Love lifts depression's fog

Special Report: 'Trying to reach Jon'

Finding a girlfriend, Jon is truly happy for the first time in years. Then he stops taking his medications.

April 08, 2014|By Emily Foxhall
  • The young couple Jon Ludlow and Ivy Ho embrace in front of the Huntington Beach Pier.
The young couple Jon Ludlow and Ivy Ho embrace in front… (Courtesy Ivy Ho…)

Second of three parts. In Part 1, family members recalled how Orange County high school student Jon Ludlow went from being an athlete to a loner who required psychiatric medication. He lost interest in socializing and spent his time playing online video games.

Treating Jon Ludlow's mental health problems would be an ongoing process of trial and error in the elusive quest for stability.

His mother, Melissa, made appointments with a psychiatrist and continually looked for therapists.

She was willing to do whatever it took to help her son regain balance as he began to face major depression and social anxiety disorder. The child of her close friend had committed suicide, and that story was always in the back of her mind.

Although Dave, the teen's father, had been counting on Melissa to look for a job when they moved to California, Melissa made Jon the focus of her attention.


"It wasn't a sacrifice," she said. "When your children are in need, you're there for them."

As Jon began to try the prescriptions for mental health medications, Melissa also moved back to Utah with him to see if that might help.

To her disappointment, he still felt isolated. One of the antidepressants — Lexapro — had made him gain weight, and he felt that people didn't recognize him.

After less than a year, she and her son returned to Orange County, where Dave had continued working.


Back in California, Jon attended online high school, as did several others in his church. With help from the medicine, he seemed fairly happy to his mom, albeit less than social.

He grew close with his older brother, Devin, who had moved home, discussing everything from politics to astronomy. But beyond relationships with his family members, Jon seemed poised to live a solitary life.

And then he fell in love.

A 17-year-old girl named Ivy Ho, photographed in a long-sleeved, pink blouse, caught his attention on an online dating service, Zoosk, so Jon messaged her.

At first, Ivy ignored him. But Jon persisted, paying a fee to message her again. To his parents' astonishment, he and Ivy planned a first date — and it went well.

Jon lacked a driver's license, but Melissa, whose son had hardly left his room in three years, gladly drove him the 40 minutes to pick Ivy up at home. The Ludlows lived in Aliso Viejo at the time.

The patient mother went shopping nearby as her son went on his first date, a movie at The Outlets at Orange.

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