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How far do you push?

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Casual scribe

How far do you push?

My son is 16 and suffering from severe depression. He'd been working with a psychologist 6 months for anxiety associated with school ( later diagnosed with obsessive compulsive personality disorder traits) . It built to breaking point late last year where we had an admission to PECC due to risk of suicide- where he spent a week. He is still under suicidal supervision by us at home.


We have the psychiatrist,medication, the psychologist, the mental heath team....but I am still struggling to work out how I do the best for him as a parent. The advice I get from the specialists and he has been told the same, is to try and keep to a routine. If it is a bad day , then just do less and smaller steps, but keep doing. I struggle to work out how much to push him on those mornings he says he can't do it. He enjoys school as a general rule and is academic, has good social connection with peers and staff.


My fear because I have worked with school refusers is that if I let it ride I can be setting him up to becoming a victim to his depression, rather than helping him to dealing with it. We already lost 70% of last term schooling, before medication stabilised his condition a bit and allowed him to get some sort of sleep routine happening. 


This morning I know I pushed too much and he got aggressive and had an episode ( the push made him worse) and I wasn't going to get him out....but 2 hours later he seemed perfectly fine . Is this just the way it goes with depression or manipulation??


I get frustrated when he is feeling better that he does not put in the effort to do any of the strategies that are meant to help depression...journalling, gratitude diary, mindfulness/meditation , positive self talk ( he does exercise regularly in general part of an obsession that needs to be monitored) or even research/ read to learn more about the condition and experiences and ways to manage it . He is intelligent and more than capable of all the above when in a better frame of mind , but appears too lazy to bother.


We have removed a lot of stressors /pressures out of his life, but it is almost appears to be making him less responsible and lazier when he is functioning OK. 


Would love to get feedback on any of this as I am new in navigating my way through this and don't feel I get any real answers/ support from the professionals on how to best parent a child with severe depression and suicidal ideation. I just want to keep him safe , but not become helpless to his depression.





Prolific scribe

Re: How far do you push?

Hi @fineline, welcome and thank you for sharing your story.  You really are going through a tough time with your son.  From what I can understand you are doing all the right things and being guided by professionals.  I too have a son who displayed depressive symptoms at 16 years old and understand the trauma attached to the circumstances for everyone involved.  The difficulty I found was actually sticking to routine.  It can become exhausting trying to normalise everything.   What worked for me was not pushing him and I have two other sons who I treated differently (or as normal as possible) because they were not experiencing the same sensitivity.  I felt that listening to what my son wanted rather than taking advice and acting on what was expected of him was a better option for me and my family.  My son is 19 now and just commenced a TAFE course.  He left school at 16 and has spent the last three years basically in his room.  He was medicated briefly and did engage in psychiatric and psychological help initially. I think this was helpful through the crises period.  I hope my experience is helpful and remember there is no right or wrong way to do deal with this.  I have learnt to be very patient.

Casual scribe

Re: How far do you push?

Thanks @Chalke5 . It is reassuring to hear from someone who has already walked the journey.


Re: How far do you push?

Hi Fineline,


Your son has a lot of positives. He has you (who love him dearly otherwise you wouldn't be on this forum), he has friends and he enjoys school. He is also willing to see his psychologist. 


I'm wondering, would it be possible for one of his school mates to drop by on their way to school? This might encourage your son to get up and ready. Possibly he is not lazy (aside from normal adolescent lethargy) but his sluggishness and difficulties

with motivation could be the depression or medication side effects (?)


You mentioned that your son became "aggressive'....was this physical or verbal? Either way, make sure you are safe. The fact that your son was "perfectly fine" 2 hours later could be an indication that his medication effects vary at different times. Maybe he needs to go to school a bit later?


You are doing an amazing job but look after YOU too.