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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Depression....what can you do?

    It is devastating to see the one you love the most suffer constantly. My son's injury is almost two years old. He has always refused anti-depressants. I have tried to cheer him up which seems to have little effect. What can I do? Do I ignore him, try to get him using his wonderful mind thinking about sports, etc.? I am at a loss. He got a chocolate lab puppy 4 months ago and she has helped temper his dark moods. The weekends and holidays are his worst times. He talks constantly of the mountain bike trails, back packing adventures, etc. always in terms of I will never get to experience again. If I say once we get your pain in control, you can go biking, hiking etc. he becomes very mad. He says, "it is not the same Mom". His dark moods spread to me and it is so hard to fight it and remain positive which is my nature. I am looking forward to reading your adivse. Thank you.

  2. #2

    Counseling

    I suspect with your comment on refusal to take meds that he would also refuse to participate in counseling, but this is what he needs to do. You could probably benefit from a family counseling situation linked to individual counseling for him.

    Peer counseling would also be invaluable to him. Is he linked up with any SCI peers through school, sports, disability rights organizations, etc.?

    Trying to "cheer" up someone who has a serious depression or adjustment disorder will not be effective and will probably only end up in both you and he being more frustrated and angry.

  3. #3
    It would be great for him to come to the website and interact with us. He will realize there are others going through the same thing, and won't feel so alone.
    I'll email him if you like.

    Hang in there!


  4. #4
    Senior Member Clipper's Avatar
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    Alice,

    What level injury is your son? I am 30 years old, C5/6, 12 years post-injury. I cannot relate to your son's pain, but I do understand his feelings of depression. Many people told me that I would benefit from being involved with other disabled people, that this would help me see the many things I could do. For some people, this works. For me, it did not. The most important thing for me was to get back to my life -- my friends, my hobbies, my joys. This isn't possible with everything, obviously. But being active -- physically AND mentally -- is hugely important. Get him back into his career, if possible. Get him active and out of the house. Get him thinking about the future. Show him that his knowledge is needed in this world. I also agree that counseling would be a great help.

  5. #5
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    Originally posted by Clipper:


    Hi Clipper,

    Thank you for your response! My 26 year old son was injured on Nov. 18, 1999. He has incomplete T3 and T11 injuries and suffers from spasms and intense pain. He is a working chemical engineer. He works about half of the time in an office and the other at his home. His work has helped, although he still longs for his "old life" where he felt like he had it all. I keep thinking when will he will start to look forward, intead of always focusing on what he lost. I have had people tell me that some SCI patients never recover mentally and others take years. Maybe it is just patience? His hobbies all included physical activity. I think he struggles with reinventing himself. He has considered playing the guitar...it sits there, he considers drawing..it doesn't happen. I wish he would chat on this website but then he is too tired. How involved are you with your family? I sometimes think I should back off substantially so he would move on, but then I worry that he would give up and end it all. If you have time I would appreciate your thoughts. Take Care, Alice Alice,

    What level injury is your son? I am 30 years old, C5/6, 12 years post-injury. I cannot relate to your son's pain, but I do understand his feelings of depression. Many people told me that I would benefit from being involved with other disabled people, that this would help me see the many things I could do. For some people, this works. For me, it did not. The most important thing for me was to get back to my life -- my friends, my hobbies, my joys. This isn't possible with everything, obviously. But being active -- physically AND mentally -- is hugely important. Get him back into his career, if possible. Get him active and out of the house. Get him thinking about the future. Show him that his knowledge is needed in this world. I also agree that counseling would be a great help.

  6. #6
    Hi Alice,

    You sound like me; a positive person who always tries to see the good in situations, people and whatnot! My daughter is 20, and was injured at T11/T12 two years ago. She never suffered through major depression, but it does irritate her when people make remarks about what she can still do, etc. People don't really understand that things aren't the same anymore. She has pointed out that, yes she can still go horseback riding, but those people who say that so cheerfully have no idea of the energy she must put out to do all those things that used to be so easy. Your son is right; it's not the same, and it never will be. Doesn't mean he can't do it, but it will take a lot more effort on his part. Maybe you just need to acknowledge that; things ARE different, and that really stinks. Tell him that! He knows it's true, but maybe he just needs to hear it from you, too. I've learned not to try and "fix" everything for my daughter, but to sometimes just agree with her, and let things go. She's smart and stubborn; she's going to go far in spite of this injury. And, she knows she has my support and love if she ever needs to fall back on it. Well..I wish you luck. Being a mom is tough, eh? I hope this helps some. You're not alone in this, so keep us all posted.
    Vicky

  7. #7
    Senior Member Clipper's Avatar
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    Alice,

    My family has been absolutely fantastic. I chose a different road than many people after I was injured, which isn't possible for everyone. Although my parents would have welcomed me with open arms, I decided not to live with them -- or even in the same city -- after my accident. They had moved to a different state three months before my accident, and I felt that my base of support was "back home" in the city in which I was raised. I was fortunate to have a very loving "significant other" to live with and help me move on emotionally. I think my life would have been very different had I stayed with my parents or lived near them. Mom's chicken soup can cure most anything, but a spinal cord injury isn't one of them. That fact is true for every parent, and is perhaps the hardest thing for you to cope with. It kills me to think of the emotional pain my parents have faced, but I think I have been motivated to show them that I am successful and happy. They have flown here at the drop of a hat when I needed help or support, and I have cried my eyes out with them when I am sad. I talk to my parents at least once a day, if not more. We live on opposite coasts. I'm also very close to my big brother. My parents have offered to move here, so they can be closer to me. But it's important that they have lives too. It's been therapeutic for my mom to become very involved in funding for cure research. I am proud of the progress she has made.

    There is no "one" answer that I can provide. I wish I could. Everyone deals with loss and sadness in their own way. Some people become activists. Others bounce back immediately and are providers of an infinite supply of positive energy. Most people, myself included, take it day by day. Some days are going to suck, sure. Your son is 26 years old. He sees all the things he used to do, and all the things he could have done. I see someone who has a great mom, a wonderful mind and endless potential.

    I think you said it perfectly when you mentioned "re-inventing" himself. This is so true. I couldn't play sports anymore (not to my satisfaction, at least), so I became a sports journalist. I couldn't be a pilot like my dad and brother, so I went to school for my master's in aeronautical science. Now I consult in aviation safety. I'm not the kind of person who exudes happiness. I'm cynical, I have a dry sense of humor, and I get downright angry at times. It may just take your son a little time to find himself again. Whatever the case, continue to support him and surround him with your love. I would be more than happy to talk to you, or your son, on the phone or via e-mail.

    Clipper

  8. #8

    Reinventing Oneself

    Hi Alice,

    After my spinal cord injury, I tried doing some of the same things I did before my injury and realized that no, they weren't the same. Did I stop doing them? Yup. I think it helped me emotionally by leaving those "past things" in the past. I decided to learn new things so that I never had to think "Gawd, this was much more fun before I broke my neck."

    Try to get him away from the old stuff he used to do and get him around some new stuff, whatever that may be. Then he can actually feel the satisfaction of learning/doing something new again and quite possibly continue doing these new things and realize "Hey, I can still do things well." After building himself up that way, he can try some of his former hobbies again. Even if he can't do them as well as he did pre-SCI, he will think "I can't do that anymore, instead I can [whatever...]"

    Just my suggestions. :-)

    -Steven

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by Clipper:

    Hi Clipper,
    Your email message is filled with great insight. Finding employment associated with your pre-SCI passions is a wonderful idea. I will definitely try to make some subtle suggestions to my son.

    I am so surprised that you live away from your parents. I have great admiration for both you and your parents. I live five houses away from my son; however, I see him frequently and help him with meals, gardening, shopping, etc. I worry about him all of the time. Before his accident I did not feel compelled to see him everyday...what has happened to me? I have a job opportunity that would take me to Turin, Italy in May 2002. I have tortured myself about leaving my son, yet I want this job. I worry because in the event of an emergency it would take me 24 hours to return home. My husband has offered to stay to make sure our son has good care, but I agonize over this choice.

    Your Mom's efforts regarding fund raising for SCI cures is wonderful. Which agency does she support? I want to help provide time and funds. I send contributions, but I am not confident that these agencies use the money effectively (the percentage spent on the cure versus administrative costs) and or that it is going towards a cure for individuals with SCI. It seems like most of the research I read about is geared towards treating individuals receiving a new injury. This is absolutely important; however, I wish I saw more research geared towards recovery for long-term SCI patients.

    Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

    Take Care, Alice
    Alice,

    My family has been absolutely fantastic. I chose a different road than many people after I was injured, which isn't possible for everyone. Although my parents would have welcomed me with open arms, I decided not to live with them -- or even in the same city -- after my accident. They had moved to a different state three months before my accident, and I felt that my base of support was "back home" in the city in which I was raised. I was fortunate to have a very loving "significant other" to live with and help me move on emotionally. I think my life would have been very different had I stayed with my parents or lived near them. Mom's chicken soup can cure most anything, but a spinal cord injury isn't one of them. That fact is true for every parent, and is perhaps the hardest thing for you to cope with. It kills me to think of the emotional pain my parents have faced, but I think I have been motivated to show them that I am successful and happy. They have flown here at the drop of a hat when I needed help or support, and I have cried my eyes out with them when I am sad. I talk to my parents at least once a day, if not more. We live on opposite coasts. I'm also very close to my big brother. My parents have offered to move here, so they can be closer to me. But it's important that they have lives too. It's been therapeutic for my mom to become very involved in funding for cure research. I am proud of the progress she has made.

    There is no "one" answer that I can provide. I wish I could. Everyone deals with loss and sadness in their own way. Some people become activists. Others bounce back immediately and are providers of an infinite supply of positive energy. Most people, myself included, take it day by day. Some days are going to suck, sure. Your son is 26 years old. He sees all the things he used to do, and all the things he could have done. I see someone who has a great mom, a wonderful mind and endless potential.

    I think you said it perfectly when you mentioned "re-inventing" himself. This is so true. I couldn't play sports anymore (not to my satisfaction, at least), so I became a sports journalist. I couldn't be a pilot like my dad and brother, so I went to school for my master's in aeronautical science. Now I consult in aviation safety. I'm not the kind of person who exudes happiness. I'm cynical, I have a dry sense of humor, and I get downright angry at times. It may just take your son a little time to find himself again. Whatever the case, continue to support him and surround him with your love. I would be more than happy to talk to you, or your son, on the phone or via e-mail.

    Clipper

  10. #10
    Senior Member Annabanana's Avatar
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    Alice your sons depression sounds relatively normal for a recent SCI. I am 6 years post and I went through exactly the same thing, and occasionally still do although it has become less and less common now.

    It is VERY hard to let go of hobbies and activities that bought us so much pleasure particularly ones that helped us to grow as a person, either physically or emotionally. I used to do a lot of running and horse-riding, and now to see someone running always tends to make me feel a little bit sad. But in time your son should hopefully come to manage these thoughts and feelings to the best of his ability.

    I think though that being injured two years now is long enough for you to start tough loving him a little bit. When he starts off about what he cant do, dont give him other options as to what he can do, as that isnt the answer that he wants. You cannot give him the right answer.

    It sounds like your son was pretty content with the life he had, and the realization that he now has to sculpt a new life around his dis can take a long time to come to terms with. I guess you can only be there to love, support, give advice, etc, but even so that will only help when he reaches a certain level of peace within himself.

    Hang in there and all the very best to you both.

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