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Really struggling

Really struggling

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Really struggling

I find myself barely holding my head above water. My 18 son has mild anxiety and depression. Most of this stemmed from his unhappiness at a big move for our family.  He then had a very intense first relationship with a girl which ended very badly and he still is not over after 2 years.  He sees someone and is quite open about his problems.  He is VERY keen to go on anti depressants as this is what two doctors are pressing for. My concern with this is that he is in his HSC's and is a very high achiever and I am worried that the effect of going on them may be more of a problem to begin with and this will affect his results.  I feel like I am walking on egg shells continually, I have 3 other children to look after and they are suffering because of this.  I feel I just cant cope with the ups and downs and although I am totally supportive and we have a loving amazing relationship I just cant go on any more.

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Really struggling

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Welcome to the forum @mbomb. I'm sorry to hear about your son and the issues he is struggling with. First love lost can be very difficult for teens to process. Emotions are intense around love with adults. During the teenage years emotions are magnified further. It's fantastic he is seeing someone he feels comfortable sharing with. 


I can understand your concerns about medication. For me it comes down to what is going to bring the best outcome and see my daughter coping the most effectively. The choice was medication for us. I'd suggest maybe weighing up how much your son's anxiety and depression will affect his HSC compared to the effect the medication may have. Maybe have a discussion with the dr about what medication they are considering, the dosage they would prescribe and what the side effects are? Would the side effects interfere with his chances of achieving well in the HSC? I'm just brainstorming ideas so I do apologise if I'm suggesting things you've already done. 


I can hear the worry and your exhaustion in your words, along with your love. Your support for your son is very clear as well. You've got a lot to cope with supporting your son and raising your 3 other children. Having a teen suffering anxiety and depression is very taxing to live with, so try to be kind to yourself. And that doesn't mean the love, support or understanding is lacking, it just means it's bloody exhausting! 


I'm concerned for you and your mental health at the moment. I have been where you are, feeling like I'm gasping for breath, and wondering how I'm going to get through. It's very distressing, and time to give yourself some loving and care. Looking after yourself is really important because we can't run on empty for long. There's a great thread here about self care.  What things do you do, or would like to do, that calm you and make you feel revived? We can help you put a self care plan together if you'd like. 


@Big_Crab  and @Schooner have been through similar exoeriences. Would you guys mind sharing any tips or experiences you think may be helpful? Sometimes just hearing we're not alone can make a difference.



Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Really struggling

Welcome to Reach Out Parents @mbomb. Sorry to hear that your son is struggling and as a result you are struggling too, especially having 3 other children to care for.  Caring for someone suffering from depression can be exhausting and affects everyone in the family.


You mention the doctors recommend your son go on medication, and your son is keen do to so.  I appreciate your concerns about your son going on medication, especially in his last year at high school, and understand you don't want the medication to affect your sons results.  Things you could consider - Would it be helpful for your son to go on the medication now, or should he complete the HSC first before considering medication?   Perhaps it would be helpful to find out from the doctors how long your son can expect to be on medication before it is fully effective (as it may take time before the medication starts to make a difference) and any possible side-effects during this period.  @taokat has some other great ideas which may help you decide on medication. 


One thing I did not do very well when my daughter was really struggling was to look after myself.  There were times where I did not think I could cope with anymore.  While we still have our challenges, things are a lot better now so it is easy for me to reflect back on that period in our lives.  If I could do one thing differently, it would be to reach out and seek help for myself.  My daughter was getting lots of professional help, yet I was not. Talk to your GP if you think your mental health is suffering, so they can do a Health care plan for you.

You can always ring Lifeline Ph: 13 11 14 at any time if you need to chat to someone. They are available 24/7.  It is great that you have joined the forums, hopefully being able to share your story with other caring and supportive parents will help.

Prolific scribe

Re: Really struggling

Hi @mbomb,

I was shocked when my then 13 year old son was diagnosed with major depression, and hospitalised within a week. I'd completely missed it. At that time I was generally anti-medication, and I did my best to use alternatives, which I know can work for depression: good sleep, good food, exercise, activities to look forward too, therapy. But I soon came to see that he needed medications.


However for us the medication path is hard work. SSRI's (the common ones that work on maybe 70% of the population) didn't work for my son, and actually made him worse. The replacement made him extremely drowsy, to the point where he was missing school because of the medication. 18 months later we are still trying to get the right mix. It turns out my son has "treatment resistant" depression. We've made progress, but we are still not there yet. I still believe that he needs the medication.


I hope that doesn't turn you off medication...I do know that there are others who take a pill and get fairly quick improvements.


My son was suffering from depression for maybe a year or so before he was diagnosed. Looking back I could see his grades suffered during that time. Maybe the depression has been dragging your son down too. I am also impressed with the way my son knows what he needs, even though sometimes he does not express it effectively. He knows when it is time to go to hospital, and he knows when the medication isn't working. I have learned to listen carefully to his opinion.


I've also had two kids go through the HSC, and I know what a pressure cooker that is. I hope you don't mind if a throw a suggestion to you: what about taking a break for a year? Alternatively, I think you can do the HSC over 3 years? It would be great to get his depression sorted before he hits university (if that is the plan). You might find his grades are better than expected if you take an alternative path.


It sounds like you need a break too. I'm exhausted a lot after an intense 18 months, and I sometimes can feel it in my nerves. The failed starts are the worst for me, I have to gather my energy and tell myself to try again. So far I've managed to do that, but I do wonder what happens on the day I cannot find the strength to do it again. So I take every opportunity to de-stress that comes my way, I try to eat well and not to guzzle too much red wine, I sing to the radio, I walk in the bush and enjoy the silence.



Super contributor

Re: Really struggling

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Hi @mbomb Welcome to ReachOut Parents. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm so sorry how hard things are for you all at the moment. You definitely sound like you are tapped out. Which is very natural for a parent in your situation.

You've received some great suggestions in reply to your post. I know that when I'm feeling overwhelmed, even the tiniest things can feel like too much. Like reading through replies. So, just in case, you're anything like me, I thought I might distil it down to some major points as a starting point. 


  • You are the priority here so getting you support first is really important.  Lifeline 13 11 14 is a great option or talking to your GP about getting some free psychologists sessions. Anything that will help take some pressure off you.
  • To help you to keep feeling better once you've started getting support self-care practices were suggested.  Meditation, yoga, walking, time with friends. Anything that gets your mind off things, has you as the focus and isn't self-destructive is perfect. 
  • The HSC is a huge amount of pressure in itself. The medication may help your son manage that pressure and if medication is not the answer, it may be helpful to consider other options that will help him cope.
  • A conversation between yourself, your son and your GP might be the next best step. Write down all your questions, have your son do the same and book a double appointment. Your GP has a responsibility to explain why they're recommending this approach and should be happy to discuss your concerns and options.

What do you think @mbomb? Do these sound like options you might consider?

Prolific scribe

Re: Really struggling

Oh @mbomb I so know that feeling of  struggling to hold your head  above water !  Please make sure you take care of yourself as @Schooner@Ngaio-RO@taokat  @Zoesplace have suggested ! If you are not healthy then your son  will suffer more . You need the energy and focus to care for him ,  therefore your wellbeing needs to be a priority. 

It is so  hard for us as parents to put ourselves first when our instinct is to wrap our arms around our precious children and make everything better . I remember when my brother became sick with mental illness . My mum cried and said " if only it was me who got sick instead of him , I could deal with it better " It broke my heart. 

There is a saying " you are only as happy as your unhappiest child " There is a  vulnerable truth to this . For that reason finding as much support and self care you can is imperative to stop you going under too . 

As far as the medication question goes : If you decide to trial it might be an idea to start it during the 6 week summer holidays as it takes about that long to start to kick in . Prior to that he may get some  short term side effects which may interfere with his  cognitive and or physiological functioning . Medication can be so helpful when you get  the right one in the right dose . 

Stay strong and take each day as it comes . There will be small wins and small setbacks but you will cope  and you are being a great Mum 😊

Parent Peer Supporter

Re: Really struggling

hi @mbomb, the other members here had some wonderful supportive ideas and suggestions which I cant add anything to but I have been hoping you would pop back in and let us know how you are doing. Have you had any more thoughts about the medication issue?


How are you coping, have you been able to find a little breathing space for yourself?


We are here even if you just need somewhere to vent.

Active scribe

Re: Really struggling

Hi again, thank you for all your replies and support.  I had a tough week some ups and downs with my son but a wonderful weekend away will all the family which is what I needed.  He took himself off to see his counsellor last week when something went wrong. I feel grateful that he is mature enough to know when he needs to talk but also scared that the smallest thing can set him off.  I asked my husband to talk to him about medication.  We are still very reluctant to go down this path so close to exams.  I think my son understands this as well but still struggles with it. I still feel like I walk on egg shells, the other two kids suffer because of this as I am constantly edgy.  My husband finds it difficult to connect with him.  He is a wonderful father but very much the attitude stop fussing or asking how he feels.  He thinks our son is fine and normal which I dont see at all and this worries me. 


Re: Really struggling

Hey @mbomb that must be hard feeling as though you and your husband are on different pages. I am very to happy to hear you guys managed to get a weekend away, and that your Son has shown initiative by taking himself to see his counsellor - this is really great. Do you and your husband manage to get any alone time, even a night out? Look forward to hearing from you Smiley Happy

Prolific scribe

Re: Really struggling

Hi @mbomb Great to hear you had a good weekend as a family . So diificult for mums to take the worry hat off when it comes to our  sons . Mums and sons have a very special bond ! You sound like a very loving caring parent . 

Is your son still claiming he needs to be on medication now ?  Does he still seem very disconnected and having other symptoms? To be honest in my humble opinion and experience with Major Depressive Disorder  I believe  if a young adult is telling you they need medication over a period of time then he may well need it . 

If it affects his exams while he is adjusting to the medication or trialling different meds really in the big scheme of things when it comes to his mental health , really what is more important?  If he had a physical illness or was on chronic pain during exams he would still require medication .  He can postpone exams / take them again . He is sick after all . 

My view is mental illness is just like any physical illness and continuing to suffer can do more damage in the long run . The relief that medication can bring to those will debilitating depression and anxiety can be huge . Depression is a crippling , heavy  exhausting emotional pain  and to have to wade through study and exams while you have unrelenting symptoms  is horrendous . He is struggling with psychological pain without medication and that will affect his study ability anyway . 

I hope he feels better and gets some relief from his symptoms soon . 


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