15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

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15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

Hi, looking for support during a very tough time for my family. My youngest son has had significant health issues since 2012 following parasite infection. It’s a very long story, but this has led us to where we are now. 2 months ago he told me he is suicidal. Since then it has been a daily roller coaster of keeping him safe. He is onto his 2nd lot of anti depressants and seeing little benefit from them. He was admitted to hospital for a week a month ago after 2 self harm incidents. This provided some immediate relief and direction, but we are now left in the gap between the public and private health system. Public system is there to support in an immediate crisis situation, but can’t provide ongoing support. He has a psychologist and gp, but we can’t get into a psychiatrist because of long waiting lists. He is using marijuana and alcohol to self medicate, and without it I don’t know if he would still be here with us. We feel our choices are limited to allowing him to smoke marijuana while we work on the depression both from a medical and psychological stand, or putting him in a private hospital environment for an extended period of time. Which we can’t do without psychiatric referral, and is against medical advice. But how do we cope in the meantime? He has no quality of life, my husband and I have little ourselves, and I worry about the effect on our other 17yo son. Even grandparents are being pulled into the sometime daily drama. How do we keep him safe but also stop the rest of the family going down with him. For anyone that has gone through this, how have you kept the family together as a unit and come out the other side? Has anyone had the same issue with drugs and alcohol and how have you managed? Tia x
Mod

Re: 15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

Hi @td2018

 

Thanks for posting. First I just want to say that I really do feel for you and your family. This is such a hard situation almsot like you're walking on eggshels to try and find the right action and figure this out. What you've done so far is absolutely wonderful because you've gotten as much support as you can on deck. Now like you say, you're in limbo waiting for the next steps. It's very tricky but I understand what you're saying that for now, it's a case of picking your battles carefully. In saying that, it's ok to have boundaries where you feel there needs to be. This is a lot easier said than done, but try to be aware if you're being emotionally manipulated and it's really ok to be firm. It's a tough balance to be supportive but also have rules that cannot be broken (for everyones safety). 

 

As far as managing yourselves as a family this is also a tough one. I would say this: as long as your son can agree to keep safe and you have a safety plan with him then try to step back and give yourselves some breathing space. Try to share the load and again, if you feel manipulated, be aware and step back from this. This is just a few ideas but it's not exhaustive....you will get more ideas and support here so keep us in the loop. Do take care!

Contributor

Re: 15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

TomRo.....I totally support your post in regards to TD. It’s such a difficult situation to be in having a teen with depression and suicidal thoughts. Safety needs to be paramount and it seems as though your family are doing the best they can. I agree with being manipulated though. I’m a solo parent and my son has constantly tested me to the limits. Give yourself breaks and hang in there!
In regards to the drugs and alcohol....I do understand that your son is self-medicating however they can cause long-term implications. For example the THC smoking can predispose the developing brain into psychosis. The alcohol into all sorts of physiological and social issues. They might provide temporary relief for your son but they would not be recommended by a psychiatrist. Don’t think I don’t understand your dilemma.....I do and have been in the same situation with my own son. Only recently I found a used bong in his school bag after he told me he wasn’t smoking anymore. It’s hrartbreaking and frustrating!!
I really hope you get an appointment to see someone soon. In my experience, the siblings ARE effected by their troubled teen siblings behaviours, but it helps them to understand others and be compassionate and resilient in the long run. This is what has happened to my son’s sibling. They have developed into a kind hearted soul seeing the effects their brothers behaviours have had on us all. It’s a tough road so make sure one of you spends some quality one to one time with your other teen and do something fun together. This is difficult.....I know, especially during the middle of ongoing crisis but not impossible! Try and spend some individual time to do something you enjoy and remember.......EVERYTHING IS IMPERMANENT and things do pass.

All the very best to you all as a family and remember.....true love involves understanding and listening which you sure seem to be doing so amazingly.
Mod

Re: 15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

@Sister "EVERYTHING IS IMPERMANENT and things do pass." absolutely love this Heart

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Prolific scribe

Re: 15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

Hi @td2018,

 

My son has been treated by a psychiatric team at the Children's Hospital as an outpatient since he was 14. We see them every 2- 3 months (at one stage weekly). We also tried the local community health system for psychology support but it didn't work, so now we see a private psychologist in addition to the outpatient psychiatric service. That plus our G.P. makes a great team.

 

It took us a long time to find the right meds. Lots of false starts. The false starts were possibly as hard on me as they were on my son. Look after yourself.

 

I gotta be honest, drugs and alcohol sound like a mistake. I know every situation is different, and I don't know yours. But that can complicated the assessment of the medication, it is already complicated enough! Even if he were not on meds I'd be worried if my son was regularly taking drugs and alcohol at 15. I hope you can find the right solution.

 

It is hard on the family. My two girls were definitely effected, and it puts a strain on parents too. We didn't tell the grandparents because we thought it was more than they could cope with.

 

The good news is that he is a lot better these days. Still medicated, but now a more normal teenager trying to catch up on all the school he missed.

 

Cheers

 

 

Mod

Re: 15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

Hi @Schooner thanks heaps for sharing this. I am so glad to hear your Son is doing a lot better. Many thanks for sharing this experience, it can be good to remember sometimes it takes a few different avenues until we find the right care for our adolescent's. It's about what works for them!

Active scribe

Re: 15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

@TOM-RO. Thanks for responding. Yes, it is a fine line working out where the boundaries are, and which battles to pick.
Unfortunately our son hasn’t agreed to a safety plan which is very worrying as you can imagine. My husband and I are tag teaming to make sure someone is always home with him, but I’m not sure how long this is sustainable for. This is a large part of the reason that we have reluctantly accepted that marijuana may play an ongoing role in the short term. Very difficult to make sure there is no manipulation though, it’s extremely hard as a Mum to see your child suffering, particularly in this case because of the preceding long term illness. Thanks again.
Active scribe

Re: 15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

@Sister. Thanks so much for your post. Love the quote about impermanence, we need that reminder on a daily basis!!
Understand your thoughts on the drugs and alcohol completely. Had you asked me the same question 2 months ago the answer would have been completely different.
I was very surprised to find that the psychiatrist, whilst not encouraging of the marijuana use, felt that this was the better option given the severity of risk. We have also had concurring opinions from 2 different psychologists. Regardless it’s still something my husband and I debate on a daily basis. The alcohol is a different story. Our son acknowledges that it puts him at a greater risk of self harm, and yet he has continued to do it behind our backs. This is not ok and there needs to be a line drawn.
Thanks for the reminder too ondoomg things with our other son. We have good intentions but very hard to find the time. But yes, it needs to be done.
Active scribe

Re: 15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

@Schooner. Thanks for the response. Interesting, I didn’t know there was an option of being treated as an outpatient by the hospital. That option certainly hasn’t been presented to us. We were told to phone if necessary, but when I have there hasn’t been a lot of guidance provided so I hadn’t pursued this avenue. Something I will look into, thanks.
Contributor

Re: 15 yo boy with severe depression and anxiety following a long illness

Hi td2018 and Others,

 

There is no right and wrong with all of this.

 

What one psychiatrist states....another will say the opposite. When our teens were bubs we had the midwifes telling us all different ways to feed, get them to sleep etc and now, just to confuse us even more, we have specialists telling us smoking cannabis is ok and not ok!!

 

In my experience.....we just need to weigh it up ourselves. Take what we find beneficial from the different "professionals" and test their theories/strategies on our teens. We also need to be proactive. Its a really difficult road and I can understand people who have a mentally unwell teen who say they would "prefer a physical condition" because the treatments are a lot more clear and precise.

 

But.....there is hope. Always hope....and if you can get a good team on board (such as the GP, psychologist, psychiatrist.....most importantly family support) then it can help. Support for yourselves/ourselves too. This is something I am only just learning to practice....we can get support for our children but what about ourselves??? How many of us keep soldiering on in the hope that it will "all get better?" 

 

Self care is just so important. Its exhausting caring for teens who are struggling in many areas and we need to treat ourselves as we would a good friend. With compassion, kindness, a listening ear and SOME FUN!!