Did I make a mistake?

junemnNovember 1, 2002

My grandson is suffering from depression. He is 17 and refuses to take any medication for it. He lives with his dad and grandparents and they don't seem to be able to convince him he needs it. Last Saturday I called him. He would barely answer my questions and was not very pleasant to speak to. It really bothered me so I wrote him a letter. In the letter I expressed the love I feel for him and also that he hurt my feelings. I told him that his decision to not take medication was an adult decision and that adult decisions carry responsibily. One is to act like an adult in dealing with others. I haven't heard from him and am wondering if the letter was a total mistake. I thought I'd call him tomorrow if I don't hear from him. Did I mess up my relationship with him?

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I've never had a loved one with clinical depression, but my understanding is that it is common for the loved ones of the affected person to blame themselves, wishing there was something they could have done differently.

Unless there is something you're not telling us that you wrote, it sounds like a perfectly logical letter. But know that a clinically depressed person, especially unmedicated, is not going to respond rationally, and this is NOT your fault!

Best of luck! Hopefully someone here with direct experience can give advice on how to encourage depression sufferers to go back to taking the meds.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2002 at 8:48AM
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It would be normal for ANY teenager to ignore a letter, so don't fret about it.

However, there is a chance that he may feel that you are being pushy and if he resents your doing that, it could make matters worse.

It's very hard to say just how much he needs to hear about how concerned you are and then how much would be TOO much. The typical seventeen year old boy doesn't want parents or grandparents on his back about things. The depressed teen would be even harder to figure. Many normal teens are sullen and hard to deal with. It would be difficult to judge how much is normal behavior for his age and how much is depression.

My feeling is that he wishes that the adults would get off his back about things. You wiil have to be very careful about what you say to him. I think I would forget about the letter. What's done is done. It may have helped, but if you ask him about it, he may get defensive.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2002 at 8:59AM
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It's not reasonable for you to expect a severely depressed person to get up and take care of the problem. That's the nature of this mood disorder - total lack of energy, no motivation, little self-love, lots of guilt and sadness, etc. If you want to help your grandson, you and other family members will have to intervene and obtain help for him. Don't expect a depressed person to listen to reason or respond to loving criticism. Don't expect a depressed person to understand how severe their problem is or even to care how it is affecting other people. A person who is this depressed can be very self-focused, suffering and unable to help themselves.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2002 at 11:32AM
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I remember 17 myself. Theres a heck of a lot of peer group pressure and other pressures on a kid of that age. Am I smart enough, am I considered attractive to the opposite sex,or in some cases confusion about to which sex they are attracted to, where am I going in life/job prospects,feeling like an adult but still having some of the constraints of a child. Its hard work!
I noticed that there doesn't seem to be a Mum on the scene. Could this have something to do with his depression?
Perhaps he may benefit from having someone not so close to the situation that he could talk to about anything and everything. Perhaps he could benefit from a counsellor or some type of a "big brother" organisation who offer a friend for situations like this.
Probably another point to consider is drugs, evaluate his signs and signals carefully just to be sure that this isn't an issue.
My brother went through a period of depression, which was a culmantation of growing up without his Dad, not being able to find a girlfriend(even though he's very good looking),
and yes drug use became a crutch for him for some time.
But, good news he did get better and your grandson can too!
I always worry that drugs, although they have their place, all to often only treat the symptoms, not the cause.
All that said, please keep a good eye on him, and if he starts talking suicide, believe him, youth suicide is a very growing problem in our society and without help unfortunately some to resort to this waste of precious life.
I agree that constantly harping on him about the actual situation may do more harm than good. Perhaps it would be better to try to help to see his worth in life, give him lots of warm fuzzies about himself when talking to him, be interested in what he is doing in life,and maybe subtly help him to find an interest that will help to lift his depression by concentrating and becoming invlolved with something that gives him a sense of self worth, hope and achievement. Just remember though that you'll need to manouvre this very carefully to make it seem like his idea, because no teenager likes to be told what to do.
Just hang in there and remember that at the end of the day you are a good grandparent because you give a damn, and thats the first step to his healing, having someone to stand by him and help him to climb back up that terribly high mountain.
My Mum suffers depression and says that when you hit the bottom and you can't get any lower you've just got to get up and although the mountain seems huge, you've just got to take one step at a time and keep climbing.
Good Luck!
God Bless.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2002 at 7:20PM
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Thanks hmbr you really make a lot of sense. There was some drug use but he's been tested quite a few times and he's clean now. I couldn't stand it any longer and I called him today. He was okay with the letter and was polite when I asked him questions. His Mum(my daughter)is not helping the situation by not being envolved in his life as much as she should be. I want to say thanks again, your very perceptive and I'll just hang in there. This didn't happen overnight and won't get better overnight. June

    Bookmark   November 2, 2002 at 5:18PM
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