How to Help Our Son's Best Friend ?

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/20/2010 4:54 PM (GMT -7)   
I am hoping I will be welcomes here though my questions and needs different than most posters. Last Oct my 28 year old son came back from a family trip with me, my husband, daughter/husband and his best friend of 15 years. Had a great time. Last three days of trip he got a "bad cold" as did my husband. 15 days after the return and his trying to find out what was wrong, diagnosed with cancer, stage 4 though no previous symptoms, 3 weeks later.

So depression is expected. But I function now and my concern is not for me, I mean, this is a lifelong pain problem, but for his best friend and like my second son. my son was more than his friend, it was his brother and in reality his only true friend. He has grieved with us and we have been a good source for one another. But now I am very worried about him. Three weeks ago he started having severe anxiety attacks and was rushed to hospital and yes, thought he was having a heart attack. But it has since been diagnosed as Panic Anxiety.

He moved in with his sister as the feeling of being alone was overwhelming. He was put on Ativan and fears this is going too be too addictive. He doesn't have any insurance and his sister paid for the doctor who put him on this. We know and he knows, he needs to talk to someone, get to the source of all this pain as all his life he feels he has been self destructive in his lifestyle and was just waiting for it to be over. But now, he realizes he wants to live, quit smoking, drinking (still has a glass or two of wine at night)etc. Getting his body healthier. He needs to leave the city he is as there is no opportunity and he realizes he needs to start making his life count.

So he will move here with us and my husband consider him our second son and feel we can help him start over. But I am concerned about trying to get counseling for someone with no insurance.

I was wondering if people here feel that counseling is mandatory as you find the answers to the source of the problem or explore how to deal with it? Is anyone here on Ativan and worry about the long term addiction of it? I was wondering if a different one would leave him less "tired"? Does it make a difference by changing medications?

I want to help him. I guess you could say I know my son left him to us to heal and we all heal together.

I just don't know if anyone has dealt with panic attacks after an emotional loss and will it go away eventually? He worries he is his "dad" who suffered life long emotional issues including panic anxiety. I tell him he isn't his dad...I just want to help...

Sorry this is so long but I wanted you to understand our situation.

Post Edited By Moderator (stkitt) : 8/21/2010 9:15:47 AM (GMT-6)

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/20/2010 4:55 PM (GMT -7)   
correction: three weeks later he died...

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 60
   Posted 8/20/2010 5:35 PM (GMT -7)   
I recently visited a friend of mine who is my age, 25, who had a stroke recently. I completely lost my head since then thinking everytime i had a pain or anything it was me having a stroke. I wouldn't normally be paranoid about something like this, but she is so young so it's messing me up pretty good. I went to the ER monday thinking I was having a heart attack, but it was a panic attack. They put me on xanax today and i'm still waiting to see how it's going to work.

My sister who is 4 years younger than me, experienced a similar situation when a friend of hers died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart related issue. My sister stopped eating any kind of fat, exercised constantly and would never leave the house. This continued for about a year and eventually she went to therapy and is doing much better.

Good luck to you and your family and I'm sorry for your loss.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 8/21/2010 8:36 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello and welcome to HealingWell.  I am glad you found us and please accept my sincere sympathy at the death of your own son.  My son died instantly in a car crash in 1990.  I went for long periods where I did well and thought, "Okay, I've accepted it."Then out of the blue, it hit me anew -"He's dead.  He's really dead."
And I began a new round of grieving. I have allowed myself to grieve in my own way without any time limits.  I hope you do this for yourself as well.  I also went to counseling and over the years I have had a therapist when times get bad for whatever reason.  Life changes when you lose a child.  I am the same but I am different.  My new normality is not necessarily an unhappy one.
I admire you for wanting to help your son's friend but please remember you must take care of you first.  Go slowly in make your decision to take on the problems of this young man.  I know you want to help him for all the right reasons but I learned overtime that I could not be all things to everyone.  I, too, wanted to do so much for other's in the name of my son.  I wanted to make everyone better when they were ill and just do for all.  I managed this for awhile but in the end it brought me down with a huge meltdown.
I have a dx of Anxiety and Depression and I have accepted that. 
I am a big believer in therapy.  Some therapists will set up a payment plan for people without insurance.   Professional counselors offer the caring, expert assistance that we often need during  stressful times. A counselor can help  identify  problems and assist  in finding the best ways to cope with the situation by changing behaviors that contribute to the problem or by finding constructive ways to deal with a situation that is beyond  personal control.
The United Way also has a site that may be of help to your young friend.  Here is the link:
As for Ativan,  if used as directed this young man should not anticipate becoming addicted.  He truly needs to be under the care of a physician.  If he is not working is he on any kind of state medical plan ?
Again a warm welcome to you and please stick with us.
Moderator: Anxiety/Panic, Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn and Heart/Cardiovascular Disease.

"If you can't change the world, change your world"

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/21/2010 9:49 AM (GMT -7)   
Thank you both for the insight. His sister is trying to help him get on medicaid in their state so when he moves it might be easier to transfer it here.

I truly appreciate your insight after losing your son suddenly too. I know people tell me to take care of myself first and I am fortunate. I have a big support group of true friends and I have no qualms about calling when I feel the bottom drop out. It is ironic that I have always been the one people came to with problems and it seems to be my calling. So maybe that makes it easier to let go with my friends, I know they will listen to the same pain over and over without judgment and I know from helping others, you can't hold on to the pain, you need to let it out.

My husband I have thought about this move for a long time, I knew or hoped it would come. I work out of town a lot and my husband has been hit so hard by this death and this young man is always there for him. I think I can work better knowing he's not alone and that they can support each other.

I understand: I'll never be the same. But we put one foot in front of the other because there are people who love us and need us. As long as we don't know our pain, I have often found the only way to move on is to find some way to "give back", some place to put our energies that feels useful. In my case, I know the answers, I know what they will say and advise, but in the end, it is up to you to make the decision to continue. I know they can offer valuable insight to many and I respect that, but for me, I know that having people to talk to is what I need most in those times and I am fortunate to have them in place.

It was so good to know that sudden death or illness in a friend can be the reason for a sudden onset of panic attacks. I will look into the United Way link. Unfortunately, until he feels stronger, work is going to be hard but he will get there. The main fear I have of counselors is when you have no funds, paying on your own, the ones you can afford may or may not be of the caliber you need. With my own son who had many trials, counselors, all except for one, did more damage than good. I know how important it is to not give up when you feel this person "doesn't get me". Trouble is, most have that bigger fee for intake and you feel like you can't afford to start over. I know for my young friend a counselor, the right one, will be invaluable. He needs to talk to someone that is impartial to his pain, someone to whom when he talks, he doesn't have to worry will his pain just add to theirs.
He is so open right now to insightful counseling and I am hoping we will find the right one..

That makes me feel better about Ativan (on 1 mg and only takes a whole tablet if it is a bad panic attack) and they also have prescribed Prozac for in between attacks. I am not sure that is good but it seems to work for him. Thanks so much for your time

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 358
   Posted 8/21/2010 12:06 PM (GMT -7)   
I think Kitt had some great advice about taking care of yourself. It's admirable to want to help others, but I can speak from personal experience that if you sacrifice your own well-being to always be there for others - everyone loses. When I don't take care of myself and become consumed in the problems of others I begin to suffer and secondly my ability to help others is also compromised because I'm not at my best.

I also agree that counseling is very important and finding the right counselor is equally important. Keep in mind that though it's a professional and not a friend, it's still a relationship that you're after. You may have to go through a number of counselors before finding the right one, which I know can be expensive especially if they charge a higher rate for the intake (not all will). You can always ask if they offer a "sliding scale". Often this is not advertised, but if you ask they will almost always offer a discount where you can negotiate a lower fee. I started seeing an "expensive" therapist and explained my situation (not working for over a year because of the anxiety and panic). I can't negotiate to save my life (and should/would never try to buy a used car!), but without missing a beat this counselor asked what I would like to pay and I was able to get $40 off per week with very little effort.

Also there are different types of counselors. Whether for yourself, family, or son's friend there are things you can find out over the phone that will help you get a feel for whether or not a connection is possible. Listen to the tone of their voice. Ask questions. Do you feel rushed or are they patient and do they give you a full answer? Ask about their background and how they were trained/ what kind of approach they would use to help someone with the issue you're describing. One might say they'd look at your past coping techniques (good and bad) and try to apply them to the present. Another might take a very "behavioral" approach addressing specific behavioral goals to work towards. Someone with a "systems" approach is inclined to address the integration of people and supports in one's life (for instance: work, school, church, family, friends, etc.) and the role they play. If there's something important but potentially sensitive ask their thoughts about it over the phone in advance (e.g. if you wanted to talk about faith and what you believe happens after we die). There are both faith-based (Christian, Jewish, etc.) counselors as well as secular counselors with no religious affiliation.

New Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 8/21/2010 9:20 PM (GMT -7)   
Having gone down this road with my son, I am unfortunately too aware of how hard it is to find the right match. I am trying the 2-1-1 call center from United Way in hopes of finding a local panic anxiety support group, even though he doesn't want to do a group, it could be a good source of finding counselors who have proven themselves. He truly wants to talk to someone about this and ideally, it would be like the one I finally found for my son when he was going through a difficult time. A wonderful hands on psychiatrist (which hardly ever exist anymore) that really did a thorough intake before deciding on meds and his wife was the counselor in the office who was wonderful and he still saw my son every 3 weeks to go over his problems, check on meds etc. A truly invested team that made it as affordable as they could. I am hoping to find something similar for this young man.

Thank you for your kindness in worrying about my wellness too. I am not a martyr by any means. I give cautiously and when I do it is because I have thought out all the angles. When it feels right in your gut, you know you have reached the right decision. When it comes to my personal pain, I find that I simply have to let it flow in those times when it hits me so hard. I don't fight it, I let it come because in its own way it is healing. It tells me that he is "still with me", I see amazing examples of him still trying to help us. I find there are times when I travel on business, I have a seatmate who has lost someone and we, two strangers share our grief. I find you can't hide from it, in your own way you have to embrace it and live through it. When I need someone to just listen, to acknowledge my pain, I call my friends or this young man. Often, we are on the same wave length and together we can grieve and also at the end remember something special that can still make us smile.

There's not much else you can do for yourself. For me, it is letting it process through in its natural way. Yes, my faith is shaken but even if it is only a tiny thread, it still gets me through. I don't try to rationalize that either, it is what it is. I still find comfort when several of his friends text me to see how I am doing or to share something. I am reminded of how much he touched people. He was indeed the child of my spirit.

And I write a private blog. Writing has always been an outlet for me. I write out the anger, the pain, the love and hold nothing back. It is my private place to let go. I find when you see it in writing, it takes on a new life and one that you shake hands with as you empty out your heart. It has it's own healing process.

So yes, I watch out for me. I just try not to let it center "all around me" for I am not the only one in pain in this death. Sometimes my husband holds me and sometimes I hold him and sometimes it is a friend. For me, it's important to remember that pain doesn't belong solely to one person and I don't have to walk the road alone.

But thank you for caring enough to remind me. While I dislike the research and time it takes to find one good counselor for my friend, being basically cynical on this issue!, I have a feeling that I will meet people in this search who will have their own purpose in our life. So will welcome our young friend into our lives because I know we can make a difference in his life. But just as important, he will make a difference in our life...
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