Feeling completely alone near defeated - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Feeling completely alone near defeated

Wanderlustgirl profile image


This is my first time visiting this board. I am struggling. My son has anxiety and what we believe to be ADD. He will turn 21 next month. He has an addictive and obsessive personality, and while trying to self medicate found himself reliant on Cannabis. Recently he has been experiencing more triggered events which he has some sort of panic attack where he loses control. Also he gets in these modes if he wants or doesn’t want something. He takes it all out on me and manipulates and blames me to the point where I feel mentally abused.

When he starts up my stress level intensifies to the point of physical pain. My doctor thinks I may have PDSD. He is very smart and capable and he rarely shows this side to anyone else. I have often felt if I was not in his life, it would be best for him (NOT in a suicidal way). I feel like he is mentally abusive but he says he can’t help it and he also cannot empathize with me. Today I had a complete breakdown and I still can’t stop crying although the crazy has past. I don’t know what to do.

His primary care tried to work with him but felt he needed to go to a psychiatrist so he could properly prescribe. After 3 weeks, that appointment was today. When I made the appointment I said I wanted him evaluated and tested so I knew what this was. He fits the ADHD/ADD models but there seems more. Maybe bipolar or mild autism. All I got was a prescription of something he had in the past, no testing, no referral for therapy for my son or myself. I was hoping this was the step that would offer some sort of pathway, some focus for me however, I left feeling as blind as ever.

I feel so alone as I have sheltered my husband and daughter from the enormity of this. My husband doesn’t get it and just stresses out so I protect him because I can’t take them both on. I can’t find a therapist that is taking new patients for either of us and I am starting to feel like I am drowning.

The last time I sent my son to a therapist I did so because I was concerned because he was using pot and his mental state was unstable. He was 17. That therapist reported me to Child Protectice Services when my son said I knew about his use (I live in Utah and yes I knew about his use that is why I sent him to the therapist to get help) It was his first appointment and his grandma took him because we were in Greece. She took him because I was very worried about him. I came home to find that CPS went to my sons school and then visited me. Fortunately, CPS closed the case immediately due to a conflict in patient privacy and instructed us to report the therapist. This is when my son and I started rethinking wether or not it was a good idea to go to therapy. The problem is we have gotten to a point where we desperately need help.

I am sorry for the long post and I would appreciated any feedback anyone is willing to offer.

12 Replies

This is very heavy. No doubt you are burdened and feeling powerless. I can feel it in your words. I’m here to tell you that you have landed in a wonderful community of very supportive parents and caregivers. The day I found this board is the day I became a stronger person. You can too.

Clarification: To clarify, is your son open to getting tested to learn what is going on? I’m guessing yes but didn’t want to assume.

1. Testing.

If he is open to testing, call around to different psychologists offices (not psychiatrists - they only do medication management and some just don’t have referrals to psychologists because not all bother).

When calling, ask if they do this type of testing (adhd / anxiety bipolar / autism). You can also check their websites as they often will indicate if they do testing.

Ask how soon they could get your son in.

2. Your son.

Tell your son that you’re going to help him and support him.

You said - he rarely shows this side to anyone else. This is a him showing you that you are his safe person. No, he can’t verbalize it because he has “flipped his lid” - has trouble managing himself. This means he’s exhausted from holding it together around everyone else. You are his safe person.

You said - while trying to self medicate found himself reliant on Cannabis. He clearly doesn’t want to feel the way he’s feeling and is trying to handle it on his own but isn't going about it the right way. This is your signal to help him navigate his way into proper treatment.

3. Your husband / daughter.

Yes, it appears that your husband can’t handle this stressful situation. Leave him out of it for now and seek others (like here, and a therapist for yourself) who DO understand. Once you have a plan in place you can tell him what’s going to happen. Some people just can’t handle high conflict. It goes without saying to not burden your daughter. If she seems negatively affected she may need a psychologist of her own if venting to you isn’t enough. I’m sure she sees something going on. Meet her where she is. Maybe she needs something extra but perhaps you’re enough.

4. You.

Breathe. Regroup. Sit your emotion on the shelf for just a moment while you sort out the facts of what is happening and what concrete steps to take. Write down those steps your going to take and be organized and intentional about marking off each step —- in a binder or notebook. This will help you see that you’re doing something and empower you that you can do this - in baby steps.

Now, pull your emotions back down off the shelf. You’re going to be okay. Let the past go. Today is a new day. A new direction. You have found your people. Take a step then have a cup of green tea. Recognize that you’re stressed because you love him! He’s lucky to have someone loving him through his struggles.

We are here - 💕

Thank you so much. Sometimes you just need to share. I can’t stop crying. I think it is my body’s way of disposing of the serious toxicity I am holding on to. My head is ok at the moment. I will do as you say and I reached out to a friend for support. I will stay on this board and spend more time reading. I think community is good. Thank you so much.


Your son is not the first to self medicate and won't be the last. He is so blessed to have you in his corner. It's unfortunate you didn't have good experience with a counselor but they are not all the same. Redpanda5 is on point. My son has add. He saw a LCSW for counseling, was tested by a psychologist privately & the school, and medicated by a psychiatrist. Once his add was manageable, he was released to his PCP. At times, the PCP & I agree he needs to go back to counseling but he's older now and disagrees. It's a blessing your son is still seeking your help. Take it one day at a time. I'll keep you & family in my prayers.

Sounds a lot like the ADHD I’ve experienced (myself and my kids). There’s a HUGE link between adhd and emotional dysregulation. The more stressed, tired, hungry, anxious etc I am, the more hyper emotional I become. It’s not at all uncommon for ADHD folks to lash out when emotionally dysregulated because it combines with our impulsive nature to make for the perfect storm. Also, that age is hard. You’re legally an adult but likely years behind in maturity and ability to care for yourself due to the developmental delays caused by the ADHD.

Many mamas feel like we’re the punching bag for our children’s big emotions. You are so not alone. Your son is very blessed to have a mama who clearly cares so much. You know something is amiss. Now, it’s time to keep searching until you find the doctor or therapist who will be your first reliable teammate. Some folks really are great at their jobs, and it can make a world of difference to have a wonderful teammate in your corner

Also, I haven’t used virtual therapy myself, but there are often recommendations on the How to ADHD YouTube channel (if you haven’t checked it out, I’d recommend you do!). Maybe you’ll have better luck finding someone to talk to right away using something like that. Or an local CHADD support group? Other families in your area who have faced similar issues will probably be able to offer helpful tips about good healthcare providers, local resources etc

It’s so hard when it’s hard, but it can be better. Deep breaths and one step at a time.

Chadd group seems to only meet once a month and when I found the info, I had just missed September’s meeting. I am going to try and go. I really need to focus on getting help for myself because I have hit a wall. When I posted here I also reached out to many others. One problem so far has I have been trying not to burden others and do everything myself. I have found that to be counterproductive and it has officially taken a toll on my mental health. Thank you for sharing.

You might also try looking forward a support group through NAMI.org. Both my mom and husband went to NAMI support groups years ago. They’ve been around for a long time (over 40 years); you might be able to find a support group that meets before the next CHADD meeting. It sounds like you could really use someone to talk to, and online forums can be helpful but I personally find it beneficial to talk to real live humans in person. Hang in there!

Such great advice from everyone here. Another resource I find helpful is psychologytoday.com. It is a website to help you find therapy, psychiatrist, or psychologist. It won’t have everyone in your area but many are in there with great information about them. It is a wonderful place to start looking. You can narrow the search by area, type of help needed, insurance accepted, what the specialize in etc.

My child was recently diagnosed with ADHD inattentive. It took awhile to get in for testing but just the diagnosis helped my child (17). We see a psychiatrist in a week to discuss medications.

We were lucky to get something from our primary care doc to help with the depression and anxiety. That has been a help while waiting for the ADHD test and now psychiatrist appointment. Maybe call your sons primary care doc again and let them know the meds aren’t helping. See if there is anything else to try while you wait for the other steps to fall in place.

I totally agree that this is overwhelming! There is so much information out there and it can be difficult to sift through all of it. Do small doses of info then take a break and do something for YOU. Call your friend go for a hike. Whatever it is get out of the house and have a real break from everything for a bit. Breathe… you are doing everything you can to help your son. It is a painfully slow process at times. However, you are on the right path.

I am going to focus on getting him tested. It is tough as he is an adult with all the privacy concerns.

Such good advice from prior posters. I would add that you might have more success with a neuropsychologist. Neuropsych testing tends to be longer and more comprehensive. Because young, high functioning adults have learned coping strategies, an additional diagnosis may require a look back in time as well as behavioral observation over time. Both take more time (and a greater degree of experience) then other professionals might offer. You could check with your local Autism society or your local university hospital for referral.

There are a number of self-assessments online of varying quality that he could check out if curious and in advance. Many adults with late diagnosis autism are very happy to get the diagnosis. It helps answer lingering questions and self-doubt and offers a sense of community. It can also open doors to other programs and resources as well as provide legal protections in the work world. As you noted, it would also offer new ways of addressing the problems you and he are having. It is wonderful that you are pursuing this with him.

In the meantime, regarding his badgering you about things he wants or does not want, is there a safe place you can go to get away when he is like that? You need to be able to take a break and recollect yourself. Consider calling the autism society or your states parent resource center (utahparentcenter.org) and see if they can offer names of other therapists you might get in with while awaiting diagnosis. At minimum, you should seek therapy for yourself as his untreated behaviors are hurting you.

I will look into nueropsychologist. My friend who has an autistic son also suggested that. One problem is my son is 20 and I am limited on what I can be involved in because he is an adult. I wish I could have one person that guides me in the order I should follow and lays out expectations. Maybe a therapist. I think I should have had him tested before going to the psychiatrist. We waited so long for an appointment and he just prescribed meds with no clear insight to what is wrong. I wasn’t in the room for most of the appointment so I don’t know everything my son shared. How do get some control in a situation like this? My son doesn’t follow through w/o a push and sometimes even that is hard.

Everyone has such good advice, that I can't offer much more. But know, that you're not alone. Sending so many good thoughts your way. Big hug.

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