DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is home from school for a month, and all he does is sleep. I know that college was tough for him, but I do not like what he’s doing now.
At first, I let him sleep to regain energy. But now it has been a couple of weeks, and he still doesn’t get up until after 1 p.m. That doesn’t work in our house, and he knows it, which is why I’m concerned.
I don’t want to yell at him, but I need to break this pattern. What do you recommend?
DEAR SLEEPING BEAUTY: What other unusual behaviors, if any, have you noticed in your son?
When you talk to him, what does he talk about? What are his interests? How did he do in school?
Can you get him to talk about his experiences at all? Your son may need to speak to a mental health professional. Do research in your community to find a therapist that he can visit in person or through a televisit. Get him evaluated.
Resist blowing up at him. That won’t help.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these are the signs of depression. I have chosen to include the entire list as this is such a serious topic, and anything we can do to help our loved ones is worth it.
- Anger, irritability or aggressiveness
- Feeling anxious, restless or “on the edge”
- Loss of interest in work, family or once-pleasurable activities
- Problems with sexual desire and performance
- Feeling sad, “empty,” flat or hopeless
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Feeling very tired, not being able to sleep or sleeping too much
- Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
- Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems
- Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family or other important activities
- Engaging in high-risk activities
- A need for alcohol or drugs
- Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my close friends recently lost her father. They were very close, and she seems so sad right now. I’m not sure how to comfort her.
My father passed away more than 20 years ago. It’s amazing to me that she had her dad this long. He was in his late 80s when he died.
Part of me thinks she should be grateful for his life and keep moving, but I realize that isn’t very compassionate. How can I be a good friend right now?
Friend in Mourning
DEAR FRIEND IN MOURNING: Be a good listener. When your friend wants to talk about her dad, be present and enjoy the stories. You can also share memories of your father when it seems appropriate to the conversation.
Do not tell her she should be grateful she had him so long. That sounds like scolding. You can say that you are happy for her that she had him for so long. Notice the subtle difference that can lead to uplifting thoughts.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.