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Topic: Support for depressed teenage son, early school leaver, to possibly return to finish school?

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. Aknitter
    Aknitter avatar
    5 posts
    5 September 2018

    I'm hoping for some advice from the community. My 18yo son had a sudden relapse of depression 3 weeks ago. He first received treatment a year ago but didn't really commit to it and didn't stay on treatment longer than a couple of months. It's early days, but this time he seems to be responding well to medication and is beginning to feel better.

    He left school last year during year 11 feeling unable to cope, and has tried 2 apprenticeships in the last 6 months, the first didn't suit him, and the second he had to leave 3 weeks ago when the depression hit.

    I am glad he's beginning to feel better, but he has declined help by a psychologist, saying he would rather try to fix it himself (exercise and taking medication). My concern is that he might miss out on dealing with some unresolved problems, ie. learning problems at school due to auditory processing difficulties, social anxiety.

    I wish he would give education another try next year. He has not formed any plan of what to do next, and is not working or studying at the moment. I'm finding it hard to have a discussion about possible re-entry into the school system. I don't want him to feel pressured.

    Has anyone had any experience with re-entry to senior level of secondary school?

    Alternatively, has anyone had any experience with distance education?

  2. james1
    Community Champion
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    james1 avatar
    2735 posts
    5 September 2018 in reply to Aknitter

    Hello Aknitter

    It is good to meet you, and thank you for posting your question. I can see you are feeling quite stressed about your son's situation.

    I wanted to post because I am 26 and not only do I have some pretty recent memories of my own mother trying to help me with my future, and my partner left school when she was 16. So I guess I have a little bit of experience on the other side.

    First of all though, good on you for trying to help out your son and reaching out to us. It can be really hard to deal with, and I really hope you can find what you need on the forums here.

    Perhaps the main thing I can suggest is that your son may not want to go back to school at all, and it may not be helpful for him anyhow. It sounds like he did not have a good experience there and my partner did not either. She is dyslexic and after years of dealing with the frustrations of this at school, I do not think she has much desire to go back into academic schooling. If she were to go back, it would just bring back up feelings of inadequacy and frustration. She may go back later one day, but neither of us can see it happening any time soon.

    There are many ways for your son to build his own future without needing to go back to school straight away, or even in the near future. It is a shame that the 2 apprenticeships haven't worked out, but perhaps future ones will click.

    In the meantime, perhaps your son hasn't formulated a plan of what to do next because he is trying to work on his mental state. I had depression too and it can really put the brakes on our ability to focus and put plans together, let alone carry them out.

    Just on your questions, I have heard of people go into tertiary level education with some bridging courses, after leaving high school early, though I do not know about going back into tertiary. It may put your mind at ease to have a little bit of research for your own benefit, but if your son has just had a relapse in the last 3 weeks, I would suggest not raising this with him unless he asks first. It can be very overwhelming.

    Can I suggest you have a read of this page? There is some useful information there.


    I hope to be able to keep speaking with you.


    1 person found this helpful
  3. Guest_933
    Guest_933 avatar
    13 posts
    5 September 2018 in reply to james1

    Dear Aknitter,

    Your gut feeling about your son I believe is absolutely correct.

    My son had a similar experience at the end of term 1 HSC, this year. He is a good student but had given up. He wanted to leave school, was very depressed and distracted.

    I asked him if I took the pressure of expectation off him would he continue to attend school, he agreed. I knew it was only a bandaid fix but I did not want him to become isolated.

    Just like you I knew there was an underlying problem. It has taken until now, a month before the HSC for him to disclosure to me it was a girl who was breaking his heart.

    For my son, this was a real saddnes, instead of dismissing it as just adolescent drama, I listened and acknowledged his grief. Boys can really internalise their pain. My son will not do as well as he would have liked but there are many pathways to Uni. I have told him not to stress out.

    Our kids do need to be with their peers, they help and sometimes not help but they keep our kids in the social loop so we can keep connecting with them in this visual world.

    Thank god for social media it really is a mobile tracking device for keeping our kids safe. Often kids use it themselves to keep their friends safe who are not okay, kids do care about their friends. As I am sure your son’s friends care about him. Most kids are kind, optimistic and caring they are not cynical and cold like adults. His friends may be able to encourage him back to school, we all need to belong and to be wanted.

    I wish you and your son the best it is not easy to see our children suffering.

    Kinds thoughts, Belle

    1 person found this helpful
  4. Aknitter
    Aknitter avatar
    5 posts
    17 September 2018 in reply to Aknitter

    Thank you james1 for sharing your experience. It opened my eyes to try to see things more from my son's point of view, which was very helpful.

    And thank you Belle** for sharing your experience as a mother. It is true that there are many pathways that our children might take. I wish your son all the best for his journey, too.

    My son has shown improvement after his first lot of antidepressants but he is still pretty much doing the recovery alone. He decided against visits with a psychologist. His father and I are his sole support at the moment. I don't feel that I have the best answers or advice and feel he's missing out on the opportunity to build trust and confidence in other relationships.

  5. james1
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    james1 avatar
    2735 posts
    19 September 2018 in reply to Aknitter

    Hello Aknitter,

    Thanks for replying. It's good to hear from you again.

    I'm happy that your son has shown some improvement even if he wants to do it alone.

    I think it is good to suggest her go see a professional, but he'll have to come into that mindset on his own as well. If he goes in for someone else's reasons, he won't get much out of the sessions.

    I hope you and his father do not feel too overburdened. I understand that you may want to be able to help in any way, but the best thing is that you can do is to be his support while he works on his mental health. You may not need to give him advice or even answers - he may not even expect it of you unless you are doctors.

    How are you feeling, if you don't mind me asking?


    1 person found this helpful

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