Dear Carolyn:

My son is in his early 30s and he suffers from depression, and it gets so bad he wants to commit suicide. He lives with his girlfriend, and he smokes marijuana, which makes things worse. He and I need help. I’m in bad health, and he makes me suffer tremendously. Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you. Happy holidays!


Carolyn Answers:

Both you and your son need some professional help with psychologists. First, you need to start a conversation with your son about his feelings? Hopefully, if will confide in you regarding how he is feeling. Validate his thoughts to build trust. Then you can work toward redirecting his feelings toward therapeutic help. Let him know you care, and at the time when he is ready, help him make the first step for an appointment.

For you, you must work on your health. Practicing self-care is vital for all of us. Being around someone who is depressed can take its toll on you if you do not set boundaries. According to the American Psychological Association, there is a 38 percent increase in stress during the holidays. This holiday stress results in increases in depression and substance abuse, among other things.  Recall the Elvis song about blue Christmas. There is a reason behind the crooning of blue Christmas.  Self-care for you should include exercise, which is one of the best stress reducers. Try a hot bath and an extra nap. Read an uplifting book. Get a massage. Finally, see a therapist yourself and learn how to set appropriate boundaries. By analogy, the lifeguard has to learn to save the drowning person without drowning herself. You cannot wreck your mental health by helping someone else, even your son.

Happy holidays to you. Take care, and thanks for writing Ask Carolyn



Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC  27427.  Please do not put identifying information in your questions.  Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation.  The column also uses hypothetical questions.  A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case.  Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…” “Ask Carolyn…” will be a regular column, but not necessarily weekly.