Caring mum....maybe?

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Hi,
After many years caring for my elderly father, who passed away last year, I'm now caring for my 21 year old son. Although I love him very much I'm struggling to get through each day. My son was diagnosed with anxiety and depression last year and started doing the online CBT course. This didn't help him much and after a 15 week wait is now seeing someone face to face for CBT. He now is diagnosed with Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia.

Having had no life for years it has seamlessly carried on. My son just does nothing for himself and I'm back in the routine of shopping, cooking, cleaning etc. When he has to start going out again as part of the therapy I'll be there for hours trying to coax him to go on a 5 minute walk.

In 4 years he'll be 25 and can get housing benefit. I think I'll sell up and emigrate. Is this how everyone feels?!!
We all have a breaking point, especially when we are suffering from Clapped Out Carer Syndrome. We've done too much, for too long, with too little support. You have reached yours.
yes, I guess you are right. All suggestions on how to keep going are welcome. I find the red wine is helping..
Hi Janet
My boy sounds similar, but not yet officially diagnosed. On a day to day basis we adopt a 'firm love' approach. He is expected, and does, cooking and housework as we are both working. He is expected to be up for 9 and keep 'normal' bedtimes. He also financially contributes but this is because he had an inheritance and relieving him of some of it monthly means he sees his cushion disappearing. (It goes into a separate account in the hopes one day he will need a house deposit).
Overall we try to support rather than enable him to just vegetate e.g. I always offer to accompany him to doctors appointments.
When he was really at his lowest we just found a no nonsense, 'chivvy a toddler along' approach worked best e.g. no option not to go somewhere more of a 'when are we going, at 2 or 3?'. Antidepressants and propanalol for panic attacks seem to help too. Asking him what support he wants proves more useful than just assuming and doing it for him.
We also paid for some private counselling at £45 a session which was worth its weight in gold. The NHS cbt was useless.
Lots of praise and encouragement on anything he does well and build on the positives, no matter how small. Eg thanks for posting that letter.
Slowly it seems to working.
My mantra is 'I may be a mum and a carer but I am not a doormat'
Even so we have to be vigilant that he isn't just 'hiding away from the world' and keep gently reminding him he needs to move forward.
We have got the anti-depressants and propranolol. Not sure they have helped very much. As you say, being positive helps.

May resort to other types of therapy in the future if the NHS CBT fails to work.
With my boy, a lack of self esteem seems to be at the root of everything, hence the focussing on any positive.
At his lowest it was very much 'I suck at everything, therefore I won't do or participate in anything'
Even doing the cooking has built his esteem. He now likes the kudos and to boast of his latest creation and even mentions working in catering. A year ago this would have been unthinkable.
There will be light at the end of the tunnel for your boy too, Janet
And that too means you won't be in this position for ever. Start planning your freedom
Xxx
MrsA
Hi - please take what I say simply as coming from 'another mum' (my son is 22), but not with any direct experience of 'dire' problems. BUT, I do agree with what has been written above - especially the phrases 'firm love' and the warning on 'enabling' and, most of all, self-esteem.

Adolescence is a wretched, wretched time for so, so many! I wouldn't relive my years between fifteen and 25 again for all the tea in China! It wasn't all dire (I did get a boyfriend at one point!), but by and large I was miserable, uneasy, felt 'rubbish' (aka 'ugly'!), not achieving what I'd wanted, no one liked me (except other people as boring and 'uncool' as I was, and what use was that???!!!) (etc etc to tedium!)

I was listening only this morning to a programme that talked about how the pressure to be 'popular' and 'successful' and 'deliriously happy' and 'cool' etc etc, is now exacerbated a million times by social media. The pressure is intentse and endless. So much so that diagnoses of anxiety and depression amongst the young is soaring. That, in itself, can be a problem in that they young then tend to think 'well, if a psych says I've got a disorder I must be really bad!'....the very diagnosis can 'confirm' they are a failure/rubbish/ugly/stupid/uncool, etc etc etc.

So, I completely agree with the idea of giving them something to feel good about, and at. With boys, one BIG thing for them is their body image. I doubt there's a young man alive who wouldn't like muscles, etc etc, so how is your son on that front? If you can find a good gym for him, one of the best things is that they are 'private' - unlike the hideous ordeal of team sports (!), gyms can be very empty (eg, during the day)(only fat housewives like me there!), and the instructors will draw up a programme for him, which will be a mix of cardiovascular stuff like cycling and rowing, and then the weight training stuff. As he starts to see vivible improvement in his body, and in his fitness levels (stamina) he will feel better about himself - and, best of all, exercise releases our own 'feel good' hormones, our endorphins, and that will help as well.

The key, key thing is that he must not 'wallow' - just hide under the duvet and spend his time escaping on to the Internet (gaming!). Don't worry too much about his social life now - that's the next step I'd say. First is the comb of the 'firm love' (he has chores to perform, or the food stops!)(I'm not joking - he has to understand that life is not 'free' for anyone!).

Finallgy, now that your dad is no longer your responsibility, how about doing something like getting out and away on a holiday - with your son if you can (is his dad/siblings around??). I would recommend something, if you can run to it financially, like an activity based holiday where he and you both learn something that neither of you can do - eg, a short sailing holiday, something like that. He'll be with a bunch of other 'newbies' so won't be expected to be good at it.

It won't be fast, but better to have slow, real progress, that he can build on (with relapses yes, that's probably inevitable). And it will, in all likelihood, hopefully improve 'on it's own'. My son had a pretty sad secondary school time of it - from about GCSEs through AS - and 'everyone else' was in the cool crowd etc etc. But his last year at school picked up when he got a girlfriend (through speed dating - a BRILLIANT scheme!), and when he went to Uni his life improved. He started, with my recommendation, to 'join everything' and some worked out and some didn't, but the ones that did gave him his social life. And speed dating (again!) gave him his current g/friend.

As for me, I was 'rubbish' until I was 25, when it suddenly all came together in a single year - I moved into a flat of my own (I found it ALL BY MYSELF - no help from family etc) (big achievement for me!), and I got a job I wanted (after rubbish jobs) and I got myself a boyfriend (who became my husband!). It happened very fast, and after years I would never want to replay again.

So, please, hang on in there. There's every reason to expect your son to improve. Kind regards, Jenny