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#21204 - 07/24/08 08:10 PM Highly Gifted/Severly Depressed
Elained Offline
New Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 1
I have a 15 year old son who is highly gifted but in his own words, "I am very strange, people make fun of me and because of that I hide my true self to the world and put on a facade so I can somewhat fit in." These feelings have led him into a deep depression and he hates his life. I need help!!! He is seeing a therapist once a week. My question to you is....What can I do to help my son? I have been trying to find people or friends he can relate to and interact with but I don't know anyone like him. I don't know where to turn. He is completely miserable. He despizes school and this year he failed math and is now attending summer school, which only makes him hate himself more. He has 2 friends in his life but he has them only for the sake of having a friend. He doesn't relate to them. My son only opens up and shows his true self to me, and does so only because he has no one else to vent too. When he does open up to me, it is so sad to listen to him explain how he feels. We talk for hours but it is so hard for me to "get it". He is not like the rest of our family and he knows it. I try to tell him this a positive thing but he doesn't see it that way. Our home enviornment is exactly what he should NOT be around. He hates us and everything. Nothing makes him happy. He believes that he will never fit in, even as an adult. What can I do? Should I change his school, how do I find friends for him that are on his level??? He is not just book smart, he is a highly intelligent deep thinker, a great writer and a young man who is extremely "quirky." My son has so much potential locked up inside of him and has no where or no one to let it out. He is going insane (as he puts it) and can't stand life anymore. He is losing weight and tired all the time. He really is battling his own demons but they seem to be winning. I am so helpless. Even though I am his mom and the closest person to him, I can't seem to help him and I still have a hard time understanding the things he does, and the way he acts. Any ideas, thoughts, suggestions, leads, or help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you so much for your time.
A worried mom,
Elaine

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#21205 - 07/24/08 08:19 PM Re: Highly Gifted/Severly Depressed [Re: Elained]
incogneato Offline
Member

Registered: 10/25/07
Posts: 2231
Loc: up in my head.......
Hi Elaine,

I feel the weight of what you are dealing with.
I guess I would ask you what his therapist says?
Is that person someone who specializes or has a lot of experience with highly gifted people?

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#21207 - 07/24/08 08:21 PM Re: Highly Gifted/Severly Depressed [Re: Elained]
st pauli girl Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/08
Posts: 1894
Hi - I am sorry to hear about your situation, but it is good that your son is seeing a counselor. I cannot give you any advice, except to point you in the direction of SENG (supporting emotional needs of gifted):

http://www.sengifted.org/

I wish you the best.

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#21210 - 07/24/08 08:34 PM Re: Highly Gifted/Severly Depressed [Re: incogneato]
Kriston Offline
Member

Registered: 09/19/07
Posts: 6145
Loc: Midwest
I'm so sorry your son is going through this. Depression is a terrifying ordeal for all involved. You have my best wishes and healthiest hopes for your son.

Is there a writing group--possibly for college students or adults, since he may not fit well with kids his own age--that he could join?

I guess what I'm saying is that I would focus more on finding groups that do the things he likes to do for the sources of friendships and less on the ages of the people doing them. He may do better that way. A highly sensitive HG teen often has trouble finding friends among same-age peers. It is actually very normal to have that kind of trouble. He's not a weirdo: he's just a normal gifted kid!

And I'm with 'Neato--make sure the therapist understands GTness and how that is affecting his condition. It matters.

Finally, I don't know enough about his school situation to advise you with any confidence there, but it does sounds like some thing(s) there are not working for him. It might be smart to talk with him about what specifically is wrong at school and what options you can make available to him to solve the problems. Encourage him to turn outward for this conversation instead of inward. You want him to be angry or frustrated or to place blame on others, not to blame himself. It sounds to me like at least part of the reason for his depression is because he thinks he's the whole problem. If he sees that the situation is the problem--and you can make changes to the situation!--maybe then he can feel better.

But with that said, know that I'm just a mom with some personal history with people with depression, not an expert. Depression is a serious medical issue, so be smart about taking care of him! Follow doctor's orders and all that! (As I know you will!)
_________________________
Kriston
Mom to DS13 and DS10

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#21245 - 07/25/08 08:42 AM Re: Highly Gifted/Severly Depressed [Re: Kriston]
Mia Offline
Member

Registered: 11/18/07
Posts: 528
Loc: Chicago, Illinois
The others are right -- get him in touch with people who are more like him, whatever the age. As we get older, we have friends of all ages, and your ds's peers are likely not his age at this point; this is pretty common with gifted kids. Try a university nearby for a book club, or see if you can get him into a correspondence course with college students -- creative writing, English, etc.

With brilliance often comes loneliness, and when paired with teenage emotions ... it's hard. Teens often feel isolated and alone even when they're normally developing, but throw in the gifted factor and it can be a big problem. Have you tried looking for online support boards for gifted teens? I'd be really surprised if there aren't any out there, but my guy is still little so I haven't looked. Heck -- give your ds a mission to start his own! I'm sure there'd be a large audience that would appreciate such a board if one doesn't already exist.

I had a rough teenagehood too (some pretty serious depression included), and I would have loved for someone to have done *something*. At the very least, you're tuned in and caring, and even though it may not look like it now, that is huge.

And I have to agree with Kriston's words of wisdom:

Originally Posted By: Kriston
He's not a weirdo: he's just a normal gifted kid!
_________________________
Mia

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#21251 - 07/25/08 09:45 AM Re: Highly Gifted/Severly Depressed [Re: Mia]
ebeth Offline
Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 412
Welcome Elaine!

You are expressing and dealing with something that all of us (even those of us with younger kids) fear. For the most part, all of our kids feel like they are square pegs in a round peg world. Please let your son know that he is not alone. There are lot of teens out there who feel isolated and alone because they don't fit the mold that society hold up as average, run-of-the-mill normal. And if he feels that he needs to hide his uniqueness from the world, maybe there are more kids around him than he thinks that similarly feel the need to hide themselves. Maybe no one is really average, and we are all hiding certain parts of ourselves in order to fit in.

The problem with society (and not with the gifted kids) is that it continually projects the message that different is inherently bad. Kids start to doubt themselves, their abilities, their very value and uniqueness, all because of an accumulation of negative feelings from outside of themselves. The more we believe in ourselves, the easier it is to shrug off those feelings of "uniqueness is bad". That is why it is important for him to find a group of supportive and/or like-minded people. The problem is where to go to find these people. (and I know... I'm going through the same issue of finding peers for my eight year old... God help me when he is 15!)

There are many web sites for gifted teens that talk about depression. Both Hoaggies and Seng (which I see was already mentioned) have information. Lots of books that I get from the library on gifted kids have chapters dealing with depression too.

Good luck to you. I hope you find something that helps both you and your son.

http://www.sengifted.org/articles_counseling/Webb_ExistentialDepressionInGiftedIndividuals.shtml
http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/adolescents.htm
_________________________
Mom to DS12 and DD3

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#21254 - 07/25/08 09:48 AM Re: Highly Gifted/Severly Depressed [Re: Mia]
squirt Offline
Member

Registered: 03/31/08
Posts: 323
Loc: Back in Texas, alas!
Please make sure that you don't overlook antidepressants in this case. I know there has been a lot of negative coverage in the media, but it sounds to me like he needs some medicine to help him get through the worst of this. I am NOT a medical professional but have experienced this kind of severe depression. The therapy helped, but it wouldn't have if I hadn't finally agred to use the antidepressant medication. So, a good psychiatrist to find the right combination of meds/therapy is essential. He may even need hospitalization to help him focus on nothing but beating the depression. I did, and it was a huge help. No responsibilities, no places to go, just a time to focus on getting well.

I'm not trying to scare you (or anyone) or be an alarmist. I just know from my own experience that sometimes a person needs a lot more help than a therapist can give. And, it is okay to need that help. Perhaps the suggestions of the others will help; I think he needs to beat the depression first.

Again, not trying to scare anyone or make this a worst case scenario. Depression is a very scary thing, especially for a teenager, and needs to be addressed on its own merits.

My thoughts are with you and I hope that you find the help you seek. You might look online for a forum on depression. You can also check the NAMI website (National Associaton for Mental Illness).

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#21255 - 07/25/08 09:59 AM Re: Highly Gifted/Severly Depressed [Re: squirt]
Kriston Offline
Member

Registered: 09/19/07
Posts: 6145
Loc: Midwest
Agreed, squirt. I was tapdancing around that same sentiment in my post, but I think you did better to just come right out and say it. It depends upon the case, of course, but depression can be deadly, literally. You have to use every tool at your disposal.

Just do be sure to get LOTS of therapy if using the antidepressants. Especially in teens and young adults, using the drugs without enough professional support can instigate suicidal behavior. So just get all the help you can get. I don't think there's such a thing as too much.

Oh, and if the depression is situationally induced--as it often is for GT teens--then solving the problems with school and friends might very well provide a good part of the solution for the depression. So I do think that attacking the whole situation at once isn't a bad idea. If it's purely a chemical imbalance, then maybe not. But with a GT kid, it's usually more complicated than that. At least in my experience.
_________________________
Kriston
Mom to DS13 and DS10

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#21264 - 07/25/08 10:43 AM Re: Highly Gifted/Severly Depressed [Re: Kriston]
Austin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/25/08
Posts: 1840
Loc: North Texas
Take him for a long walk in the sun when you talk to him each day. Exercise will help.

There are adult book clubs that meet regularly at campuses, libraries, book stores, and coffee shops to discuss books and what local authors are working on. Ditto for theater groups. I went to one of former when I was younger than your son and loved it.

Local science museums have adult clubs in various things like Astronomy and other topics and also have volunteer programs.

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#21269 - 07/25/08 10:55 AM Re: Highly Gifted/Severly Depressed [Re: Elained]
Lori H. Offline
Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 982
My smart and quirky son has several older gifted friends who he says are the only kids he feels like he can be himself around, but even they are not like him in some ways, so he also has online friends who make him feel like he is not alone. He and his online friends enjoy mmorpg (massive multiplayer online role playing games). He likes being able to create his own characters and it allows him to pretend he is strong in the areas he feels he is weak and he says nobody knows how he really is. So far he has not had a problem with depression, but there were times that he said things that made me worry that he might be depressed. I think my son might be at high risk for depression because of a family history and the fact that he is also twice exceptional, so I do worry about this sometimes.

My son is not like the rest of his family in some ways but he is able to use this "difference" in the jokes that he makes and I am so hoping that he can keep this ability because I think his sense of humor will help keep my son from developing depression.

He met most of his gifted friends through a musical theater class which seems to attract a lot of gifted kids.

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