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My son...I am at my wits end!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My son is overweight...VERY overweight. After he moved in with us just over a year ago, we went to the pool at the gym and I managed to get him to weigh in. He is about 6' or so if he stands up straight (which is almost never) and he weighed in at well over 300. Honestly, its been so long, I don't remember his exact weight, but I *think* it was 370-ish.

While my son is 21 and a grown man, he is also very stunted in his social and emotional levels. I know there is something else going on with him mentally, but I have no idea what. I can only guess at social anxiety and depression because I am familiar with them.

He has a very hard time exercising, not only because of his weight, but he also had brain decompression surgery when he was 10 for Arnold-Chiari Malformation. Without going into all the ins and outs of the ACM, suffice to say that anything that will raise his blood pressure also raises the pressure of his spinal fluid and he gets a huge headache.
His posture is horrid, both in part to the ACM and his weight, he shuffles a bit when he walks, its halfway between a shuffle and the way a bear lumbers.

I love him so much and I am so worried about him and his health. Just his physical shape reminds me so very much of my dad who we lost to a heart attack, not to mention that his other grandfather died about a year after his heart attack...and he was actually rather thin.

I know he has problems with food. Sometimes his portion control is pretty good, other times he can sit down to a 1500 calorie meal without blinking an eye.
I try to gently remind him about portions but it doesn't help, he is so quiet and reserved, and I honestly think he is depressed, but he actually told me that he doesn't like me "constantly nagging" him about it and that I make him feel bad.
Which in turn makes me feel bad. I don't want him to think I am picking on him and I tried explaining WHY I am worried.

Well the stuff hit the fan a few nights ago...we went to catch one of the Mardi Gras parades in town and ended up sitting across from a pizza buffet place. He asked if we could go for pizza, I told him that I was broke and that pizza place was pretty nasty anyways...5 bucks a person for buffet...that tells you how good it is.
He kept telling me that we had not tried that place and that he didn't get to eat there in the year since he has been here...so I am guessing that they are a chain up north as well. My beau and I had been to that place in the past and it is not good for ANYONE'S digestive system, much less an overweight 41 year old and a 44 year old with ulcers.
He pouted, he sulked, he went on and on about it....after a couple hours of this I said screw the parade, I was ready to go home and he pouted some more in the car about it. Then just to top it off, he refused to eat dinner at all and went to bed hungry.
(I swear to God, he is 21 years old and not 5)
Then I told him that before we moved, we would go out for pizza at a place closer to the house that was better quality, had salad on the bar, and had a few other menu options.

Well....last night we decided that we would go to this other place and when we got there, they had went out of business or moved! I put my foot down and told him that we were not going to this other place, no one else in the car liked their food and on top of that, I also was not driving to the other end of the city at 5:00 pm in traffic because I had more packing to do!
I tried to compromise and we went to the Chinese place by the house for buffet....which is something I have tried to stay away from because Chinese is a big trigger for me to overeat.
He sulked all through dinner.

When we got home, I asked what his problem was, he said "I was promised pizza"

At which point, I blew up. I told him that if he didn't like what I picked out for dinner, he was more than welcome to walk his butt home before I paid for him to eat at the restaurant. I told him that if he is acting like this over pizza...and not even good pizza...that he had a bigger problem with food than either of us thought.
Needless to say, that he isn't speaking to me today.

I know I handled it badly, but I am stuck between feeling that if I don't nag, he will eat himself into a heart attack, and that if I DO nag, he will do it out of spite, as well as feeling like I want to throw my hands up and tell him that he is on his own, that if he wants to lose weight or gain weight, its his issue to deal with. How terrible is that? I am his mom and there is no way that I should feel like that, but I am also a person and very frustrated and cannot help how I feel.

A lot of this is just me venting, so please, please don't tell me to let him live or die by his own decisions. I really needed to vent and if anyone has dealt with this with their (grown) child, I am SO VERY open to suggestion!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You might check out social services where you live and see if you can find someone who is a therapist and a nutritionist. I think you are right that it is not just food he has issues with, and I know my 27 year old son doesn't talk to me about most of his life, but it sounds like he needs to talk to someone.
    1851 days ago
    1856 days ago
  • KAREN608
    aw, you both need a hug.

    My hubby is 320 and keeps buying
    high calorie foods, and will not listen
    to reason. It is very hard to watch a
    person eat themselves to death.

    I know nagging doesn't work with me
    either. sigh.
    1856 days ago
    Unfortunately you are dealing with a multitude of issues combined with your son and other things. As parents we always want what's best for our children because of our own experiences, but they don't think we know what we are talking about. From experience I can say that nagging him to do what you feel is best pushes him more towards rebellion than eating right. Try to show him through your actions and seek professional help for him. Its hard not to be frustrated and angry, be upset scream and holler then come back to the situation with deep breaths ready to just talk perhaps with out sounding like you know it all. Listen to him, it seems hes crying out for help as well

    emoticon go out to you and your family. Don't give up. Try not to be so hard on yourself emoticon
    1856 days ago
  • THOMS1
    emoticon emoticon
    1856 days ago
  • JEYPDX13

    I can only speculate that his mentality goes far beyond anxiety & depression, and I am sincerely hoping you have the means and insurance to find out. A general physician should be able to refer you to a specialist that will be able to diagnose him further. Once that happens, you all can come out with a better understanding of what's what, and be able to communicate better, etc.

    I am about 5'6" and over 300 pounds. And my own mother has "hinted" at my weight, my portions, etc.. I finally got the nerve to tell her that the last thing anyone needs to tell a fat person, is that they are fat. Believe me, we know. Thankfully, after that, she laid off.
    Unfortunately, everything mothers try to say comes off as nagging....I know, I have a couple of grown kids, too.

    As for the crappy pizza place: I might try to use it as a peace offering and say, "Okay listen, I know you've had a mad craving for this place, so we will go, but fair warning, we will only go this one-and-only time -for you-. After that, for future pizza purchases, it will be another pizza place that I feel is not as junk-food'ish."

    Hope I didn't come off too much like a know-it-all. I am not there, and am not experiencing what you are, and could be entirely dead-wrong. Just an honest effort to help.

    Glad you were able to vent. Hoping your Valentine's Day is filled with love.

    1856 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    1856 days ago
    I have not gone through this with a child but I have watched my parents go through this with their children (including me!)

    One dynamic that is very non-intuitive but also very real is that once someone complains to you about your behavior it puts you on the defensive -- and also (which makes no sense at all) justifies your continuing it. So if I was starting to feel bad about my eating, somehow the moment a parent pointed it out to me any intrinsic motivation to improve disappears and is replaced with a perverse desire to make things worse. It's not just food. A parenting class I took addressed the question of what to do when a child lies to you and the instructor (a very wise woman) emphasized very strongly to never lecture about it. Let's say a child tells you he finished his lunch so he can go outside to play and you find the lunchin the garbage. Take the child over to the garbage and point at the sandwich -- and then walk away. If you leave it there, the child's own mind will supply the narrative -- wow, I lied. Mom knows I did it. I feel awful. Whereas if you say "See, you lied to me! You need to tell me the truth!" Now the child has something to latch on to to complain against instead of feeling bad.

    It doesn't make any sense and it is really hard but I watch my parents and my brother and it is so clear to me how that dynamic works. Every time they complain about his soda intake, he doubles it. Not consciously, mind you -- it's a defense mechanism of sorts.

    Anyway, I've also got to watch firsthand the human toll on my parents of having my brother (many similar factors to your son) living at home and my hat is off to you for trying to make it work.
    1856 days ago
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