Hello All :)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Cressida, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. Cressida

    Cressida New Member

    Hi, and apologies in advance for this enormous post.

    I'm Cress, and have just found this site. My daughter is 7, and has been diagnosed with ADHD, query ODD, and has emotional & behavioural problems on top of that. Her father has done a sterling job of screwing her up (we've been separated since she was 6 months old) by being inconsistent, one minute showering her with presents and love and everything she's ever wanted, and the next he's telling her she isn't loved & isn't welcome at his home any more (four times in the last 2 years, though I'm currently fighting to rescind a contact order so she doesn't have to ever go back there), among other brutal things (all verbal - no physical abuse). I myself am also ill with long-term clinical depression, for which I'm medicated and have been since before she was born - I know I'm not blameless in all this.

    The ADHD has made her a handful from the start, but she's also apparently 'exceptionally bright', which almost makes it worse. I won't go into details of her past - I wouldn't have the time! - but she's broken out of every house we've lived in (first time at 6am when she was 3... yes it was locked & bolted.), she's destructive, and she's smart. Every single day is a battle, about almost everything. I am so very, very tired.

    I'm sorry - I don't really know what to say. I just feel so alone. Like the world's worst mother. She can be so wonderful, so charming, so endearing - strangers adore her! Then they spend more than 24 hours with her, and are simply astonished by her endless energy & mania. "How do you do it!?" they ask, amazed. And I really, REALLY don't know. I can't keep it up. I can't remember the last time that I wasn't utterly exhausted. I can't remember the last time that I looked at her and felt something - ANYTHING - other than complete despair.

    She takes Concerta XL which has improved her behaviour at school exponentially. She is making friends for the first time in her life, because the other children aren't frightened of her any more. At home she's still difficult - the mornings are horrendous, EVERY morning, and the evenings are a battle from about 6pm onwards.

    She reached some sort of breaking point the night before last. I was expecting a backlash of some sort (her father told her a fortnight ago that he doesn't love her, doesn't want to see her, that she's no longer welcome in his house, that when they said goodbye 'it was forever'...) - after such an emotional trauma she usually just plays up at home and in school. I'd warned school, and was being very aware of her feelings at home. But I was NOT expecting this...

    The night before last she ran away. I went to pick her up from school, and discovered she'd stolen my glasses & had been wearing them all day, telling everyone she 'has new glasses' (she doesn't wear glasses at all). I was cross, and as we were walking out I told her she would be sent to her room to think about whether taking other people's things is good behaviour (taking things that aren't hers is a constant battle). She said she didn't want to go, slipped my hand, and ran off. For the first 20 minutes I kept her in eye-sight, and she kept running back to check I was still there before running off again. It was a power struggle, and one I was sure she'd run out of steam with soon enough. Then I lost sight of her. And then I couldn't find her anywhere. So I rang the police. Myself, my friends, and a whole host of police cars searched for her for the next 2 hours, before finally the local leisure centre rang 999 because a child had wandered in on her own and told staff her parents were dead and she didn't know what to do. We rushed down, picked her up, and after various police reports (I'm still waiting for Social Services to call back) I brought her home.

    I tried very hard not to be angry. I told her that I loved her, and had been worried about her, and more than anything, was pleased that she was okay. I didn't hug her, I didn't smother her with affection (which I think she was expecting); I explained I was very very angry because of all the fuss she had caused and the lies she had told (also a constant battle). She went to bed knowing she'd done wrong, but that I loved her.

    So yesterday morning when I got up at about 7 (she gets up between 5am and 7am, but never wakes me - it's another constant battle) I came downstairs to discover she'd already trashed the house. This is not abnormal - she is destructive (paperwork ripped, clothes all over the floor, food on all the surfaces, books strewn around the room, etc) however this particular morning she'd only gone for things precious to me (that she KNEW were precious, because she'd been told)... special photo albums had been ripped to pieces, old photographs had been cut up, the jumper I was knitting was unravelled and cut up, there was selotape all over the walls, colouring all over the furniture, etc. I put her in her room and rang her Psychologist to explain what had happened and ask if he could talk to her, as we clearly need more help than we were getting. She's now due to start seeing a play-therapist weekly, as well as more regular sessions with her Psychologist.

    So where does that leave me? Well, this morning was a 'normal' morning for us. She'd helped herself to orange juice (an entire carton of), wasted all the remaining milk pouring it into 4 bowls with cereal, none of which she ate, the laundry was out of the basket and all over the floor again, behind the sofa (her 'hiding place' for sweet wrappers she's stolen, things of mine she's taken, etc) there was more ripped up paper, she'd emptied the bin out back there.... I got her washed & dressed & into school (on time! Which is nothing short of miraculous - fortunately her school is very supportive), and then found myself back home, sobbing, and questioning whether I could do this any more. The house is such a state, and I don't have the energy or motivation to do anything about it. I feel completely defeated. I don't know what to do. I feel like the world's worst parent, like I've single-handedly created a monster, and that the world isn't a nice place for her to be in, and she's going to have so many problems as she grows up and life just gets harder and harder. I am so desperate. I don't know what to do. I am just so tired.

    Please, I need to know that there's hope. :(
    Lasted edited by : Mar 1, 2012
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi Cress and welcome. I am British too and lived for a long time in Wales so we have that in common!
    I'm really sorry you are facing all this. Little wonder you feel beleaguered and desperate. What struck me, though, as I read your post was not so much the ADHD/ODD as what is going on for your daughter emotionally with her father. This is very destructive to her, obviously, and as you say you are well aware of the impact. My son is also ADHD and could doubtless be labelled ODD too; he has some very difficult, oppositional moments but he is not destructive or provocative in the way you describe. Most of the time he is actually eager to please. In fact, your post made me think also of my own childhood, which was pretty disturbed, with two VERY rocky and unparental parents involved in an extremely messy divorce along with various other factors. I didn't have any "condition", or certainly not one that anyone ever wanted to put on me, but I went through periods of being very aggressive towards my mother; once I wrote "I hate Mummy" in huge letters on my bedroom wall. I think I was about 10. I can almost remember the hurt and anger I felt when I did it and I felt this too in the actions of your daughter in attacking the things precious to you. In your case, the hurt and anger are directed more towards your ex-partner but perhaps in the way of children she somehow blames you for this also.
    In any event, I think you are right that you really need help with this and that she needs to be talking about her very understandable woundedness and anger at her father's words and actions as a matter of urgency. She is one hurt little girl. And it sounds like she has a very caring mother who is understandly also at the end of her tether...
    These are just my own thoughts, obviously. I may be off the mark. But in any event, I wish you strength and courage and heart in this difficult period you are facing. I do believe things can turn round for you and and your daughter, that this is not the way things need to continue. But I also think you will need to love her very well, and sometimes we need help to do that.
  3. Cressida

    Cressida New Member

    Hi Malika, thank you for the reply. :)

    Yes, the latest problems are definitely emotional/behavioural rather than ADHD-related. Although some of the behaviour is typical in ADHD children, she can usually manage to control herself better than she has this last week. She is so angry, so hurt... she is experiencing very adult feelings, and she's only 7. I can't begin to imagine how I can help her, which is why I ended up begging for her to have some kind of therapy... a lot of her issues, certainly lately, are the reaction of a bright child to an emotionally traumatic situation. I don't know how to help her, or even if I can. It's so frustrating to see her in so much pain and be completely unequipped to help her through it. And on top of that, she seems set on making herself as unlikeable as possible... it's so hard not to get angry when her behaviour is so appalling and so relentless!

    The ADHD is hard enough by itself, the emotional problems are hard enough by themselves... put them together and I just feel completely overwhelmed. Thank you for your words of encouragement and support. I love her so much, she's got SO much potential. She's bright, she's quick, she's determined (which is a good thing, despite how it might feel when that stubbornness is working against me!), and she's delightful. Or she *can* be. She can also be, well, exhausting. Today is a bad day... well, in fact this week has been pretty emotional & traumatic for the both of us. But we'll keep on keeping on, because that's what we do, isn't it? And the good days are all the more magical because they're appreciated. I sometimes wonder if parents of 'normal' children ever feel pride the way that we do over the simplest of things. :)

    Thanks again, Malika. x
    Lasted edited by : Mar 1, 2012
  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and welcome!

    No - you are NOT the world's worst parent. My daughter pulled the same trick - running off and telling people that her parents had abandoned her and she didn't know what to do. I think you are right - she WAS expecting you to shower her with hugs and kisses.

    Calling the therapist, I think, is the right thing to do...

    Meanwhile, as hard as it is - I think you have to put away any items that have sentimental value. Lock up and pack away anything that you don't want to find destroyed. Your daughter is upset and angry and she is venting her feelings on you.

    You have to do two things:

    1) Protect yourself. Even though she is little and overly emotional, you have to have certain boundaries that she may not cross. She may not hit you. She may not throw things at you. She may not call you names / curse at you. You tell her that you will listen to her - but not if she treats you that way. If she does one of these things, remind her that she cannot do that to you and then WALK AWAY.

    2) Validate her feelings. If you can, try to LISTEN to what she is expressing (and it's probably not going to be very clear). If she looks angry - tell her 'I see that you are angry'...see if you can talk about the angry feelings without interjecting any arguments or logic. (A good example - if somebody looks frightened...you acknowlege the fear without saying "but there's nothing to be scared of"). Just focus on the feelings. See if that will help her feel more "heard" and "understood" and "loved".


    Hope this helps!
  5. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Just wanted to chime in with my take on the runaway-trashing incident. She's feeling abandoned by her dad. When things are good there, she builds up hope only to be pushed away AGAIN. Suddenly she's dealing with major rejection similar to death only SHE'S the reason (just my gut feeling). She's feeling very insecure and is carrying a lot of unnatural guilt, feeling responsible for her dad "throwing" her away and hating her. Fast forward to the next day where she does the usual no-no's and she just can't take it anymore. As she's trying to work up the courage to run away, she checks to make sure you're still there; that you haven't left her too. Her actions this time are NOT her usual because her emotional world has been turned upside down....way beyond what she can handle. Then when you finally find her and bring her home, your words don't match your actions in her mind. If you were scared, why AREN'T you hugging her. Why aren't you SHOWING her you really do love her. She now feels rejected and pushed away by you so she lashed out at you via your most precious items.

    I may be totally way off base but this is the scenario that ran through my mind as I was reading your accounting. My son suffers from MANY rejections from people he was close to, which he doesn't do easily in the first place. I have just relayed the type of thinking that goes on in his head in situations like that. It's not My "normal" but it IS his and I have to try to teach him to handle these things more appropriately. When he suffers another major rejection (long story), I have to remember to let the small stuff go until he's in a better place AND remember to show him EXTRA affection regardless of his actions.

    I really hope you get her into counseling. She has a lot of turmoil going on and she's just too young to be expected to handle such intense issues alone. She doesn't even have the skills to do it any other way.
  6. Cressida

    Cressida New Member

    Hi DaisyFace; thank you for your reply.

    These are brilliant points, I shall remember them. The hard thing is that with young children, even if she *is* angry, and *recognises* that she's angry, she probably doesn't begin to understand *why*. I'm trying, and actually we've have a lovely afternoon (although I've 'bribed' that if she keeps good behaviour up, she can have a friend over for the weekend - my friend's younger sister is just a little older than The Menace, and Menace *adores* her) - she's tidied the mess she made this morning (including the cat biscuits strewn around the living room & placed in random piles... I mean, WHY!?!), and cleaned her room! So much, much calmer than the last few days. I think I just had a bit of a meltdown earlier, having had to push all *my* stuff aside to deal with her needs & issues, suddenly it caught up with me.

    I really appreciate the hugs, support, and advice - thank you so much. :)


    Hi TeDo,

    Thanks for replying. Although I'd acknowledged that rejection is traumatic (I went through a similar thing with my own father & it royally messed me up, so have been trying to protect Menace from suffering the same fate!) I had put 'wanting her to know just how serious running off was' above 'assuring her that she was loved & wanted'. I realised that the morning after, when I looked back at how upset I'd been, and I'd had my friends supporting me - she had no-one... everyone was cold and cross with her. I've been reassuring her since, and you're absolutely right - it should have come at the time. Hopefully I've caught myself in enough time, and can repair some of the upset. There have been lots of snuggles & love & together-time since, and she's calmed right down (school reported she's been 'brilliant' today, which is great - if unexpected - news!).

    I have also secured the play-therapy route, as she does obviously need some kind of counselling to help her cope with her feelings. I really, really hope it helps her.

    I'm really sorry to hear about your son - abandonment/rejection issues are horrendous, and so damaging for children. I wish you all the best, and it sounds like you're doing a fantastic job. :)

    Lasted edited by : Mar 1, 2012
  7. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Cressida! I am changing your posts as the italics is too hard on these old eyes. I hope you do not mind. It is just easier to read and you will get more responses without italics. I promise.
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. The other family members have addressed many issues so I won't repeat their advice. I'm wondering what medical experts you have consulted. Is she being seen by a child Psychiatrist? Who did the evaluation and came up with the diagnosis's?

    On a more helpful note I have traveled the ADHD path with three children. The last one had multiple diagnosis's and was the only one who displayed violence....until we got the right psychiatrist. He needed more help than a stimulant medication could provide and my gut says your daughter likely does also.

    You mentioned that she is on a time release stimulant medication but noted that morning and evenings are rough. With our Dr's approval I was able to solve that problem by giving a small dose of Ritalin while he was still in bed in the morning...and a small dose of Ritalin in the afternoon that usually kept him calm until bedtime. It might be worth exploring. Like everyone else I assure you that you are not a bad parent. We are given such challenging and exhausting children that I wonder if Mother Teresa would have been able to cope...day in and day out. Sending hugs. DDD
  9. Cressida

    Cressida New Member

    I don't mind in the least, thank you for the welcome and the heads-up about the italics. Curse my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 'everything must look swirly and pretty' writing. :p

  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You are doing a great job with a broken hearted little girl! Poor thing to have her bio-father do that to her. I know how that feels as her mom as well, because my difficult children dad told her she was not welcome in his home once, too. Mind you, once. He realized how awful that was after the painful weeks of turmoil I went through with her.

    Darn it I keep getting interupted! I am at work afterall! LOL! Will try to get back later.
  11. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    The technique I'm talking about is called "validation". It's not your job to figure out why - it's your job to recognize the emotion.

    Go back to my "scared" example. If you ask the child WHY they are scared - does it matter what the answer is? Chances are, regardless of what they tell you is scaring them , your next step will be to tell them why they do not have to be afraid...right? So you are trying to talk logic and reason about 'scared'.

    It is the same thing with anger. You need to acknowledge the anger. It doesn't matter why. If she can tell you - great! But really, you just want her to admit that she is angry - and then you'll want to tell her that is OK to be angry.

    It's a tough line to walk between "validating" her feelings are not letting her vent those feelings in a destructive way.

    Good luck!
  12. buddy

    buddy New Member

    HI and and thanks for the nice post to me. I will write more later but having a child who also is totally different (of course still issues but managable most of the time) on Concerta I can relate to mornings (before medications) and evenings stinking to high heaven. SO... for use we use a clonidine patch that is changed weekly, now we dont have the level of impulsivity in the morning we usually do and for evenings we use short acting Ritalin until bedtime ... if a late activity then he can have another dose to be able to attend. (it has never hurt his sleep, in fact he can settle down better to eat and sleep ON ritalin/concerta so for us that is not an issue, for many it is).... anyway, both of those are ideas I thought I'd throw out there. ADHD for some kids is not just a school problem. It affects their developing self concept because if they are in trouble all of the time, or in conflict, then how are they supposed to grow up to be happy and confident kids??? And the family system is important. We get worn down and deserve to have some success with our children. Some happiness. If we are not healthy, or at least functioning most of the time, then they wont be doing their best either.

    I really do hear you... it is really just sad at times. But I never lose hope for long.... I really do believe things can get better.
  13. Cressida

    Cressida New Member

    Hello DDD, and thanks for the welcome. :)

    She has been monitored closely by the Educational Psychologist since she was 4, when I insisted she was seen as I was sure her behaviour was not entirely within the realms of 'normal'. Her school has been incredibly supportive, and after several 6-monthly evaluations from said psychologist, she was finally referred to a Specialist Child Behavioural Unit (in a child psychiatry and psychology centre), and was seen by both a psychiatrist and a behavioural psychologist before being officially diagnosed with ADHD in January 2011. She wasn't medicated until July as I was trying to manage it behaviourally, but it just got harder & harder. Her school was also suffering - it's a tiny one (there are only 16 or so children in her class, and that's years 3 & 4 together!) so any behaviour that's outside the norm is very noticeable. She didn't have any friends as the other children were scared of her - without medication she is incredibly manic, loud, and overwhelming. She - and her schoolwork - are doing much better now... she even has friends. :)

    I rang her unit after the recent behaviour, and they've agreed that her issues go beyond treating the ADHD and into needing emotional therapy to help her manage her feelings. There's been no diagnosis per-se regarding these emotional issues, but alongside the ADHD both myself and her psychologist feel that she potentially has ODD as well, given her relentless antagonistic behaviour & inability to obey even the simplest rules.

    To be honest, when she was finally officially diagnosed with ADHD, it was almost a relief - I'd been told everything from 'there's nothing wrong, you're just not disciplining her enough' to 'she's borderline-retarded and has severe learning difficulties'. Since the diagnosis (and regular sessions with a support worker at school) she's now learning 'properly', supported appropriately, and is 'academically way beyond her peers' in all subjects. :)

    Thank you for the support and the hope. I'll talk to her psychologist about perhaps changing her medication as the mornings are getting worse and worse. I don't want to resort to having to put an alarm on her bedroom door, but she rises so erratically (sometimes - admittedly rarely! - as late as 8, sometimes as early as 4 - [I have an amusing anecdote about thinking I had burglars downstairs only to discover it was Menace re-enacting 'Labyrinth' at 3am, in full costume... but perhaps another time!] and she deliberately doesn't wake me as she enjoys 'having the house to herself'.) that I just don't know what else to do.

    Children are indeed exhausting; thank you for providing the light at the end of the tunnel. I was feeling truly despairing earlier, but have reached a kind of Nirvana at the moment. I may have mentioned in my signature, I suffer with rapid moodswing cycles. I just really appreciate the support; thank you, and everyone who's replied, so much. :)

  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Finding the right medication combo is often difficult because each child reacts differently. My once violent boy finally ended up with a combo of three medications that (l) made the adhd manageable (2) eliminated the raging and (3) helps him sleep long enough that he was actually rested. It did not happen overnight but we were lucky because it did happen. Hope you have good luck also. Hugs DDD
  15. Cressida

    Cressida New Member

    Thanks Buddy... it's great to hear other parents feeling hopeful; Somehow it makes it easier to get back on that wagon - I'm feeling much more positive now than I was earlier today! This forum is amazing; everyone is so supportive, I finally feel like I'm not the only one going through this. Thank you, all of you. :)

    The sleep thing, I relate to. Menace has never slept well; the ADHD has always had her up late and up early, way before medication. I've not noticed any significant change to this, but if anything, I'd agree with you that for her, it's actually easier to get her settled faster when she's on it.


    Thanks Busywend; it's evening here in the UK so if I'm not about later on, I'm probably trying to sleep. :)

    I'm sorry to hear your little one has had similar issues. Feeling unwanted is one of the worst, most destructive things. :(


    Thank you Daisy; I'll look into 'validation' this evening once the tiny one is in bed. It certainly makes sense to me.

    A new trick I've recently picked up is to stop saying the word 'NO', even if it's with an explanation. They hear 'no' and stop listening. You can actually say 'yes' in a way that makes them feel like they've got what they want. For example, "Mum, can I have a biscuit?" (it's ten minutes before dinner). "No, but you can have one for pudding if you eat your dinner" might have been something I'd have replied. However, she won't have heard the last part; her brain will have focussed on the 'No..' and we'd probably have been at tantrum-stage before I'd finished explaining why! However, saying "Yes, as soon as you've eaten your dinner" is exactly the same sentence, just presented in such a way that she feels like she's got what she asked for.

    Will investigate 'validation' after dinner. Thank you again. :)


    Indeed - she's only been on the Concerta for 8 months or so, and though it's worked miracles at school, I may pursue something that will also help at home, particularly after reading so many similar stories. Thank you. :)

    Right, better get off - this bolognaise won't cook itself! Thank you all for your support and reassurance. You lot are amazing. :)