Friday, December 10, 2010


I frequently check in with N each night after school to encourage him to do his homework or to find out if he has any questions. Several nights ago, after multiple queries where it was clear that he wasn't even trying to get his work done, he confessed that he had been having suicidal thoughts. I discovered that he pictured himself threatening suicide in front of me. We talked for quite a while discussing specifically what that would accomplish. His comment was, "that he would get help." More prodding revealed tears, discouragement and frustration with his school work. And that he needed help.

N is extremely behind with his school work. He started to fall behind during November. We helped him do a huge push to get his work done before we headed out of town for Thanksgiving. He did it - he got it all finished. But never turned it in.

Fast forward to this week: As of yesterday, he was missing 20 assignments, had an F in Math (where he was missing 6 or more assignments), and was thoroughly discouraged. Rather than work on his homework, he would sit down in his room and draw for hours and hours. He once told me that he would rather lie on his bed and do nothing than do any work. (Is this just his avoidance of anything uncomfortable?) N is extremely smart - so it isn't an issue of ability.

As of two days ago, after a break, I sit with N at the dinner table each afternoon. He plods through his assignments as long as I am right there. If I leave for any reason, he gets sidetracked. It really reminds me of refeeding. The frustration is pretty high. Yesterday it took 6 hours to complete a little more than a single math assignment. He hasn't been paying attention and doesn't know how to do the math. So, I teach him. For the other subjects, I stay right by his side. He suggested that we cancel his guitar lessons. I think he's right -- his mental health is more important.

I'm wondering if he has some depression issues. Perhaps we need to see his therapist again. I find myself wondering which came first (the chicken or the egg?): Is he depressed and consequently not able to get his school work done? Or is he depressed because he is so far behind in school?


Kikuye said...

That sounds really similar to hat happened to me; except my mom didn't help me, despite the fact she thinks she did...or maybe she did try..?Who knows, maybe N will think the same to you (and I don't mean this in an insulting way, I just mean that the depression for all I know probably blocks or skes how we percieve things.) I honestly don't remember my mom pushing me to try to do work or inquire, but I as also very distant, so they'd argue I pushed help away or didn't want it. I think it's awesome that you and your son are able to talk so openly; that he's able to talk so openly. I really feel that no matter what happens he will be okay, because he has you. I think I can also relate to N with the homework thing. I've always been told I'm extremely smart, but ever since my ED, rational intellect generally doesn't stand a chance; but it's been gaining slight ground. You said he'd rather just draw or do nothing right? I am like this still to a point. It's like things are so overwhelming it causes a kind of anxiety becuase there's so many things to do, once you start you've taken it on and...well, yeah. I used to draw or watch anime or crossords in a kind of stupor. Like a nervous stupor waiting for time to pass yet hating it becuase each second more means your that much more behind. It's like your trying to put of the inevitabiltiy of reality.. Hope things get better for you and him. ALl the best

Wendy said...

Thanks for your perspective. It's good to know how he is thinking. When he resists, I always wonder how hard to push. Does it make things better or worse? I can see that he desperately want my help, but then he fights it.

Kikuye said...

Yeah, that's a hard one. It's like...Okay,when it was me, my mom would push, I'd push back. Then she'd back off; she's the kind of person who's a do what you want person. She'll give her two cents and if you don't listen too bad. Then I'd feel she didn't love me and felt that I deserved to feel that way because I guessed it didn't matter that much to her. Me wanting to feel better wasn't good enough. (still isn't) It's want help but you don't feel you deserve it, so you feel you have to deny it even when you want it, just to prove you don't think you should...kinda like the food thing when you said a while back N said he as hungry, but unless you were gonna make him eat it he wasn't going to. (I did the same thing kinda..except not so straight forward; it was "I want food." My mom- "Eat something" "hy should I?" etc. It's odd, the moments my mom took control and essentially "Gave me help" were also some of the times me (or maybe just my ED) HATED it. They also filled me with the most feelings of "she does care" as in, she cared enough to not care how I reacted necessarily in order to do what HAD to be done.

Erica said...

I can't get over how similar our paths have been! Our d has been doing great and went off her anti-depressant in August. She is in 8th grade this year and, while she has been doing fine, seemed to be getting burned out. She also started procrastinating around assignments and had trouble falling asleep. She told me a few weeks ago that she had been having sad feelings and a sensation of "deep sadness" that mainly was at night, but sometimes during the day. I asked her if she would be willing to go back on some sort of medication, and she agreed. She has been on a new anti-depressant for about a week, so we will see how that goes. Both her therapist and psychiatrist told me this was normal -- that the anxiety can often change into depression and that we were doing the right thing by getting her the support she needs.

Our kids are always going to be sensitive and I see my role as teaching my d to recognize the changes that occur in her emotional states, and knowing when to ask for help. Let me know how things go with your s.

Wendy said...

Thanks Erica. We haven't put N on any medication yet. I confess that I'm resisting. I worry about heightening those suicidal tendencies. What are you using for your daughter?

I'm glad to know that it is normal for the anxiety to shift into depression. He seems to be doing better with his anxiety issues, actually.

I'm glad to hear from you and that you are still having progress with your daughter. We had a better day today. He buckled down and got his work done. There is still a lot to do, though.