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My son feels like giving up

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Old 16th February 2018, 10:06 AM   #1
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My son feels like giving up

My son is 18 and in college but recently has had really bad anxiety and paranoia, he feels like it's ending his life as he knew it. To make matters worse he obsessivley reserches symptoms and illnesses until he convinces himself that he has something. Ive told him to stop as it isn't helping his anxiety. He cried to me and I held him in my arms as he sobbed about never feeling normal again and that life isn't fair, he just wants to be "normal". He was diagnosed with PTSD because of some past trauma that he refuses to deal with and we sought help for it recently but he won't take his meds because he researches the side effects and refuses to take them. As a mother watching this just crushes my soul and I need ways to help him. We have another psych appointment next week so I need tips until then. Please help me as I'm very concerned about my baby. Thanks in advance
Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck -Dalai Lama
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Old 16th February 2018, 3:21 PM   #2
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Just keep loving him & encouraging him. Try to get him to understand that the side effect warnings are the worst case scenarios & that it's unlikely that he will have those problems. Explain that the remote possibility is not outweighed by the benefits. When he says he wants to be "normal" remind him that addressing the cause of the PTSD & taking the meds will help him achieve that goal.
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Old 16th February 2018, 4:23 PM   #3
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Honestly, you need to make him get into a mental facility for awhile so they can make him take his meds. Now, PTSD won't go away easily, but some symptoms can be treated. He's being irrational about his meds, and that's why you shouldn't let him make that decision. If he won't listen to you or someone else close to him and just do it, then you need to call and find out how to get help getting him to the hospital.
"I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not better for it." -- Abraham Lincoln
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Old 16th February 2018, 8:24 PM   #4
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It sounds like you're feeling really crushed right now to see your son going through this! And when you say that you're son feels like this is ending his life as he knows it, and with that statement of his, it really sounds like he might be thinking of killing himself, and it sounds like you are concerned both for his safety and for how to help him the most because of it.

I realize you probably feel like you have a whole host of fears, concerns, and things you feel like you want advice for. I will start with the most pressing concern from what I'm hearing from you first, and it could get kind of long if you already have safety checked with him and found that he's not, but I'll include more on other concerns down towards the end.

As someone with a good amount of crisis call intervention work, I would definitely recommend several things here. Because it really sounds like he's considering issues of life and feeling like his life in one sense is ending, I would definitely take that as enough of an invitation to ask directly if he is thinking of killing himself. I know that sounds like a really scary conversation to have, but it sounds like maybe part of your concern is that he might be thinking this.

Opening up that conversation, if he is totally not, would not lead him to do it if he wasn't thinking about it already. if he's not, he'll likely just say no and move on to what he is feeling and thinking. If, however, he is, it opens up that conversation. And if he is, it is important to reflect (multiple times, and in one statement each time) both the strong reasons that he does feel like killing himself, that there is this part of him that feels like killing himself for these reasons, but that also the fact that he's talking about it with you really shows both of you that there is a part of him that wants to stay safe too, and let him know that you want to talk about both of those parts, those sides. Let him spend plenty of time, if he is thinking about killing himself, talking about those feelings and why. Continue to reflect that ambivalence, though, throughout the conversation. If he speaks of having a plan, and has the means with him, since people choose their means for very individual and specific reasons, if you can convince them to be separated from their means, it can go a long ways to keep them safe. If at anytime, you feel like you are out of your depth having this conversation with him, you can always give him the number of the NSPL 800 273 8255 to call, and/or call yourself for help and advice related to the specific things he has told you and that you are scared of right then.

If at any time you feel like he is in imminent and immediate danger from himself, definitely calling 911 is an option too. Its a delicate balance, though, because often people rush to this, when a good call to the NSPL, or conversation with somebody close to them, can lead to them embracing a safety plan because the pain that felt so intolerable before that conversation feels less so after.

Reflective listening can be really helpful. So for example, when he says that he just wants to feel normal, you could reflect that back. and say, "It really sounds like you want to feel normal right now." If you heard something underneath the statement, after you reflected the original feeling in his words, you could also ask if that thing you heard under was there that would look like, "It sounds like you really feel like you want to be normal and I'm wondering if you feel defective right now because of the anxiety?"

It is a delicate parental balance, but limiting access to electronic devices from which he can do that ruminative research would probably be wise. If it helps him to do electronic stuff like games, than maybe for now, when there is time you and he (or he and other parents and familial adults) could play them with him to ensure that he's not engaging in that research.

And balancing alonetime too, you probably know him well enough to have an idea how much he generally needs, and how much is likely to be unhealthy isolation and balancing his autonomy needs with making sure he's not unhealthfully isolating.

Also, it sounds like you are concerned about his medications. It might be wise to also reflect ambivalence for them as well. So you could say, "it sounds like there is a part of you that really is scared of the side effects that doesn't want to take the medication." but that there is a part of you that wants to feel normal again that might want to give it a try."

It also sounds like anxiety is a big issue, and so I don't know how familiar with grounding exercises you are, but you might try when he's super anxious trying having him name all the colors and/or objects around him that he sees and to really focus on them while he does so. I'm guessing a google search for grounding exercises could probably turn up a few more.

I know I have thrown so much at you here, but it sounds like you are really struggling right now and that he is so important to you that you reach out to strangers for help. I wish you the best and hope that he's able to get the peace, treatment, and stability that it sounds like he needs!

Let me know if you have any questions on this and I will do my best to answer. I know this is so so so much to absorb!
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Old 7th March 2018, 9:56 PM   #5
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What was his PSTD about? You should offer him all the support you can and make sure he doesn't feel alone in the meantime.
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Old 8th March 2018, 5:59 AM   #6
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This will sound weird, but if he's open to it, google "Emotional Freedom Technique" (EFT) on YouTube. It takes just a few minutes to learn and apply, costs nothing, and has been used to successfully help veterans with PTSD. It's one of the most effective tools I've used for myself for previous trauma.
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Old 9th March 2018, 8:46 AM   #7
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As someone who has been on different psychotropic medications, I think your son's concerns are completely valid. Meds can cause severe weight gain and acne. They can also cause sexual dysfunction. One of the medications even made me lactate. Another issue is doctors often need to try different medications and dosages. That can be maddening for the patient. Maybe your son can try seeing a naturopath instead. Herbs and supplements can be less disruptive for the body.

I have Complex PTSD and EMDR has worked very well. I also use supplements and my faith has helped me heal along with a very supportive and understanding partner. Regular exercise has also been wonderful. Animals are great for PTSD. Does your son like animals?

Your son needs a full psychiatric assessment. This involves a very long discussion with a psychiatrist about his life and his symptoms. He also needs to see a therapist to process his trauma but you can't force him into that. A person has to be ready to deal with their issues before seeing a therapist or else it will just be a waste of time and money. Psychiatric wards are typically for crisis intervention.
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