20 year old type 1 son drops out of school

Hi everyone,

My son is 20 and has had type 1 since he was 13 months. He recently dropped out of college – for the second time. The first time he was living at home and attending community college. This time he’s living 3 hours from home in an apartment by himself because his classes are all on the auxiliary campus where there’s no student housing.

The problem we’re having is that we can’t keep bailing him out but are very worried about him making the right decisions. His lease (that I regret cosigning for) isn’t up until August. We talked about him moving home, but that would just be bailing him out again.

We don’t know what to do and I was hoping to get advice from parents who may already have experienced something similar. Clearly we can’t let him get evicted. By the way, he quit his job a month and a half ago and still hasn’t found another. We worry he may be depressed and know that he’s at least casually smoking pot.

It’s just so frustrating and scary. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Hi @Staci,

I am so sorry that you have been having a tough time with your son. I really don’t know your situation and history but, all I can say is that it does sound like depression from the way you described.

Have you ever tried bringing him to therapy or any kind of diabetes support group in your area? Sometimes knowing you aren’t alone is all you need to know, and talking to peers like you can help tremendously! Does the school have any support groups for people with diabetes?

The College Diabetes Network
is a great resource. CDN’s mission is to empower and improve the lives of students living with Type 1 diabetes through peer support and access to information and resources.

Find out if the College he goes to (went to) has a chapter HERE.

JDRF chapters can also provide you with some great resources for peer support also. If you don’t know your chapter location FOLLOW THIS LINK and type in your zip code, and it will find all JDRF Chapter locations near you.

Also you can contact your sons CDE and or Endo office and they can give you some recommendations for depression and helping your son to start feeling himself again.

this is very long, sorry in advance

I am sorry to hear your son is having a hard time. I have had diabetes since about 1977. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I began to heal, understand, and begin taking care of myself. During that very rough time, there wasn’t a person alive that could have persuaded, yelled, threatened, or beaten me into doing something different. It’s not that I didn’t hear my parents, my doctor, my friends; it’s just that I was in so very much pain that I couldn’t face the idea that I had lost my good health, and I just couldn’t move on unless that loss was both realized and grieved.

I failed out of college in 1986. My parents did not try to save me, but I also felt welcome to come back home.

I had the most horrible time with being a teenager and having diabetes. As a young man, all I really needed was to be a part of school, to fit in and “be like” the other kids. Having diabetes made me miserable and I found myself quite the opposite of just fitting in. I hated testing, I hated diabetes, I despised giving myself injections, and it affected everything and every relationship in my life.

There is a psychology that you should be aware of, and it’s something that your frustration may be related to. In the thick of my problems I simply hated myself. This thinking was reinforced when I was “in trouble” with the people I loved in my life. If those people were upset with me, I could see in a way that they hated me too, and it was easier to stay stuck in my own thinking and continue to hate myself. I also had the feeling that I let my family down by getting sick, and as a result I was ashamed of everything that had to do with diabetes management and treatment. I just wanted everything to be normal. I wanted diabetes to go away so badly that I convinced myself that ignoring it would help. I also turned to drugs and alcohol because I thought it was a way for me to escape my emotions, it actually made everything worse.

It was much later on when I realize that depression is common for anybody who has chronic illness. Therapy would have made a world of difference in my feeling better faster, but I turned out okay despite myself! It took me many years to accept my loss of good health, and to start taking the best care of myself that I can. I chose to deal with my depression without any outside help and so it affected my life for many years. Your son has been diagnosed for more than 10 years and may be suffering from clinical depression or burnout. I urge you to suggest some form of counselling because you cannot snap yourself out of clinical depression.

The other thing is this: once you are completely lost, you either self destruct or find yourself. That’s what happened to me. I had counselling and I worked a great deal on my self-esteem. I forgave myself for getting sick and I came to the conclusion that life isn’t fair. I acknowledged that if something sucks in your life it is up to me and me alone to make it different. These may seem like simple things to you but to me they were epiphanies. I also appreciated the space my parents gave me to make things right for myself.

it’s probably important for you to have support too, especially because of how difficult it is to let your child make their own mistakes and feel their own outcomes.

Good luck,

Lovely comments Joe.

As a parent with a diabetic child and another with serious depression I would suggest that you let kindness and compassion guide you with your son. The world is a much tougher place now than when parents were young. Your son is young and with support, love and optimism from his parents he will eventually find his way. He is only 20. Most young people now days aren’t able to become independent until they are well in their late twenties. The job market stinks. Education is way too expensive. Listen to him and treat him with understanding and compassion.