right. I could not get through to him. Although he would never admit it, I can intuitively tell with him when he was up to something. Once I had a bad feeling and sensed that he was going out, I begged him not to leave - to the point of standing in front of him, crying and pleading. He just stepped over me and left. I did not know where he was for 2 weeks. It broke my heart. This was not my son. It is just horrible. The stress and fear has been enormous. During this, I have been trying to hold down a full-time job. His car sits in the driveway broken down, yet he buys more shoes and clothes. He seems to get better for a little while, then off he goes again. He has become increasingly angry at me, and I feel like I walk on egg shells. People have said throw him out, but the one time I did - the fear of not knowing if he was alive or dead was way worse than having him at home. However, it is no happy family scenario. I barely talk to him unless I sense his mood is responsive to it. In the past 6 months, 2 of his friends have died through drugs and suicide. It has been horrendous. it did trigger in him a desire to change, however I still have never been told what has been going on. He was lucky to get taken back to work, and things were going along really well for a few months, but seem to have gone down hill again. He asked if he could have some time off as he is not sleeping, and feels like he is having panic attacks. The symptoms to me seem as if he is back on the drugs. I don't believe one thing he says anymore. I keep looking for evidence that he is lying to me again. Bit by bit he opened up about what was going on, and none of it was pretty. It has been so confrontational. The knowledge of what my son has been doing, his drug taking, dealing and the grubs he has been associating with have numbed me. There has been so much pain, I feel completely numb. Every couple of days there is one more issue. I have taken steps back so as to let him sort things out himself. I have not given him money, now will I ever unless it is for petrol so he can get to work. So now he is awake most of the night, sleeps until 12, then goes out somewhere - won't tell me, and even if he did its probably not the truth. He has spend thousands and thousands of dollars in the past few months with nothing to show for it He is an adult and I can't stop him from doing anything. All I can do is listen when he wants to talk which is rare. For the second time I managed to get him to the GP, and we now have a psychologist appointment, but that is 3 weeks away. It doesn't take much to slip back into old behaviours. My son says he is depressed and understandably he would be, he felt like he couldn't stay at work cos he was reactionary to his workmates concerns about his activities, (they would have just been trying to be helpful). I am just exhausted. it is almost impossible for me to do anything nice for myself when I am so consumed with this boy. I love him dearly. But he won't do anything to help himself or me. I am too ashamed to tell my family or work colleagues of what he has been doing. Last night, after coming in at 2 am, he seemed to be having a panic attack - but I suspect it was drugs. Some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth is just delusional nonsense. He justifies these grubs. He tries to normalize criminal behaviour to me. I feel that they have got their tentacles back into him, and I am so afraid for him. He paces, is jittery and sometimes is talking very fast. I know that anxiety and depression can trigger these symptoms. I just want my beautiful boy back and I don't know how to do it.
10-20-2020 12:38 PM
Hi @Jenmaran ,
That sounds like an incredibly distressing situation for you, and my heart really goes out to you reading your story. It must be such a terrible feeling to feel like your son has become a stranger to you, and seeing his behaviour and lifestyle change so dramatically. It must feel terrifying and heartbreaking as a parent to see that he has lost two of his friends to suicide and drug use in the last 6 months. The feeling of having to be walking on eggshells sounds like it would be incredibly draining.
It sounds like in the past you have had a really close relationship with your son, and it's really positive to hear that he was open to going to the GP and making an appointment to see a psychologist. Hopefully that means he's at least open to getting some help and making some changes in his life - and that's a really huge step. As you've mentioned, often drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues can often be interconnected, seeing a mental health professional should be a really positive step in helping to tease out what is happening for your son and helping him to learn some more positive coping strategies.
It sounds like you have been carrying a heavy burden on your shoulders, especially if you feel like you can't tell your family, friends, or colleagues what is happening for you. I just thought I'd share a link to this organisation that may be helpful - Family Drug Support Australia. They provide 24/7 phone support services (1300 368 186) to family and friends of people who are experiencing issues with addiction, run by people with lived experience of addiction in their own families, and also run a range of support groups and courses across Australia. They also have some great information on their website, including a section that was really good on setting boundaries , and information on different services available in Australia.
There's also a free drug and alcohol service that you can access at https://www.counsellingonline.org.au/.
It can be incredibly lonely and isolating supporting a loved one through addiction, and it can help a lot to talk things over with someone- the community is also here for you any time you need to vent, you are not alone. You mention that it's almost impossible for you to do something nice for yourself which is completely understandable- it can sometimes feel impossible, but self care is so important. Is there anything that you enjoy doing that you feel recharges your batteries?
Thinking of you - it can take a lot of courage to share your story.
10-20-2020 05:38 PM
Thankyou for responding.
I have visited the Family Drug Support website several times and have found the information very useful and helpful. I have not felt confident enough to share my story in a group setting. Though their videos were quite a comfort to me during really stressful times. Boundaries seem to work well when he is not affected by any "substances", otherwise the boundaries are completely ignored. It is very Jeckyl and Hyde, and I feel that there is now an underlying mental illness and it seems very cyclic. Thankyou for the information regarding the online counselling. It could also be a site I could share with him, and live in hope that he would use it.
I guess it is all just little steps on a long road.
10-21-2020 11:05 AM
Hi @Jenmaran ,
I can completely understand not feeling comfortable sharing your story in a group setting, I imagine that could feel quite confronting at first - it's really good to hear that you found the information on the Family Drug Support website helpful, though.
If you think that online counselling could be something that your son might give a try, eHeadspace
is another resource that might be worth sharing with him - some young people find online counselling options more appealing than face to face options, and it could be a good baby step to take while he waits to see the psychologist in a few weeks.
If you think it would be helpful to chat to someone, we also offer a free one to one parents support service in partnership with the Benevolent society - it's staffed by experienced family professionals. I hope he finds seeing a psychologist helpful and is willing to engage in the process, it sounds like he's really lucky to have you in his corner. Wishing you all the best on this journey.
11-11-2020 03:01 PM
05-02-2022 05:09 AM
05-02-2022 01:51 PM
Thank you for sharing your story with us, it sounds like you and your son are going through a lot right now. I imagine it must be really tough to be worried about him so much.
You've mentioned that your son has been seeing a psychologist, I'm wondering if you have been able to talk to anyone too? Going through this can be really traumatic and it's important you look after your own mental wellbeing as well.
It might also be helpful getting in touch with Family Drug Support - they have a free, 24-hour national telephone support line, as well as support groups, education programs and counselling.
Congrats on the new granddaughter on the way! I hope that brings you some joy in the meantime