Monday 23 September 2013

Night of the Negative Vibes...

We didn't get 'the phone call' until 6pm, but immediately I recognised the tone... Exactly like last year... Ben rock bottom and in tears, with a small voice with short "Mmn"s every so often... He couldn't be bothered to go out to the event at the Union "because it will probably be sh*t". He had "nothing in common with his flatmates", those he's seen. "Two of them keep themselves to themselves with their room doors shut." He hasn't been to see his friend W who's moved into the student flats down the road "because he's going to a paid event this evening with his new flatmates". Etc etc etc etc...

It makes me so frustrated that I can dole out the most sensible and do-able advice on the planet but he refuses to take any of it on board, preferring to take the "woe is me" stance and to hide himself away in his room, stewing in negativity and hating being there.

He wouldn't go and see the residential mentors who are on duty between 6 and 8 every evening precisely to deal with this kind of thing because "I wouldn't have anything to say to them" and "they'd just tell me to go out to events and meet people". Plus I can almost guarantee that he won't seek help from any of the other student support services we met in the spring - all of whom are geared up to handle situations like this.

And how he can conclude that he has "nothing in common" with 2 boys he's only just met and who are, doubtless, equally lost (judging by L's face on Saturday), is beyond me...

So he just wandered around Sheffield on his own all day, then spent the evening locked away in his room.


And, not surprisingly, he is as miserable as sin.

I know it's hard. I know he (and many others) aren't into the boozy partying culture, but there are plenty of other 'fringe' events designed specifically for people like him where he is so very likely to meet people on his wavelength. That is, if they're not all stewing locked inside their rooms, too...

And, as for the flatmates that are "keeping themselves to themselves" and haven't come out of their rooms... Well... I imagine they're probably saying the same thing to their parents about Ben...

I know, I know... If it were you or me, we'd bite the bullet, take our courage in our hands and knock on their doors to see if they fancy a cuppa. We'd get the other boys together and say: "Hey guys I imagine we're all feeling a bit sh*t, so let's all put the kettle on and have a cup of tea together." Or a beer.

But, as you and I also know, you can lead a horse to water...

It just feels like a spookily similar re-run to last year so far. But this time I can't let him give up. Last year when he left he said he felt like a complete failure. Imagine how he'd feel if he quit second time around? And this year, of course, there are no refunds. To quit is bloody costly. We're talking £thousands. Which is why we make 100% certain with Ben that he was 100% certain he was ready to go this time.

So I imagine we'll get another call this evening along the same lines...

And then, tomorrow, when I drive down to drop off the things we couldn't get in the car...

It just makes me so frustrated that we have the solutions and have suggested them to him, yet he doesn't take them on board yet expects us to sympathise with the "woe is me" negative vibes. Which we do, of course, because that's what anxious parents do, but it frustrates me NO END!

Not to mention the worry that his panic, depression and anxiety will ressurect the eating disorder...


  1. Hi Batty Matty. I'm a 3rd year uni student, living away from home. I had anorexia throughout secondary school and sixth form, like Ben there are still some naggly bits, but these are fading. But tell him he really must give the societies/events a chance !!! I met so many friends who are just like me, I think I've been to a nightclub once during my whole time at uni. We really just play Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer or talk about sci fi stuff, we even go to conventions together, so trust me, he will find someone just like him in one of these societies.

  2. Hi Anon, Thank you for your comment! I am hoping, hoping, hoping that he will go to the Wargames Soc meeting tomorrow evening because, like you, I know he will be happiest just talking about Warhammer and sci fi stuff!! Fingers crossed and thanks for getting in touch. I really appreciate it!!! xxx

  3. Hi Batty Matty - I couldn't read and run so please feel free to ignore my comment. I'm (as the above poster is!) a university student too. I originally went to medical school back in 2008 which was utter madness as my OCD was already quite bad. Once at university, it all got very bad and I ended up almost totally housebound and isolated, my life was just a whirlwind of OCD rituals and I inevitably dropped out and moved home. Once I was home I really closed in on myself (I've always had social anxiety) and 18 months later, when I went back to university (this time to read psychology) it was very hard.

    I was going home every weekend and yet would just cry and cry in my room on my own. I felt so very lonely and totally inept. I stuck with it and I promise you that by January things were just that bit better. And they kept on improving. And last year I ended up going away to study in Germany for a year - something that was really hard but wonderful and something that I never thought I would achieve.

    For me, it's been (as for Anon) a case of finding other like minded people. I'm still very shy and I still struggle with social situations, but I actually do go to them these days. I belong to a choir (a few years ago my social anxiety would never have let me!) and I mentor the foreign students - there tends to be less small talk and I find it easier.

    Please tell Ben that it does get better. Don't be ashamed of who you are - I hate the drinking and clubbing thing too and would much rather be in a library. But he's not alone! There are all sorts of us out there (as you say, mainly in our rooms!).

    I know that's not much help but love to you both xxxx

    1. Hi (other) Anon, Thanks ever so much for your helpful comment. I really appreciate you taking the time and effort to get in touch, I really do! xx

  4. Hi Bev,

    I relate so much to what your son is going through. This sounds EXACTLY like me during my first attempt at uni back in 2010. I have social anxiety disorder and EDNOS, both of which were only exacerbated by moving 3,000 miles away from home. I left school after 3 months when I hit rock bottom and then underwent treatment for 3 months. I decided to return to uni for the following year, with my mind made up that things would be different. I forced myself to talk to my flatmates and go out to social events, as much as I dreaded it. Honestly though, the best friends I made were the people in my classes. It was easy to talk to them since I knew we had something in common (in my case, feeling utterly baffled by Russian grammar), and I saw them several times a week without having to initiate any plans. I became best friends with two of the girls in my Russian class and we even got a flat together the next year. So although I'd encourage your son to try to go to some events, it might be comforting to know that's not his only chance to meet people.

    I'm now in my third year of uni and am studying abroad in Sweden, which is a little like starting uni for a third time what with all the new people and places. But it's definitely gotten easier each time, and I've learned from my own experiences along the way. If you had told me back in 2010 that this is where I would be today, I wouldn't have believed it. I didn't even think I'd still be alive by now! But here I am, better than ever. We're all capable of surprising ourselves.

    Best of luck to your son.


    1. Thank you for your encouraging comment, Adrienne!

  5. He may not be interested in this at all but his university runs a nightline service which is there to listen if he needs to talk.

    1. Thank you, Anon. Yes, he has a nightline bag, coaster, etc. x