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My Son is Showing Signs of Depression. Should I Tell Family My Anxiety Is Triggered?

Community Member

My 19yo son is showing signs of depression (lack of motivation, not showering as often). He is supposed to attend TAFE Mon and Tues, but he has to get a very early train because the campus is not in our town. Our town doesn't offer the course of study he's doing. He enjoys the course. Our routine is I get him up and he gets ready, and I take him to the train station. This morning he said he didn't feel well and preferred to maybe catch later train (which would get thim there in time for afternoon classes). When it was time to get up for that train, he was still feeling not great. 


He does look a bit lethargic and off-colour today, admittedly. I suggested he set himself a goal to have a shower and brush his teeth, which might make him feel a bit better. 


He's not working at the moment, so it's important he continue with TAFE for 'occupation'. I'm being as supportive as i can be and pointed out if he wants to talk to anybody, the college has a counselling service if he's worried about anything. 


Now, here's my question: I'm thinking of having a family meetign tonight and telling everyone how this is making ME feel. I have anxiety and catastrophise. I am exhausted. I have to work and am studying. In about 8 weeks, I have to do a three-week prac in a nearby town (I'm doing a teaching degree) and it will be exhausting for me. I need support and reassurance that my son is going to attend his classes. His dad has  health issues and is unable to work. I don't think my son has a memory of his dad in long term employment at all, and I wonder if this has affected him. SHOULD I TELL THEM HOW I FEEL OR WILL I LIKELY MAKE IT WORSE FOR THEM?


Thank you, everyone. 

11 Replies 11

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Ranga-1~

Welcome back. It looks pretty obvious to me that you are a very caring person that tries to support everyone, your husband and your son. This means partly a great deal of anxiety and worry about their -any your -futures, and partly a lot of physical work, all taken together wiht studying for your  degree and an anxiety condition.


Nobody is a bottomless well of energy, empathy and love that allows them to keep going indefinitely caring flat out. It really does need to be a two way street, otherwise you become exhausted long term bot physically and mentally, and if htere is no return then you may become unhappy or resentful with  them, and yourself also.


Despite the fact your son may seem unmotivated and your partner being in a less robust state they  are both adults and should be capable of being given a true picture of how things are -and then acting accordingly.


The more you keep secret the toll things are having on you the more they may feel that life is just normal, and they do not need to give you support. A wake-up call seems highly appropriate.


I realize I"m writing this after Monday evening, and really would like to know how you got on




Hey, Croix.

I called my two sons and husband together not long ago. They know I see a psychologist and I explained I have symptoms of anxiety, and that I catastrophise. I told them I am struggling and, as you suggested, not a bottomless well, and that I do need help myself, too I said I worry because I'm a mum. I directed questions to my youngest son about his aspirations and at the moment, he wants to focus on his studies. I said he has to get up early and I'm happy to help him because I'm a mum, but I need his support, too. I told him despite my own hassles, to not be afraid to speak to me regarding TAFE or other concerns. I also told him it's in TAFE's interests to pass him, so the teachers and cousnellors will want to help if he has issues. 


I will have to do an internship later this year, I think. I told the fam I am considering takign a short term lease in the area where the TAFE campus is and maybe son can stay with me later in the year, and I will pick a school in that district. I'm looking way ahead, though. 


I'm feeling fatigued and drained at the moment, but I'm glad I spoke to them. 

Dear Ranga-1~

It sounds like you put the matter to them in very sensible terms and I really hope it makes a difference. I also thing that talk of taking that lease - even though it is not soon - was a good idea. It can help your family realise you are a person with your own needs and desires, not an adjunct to them.


You can still demonstrate love but look after yourself at the same time.


I would like it if you felt like saying how oyu get on



Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Ranga-1


Personally, I find sensitive people to be amazing in so many ways. You are amazing in so many ways. Sensitive people are often able to sense the need for compassion, sense the need for a different way forward (as opposed to the way of sufferance or hardship), sense a need to open their mind, sense a need for a more active kind of love (as opposed to expressing love simply through words) and the list goes on.


I've found there's also a down side to being sensitive, a side that comes with so many challenges. For example, when you're trying to gain a sense of the best way forward for everyone in the family, for example, it becomes about volume or the amount of everything you're trying to gain a sense of. And when you're a sensitive problem solver or analyst, the frequency or how often you're analysing, in the way of finding solutions, can be enough to put your nervous system into overdrive. It can also lead to eventual exhaustion. Being a sensitive seer can add to the challenge. It can then become about seeing not just the potential brilliant outcomes but also seeing all the possible worst case scenarios. When it comes to how a sensitive person 'hears', that's a whole other issue. Am I hearing from my inner sage or visionary or am I hearing all the chatter from my harsh and brutal depressing inner critic and/or the stresser in me?


Your vision sounds brilliant, regarding the short term lease. Personally, I don't think I would have seen that one. Kinda a 'Let's go off for a while to develop ourselves, then we'll/I'll return having evolved' scenario. If you're typically the seer, hearer and feeler of the family, that's a major role. I think, when someone has this role they need to be supported in a whole variety of ways. They may need to be supported to have a rest and recharge on occasions, to avoid feeling like a flat battery. They may need to be supported in finding the best resources and guides when it comes managing and developing their abilities. They may need help in better understanding how or what they're feeling (aka making better sense of everything they're feeling). They may need to be given more respect for their role as seer, hearer and feeler. The list goes on. With that last one, involving respect, I've found 'You're too sensitive, you need to toughen up', to not be a respectful comment. If you're sensitive enough in all the right ways which lead a person to evolve, that same person shouldn't be disrespecting the degree of sensitivity that led them to evolve in the first place. Hope that makes sense. I don't believe it's about 'toughening up' (grrr😡), I believe it's about developing and mastering sensitivity. For example, if someone is seriously degrading in a depressing way, developing a sense of when to emotionally switch off is skillful. No toughening up involved, just the skill of emotional detachment being exercised in this case. 


Perhaps it's the wonderer in me that's leading me to wonder whether you've always been sensitive in ways or whether, growing up, you were considered 'the black sheep of the family' in some way. Whenever I hear someone say 'I was always regarded as the black sheep of the family', I tend to think 'Ahh, so you're the sensitive in the family'. Every lucky family has one but not every family leads their sensitive person to evolve in ways that come to best serve that person, especially under potentially stressful or depressing circumstances.



What a beautiful response, Therising. In a way, I was the black sheep. I'm a lot younger than my three siblings and my immediate family were a bit dysfunctional. I used to get teased by older siblings, but it wasn't the good-natured kind. My oldest brother was an utter vicious jerk and made my home life hell. I never felt safe when he was around. He died in an accident (I was 15 at the time) and my mum never recovered. Both my parents are now deceased. My relationship with my surviving siblings is okay now, but I honestly never felt like my opinion was respected and I am far from stupid. My oldest brother was a black sheep in that he was a troublemaking alcoholic a-hole, but I'm a different kind of black sheep: the sensitive one you described. I have always felt disenfranchised from my immediate family. 


Hi Ranga-1


Sounds like your current family is a much better fit for you, more conscious of your needs and nature. I think just about everyone comes with baggage of some kind, including our parents, siblings, partners and even us. Our children are more inclined to come with an empty bag before they begin to face the challenges of life. As a parent, this kind of makes us a baggage handler in a way: 'Let me help you sort what's in your bag. I'll help you manage this thing which stresses you or brings you down. Let's take out that thing, which you really don't need (including a lot of false beliefs about yourself). All that stuff will just weigh you down. Let's throw in some tools and skills while we're at it'. The role of 'baggage handler' can be a challenging and emotional role and it's often performed while we're slowing unpacking a lot of our own stuff, trying to make sense of it. I've found my kids tend to return the favour, helping me unload and sort things out, helping me make sense of why I think and behave in the ways I do. With them being 18 and 21, I have to say we're growing up brilliantly together, raising each other rather well. 😊


I heard a response the other day from someone who was asked 'Why do your think we're here?'. Their response, 'We're here to serve each other in a variety of ways and we're here to simply become more conscious while gradually coming to better understand our self'. I have to agree. While being a far from easy task at times, I think kids and parents have the opportunity to share that role, serving and leading each other to evolve in a lot of ways. If love is found in evolution, it becomes about loving each other in the process of coming to truly know ourselves. For a start, if not for my son and daughter, I don't think I would have ever have discovered how truly deeply I could love and adore another human being.

Community Member

Understandably, you're feeling overwhelmed and concerned about your son's depression and lack of motivation. Communication is essential in a family, so having a family meeting to express your feelings could be beneficial. However, it's crucial to approach the conversation with empathy and a focus on support rather than placing blame or making anyone feel worse. You can share your concerns about your exhaustion and the upcoming demands you'll face, emphasizing the need for a strong support system. It might also be helpful to suggest seeking professional help for your son, such as the counseling service at his college. Additionally, you can mention the resources available on understanding childhood anxiety and fighting depression without medication, like the articles on YourMentalHealthPal.com. Remember to create a safe and non-judgmental space for open dialogue during the family meeting.

I've told my son to avail himself of the counselling at the college if he feels it's necessary and to always come to us if he has a problem. We get along very well. He admitted he feels bummed on the days he's not at college because there's nothing to do. I told him he can remedy that by looking for more work and even doing volunteer work. 

Thank you for your insightful response.


I try to compartmentalise with the issues we're facing, particularly with my 19yo. He seems to attract head lice. This is not the end of the world, but it can be annoying. The nature of the beast is that it's something you have to keep on top of. So he applied a treatment yesterday and I assisted with a comb-through (he has long hair). 


My husband and I argued because he thinks I'm babying and enabling, whereas I'm trying to be pragmatic and stop it worsening. It did get bad once when my son was 17, and we don't want that happening again. I tried explaining to my husband that the nature of the beast is that keep on top of it because if you miss one, it gets a chance to lay eggs etc.  I see my husband's point of view, but I'd rather be pragmatic and nip it in the bud. Especially if my son is feeling unmotivated and lethargic at the moment. Two wrongs don't make a right. I've discussed it with my son as a thing we fix together before it gets bad. 


So that's a compartment I dealt with yesterday.


Today, I will deal with a uni assessment.


On a brighter note, I received a letter of commendation from the uni Board of Examiners congratulating me on my good results last study period. Things can be good, too!