‘My son just remains in his room, very angry, always complaining of tiredness, eating junk, no sunlight, and just coding all day long’

Tell Me About It: Some young men struggle with expressing emotions – fear, pain, loss and shame emerge as anger, rage and withdrawal, and this can be frightening for all


My son’s situation is killing me. He was diagnosed with inattentive ADD (attention deficit disorder) privately, at his own request, last June.

The appointment came up in the middle of his Leaving Cert exams. He had a very difficult time over lockdown starting in his TY year and, when school resumed, he found it hard to go back. His friends lived too far away to break the 2km and 5km rules.

We left the country together two days after his Leaving Cert on a great adventure, to rent abroad, having rented out our own house and living off the rent. I was happy for him to spread his wings and have an adventurous life of post-Covid freedom with me as a safety net.

Time in the sun was something he suggested the previous summer, and I felt we would both benefit from it, as I lost my income over Covid. I had been struggling as a self-employed artist and educator and I was divorced in November 2020.

School never raised any issues with my son, and it was my son who told me last year that he wanted a diagnosis for ADD. He didn’t open a book or study for his Leaving Cert. I was proud of him for achieving decent results despite Covid, divorce and ADD.

Roll on seven months, and he never leaves his room. He made friends at the beginning, who he remained private about, as he always has, never introducing them, etc, but it tapered off to once every few weeks to nothing now. He just remains in his room, very angry, always complaining of tiredness, eating junk, not eating food I cook, getting no sunlight, and just coding all day long. He may also have ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder), a comorbid condition to ADD.

The only good news is that he applied to the CAO for college this year choosing computer science. I had to actively encourage him to get the forms in on time.

He is stuck, and I am his emotional punchball. I went back to Dublin last week to speak to the family doctor, who said he needed his blood, weight and blood pressure checked regularly while on the medication. He refuses to do this.

The doctor said there was a new support group for adults with ADD and ADHD in Dublin, and put him on a waiting list. We are returning to Dublin in a number of weeks, and I am so worried for him. He announced that he wanted to stay abroad alone for six more months, but does not have a job or a place to stay. He says he will be okay, but he is not well enough. I desperately want him to have this experience alone without me, but my gut and the evidence say he’s not ready.

His dad is in denial, saying I am overreacting, and that he sounds okay to him on the phone. However, they never discuss his mental health or anything relating to ADD. Just jokey stuff and computer talk. I encourage this nonetheless, and it is an important link to his dad.

The main problem is that although I actively encourage him to open up, suggesting going out for pizza, etc, he refuses. He is a wonderful, funny, intelligent, kind person, and so handsome, and I want him to see this. Instead, he locks me out. He knows how much I care for and love him, yet he refuses to talk. He is uncomfortable with any sort of discussion that might be about him.

This is okay and perhaps part of growing up and having his own identity, but it’s his lack of a fulfilling life, a life of friends, travel, concerts, parties, etc, that worries me. Even reading or walking or cycling – but he does none of this. It’s just his room with blinds down. He looks so gaunt and thin.